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Federal investigators looking into cause of LIRR derailment

Federal investigators looking into cause of LIRR derailment
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Rich Bockmann

Federal transportation regulators will head up an investigation into what caused a Long Island Rail Road train to derail outside Penn Station Monday evening, resulting in hectic commutes for straphangers the following day.

“Working with Amtrak and the Long Island Railroad, our investigation will establish the cause of the accident, determine if any federal regulations were violated and will prescribe any mitigation efforts necessary to prevent another incident that might cripple the nation’s busiest passenger rail station,” said Kevin Thompson, a spokesman with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration.

More than 50 LIRR trains were either canceled or delayed Tuesday as Amtrak crews worked to repair damages left behind after a Hempstead-bound train went off the tracks in the East River tunnel the night before, according to the MTA.

The agency said it scrubbed or rerouted 56 out of 274 trains during the morning and evening commutes.

Leaving Manhattan at the end of the day, seven trains on both the Port Washington and Babylon lines were cancelled.

“You’ll be fine getting home tonight if your stop is called ‘Cancelled,’” LIRR Guy tweeted around 5:30 p.m.

New Jersey Transit, which uses the tunnel to access the Sunnyside Yards, and Amtrak said they experienced minor delays as a result of the derailment.

The LIRR leases the tunnel, but Amtrak is responsible for repairs. Amtrak said it had the tunnel operating normally for the Wednesday morning commute.

About 500 feet of track and eight switches were thought to have been damaged after two cars in the middle of the 10-car-long 5:51 p.m. train to Hempstead went off the track, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said.

About 800 people were riding the train, and straphangers in the rear four cars aided by LIRR personnel and first responders walked along the tracks back to the platform at Penn Station, the MTA said.

A New Jersey Transit train pulled up to the head of the crippled convoy and evacuated riders before making a “reverse move” back to Penn Station.

The agency said no injuries were reported during the incident.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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