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LIRR: Switch problems delay Long Beach Branch

Crews work on a damaged rail at Country

Crews work on a damaged rail at Country Life Press LIRR station on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A damaged third rail caused the Hempstead Branch of the Long Island Rail Road to be suspended for nearly 90 minutes Tuesday morning, railroad officials said, and switch problems on the Long Beach Branch marred some evening trips home.

Shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday, the rail road’s Twitter said Long Beach Branch trains were 30 to 40 minutes late “due to switch trouble” at a yard there.

As many as five trains experienced delays ranging between 30 and 40 minutes after the problem surfaced at about 6 p.m., said Aaron Donovan, a spokesman. He added that a few trains were still behind schedule later in the evening due to congestion even though the switch problem was fixed by 7:15 p.m.

The morning suspension, in both directions, started just before 6 a.m. and service was fully restored by about 7:20 a.m. Five trains were canceled, the LIRR said. Donovan said the damaged rail, which supplies electric power to trains, was near Country Life Press, a station in Garden City.

The station is in single-track territory, meaning that there was no way to provide alternate routing of trains to bypass the area. The cause of the damaged rail, which was repaired, was not known.

The service interruptions occurred one day after LIRR president Patrick Nowakowski came under fire for his administration’s handling of several major service disruptions during the past two months, acknowledging that during the period the commuter railroad had provided “terrible” service.

With Joan Gralla

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