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LIRR: Slippery track conditions slow p.m. rush-hour trains

A file photo shows a Long Island Rail

A file photo shows a Long Island Rail Road train. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

Slippery conditions on Long Island Rail Road tracks have caused problems for trains pulling into and out of some stations Tuesday, LIRR officials said.

In a statement to customers Tuesday evening, the LIRR acknowledged some trains operating at reduced speeds because of “slippery rail conditions — where train wheels slip while accelerating, or slide during braking.”

“This is caused by oily residue left by crushed leaves on the rails,” the LIRR said.

The slippery conditions caused several service disruptions during the Tuesday evening rush, as trains ran late because of reduced speeds or were canceled “due to a shortage of equipment caused by slip-slide conditions,” the LIRR said.

The issue appeared to cause several other problems throughout the day, as evidenced by some commuter complaints on social media. Valley Stream commuter Wayne Folkes on Twitter said his morning train “overshot” his station.

“Only one door on the last car was available for all the passengers to enter the train,” he wrote. “Great start to the commute.”

Shortly after 4:30 p.m., the LIRR, in a message to customers, acknowledged some riders on a Babylon-bound train being “unable to exit at Lynbrook.” A westbound Montauk train made added stops at Rockville Centre and Lynbrook to pick them up and drop them off.

The LIRR further explained why “slip-slide” can be a problem during the autumn months in a post on its website. It attributed the problem to a “Teflon-like substance” left on rails by crushed leaves that gets even more slippery during rainfall.

“When a train attempts to speed up or slow down, this slippery substance — called pectin — can cause the wheels to slip or slide along the rails,” the LIRR said.

The railroad said it’s taken a number of steps in recent years to combat the problem, including by upgrading train braking systems, instructing engineers to immediately report slippery conditions, and by power washing tracks and applying sand and anti-slip substance to them as needed.

“We can reduce the severity of the slip-slide phenomenon, but we cannot eliminate it. We will continue our efforts to try to minimize any delays and inconvenience slippery rail may create for you this autumn,” the LIRR said. “If your train is being delayed by what your train’s crew tells you are ‘slip-slide conditions,’ you’ll understand — your safety is our highest priority.”

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