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MTA inspector general to look into LIRR Memorial Day weekend derailments

LIRR workers repair tracks near Speonk on May

LIRR workers repair tracks near Speonk on May 26. Credit: John Roca

The MTA’s inspector general announced Monday she was investigating Long Island Rail Road derailments that shut down service to the South Fork during much of Memorial Day weekend.

“As part of this office’s responsibility to conduct audits and investigations to ensure our public transit system works safely and effectively for all New Yorkers, I have directed this investigation to be conducted in an expeditious manner and for the findings to be reported promptly or referred as appropriate,” Carolyn Pokorny said in a statement released by her office.

An LIRR spokesman said in an email that agency chairman Patrick Foye "referred this matter to the Inspector General and the MTA will assist in any way we can."

Pokorny, a former federal prosecutor and special counsel for public integrity for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, made the announcement just days after the governor appointed her to her new job. The State Senate confirmed her last Thursday.

Two LIRR trains collided near Speonk on May 25, and each train's locomotive became derailed, partly because one of the trains was too long for the side track  to which it pulled over, sources told Newsday.

A team of about 100 LIRR employees worked round the clock to restore service to the badly damaged tracks, but the two-day service interruption on one of the busiest weekends of the summer forced train riders into buses and Ubers and prompted a public apology from LIRR president Phillip Eng.

The railroad and its workers are already facing heightened scrutiny because of overtime costs. The MTA, Pokorny’s office, the Queens district attorney and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District are looking into potential overtime fraud at the authority.

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