LIRR Statement on Sept. 29 Service Disruption
The LIRR apologizes for the service suspension last night that left many of our customers without a regular means of getting home and that stranded some passengers on trains between stations.
LIRR crews worked overnight to restore the signal system west of Jamaica that was damaged by a lightning strike. By about 4:30 am this morning, the electronic signal and switch system had been restored, allowing for a near normal rush hour this morning. The LIRR ran all but four of its normal compliment of 143 AM rush hour trains and we anticipate a normal commute home this evening.
The LIRR has launched a full review of both the service and communications provided to customers and the underlying failure of the Jamaica signal system network.
We are working closely on identifying the root causes of the malfunctions with Ansaldo, the designer of the newly installed micro processing switch and signal equipment. In addition, the LIRR is retaining an outside consultant, Systra, to help in the review process, including the system's lightning protection, diagnostics and backup systems.
The LIRR last year completed a major upgrade of the signal and switch control system in the Jamaica area. That upgrade and investment in new equipment allowed the LIRR to recover service much more quickly today as computer components damaged in the storm were changed out overnight.
After the lightning strike damaged both the primary and backup signal systems at the "Jay" signal location west of Jamaica, LIRR workers began the time and labor intensive process of manually setting switches in place west of Jamaica. Meanwhile, the LIRR initiated a service diversion plan, advising customers to take the E train from Penn Station to Jamaica. NYC Transit Authority cross- honored LIRR fares. However, just after many customers had reached Jamaica via the subway and boarded eastbound trains, the "Hall" signal location east of Jamaica, which is part of the complete Jamaica signal network, then failed, causing a full suspension of service. Some standing trains were unable to safely move in either direction because of the second signal system failure.
Again, the LIRR apologizes for last night's disruption. We know it was a very difficult commute for many of our customers. We appreciate your patience as we attempted to restore service as quickly as it was safe to do so.