LIRR says evening rush will be normal

Reader Gretchen Dobrowolski took this photograph at the

Reader Gretchen Dobrowolski took this photograph at the Huntington LIRR station before boarding a train headed to Penn this morning.

The Long Island Rail Road expects to operate a normal evening rush with some cancellations likely Wednesday in the wake of an ice storm that pounded the area.

During another morning commute complicated by severe winter weather, the LIRR operated on a reduced weekend schedule to allow crews to remove ice from the tracks.

"This was another situation where the brunt of the storm came in the middle of the night, early morning hours, so we really had to kind of wait and see before we could determine what levels of service we could offer," said LIRR spokesman Joe Calderone.

Ice buildup on the third rail hampers trains' ability to make electrical contact. The LIRR started running de-icer trains Tuesday night, which apply antifreeze to the third rail, and also sent out trains with more than 100 special snow-scraping third rail shoes.

Still, problems with icing persisted and worsened overnight, Calderone said.

"We were getting reports of trains that were not drawing sufficient power," he said. "That told us that needed to continue de-icing."

Even with the reduced schedule, there were several weather-related delays throughout the system Wednesday morning. Calderone said there was also "crowding conditions" on some trains, especially later in the morning.

"We are transitioning back," Calderone said. "The main thing is we got people to work, and we're going to get them home again."

The LIRR urged customers to "exercise caution" entering and exiting trains and to "stay clear of the platform edges, use handrails on staircases and walk carefully when entering or exiting stations."

An ice storm presents a much different challenge for the railroad than a snowstorm or blizzard, spokesman Sam Zambuto said.

Snowstorms cause blockages and drifts on the rails that can cause delays and cancellations because trains can't plow through them, he said.

Ice can keep trains from drawing electrical power needed to keep them running.

With John Valenti

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