Umbrella and freezing weather shuts down 7 train

by Juan Soto

Service on the 7 train was back on track early Wednesday morning after an umbrella, cold weather and freezing rain converged on Monday to shut down the busy line that stretches from Flushing to Times Square.

When an umbrella fell on the third rail at the 52nd Street station during rush hour, service was halted “for a short period of time,” the Metropolitan Transit Authority said.

A spokeswoman for the MTA explained that to “get the burning umbrella off the third rail” it was necessary to cut the power to the system.

And it was during that period of “less than 10 minutes,” according to the MTA, that ice accumulated on the third rail of the mostly elevated line.

The electrified third rail then lost power because of the cold weather and the freezing rain falling on the tracks.

“The umbrella was a causal effect,” the spokeswoman said.

The episode stranded thousand of frustrated straphangers and hundreds of riders were stuck on trains between stations.

It took more than one hour to pull back the trains struck between stops into stations in order for straphangers to leave the subway cars and try to commute to work using alternative routes.

“Because of the precipitations and the cold weather we had a flash freeze,” the MTA said. “This was a very unusual thing.”

Limited service was restored late afternoon Monday between the Main Street and 74th Street stations. The full route was operating by Tuesday at 1:59 a.m. Express service was suspended all day Tuesday.

The spokeswoman for the MTA pointed out that express service on the 7 line was back on track Wednesday at 4:30 a.m. right in time for the morning rush hour.

Last week, when storm Juno was supposed to drop between two to three feet of snow, Gov. Andrew Cuomo shut down subway and bus service for about 10 hours. After Juno hit the city and the snowfall was much less than expected, the governor ordered service restored in the subway by about 9 a.m. the following morning.

Riders had to deal with problems on other subway lines this week .

The MTA suspended service Tuesday for several hours on the N and Q lines between 57th Street in Manhattan and Queensborough Plaza “due to a smoke condition” at the Lexington Avenue station, the spokeswoman said. And the R train, she added, was running on the F line from 57th Street in Manhattan to the 36th Street station in Queens.

Service on the LIRR experienced serious delays all day Monday because of icing on the tracks, with some trains being canceled. The performance improved Tuesday as the day wore on.

Some bus riders also complained about long delays on some lines Monday and Tuesday as they tried to get to work.

Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at jsoto‌@cngl‌ocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.