NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If a strike goes ahead for the Long Island Rail Road, how long will it take for the trains to stop running?

As WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it will only take hours. But the union suggested a wind-down of service could take days.

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Steve Harrod, a transportation researcher at the Technical University of Denmark, said it did not take days even to secure trains before Superstorm Sandy back in October 2012.

“There’s no hurricane coming, so how could it possibly take longer than that to shut down for a strike?” Harrod said.

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But if a strike were to last more than a few days, the train cars would have to be sealed and protected. Harrod said the reason both sides have been so vague about the timeline is strategic.

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“It’s a gamble, right? If they do a short-term shutdown and things turn out wrong, and suddenly it’s long-term shutdown and they didn’t prepare all this equipment for a long-term shutdown, you know, it’s a big annoyance,” he said.

In a statement Monday, LIRR unions said service could begin to wind down as early as Wednesday as the railroad secures its equipment in preparations for the possible strike.

But United Transportation Union President Anthony Simon, the chief negotiator for LIRR’s unions, clarified that point and said there would be no reduction in service Wednesday.

“The Long Island Rail Road is already starting to secure some of its yards, nothing to do with service,” Simon said. “They’re starting to move some equipment around, as far as track equipment, to lock down equipment, and that’s just a safety issue.”

The LIRR unions and the MTA resumed talks Wednesday at the insistence of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. They wrapped up in the evening with no deal, but were set to resume face-to-face talks Thursday morning.

For information on the MTA’s contingency plan in case of a strike, click here.

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