August 24, 2011 / 2:18 AM / in 6 years

Amtrak back up to speed after earthquake disruptions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Amtrak train service between Baltimore and Washington was back to normal on Tuesday night after delays following a strong earthquake that hit the U.S. East Coast and Canada, the passenger train operator said.

Amtrak reduced speeds along the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Baltimore on Tuesday afternoon while crews looked for signs of damage to tracks, stations and other rail infrastructure.

Trains resumed running at normal operating speeds after the inspections were completed, Amtrak said in a statement.

Amtrak said it expected normal operations on Wednesday for trains heading north from Washington but some southbound trains to Richmond, Virginia, have been canceled.

The 5.8 magnitude quake, which the U.S. Geological Survey said was centered in Mineral, Virginia, forced the evacuations of office buildings in several cities and disrupted air and rail travel.

Union Station, Amtrak’s main train station in Washington, reopened around 3:20 p.m. local time (1920 GMT) after it was evacuated and service was temporarily stopped earlier in the day.

The earthquake also impacted commuter rail services throughout the Washington region.

After halting trains following the earthquake, movement resumed before the evening rush hour, but officials with railroads in Maryland and Virginia said they were still experiencing substantial

delays.

“We’re up and running now and trains are back in service,” said Mark Roeber with Virginia Railway Express. The inspection of tunnels, tracks and other infrastructure by Amtrak “checked everything out and everything looks fine,” he said.

All New York City commuter railroads were reporting normal service.

U.S. transport officials also said the speed reduction affected CSX freight rail service in Maryland. The freight rail operator shares some tracks with Amtrak.

Reporting by Christopher Doering and John Crawley; Editing by Paul Simao

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