News

MTA Report: Worker Error Contributed To LIRR System Breakdown After Lightning Strike

Delays listed following a lightning strike on Sept. 29, 2011 that crippled the Long Island Rail Road (credit: CBS 2)

Delays listed following a lightning strike on Sept. 29, 2011 that crippled the Long Island Rail Road (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Long Island Rail Road officials are taking the blame for a meltdown that affected thousands of commuters last fall.

On Sept. 29, 2011, a lightning strike caused a power surge, crippling the railroad’s signal system and triggering hours of delays during the evening rush.

According to a report by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s inspector general, the state of the art upgrade to the system, which was designed to protect against lightning strikes, failed.

Extra: Read the complete report (.pdf)

The report found one worker used the wrong connector in installing computer equipment, ultimately leading to the electrical surge that shut down trains west of Jamaica.

A series of missteps by the LIRR and the system designer ended up making the situation worse, according to the report.

To prevent similar incidents in the future, the report suggests having the railroad work closely with contractors modifying equipment, provide better training for employees on troubleshooting and having more spare parts on hand.

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