Two SEPTA Regional Rail trains crashed during last night's rush hour in the tunnel shortly after leaving Market East Station, resulting in dozens of people reporting injuries and delays in train service.

"There were approximately 35 minor injuries," said SEPTA spokesman Gary Fairfax.

After the crash, SEPTA ordered the trains to continue to the next stop - Temple University Station, near Berks and Ninth Streets in North Philadelphia - so the injured would be closer to medical care and the passengers would not have to evacuate the trains in the tunnel, Fairfax said.

Outside Temple University Station, the street was thick with ambulances and other aid vehicles that had rushed to remove those needing help.

Emergency workers carried several passengers on stretchers down the station steps. Some were in neck braces. Most appeared to be commuters. One man had his briefcase laid on his torso as his stretcher was carried to a waiting ambulance.

Other passengers - weary-looking but with no visible injuries - were gathered outside the station as they waited to be assigned ambulances.

The cause of the crash was still under investigation last night, but Fairfax said that about 5 p.m. an R6 train bound for Norristown crashed with an R5 train headed for Doylestown.

Both northbound trains were on the same track. Fairfax said he did not know if both trains were moving at the time of the accident. If they were, they did not appear to be moving at a high speed, he added.

Hal Janssen, a computer engineering employee of Philadelphia Newspapers L.L.C., which publishes The Inquirer, was a passenger on the R5. He said it hit the other train minutes after leaving Market East. His train had been on a different track than the one it usually runs on, he added.

"All of a sudden, there was a big bang. We stopped real short. People got jerked around," Janssen said.

Fortunately, he said, the train was not traveling very fast.

"Everyone was looking around, wondering what was going on," Janssen, adding that because they were in a tunnel most people could not use their cell phones.

Someone with SEPTA got on the speaker and announced there had been a "mishap" and the train would be delayed indefinitely, Janssen said.

The crash resulted in delays of up to 20 minutes for the Regional Rail system.

Contact staff writer Rita Giordano at 856-779-3841 or rgiordano@phillynews.com.