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Long IslandTransportation

LIRR: Expect a normal Tuesday commute

On Monday, Long Island Rail Road commuters faced a series of canceled trains after a train with only employees onboard derailed in Manhattan during the weekend. The incident affected commuters, as seen here just before 8 a.m. at the Jamaica station, as well as riders at the Hicksville station after 4 p.m. Credit: Newsday / Raychel Brightman; Howard Schnapp

Commuters stuck at Long Island Rail Road platforms Monday after a slew of train cancellations should see a return to normal morning rush-hour service Tuesday, officials with the agency said.

On Tuesday morning, the railroad listed its branches in good service. 

LIRR crews had continued “around-the-clock” repairs, officials said, after the Saturday derailment of a non-passenger train at the West Side Yard in Manhattan led to the cancellation of more than a dozen trains for Monday’s morning and evening commutes.

“At this time, we anticipate running a normal AM rush on Tuesday, July 24th,” said a statement posted to the LIRR’s website Monday night. “In the event additional service changes become necessary, we will update customers as soon as information becomes available.”

Monday’s cancellations left rush-hour commuters — many caught off-guard by the LIRR’s Sunday night notification of service disruptions — scrambling to find other trains to get where they needed to go.

“It’s disappointing,” said Jackson Rockingster, of Ronkonkoma, as he waited Monday at the Jamaica station for a transfer to the Atlantic Terminal that was 10 minutes late. “If I would have known, I could have allowed myself more time.”

The derailment forced the cancellation or partial cancellation of at least eight trains during Monday’s morning rush hour, the LIRR said, with seven trains canceled during the nighttime commute.

The LIRR didn’t make public the derailment of two cars at about 5 p.m. Saturday until more than 24 hours later. In response to criticism from some customers for not notifying the public until about 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, LIRR president Phillip Eng on Monday said the agency needed to first evaluate “how best to address the situation, make sure what equipment we needed, what staff we needed and what would be the appropriate measures to this safely and efficiently.”

There were no passengers on the train, but the train’s engineer did complain of back pain, Eng said.

After initially visiting the derailment scene Saturday night and securing extra personnel and equipment from Metro-North Railroad and Amtrak, Eng on Sunday began reviewing the potential effect on Monday morning service. He reached out to MTA board members to notify them about the situation at about 1 p.m. Sunday, he said.

“At that point, I had enough information to talk about the situation and also begin preparing and reviewing what message we needed to share with our customers,” Eng said.

The LIRR is still reviewing the cause of the derailment, Eng said.

The canceled evening trains included three on the Babylon line — the Wantagh-bound 4:57, 5:19 and 6:05 trains. Also canceled were the 4:40 and 5:20 Long Beach trains; the 6:30 Huntington-bound train on the Port Jefferson line and the 6:24 train heading to Port Washington.

Esmeralda Braganca, 34, of Sayville, whose office is in downtown Brooklyn, left work at 3:45 p.m., an hour early than usual, to avoid possible delays.

“It was pretty packed,” said Braganca, who arrived at Atlantic Terminal at around 4 p.m. and got off at the Jamaica station. Braganca said she was waiting for the 4:40 Montauk train that stops at Sayville.

“I left a little early to give myself extra time,” she said. “You never know.”

The train arrived at 4:49, nine minutes later than scheduled. Not too bad, Braganca said, although she added, so far this summer, there have been other issues with the LIRR.

“It’s just aggravating because it’s all the time now,” she said.

Even customers on lines that were not listed among the schedule changes felt the impact of the derailment.

Joe Seletski, of East Meadow, noticed the heavier-than-usual crowding as soon as he transferred at Jamaica to a Brooklyn-bound train on the Far Rockaway branch that had only standing room.

“I couldn’t even get off the train I was connecting from. There were too many people bottlenecking the doorway,” said Seletski, 40, adding that word passed among commuters about train cancellations. “There wasn’t enough communication. It was, like, through word-of-mouth.”

That wasn’t the case at every station, however.

Jaiden Solon, 18, waited at Jamaica station for the 6:05 Hempstead train, which arrived on time.

“Everything is normal,” said Solon, who commutes to Mercy College in upstate Dobbs Ferry for the summer.

Solon, who checked the MTA website and its apps Sunday night and Monday morning for potential delays, said the 6:38 a.m. train from Hempstead was on time.

“I am happy I didn’t have to leave the house too early today,” said Solon as he boarded his train, heading home.

With Chau Lam, Ivan Pereira, Craig Schneider, Rachel Uda and Rachelle Blidner


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