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LIRR working to restore service for morning commute

Delays of up to 30 minutes are possible on all westbound Long Island Rail Road trains Monday morning due to flooding near one of the East River tunnels, an LIRR spokesman said late Sunday night.

Crews last night were at the Hunters Point Avenue tunnel in Queens, working to clear the flooding caused by heavy rains from this weekend's nor'easter and higher than normal tides, spokesman Joe Calderone said.

"We may be able to clear it up," Calderone said. "We're just not sure at this point."

Calderone encouraged all westbound commuters to build in extra travel time. He said if necessary the railroad will divert some trains to Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn and cancel some trains into Penn Station

The railroad was working with the New York Fire Department, pumping 2,000 gallons a minute, Calderone said.

The flooding wasn't the only problem the LIRR dealt with this 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 about 6:50 p.m. Saturday occurred 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 mainlines, 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 LIRR employees she spoke with had good information about the delays on Saturday evening.

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

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

Earlier yesterday, 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.

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