Third Rail Malfunction Disrupts LIRR Commute

Originally published: August 19, 2013
Updated: August 19, 2013 at 4:53 pm
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LIRR Train (credit: purist_andrew/Flickr)


NEW YORK (MorichesDaily) – A third rail malfunction in an East River tunnel operated and maintained by Amtrak caused major problems for LIRR commuters during the Monday morning rush hour. The was a problem with a power supply line in one of the four East River tunnels used to access Penn Station, the railroad said.

The Long Island Rail Road is back on or close to schedule following all of the delays and cancellations this morning. The railroad says an eastbound train got stuck in the East River Tunnel at around 7 a.m., after power to the third rail went out.

The train from Huntington due in at Penn Station at 7:17 this morning was reportedly stuck in the tunnel for over an hour.

The LIRR says about 1,000 people were on the train at the time. The train was running on backup power, which meant dark lights and possibly no air conditioning and the train crew gave out water, LIRR says.

Eastbound delays were generally running up to 60-minutes behind during heart of the morning commute.

Railroad spokesman Salvatore Arena said a westbound train from Huntington to Penn Station was in the tunnel when the power outage occurred, stranding the train and its passengers. He said a so-called “rescue train” — basically a diesel-powered locomotive that doesn’t need electricity to operate — was sent to move the stranded train.

Crews pushed the stuck train with a diesel rescue locomotive to the Hunter’s Point Station in Queens

As LIRR rescued its stranded passengers, tens of thousands of Monday morning commuters have now been inconvenienced as well, as the railroad consolidates and cancels trains to account for one fewer tunnel.

The power issue forced the cancellation or diversion of as many as 15 morning rush-hour trains Monday, the railroad said.

The tunnels are owned and operated by Amtrak.

Amtrak, LIRR and NJ Transit share four tunnels under the East River, connecting Penn Station with points east and north, as well as the Sunnyside Yards where NJ Transit keeps some trains at off-peak times.

New York City Transit was cross-honoring fares at Jamaica, via the E train, and Hunters Point Avenue, via the 7 train, for customers into Manhattan.

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