NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — It’s not just an inconvenience anymore, the feds are looking into danger on the Long Island Railroad.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker exclusively reported, the Federal Railroad Administration is looking into safety issues on the LIRR.
“It’s like gladiator to get on the train,” Lauren Machinist said.
CBS2’s Baker rode a train where dozens of commuters were jam packed into cars, sitting on top of suitcases, and blocking stairs and emergency exits.
Kim Hall had to sit on the floor from Penn Station to Montauk on Friday.
“I find it unsafe because people can’t pass in an evacuation situation. I find it unsafe,” she said.
She’s certainly not alone.
“Sitting on my bags, standing for 2 hours, fighting people just trying to get through the aisles, everyone gets really aggressive,” Racheal Kasab said.
The Friday, 4 p.m. Cannonball express train on the Montauk Line consists of twelve cars, three of which are reserved seating only, which leaves 1,046 seats in the unreserved section.
According to the LIRR there were 1,540 customers on board on Friday, Aug. 7. That left 494 people standing between 9 cars, or about extra people per car.
It’s not just riders concerned about safety, CBS2 has exclusively learned that the Federal Railroad Administration will meet with the LIRR’s Head of Operations on Tuesday afternoon.
“To discuss solutions to the problem of overcrowding, which can be a concern as it relates to the ability of people to move from one car to the next in the event of an emergency,” the agency said.
Riders want more service.
“It’s a disaster really. People pushing, shoving, not a comfortable experience. No idea why they are allowed to over sell the train like they are,” Matthew Scally said.
Commuters told CBS2’s Baker that said the problems aren’t limited to Fridays. Once their track is posted on the board it’s a daily battle for a seat.
“It’s not a holiday thing anymore. The trains have become unpredictable timewise, but they are so overcrowded that during rush hours, morning, night, insufficient trains, insufficient seats,” Sue Bruno said.
The LIRR released a statement regarding the probe.
“Would never permit any train to leave Penn Station if it believed the crowding was unsafe. No one is forced to board the train and if a customer feels the Cannonball is too crowded, he or she can take any one of the numerous Montauk-bound trains leaving Penn Station or Hunterspoint Station in Queens all day and all night on Fridays,” the LIRR said.
CBS2 plans to follow up after Tuesday’s meeting.
The LIRR added that unlike building codes for hotel rooms and restaurants there are no maximum occupancy limits for LIRR trains.