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2 LIRR trains sideswipe each other at Jamaica station

Members of the MTA Police Department's Emergency Service

Members of the MTA Police Department's Emergency Service Unit evacuate passengers from a double-decker train to a rescue train at Jamaica station on Friday, July 17, 2015. Credit: CS Muncy

Two passenger trains going in opposite directions sideswiped each other in a "minor collision" just east of the Jamaica station Friday evening, disrupting the rush-hour commute for hours, authorities said.

The Long Island Rail Road and the Federal Railroad Administration were investigating why a Huntington-bound train hit a double-decker train going from Montauk to Jamaica at 6:15 p.m., officials said.

No injuries were reported when the left side of the first of 12 Huntington cars struck the first one of the other train, LIRR officials said.

"The trains obviously should not have collided," said Patrick Nowakowski, LIRR president whose office is next to the station and who appeared wearing a reflective orange work vest at a news conference Friday night. "We will look at every possible thing that could have caused that."

Photos from the scene showed one train car jammed up against a double-decker passenger train, which leaned off the tracks. On Track 4, where one of the trains was hit, half the cars could be seen stuck along the station platform and half just east of the platform.

"I didn't even feel it," said CS Muncy of Manhattan, a Newsday freelance photographer on the Montauk train. "The train came to a stop as it sometimes does and after a while, probably after a half-hour . . . word came back that we hit another train."

LIRR Commuter Council chairman Mark Epstein said he was "heartened" to hear there were no injuries, but said "the complete lack of information" provided to riders on the trains involved in the collision and the delayed ones was "appalling" and a violation of the agency's pledge to riders.

It took about two hours for most of the passengers on the two trains to get off at the station, where they joined exasperated rail customers with their eyes glued to screens posting information about train arrivals.

Eastbound customers were warned of cancellations and delays. Westbound service, which was suspended between Jamaica and the Penn and Atlantic Terminal stations, was restored about 7:30. By 9:30 p.m., residual delays were averaging 30 minutes, down from one hour, the railroad said.

Bayport couple Josephine and Jasper Bailey spent two hours trying to get a train to Sayville, eager to get home after flying back from a seven-day vacation in Florida.

"This was the last thing we wanted to come home to," Josephine said. "I don't want to end my vacation like this but I have no choice."

After a long week at work, intern Kelly Basdavanos, 21, got to Penn Station around 6:30 p.m. only to find out there were no trains to Glen Cove, so she took the subway from 103rd Street to Jamaica. "I was looking forward to a nice relaxing night."

Other riders got stuck on trains, like Laurence Primus, who said his westbound train had been at a standstill for more than an hour after stopping just short of the Jamaica station.

"They told us absolutely nothing," said Primus, a Miami-based tennis pro who got on in Cedarhurst for a night out at a Manhattan hotel lounge. "I'm annoyed. First I wanted a Scotch and cigar and now I want a cheeseburger."

He said passengers were calm and some had gone to the first car of the train to see if they could catch a glimpse of the damage on the other end of the station.

The crash was reminiscent of a 2008 sideswipe, also at Jamaica, when an engineer was distracted.

Muncy said a rescue train eventually pulled up and a ramp was extended to his train, taking the double-decker train riders to the Jamaica station platform about 8:30 p.m.

His car on the rescue train was packed and he had to stand, he said: "Nobody was panicking. They started passing food to each other," including peanuts and potato chips.

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