For the second time in two months the Long Island Rail Road is apologizing for a major service disruption that stranded passengers at Penn Station, at branch stations and on trains Thursday evening.
The MTA said a lightning strike early evening knocked a signal system west of Jamaica out of commission and that crews worked overnight and into Friday morning to restore it. The LIRR ran all but four normal rush hour trains Friday morning and said Friday's evening commute should be “normal.”
“The LIRR apologizes for the service suspension last night that left many of our customers without a regular means of getting home and that stranded some passengers on trains between stations,” said the agency in a public statement on its website posted Friday afternoon.
It states it has launched a full review of both the service and communications and the underlying failure of the Jamaica signal system network.
“We are working closely on identifying the root causes of the malfunctions with Ansaldo, the designer of the newly installed micro processing switch and signal equipment. In addition, the LIRR is retaining an outside consultant, Systra, to help in the review process, including the system's lightning protection, diagnostics and backup systems,” said the LIRR.
After the lightning strike damaged the primary and backup signal systems workers began manually setting switches. Meanwhile, the LIRR initiated a service diversion plan, advising customers to take the E train from Penn Station to Jamaica. NYC Transit Authority cross-honored LIRR tickets.
However, just after many customers had reached Jamaica via the subway and boarded eastbound trains, the "Hall" signal location east of Jamaica, which is part of the complete Jamaica signal network, then failed, causing a full suspension of service. Some standing trains were unable to safely move in either direction because of the second signal system failure.