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Commuter Train Fire May Fan Flames of Philly Transit Strike

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By Minara El-Rahman on November 04, 2009 2:06 PM

The AP reported that a packed commuter train for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority caught fire in Philadelphia today.

The train was crowded more than usual because there was a city wide transit strike in progress.

Official said there are no injuries reported but the fire added to the chaos caused by the Philadelphia transit strike.

Here is a news clip of the incident:

While the cause of the fire is not known at this time, it is speculated that it could be an electrical fire.

Flames and smoke billowed out of the front of the train as it traveled from the Overbrook station to the Amtrak station in Center City.  

Passengers claim that the train smelled like smoke prior to the fire: "You could smell something, but I thought it was the brakes," said Cynthia Reid, 55.

People also wondered why the train operator continued running the train even with the smell: "I don't understand why we even left the station," Reid said.

While there have not been injuries, it was definitely a close call. Did an inability to come to an agreement between Transport Workers Union Local 234 and Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority contribute to the unsafe conditions on that train? It looks like there could have been plenty to lawsuits to go around if there were injuries.

The regional rail service was able to operate in spite of the strike because it is run by workers from a different union.

WWLP  reports that no talks are scheduled to end the strike by 5,000 members of the Transport Workers Union Local 234 who walked off the job Tuesday morning, shutting down subway, trolley and bus service in the city.

With the Philadelphia transit strike and regional trains catching on fire, what will commuters do in order to get to work?

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