NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Long Island Rail Road commuters returning to work after the long Memorial Day weekend were met with heavy delays and cancellations Tuesday after a third rail power outage inside one of the East River tunnels stalled two trains during the morning rush.
The trains were operating on the Babylon branch and originated from Babylon and Massapequa Park when they became stranded inside the tunnel Tuesday morning.
Video posted to social media shows riders stuck on an LIRR train inside one of the tunnels.
Two shuttle drivers who were picking up passengers at the Hunterspoint LIRR station described hearing something out of the norm.
“Next thing I know, ‘boom!’ And then ‘boom’ again and two huge clouds of smoke,” witness Alan Barzak told CBS2’s Magdalena Doris.
“The LIRR train, the express train, was going through the tunnel at the time so we thought maybe an engine blew,” the other driver said. “But the train kept going.”
It took 75 minutes to clear one of the trains that was stuck inside the tunnel with 1,000 passengers on board. People stuck on the train were handed drinking water.
LIRR service was snarled as crews worked to fix the power problem, with westbound delays averaging 90 minutes for a time Tuesday morning.
The LIRR said on Twitter that one train, the 7:35 a.m. from Port Jefferson, arrived at Penn 96 minutes late while another train, the 8:03 a.m. from Long Beach, pulled into Penn 108 minutes late.
Many commuters Tuesday morning were fed up.
“Hour and a half late,” said LIRR customer Joe Russello. “It was horrible.”
“Like sardines,” said rider Ian Thomas-Minor. “Like being at a concert without VIP — standing room only.”
“One of my friends is stuck in the tunnel trying to get here, he’s already a half-hour late,” one rider named Mark told 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck. “Hopefully don’t have to work in the city all summer because it’s ridiculous. You can’t get home, you can’t get in.”
“Horrible. Ridiculously horrible,” another commuter told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell. “We were stuck on the train for an hour and five minutes.”
“It doesn’t matter what transit system you are using, it seems the last two and a half, three months everything just fell apart,” said another rider.
Others took to Twitter to voice their frustrations.
But some passengers said it’s business as usual when riding the LIRR.
“It’s just every day,” said commuter Anthony Marta. “Every day with them, nothing changes.”
“You pay the next increase, get on the train,” said another man. “I have 15 more years before I can retire.”
The disabled trains have since been cleared and service has resumed on or close to schedule system-wide, according to the LIRR. New York City Transit was cross-honoring LIRR tickets throughout the morning, but the LIRR said cross-honoring is no longer in effect.
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