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LIRR: Delays, cancellations after broken rails fixed

The Long Island Rail Road says repairs had been completed, but late placement of crews and equipment caused service changes.

Commuters wait on the platform for the westbound

Commuters wait on the platform for the westbound Long Island Rail Road train at the Ronkonkoma station, Thursday morning, Dec. 28, 2017. Photo Credit: James Carbone

Broken rails on the Long Island Rail Road were fixed by the late afternoon Thursday, but evening rush hour commuters were told to expect cancellations and delays, a railroad spokeswoman said.

The snafus the railroad anticipated stemmed from the shortage of equipment and crews, the LIRR said on Twitter.

Trains that did not complete their trips were not where they should be to take on new passengers.

Rails can break in “extreme cold weather,” the LIRR said on Twitter. The repairs took a bit longer than expected; the railroad had said they would be finished before the evening rush hour started.

LIRR evening rush hour commuters also encountered problems after a small track fire broke out in an Amtrak East River tunnel Thursday night.

The LIRR temporarily suspended service to Penn Station, and limited service out of the station, the railroad said.

The broken rails limited the railroad to running on just one of two Main Line tracks through Queens Village, causing some cancellations and delays during a bitterly cold morning rush.

Frigid weather causes metal to contract, which can cause rails to snap, especially where they are welded together, experts said.

“The extreme cold caused a broken rail overnight that led to systemwide delays during the morning commute,” LIRR spokeswoman Sarah Armaghan said by email in the morning.

Armaghan pinned the majority of the delays on the broken rail near the Queens Village station, but there was also a broken rail at the Babylon Yard.

The LIRR’s top priority is customer safety, the spokeswoman said, adding that the rails are inspected once a week by crews who walk the tracks looking for defects.

And two or three times a year, the Sperry Rail Car, which runs on the tracks, searches for defects using ultrasonic and induction technology, she said.

Induction technology identifies defects by monitoring the magnetic field after sending current into the system, Sperry’s website says.

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