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LIRR Shuts Down Half Of Its Escalators For Repairs Following Safety Review

Closed escalator at the Long Island Rail Road station - Lindenhurst, NY - Mar 14, 2012 (credit: Mike Xirinachs / WCBS 880)

Closed escalator at the Long Island Rail Road station – Lindenhurst, NY – Mar 14, 2012 (credit: Mike Xirinachs / WCBS 880)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Long Island Rail Road is working to rehabilitate its aging escalators.

The railroad took on the project following the death of an 88-year-old woman who was killed in an escalator accident earlier this year at the Lindenhurst station.

Irene Bernatzky was killed on March 13 after officials said she fell on the moving stairs and was strangled when her clothing got entangled in the escalator mechanics.

1010 WINS’ John Montone reports

Bernatzky’s death forced the LIRR to review all of its escalators.

Now, 10 of the railroad’s 19 escalators have been taken out of service so the LIRR can make repairs and install new safety technology.

Joe Calderone, vice president of customer service, said the project is absolutely necessary.

“We know that having these units out of service is an inconvenience for our customers, we apologize for that, but safety is absolutely our number one priority,” Calderone said.

The escalators are being equipped with new safety sensors, steps, step chains, brake assemblies, top and bottom comb plates and controllers, according to the LIRR.

Escalators at the Lindenhurst, Babylon and Rockville Centre stations are expected to be back up and running by the end of this month.

The LIRR hopes to have escalators in Baldwin, Amittyville, Hicksville and Freeport back in service by the end of September.

The escalator at the Copiague station could return to service as late as October, according to the LIRR.

Five of those stations have working elevators.

The escalator serving the westbound platform at the Hicksville station was returned to service Saturday night.