Federal authorities are investigating why one Long Island Rail Road train struck another at the Great Neck station during Monday's morning rush, damaging the tracks and causing service disruptions on the Port Washington Branch that lasted into the afternoon.
A slow-moving eastbound train with no passengers "bumped" a stationary train also with no passengers at Great Neck about 7 a.m., LIRR officials said. Both trains were scheduled to head west during the morning peak travel period, LIRR spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said. No one was hurt, she said.
The LIRR, following protocol, reported the incident to the Federal Railroad Administration. Administration spokesman Warren Flatau confirmed Monday that the agency had "dispatched someone to the scene" to start an investigation soon afterward.
"It will probably be a while before they put anything together," he said.
The LIRR would not release the name of the engineer involved, but said he faces mandatory drug testing. There was no indication that drugs or alcohol were a factor.
Anders said the accident damaged the alignment of the third rail, forcing cancellation of seven morning trains on the Port Washington line and delays of as much as 30 minutes for several more. Delays of about 15 minutes remained on the line in the afternoon.
By 5 Monday evening, trains were running close to normal, and the accident was not expected to affect this morning's commute, an LIRR spokesman said.
Michael Quinn, general chairman of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers Local 269, the union that represents LIRR train drivers, cautioned against any speculation about the incident, adding that his membership includes "the most highly skilled engineers in the country."
"Until the Long Island Rail Road has finished their investigation, we won't have any conclusions," he said. "We don't know what happened, and neither do they at this point."