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Long Island Rail Road: Arctic temps could impact service

The LIRR is urging customers to use caution

The LIRR is urging customers to use caution on platforms and staircases in the extreme cold.  Credit: David L. Pokress

With arctic temperatures potentially causing issues for Long Island Rail Road commuters, the LIRR says crews will be ready to respond. 

A common problem for the LIRR during the winter months is broken rails, as the extreme cold can cause the steel structures to contract and snap at joints. The railroad experienced two such broken rails on Tuesday — at Mineola and Wantagh — causing delays throughout the morning.

"The LIRR has pre-positioned crews to be able to respond quickly to any weather-related issue that may arise, such as broken rails," LIRR spokesman Aaron Donovan said.

In its online “guide to winter weather,” the railroad explained to riders that subfreezing temperatures can affect their cars “much like they affect your cars.”

“Moisture from ice and snow can freeze in brake lines, air compressors and door mechanisms, causing them to malfunction. On our older electric cars, snow and moisture can get into traction motors, causing them to short out,” the railroad said. “The design of our newer cars places critical components inside, making them less susceptible to the effects of moisture.”

As part of its LIRR Forward service improvement initiative begun last spring, the railroad has said its increased efforts to weld rail joints and it has doubled the frequency of ultrasonic and induction rail inspections to find small defects in tracks that could result in broken rails.

The railroad has also installed new heaters to protect more than 13,000 feet of electrified third rail.

Meanwhile, for those wanting to escape the bitter cold while waiting for trains, station waiting rooms will remain open “round-the-clock" through Friday to accommodate customers.

The railroad also advised customers to use caution on station staircases, platforms and when boarding and exiting trains. 

“Please walk, don't run on platforms and stairs and allow for extra travel time,” the LIRR told customers in an alert.

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