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Cable theft causes A train shutdown in south Queens: MTA

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Ad Meskens

Updated 1:55 p.m.

Limited service is back on the A line in south Queens Wednesday morning after crews worked to repair damage caused by the theft of nearly 500 feet of copper cables powering the tracks.

According to the MTA, the train troubles were discovered at about 11:22 p.m. Tuesday night, when a Manhattan-bound A train suddenly lost power just north of the Howard Beach-JFK Airport station. The MTA dispatched another train that pulled behind it, allowing some 150 passengers in the disabled train to safely walk back to the Howard Beach platform.

Upon investigation, crews reportedly discovered that copper cables which supply power to the third rail were missing. Signals and other related equipment were damaged due to the interrupted electrical equipment.

Photo courtesy MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann
Photo courtesy MTA New York City Transit/Marc A. Hermann

The cable theft caused a commuting nightmare during the morning rush hour Wednesday. The A line was entirely shut down between Rockaway Boulevard and Broad Channel, and shuttle buses were brought in to transport thousands of affected riders to the nearest working subway stations.

The MTA also noted the disruption made it impossible to dispatch trains stored at the Rockaway Park yard for morning rush hour service, thus reducing service along the entire A and C lines between upper Manhattan and Brooklyn. Some A trains were forced to terminate at Euclid Avenue in Brooklyn, the normal C train terminus.

MTA crews made emergency repairs to restore limited service by about 10 a.m. Wednesday, but the authority indicated the line would again be shut down tonight for further repairs. Shuttle buses will again replace A trains between Rockaway Boulevard and Broad Channel during the disruption.

Photo courtesy MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann
Photo courtesy MTA New York City Transit/Marc A. Hermann

“This morning’s service disruption was directly caused by the theft of cable from along the subway right of way,” MTA New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco said in a statement. “We are working closely with the NYPD Transit Bureau to help them investigate this crime and identify the culprits responsible.”

Click here for up-to-date information on MTA service.

In the wake of the shutdown, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder called for an immediate investigation and the MTA to beef up security along the A line.

“Families in southern Queens and Rockaway have some of the longest commute times in the entire city. On a normal day, our roads, trains and buses are stretched to capacity. Outages like this have devastating consequences for families simply trying to commute to work or school,” Goldfeder said in a statement. “I am alarmed by reported security breaches along the A train and the failure to put in place effective alternative travel plans for our families. I demand a full investigation by the MTA to ensure that this never happens again.”

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