Derailment Strands LIRR Passengers Hundreds Stuck After Pair of Cars Jumps Tracks Near Jamaica Station

Queens Chronicle - November 28, 2019

According to the MTA, the train derailed at 9:27 p.m., roughly 400 yards east of Jamaica Station. The train left the station shortly after 9:20 p.m. and was travelling 13 miles per hour when the rear two cars left the track.

There were 383 riders on board, none of whom were injured. The two derailed cars, however, had shifted approximately a foot to the right and caused delays throughout the entire system.

Shortly after the derailment, power was cut to allow the FDNY and NYPD on the tracks. A tweet by the LIRR at 10:05 p.m. claimed there was a rescue train on-site.

The rescue train wasn’t actually able to help at the time. Ten minutes after the tweet was made, Stony Brook alum Joe Williams responded that they were still waiting.

“The train has been derailed for 30 minutes and no rescue train is near,” he said. Without power, the rescue train could not get close enough until well after 11 p.m. when power was finally restored.

“The LIRR should have used a diesel train instead to rescue passengers,” said Passengers United transit advocate Charlton D’souza on Twitter.

The rescue train sat above the Jamaica Center Bus Terminal near Parsons Boulevard and Archer Avenue. According to an MTA press release, all riders were safely moved by 11:38 p.m.

What was supposed to be a 50-minute ride turned into an ordeal of more than three hours. The LIRR reported that the problem was compounded by a sick passenger at Valley Stream, which caused further delays, and an unruly rider who was detained.

Throughout the evening, riders of other branches faced extensive delays as a result. At 11 p.m. trains to Long Beach, Oyster Bay, Far Rockaway and Hempstead were all facing delays of 30 to 50 minutes.

Regular service began to be restored early Saturday morning as crews worked to remove the derailed cars.

“We have been working around the clock to make repairs to the track,” said LIRR Senior Vice President of Operations Rod Brooks. “The LIRR has launched an investigation into the cause of the slow speed derailment and we will leave no stone unturned.”

The cause of the derailment is still unknown but according to the MTA, investigators discovered a broken rail. It is still unclear, however, whether it caused the derailment or was damaged by it.

The rail in question was inspected hours before the incident on Friday as part of a weekly safety policy.

The rear car was re-railed at 8:20 a.m. Saturday morning and the second car at 11:31 a.m. Repairs to the broken rail followed.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, this incident was the LIRR’s fifth derailment of 2019. Four of the five happened in Queens.

The investigation is expected to take a few weeks to be completed.