RONKONKOMA - Commuters who rely on the Long Island Rail Road were preparing for a difficult Monday morning commute in the wake of a train derailment that injured 33 people over the weekend.
Service disruptions and heavy delays were reported on the rails on Sunday as crews scrambled to clear the scene of the derailment in New Hyde Park. Service on the Oyster Bay branch remains suspended with limited bus service available. Limited service has been restored on the Ronkonkoma, Port Jefferson branches.
One bright spot is that travel during the Monday rush may be lighter because of the Columbus Day holiday, but signs affixed to ticket machines are warning of "major service changes."
Gerard Bringmann, of the Long Island Commuter Council, says it all spells trouble for riders. "They're running service from Ronkonkoma, Port Jefferson, and Huntington to Hicksville. At Hicksville you switch from electric to a diesel shuttle to Babylon. Then at Babylon you have to switch back to an electric train to New York," he says.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says if there are delays Monday morning, it won't be for a lack of effort. He says crews were called in from around the state and were prepared to work through the night to try to clear the tracks in time for Monday.
"Ideally we would have both tracks up and running. At a minimum, we want to have one track up and running," the governor said at a Sunday news conference.
Customers are being urged to use the railroad's South Shore lines in the meantime. Riders should also check in with the LIRR before heading to their staion by visiting the LIRR's website, following the LIRR on social media and downloading the LIRR's app.
A 12-car passenger train carrying 600 people sideswiped a work train and derailed about a half-mile east of the New Hyde Park station around 9 p.m. Saturday. A total of 33 people were hospitalized, including four people who suffered serious injuries.
Authorities are investigating the cause, but Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday that it "looks like it will be human error."