LIRR service returns to hard-hit Long Beach

November 14, 2012 2:22:23 PM PST
The Long Island Rail Road has restored limited weekday service on its Long Beach branch.

That means all 10 LIRR branches are now running trains connecting New York City and Long Island for the first time since Superstorm Sandy struck two weeks ago.

As of Wednesday, trains are running every hour during peak times and every two hours off-peak.

Diesel trains that don't require electric power are running between Long Beach and Lynbrook. Commuters can connect with New York-bound trains at Lynbrook.

"This is a major milestone for us in getting back to normal," John Lhota of the MTA said.

For the next few weeks the double decker trains will take passengers from Long Beach making all stops to Lynbrook where they'll transfer to regular electric trains.

"So everyday you'll see a little bit more as far as service coming back to our LIRR customers," he said.

Hurricane Sandy washed out three of the four substations along the Long Beach branch. Those substations feed electricity to the third rail were heavily damaged by flooding.

Crews have already repaired much of the parts and have done a lot of track repair work, but the LIRR says it will take at least until the end of next month to get everything back up and running with normal service.

For now, trains will run hourly to Lynbrook during peak periods during the week. They will run every two hours during non-peak periods. There will be no trains on weekends or holidays instead bus service will be provided.

"We are going to use as fast and as hard as we can to bring back the regular level of electric service," Helena Williams, President LIRR," said.

Customers say they're just happy some service is back.

"I've been taking the bus from my niece's house. I have to go to therapy and keep moving around and keep moving around because there was no train and so hard on the bus to get around," Kamala Ram said.

"I think the MTA is doing a great job. I admire them in comparison to the utility company and all the people around to help you. It's fabulous," David Brandes said.

The LIRR resumed a regular schedule on its nine other branches this week, although 18 trains were removed from the overall daily schedule because of limited access to four tunnels under the East River into Manhattan.

Because of fewer trains overall, each of which can carry as many as 2,000 commuters on average 10-car trains, commuters were contending with standing-room-only conditions during rush hours. In some instances, conductors have been unable to pass through the jammed cars to collect tickets.

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