By Gina Cherelus
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A slow-moving Amtrak Acela train derailed and sideswiped a New Jersey commuter train on Friday, causing minor injuries and snarling morning rush-hour rail traffic at New York's Penn Station, a major transportation hub, officials said.
The accident happened at about 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT), with passengers aboard the New Jersey Transit train describing hearing screeching metal as the Washington-bound Acela hit the commuter train while departing the station.
"There was a loud sound of mangling metal and you felt the reverberations of another train raking the side of our train and I just heard screams from behind me as it traveled back," said Jordan Geary, who was travelling on the train with his wife from the New York suburb of Montclair, New Jersey.
"Directly behind me was chaos visually, all of the windows pushed in and metal everywhere."
Several riders and crew members suffered minor injuries, New Jersey Transit said. Emergency medical teams treated the injured at the scene without needing to transport any to hospitals, a New York Fire Department spokeswoman said.
An Amtrak spokeswoman said the cause of the "minor derailment" was under investigation.
The New Jersey train made it to the platform after being hit, while the rear of the southbound Acela 2151 from Boston was still at the platform, enabling all passengers to exit safely, the two railroads said. Passengers said both trains were moving slowly at the time.
After initially suspending all Penn Station service, Amtrak warned passengers at midday to expect delays between New York and Newark, New Jersey.
New Jersey Transit said it planned to offer limited outbound service for the afternoon rush hour. It said other service will be redirected to its Hoboken, New Jersey, terminal, with subway and ferry connections to New York. The Long Island Rail Road announced several cancellations and delays during the evening rush hour.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates serious air and rail crashes, was not planning to look into the derailment because it did not appear to be severe enough, spokesman Keith Holloway said.
Two other train crashes have occurred in the New York metropolitan area in recent months. On Jan. 4, more than 100 people were hurt when a Long Island Rail Road train struck a bumper at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn.
In September of last year, Hoboken was the scene of a fatal crash after a New Jersey commuter train wreck killed one person and injured more than 100 others.
(Additional reporting by Peter Szekely and John McCrank; Editing by Scott Malone and Jeffrey Benkoe)