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LIRR: ‘Slippery rail’ prompts canceled, crowded train advisory

Slippery conditions on the Long Island Rail Road’s tracks earlier this week continue to cause problems for riders, as several trains remain out of service for repairs to damaged wheels, officials said.

The LIRR sent out an advisory to riders Thursday telling them to expect shorter trains and cancellations throughout the week “due to car shortages caused by a seasonal problem called ‘Slippery Rail.’ ”

“It occurs when fallen leaves deposit a slippery residue on the rails that causes train wheels to skid & develop flat spots,” the railroad said. “Cars with flat wheels are taken out of service for repair & returned to service as soon as possible.”

Although a common problem during the fall, LIRR officials said weather conditions Tuesday made trains particularly susceptible to “slip-side.” Light, misty rain combined with crushed leaves to coat tracks with a slippery mix of natural chemicals that made it difficult for trains to brake effectively.

Train wheels with flat spots beyond federal safety limits had to be removed from service for repairs, LIRR officials said. It was unclear how many of the LIRR’s fleet of about 1,200 train cars were affected.

The LIRR said it takes several measures to combat the problem of slip-side, including by regularly trimming back trees near tracks. Starting in October, the LIRR also began operating special maintenance trains that clear rails of leaves and applies a special gel on rails to improve traction.

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