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LIRR on schedule after flooding issues resolved

A commuter waiting on the platform in Freeport

A commuter waiting on the platform in Freeport while a LIRR train enters the station. (March 1, 2010) Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

After anticipating big morning rush-hour delays due to flooding in the wake of this weekend's monster storm, the Long Island Rail Road has good news for its customers Monday morning: It's on schedule.

As of 10:30 a.m., the LIRR was not reporting any major delays.

Flood conditions in an East River tunnel have been resolved, and a customer advisory issued late Sunday warning of potential half-hour delays has "basically been rescinded," railroad spokesman Rich Mendelson said.

The flooding in a westbound tunnel LIRR shares with Amtrak- caused by higher than normal tides and heavy rain courtesy of the nor'easter - has subsided, he said.

 

The FDNY, the New York City Transit Authority, MTA Bridges & Tunnels and Amtrak worked to address the issue. Emergency crews pumped 2,000 gallons of water per minute from the area.

Because it was "low tide before dawn" and the rain let up, that "allowed our crews to get the water out," Mendelson said.

Railroad officials sent out an advisory late Sunday, warning customers traveling to Penn Station to leave an additional 30 minutes of travel time due to flooding that had greatly impacted one of its East River tunnels, at Hunters Point Avenue in Queens.

As a contingency plan, officials were prepared to divert some trains to the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn and cancel other Penn Station-bound trains.

Flooding wasn't the only problem facing the railroad over the weekend. Among the problems were the aftermath of an explosion on the tracks near Hicksville, LIPA poles falling on the tracks on the Far Rockaway line and nonfunctioning ticket machines.

The explosion occurred at about 6:50 p.m. Saturday near a train traffic control tower east of Hicksville when a LIPA pole and its high-voltage lines fell on an electrified train signal line. The explosion didn't cause any injuries, but prompted the tower's evacuation and stopped traffic on the LIRR's main lines, railroad spokesman Joe Calderone said.

It took four hours for one rider, Mary Jean Corris, 35, of Central Islip, to get home from Penn Station. She said none of the railroad employees she spoke with had good information about the delays.

"The Long Island Rail Road really needs to learn how to communicate, not just with riders but also with its own employees," Corris said.

Calderone said: "We apologize to customers who may have been inconvenienced, but this was a major storm with unanticipated results."

Earlier, a Far Rockaway-bound train stalled just east of Valley Stream, partly because of the signal problem but also because of equipment failures in the train itself, Calderone said. About 30 passengers were aboard for nearly two hours. A rescue train took the riders back to Valley Stream.

With Michael Amon

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