Aug
24

LIRR plans reduced service for Tuesday

By · Published in 2010

A graphic from The New York Times highlights the importance of the Hall Tower to LIRR operations east of Jamaica.

As the Long Island Rail Road continues to recover from the fire that knocked out the Hall Tower signal just east of Jamaica, the agency announced a reduced schedule throughout the day on Tuesday. The LIRR will run at 75 percent capacity in bound to New York City and 60 percent capacity outbound. This could be the reality on the ground for days to come as crews must check over 200 wires for possible damage.

For now, all service along the Port Washington Branch will continue to operate normally. The LIRR’s plans for the other lines during peak and off-peak hours are as follows, and for the why of it, check out how The Times explains it today:

It seems improbable that a piece of ancient machinery, a contraption of levers and pulleys designed in 1913, would be critical to the successful operation of one of the nation’s largest commuter railroads.

But the machinery, which remained on fire for about an hour, controls the 155 track switches at a crucial choke point: Jamaica Station, which 10 of the railroad’s 11 branches must travel through to get in and out of New York City.

With no way to direct trains onto their proper routes, railroad workers scrambled onto the tracks, spikes and mallets in hand, to lock the switches into place manually so that trains could travel by, a practice known in railroad parlance as “block and spike.”

:

Tuesday AM Rush

Thirty-three westbound AM rush hour trains — or 25 percent of the normal capacity — will be canceled. The complete list of canceled trains can be found here. As a result of the cancellations, the MTA expects residual delays from added station stops. Says the Rail Road, “Customers will be able to exit or board trains at Jamaica Station, however trains making scheduled stops at Jamaica will not be held for scheduled connections to Penn Station, Atlantic Terminal, Hunterspoint Avenue, and Long Island City.” LIRR personnel will be on hand to provide directions, and Manhattan-bound customers may be better off transferring to the E, J or Z trains at Jamaica.

There will be no train service between West Hempstead and Valley Stream with buses available at Valley Stream. Westbound trains will not run from St. Albans, and again, shuttle buses will provide service.

Eastbound reverse-peak service from Atlantic Terminal and Penn Station will operate at regularly scheduled times but with anticipated delays en route. There will be no eastbound train service from Jamaica to Locust Manor, Laurelton and Rosedale. The MTA will run buses instead.

Tuesday PM Rush

The LIRR’s plan for Tuesday evening is similar to Monday’s. Approximately 60 percent of the 120 regularly-scheduled trains that leave Manhattan will run, and the agency expects canceled trains, delays and no connections at Jamaica Station.

In addition to the Port Washington service, evening rush service from Penn Station will include dedicated trains making local stops to Huntington/Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma/Greenport, Long Beach, Babylon and Montauk, but police will be engaging in serious crowd-control measures at Penn Station. MTA officers will carefully regulate the number of people entering the LIRR section of the terminal, allowing customers in as trains become available. Crowding is also a concern at Jamaica.

LIRR is will be offering Hempstead and Far Rockaway-bound trains only from Atlantic Terminal in downtown Brooklyn. There will be no Hempstead and Far Rockaway service from Penn Station.

LIRR customers were also advised of service changes if heading for the following destinations:

  • Oyster Bay: Travel to Mineola for connections to all Oyster Bay branch stops.
  • West Hempstead: Travel to Valley Stream where buses will be available to take them onto to their home stations.
  • Patchogue, Speonk and Montauk: Customers can connect to those trains at Babylon.

I will continue to update with more information throughout the day.



Categories : LIRR

18 Responses to “LIRR plans reduced service for Tuesday”

  1. Alon Levy says:

    Why are they not guaranteeing the connection at Jamaica? Is this because the extra dwell time means adhering to schedule is more difficult?

    • I think it’s because they can’t flip the switches easily and that Jamaica can’t handle large crowds of people waiting for trains. Here’s how The Times explains it today:

      It seems improbable that a piece of ancient machinery, a contraption of levers and pulleys designed in 1913, would be critical to the successful operation of one of the nation’s largest commuter railroads.

      But the machinery, which remained on fire for about an hour, controls the 155 track switches at a crucial choke point: Jamaica Station, which 10 of the railroad’s 11 branches must travel through to get in and out of New York City.

      With no way to direct trains onto their proper routes, railroad workers scrambled onto the tracks, spikes and mallets in hand, to lock the switches into place manually so that trains could travel by, a practice known in railroad parlance as “block and spike.”

      • Alon Levy says:

        Ah.

        Is there no way to lock the tracks in a position that allows through-service to at least the Main Line and the Babylon Branch?

        • I guess not. I’m not familiar enough with the way the LIRR’s switching and signaling technology works to answer that question though.

          • Alon Levy says:

            Okay, looking at the track map, it looks as if it is possible to maintain through-service with all switches locked, and even make the transfers cross-platform, but it entails using just one track for all westbound Main Line trains, which may create capacity problems. In addition, the emergency turnouts between the Montauk and Atlantic Branches near Valley Stream introduce a lot of train conflicts: they effectively single-track a short section east of Valley Stream station.

            Knowing nothing about the LIRR’s current schedule slack and signaling system, I’m willing to believe that there’s no way to maintain the cross-platform transfers at peak hour.

            • Scott E says:

              Wow, Alon! I’ve been trying to find an LIRR track map [for curiosity’s sake, of course] for the longest time. I didn’t think a public version, official or unofficial, existed. How in the world did you find this one?

              • Alon Levy says:

                Someone on one of the California blogs pointed me to this website when I asked how many slow zones the Acela had between New York and Philadelphia. There are maps of Metro-North, NJT, and SEPTA, and as of last year the author said he was working on a map of the full Northeast Corridor.

    • Andrew says:

      Because the normal schedules are basically meaningless now, and there wasn’t enough lead time to throw together new schedules to reflect the reality on the ground. Lots of trains will be getting to Jamaica late, and their scheduled connections aren’t going to be held to be equally late.

      The emphasis right now is on getting as much service as possible through the area. If the tower is going to remain out of service for a long time, I’m sure the schedules will be rewritten, but that’s the sort of thing that can’t be done overnight.

  2. Scott E says:

    Lets just hope this turns into a political windfall for the MTA (that Albany recognizes the danger of deferred maintenance and reliance on 100-year old machines) rather than a political blame-game (words like “typical”, “can’t they do anything right”). Unfortunately, I fear the latter.

    When trains fail, you take the train out-of-service. When complex interlockings fail, you take ALL the trains out of service. You can’t afford to mess with that.

    • Marc Shepherd says:

      I see no chance of Albany recognizing anything.

      • SEAN says:

        Albany will introduce a new program called “no train left behind.” If the MTA has another problem on this scale, aditional funding is cut.

        Then Albany blames the MTA for it’s failures & reminds them time & time again why there funding got cut. When the MTA calls out for help Albany replies grow up & figgure it out yourself!

        • Sharon says:

          I don’t want to sound like a broken record but more funding is just a call to the union for more raises. The mta has plenty of dedicated taxes(that should not be raided by law) and it is the work rules, salaries and management that is the problem. Between savings from proper operational practices, dedicated taxes and tolls their is more than enough money to right the ship

          • Between savings from proper operational practices, dedicated taxes and tolls their is more than enough money to right the ship.

            If so, then why does the authority have to raise fares by nearly 10 percent just to keep service as its already reduced levels? There isn’t enough money, and the idea that more money would just go into the pockets of the workers isn’t an accurate one.

            • Alon Levy says:

              Because proper operational practices were invented elsewhere. Even Walder thinks the MTA is too good to have proper POP on the commuter trains.

              • John Paul N. says:

                Or maybe he knows the backlash that would result in the firing of conductors due to the installation of a traditional POP system. It’s just like the OPTO that could never be truly implemented because of employees’ prized job security.

                • Alon Levy says:

                  And yet he sells his preferred system – having conductors collect tickets from all passengers, but do it faster using smartcard readers – as a cost reduction.

                  Best industry practice is to do OPTO and use the savings to run more off-peak service, using shorter trains if necessary.

      • SEAN says:

        Perhaps, but what if there was a transit program called “no train left behind.” Everytime the MTA has a problem, funding is cut. Oh! wait a minute ! doesn’t that happen already?

        Duh! Albany

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