NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Long Island Rail Road service was fully restored Monday afternoon where a train derailed over the weekend near New Hyde Park.
One of the two tracks was back in service in time for the Monday morning commute, allowing limited trains on the LIRR’s Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma and Oyster Bay Branches. Full service was restored in time for evening rush hour.
CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reports crews removed the last damaged car that was blocking one of the two main tracks near New Hyde Park.
“I thank all of the employees who worked around the clock to restore train service so commuters can get where they need to go as easily and efficiently as possible,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
Dozens of railroad workers in orange vests scrambled to make repairs with shovels, sledgehammers and construction equipment.
LIRR commuters arrived early to the Mineola station Monday morning not knowing what to expect and shared their concerns over the incident, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.
“Shouldn’t happen, from train to train, especially something like this where it does seem human error that one of the construction trains was in the way,” one commuter said.
State officials say a 12-car LIRR train and a work train performing track maintenance “side-swiped” each other Saturday night, causing the commuter train to derail.
Ray Martel was heading home Saturday night when the first three cars derailed.
“I jumped in the middle of the aisle and fell down because I was afraid,” he said. “I didn’t know if it was a tree or branches that might break through windows, but it got real scary.”
Thirty-three people were injured, four of them seriously, and 600 people on board were evacuated.
“When you see the destruction, we’re actually very, very lucky that nobody died,” Cuomo said.
Commuters waiting on the platform 500 feet from the crash site Monday were hoping safety is improved. Since 2011, the LIRR has had 15 commuter train derailments.
A union source told CBS2’s McLogan that equipment does not have to be operated by a certified locomotive engineer as passenger trains must be, and in this case it was being moved by a non-engineer LIRR employee.
“That’s when you kind of get nervous about where the miscommunication was,” commuter Jennifer Lujan told CBS2’s Magdalena Doris. “You don’t know if that could happen at any time. You just hope they learned their lesson.”
Four hours after completing shutting down eastbound service on Ronkonkoma, Port Jefferson and Oyster Bay branches, east and westbound trains were able to share the track most of the day through the derailment site.
“Definitely makes you think about dangers that come within transportation,” one commuter said.
Another said, “I don’t think there is going to be another derailment, I hope.”
The rail road is urging customers to take the Port Washington or Hempstead branches instead and hopes to have full service restored by the Tuesday morning rush.
The Federal Railroad Administration briefed Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., telling him human error was likely the cause.
The National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate.
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