LIRR cancels eastbound trains due to smoke in tunnels

People wait to board a Long Island Rail People wait to board a Long Island Rail Road train in Penn Station during the morning rush on in Manhattan. (Nov. 2, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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At least 10 eastbound LIRR trains have been canceled and service to Manhattan restored Friday after smokey conditions in one East River tunnel, followed by a disabled New Jersey train in another tunnel, authorities said.

By 6 p.m., both rush-hour problems were resolved, but the Long Island Rail Road forecast residual delays of about 15 minutes and trains that are packed more than normal for a Friday night commute. Other LIRR trains were directed to make stops that would have been made by canceled ones.

For about three hours, at least one of the four East River Tunnels was out of commission. Normally, three are reserved for eastbound traffic during the afternoon rush hour.

The problems started about 3 p.m. when smoke started coming from an Amtrak train trying to get to Penn Station, said Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole.

The FDNY turned on blowers in the East River tunnel to dissipate the smoke and no one was injured, authorities said.

"None of it got to any of the platforms" for passengers at Penn Station, said Salvatore Arena, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. "It didn't get up to the waiting areas either."

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But just as that tunnel was cleared for use, Amtrak, which maintains the East River tunnels, reported that an empty New Jersey Transit train was disabled in another tunnel, Cole said. The train was moved within 40 minutes, by 6 p.m., he said.

A New Jersey Transit spokesman, John Durso Jr., said the smoke conditions delayed service by about an hour but said no New Jersey Transit train was stuck in a tunnel.

Cole said Amtrak is investigating the cause of the smoke. An FDNY spokesman said the smoke and possibly a small fire might have been started by the brakes as the train slowed in the tunnel.

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To ease rush-hour delays, the LIRR had suspended service between Jamaica and Penn Station for about half an hour, until the problems were cleared at 6 p.m.

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