Freight Train Derails
Another day, another derailment. It’s been a rough stretch for New York trains, which seem to be skipping from their tracks with frightening regularity down this last stretch of summer.
Earlier this month, we covered a G train derailment, which caused all sorts of commuter-havoc, and can be read about here. This time around, it was a freight train belonging to the New York & Atlantic Railway that jumped track. The accident occurred in New Cassel, a small Nassau County hamlet that lies adjacent to Westbury. The date of the accident was September the 15th, a Tuesday. The following Wednesday morning saw the expected delays and cancellations, stemming from the repairs that had to be made and the clean-up involved. Since this was a freight train accident, passenger danger was mercifully limited. But since these freights share the rails with their brethren commuter trains, and this particular 16-car freight was running the Ronkonkoma line at the time of the crash, the aforementioned delays affected also Long Island Rail Road commuter service. The derailment occurred very near to the Hicksville station.
Only the last two cars lost their connection with the rails.
Residents nearby reported a catastrophic scene: a cacophonous eruption of sound tearing into the early night, and a resultant field of skittered debris and broken cargo, splayed over the displaced bulks of the two toppled train cars themselves. A lingering cloud of dark-colored dust presided over the scene for hours.
Service was fully suspended for a full 40 minutes post-incident. And the ever-urgent denizens of Long Island were on-hand to grouse about it. Situations like these are naturally going to provoke only the worst opinions from people, who experience intermittent lateness even when derailments aren’t factors to overcome. Work-weary and eager to get home to their families, some of those commuters affected lamented their situation, but noted that there wasn’t very much they could do about it. If you live on the island and work in the city (or vice versa), and don’t have a car, the Long Island Railroad is, essentially, your only option for conveyance.
Though additional buses were provided to try and cope with some of the spillover.
The clean-up project was complex. Nearby foliage had to be hacked away to allow access for the cranes which came and scooped up particulate and unspooled cargo. Bent rails needed to be worked back into functioning order, and the trains themselves, of course, had to be righted.
Alas, the story’s silver lining: there were no injuries reported.
The word is still out on what went wrong, as officials have yet to determine the cause of the accident.
But it’s not all gloom and doom for the Long Island Railroad. A few years back, the LIRR implemented a special new service, referred to as “cannonball” trains, which help ship city-wearing Manhattanites out to the Hamptons in a fraction of the time. If you weren’t able to take full advantage of these non-stop trains this summer, we’re here to remind you to get onboard next year! Along with being fully express -running from Penn Station to the Hamptons with no stops in-between- they also allow customers to reserve tickets ahead of time, and even book spots aboard special dining cars that offer food and drink. Trains used to run out of the otherwise unheralded Hunterspoint Station, but the small location proved overwhelmed. There simply weren’t enough ticket booths or enough platform space to handle such large, sun-seeking crowds.
These Cannonball trains operate on Friday afternoons during the summer months, and transport approximately 1,400 passengers per day. At 16 cars apiece, these trains are the longest units in the Long Island Railroad’s fleet, but they pack a one-two punch of locomotives, helping them maintain cannonballesque propulsion as they spirit beachgoers eastwards.
A correlated plus to these specialty trains is the alleviation of traffic experienced on the Long Island Expressway and other roads. Anything that helps reduce vehicular traffic is a plus, and a migration of travelers to the LIRR subtracts many cars and trucks from the roads.
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