LIRR under fire for handling of Sept. lightning strike

WOODBURY - A report released today by the MTA inspector general claims the Long Island Rail Road's plan to modify its new $56 million signal system at the Jamaica station created the pathway for a lightning strike that crippled the railroad for hours on Sept. 29, 2011.Metropolitan Transportation Authority Inspector General Barry Kluger says an improper connector used by the LIRR to install an extra piece of equipment to the signal system caused an electrical surge.

As a result, thousands of passengers on board nine trains were left standing on platforms, and others on 17 trains were stranded between stations during the evening rush.In the report, Kluger says the signal system was designed by Ansaldo STS, but installed by LIRR workers.

Kluger added that during the installation process, the LIRR workers opted to add a piece of computer equipment called a 'serial server' that was not part of the ASTS design.

Kluger says in the course of attaching the server to the new signaling equipment, a LIRR employee used one incorrect connection.

The report states that all agencies agreed that the connector created the 'pathway' in which the power surge generated by the lightning damaged the signal system and brought it down in September.

In addition, Kluger says that ASTS never provided the LIRR with an operating manual or troubleshooting procedures. LIRR employees did not have the proper replacement parts to diagnose and correct the system problems. The report also blames ASTA for not providing the LIRR with a list of critical spare parts after the design was completed. After an investigation, an action plan to address the weaknesses has been suggested. Some of the proposals include the addition of more surge protection and modification of pre-programmed diagnostics in the equipment.

Full MTA-OIG Report on the 2011 LIRR Lightning Strike

LIRR: Lightning, human error caused service interruption last monthOfficials probe lightning strike that took down LIRR system

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