I am a train commuter. I have train stories. I feel the need to share them with you.
In my three years of commuting, I have been hampered by the late train situation. Not just a little, but all the time. I think it has to do with riding multiple forms of transit and taking the "off-peak" trains. Off peak always gets screwed. When it comes to a late train or a diverted train or a cancelled train, I've heard a variety of excuses from New Jersey transit and the Long Island Railroad. Allow me to translate these cryptic messages for your future convenience.
Problem - Trains delayed due to switching problems at Jamaica.
Translation - This is the message you most likely will hear during a rainstorm. It means the switches at Jamaica station have been hit by lightning. Expect extreme delays and tone rerouted on the subway.
Problem - Trains delayed due to an unauthorized person on the tracks.
Translation - Most likely someone decided they didn't want to go to work today (or ever again) and walked in front of a moving train. Bad day for the unauthorized person, 2-3 hour delays for all the commuters who ride that line.
Problem - Due to slippery rail conditions, the train is running 15 minutes late.
Translation - This one is seasonally applicable and you tend to hear this one only in the fall. It means there are lots of leaves on the tracks. The trains have to run slower or they run the risk of sliding on fallen leaves. Seriously.
Problem - Due to a mechanical problem at the Portal Bridge, your train is being diverted to Hoboken.
Translation - The train is supposed to go over the Portal Bridge, but this bridge is a drawbridge and is stuck in the open position. Hilarious. Enjoy Hoboken.
Problem - Due to a vehicle on the tracks, all trains on the line will terminate at Farmingdale.
Translation - Someone tried to beat the train at the crossing gates. This will inevitably happen in the single track zone. What does that mean? There's only one track and all trains coming and going have to use that one track... And now there's a half a car sitting on it.
Problem - Due to Police activity at (insert random sketchy town here), the train is now operating really late.
Translation - This has come to mean many things. It could range from rowdy people on the train, someone who refuses to pay for a ticket, a bomb scare (yes, it happened to my train once) or a medical emergency. Let's just all behave, pay for our tickets, remember not to leave things behind on the station platform and stay off the train if we feel I'll. it will make everyone's commute much smoother.
Problem - (And this one is by far the most often heard and my favorite) Due to inclement weather conditions, the trains are all running really late or are all cancelled.
Translation - There may be a hurricane, twenty feet of snow or just a little fog, I have no idea when the train is coming. You might as well just go home.
Hopefully I've provided a little insight into why your NYC area train might be late. Keep in mind that they are always coming up with more and more creator reasons as to why you're not getting home on time and fear the words "Ladies and Gentlemen..."