Long Islanders looking to travel by train may have encountered limited or suspended service Saturday, as the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) continues to clean up the snow and ice Winter Storm Nemo left behind.
Due to snow accumulation and third rail icing conditions, the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) provided two-hourly service to and from Farmingdale on the Ronkonkoma branch, and to and from Babylon, Huntington and Port Washington after 7 a.m. Saturday. Service on all other branches, including Long Beach, was suspended.
MTA officials said they operated under “Modified Schedule 4” on their four busiest branches of the railroad after the storm, as listed on their official website. They noted that special timetables were adopted last year as a way to “let customers know the level of LIRR service to expect either during a storm or as we come out of a storm.”
Under “Modified Schedule 4,” trains are run every two hours out of Penn Station, making all stops on the Babylon and Port Washington branches, in addition to running every two hours as far as Huntington on the Port Jefferson branch and as far as Farmingdale on the Ronkonkoma branch. Ticket waiting rooms at all stations on those branches were kept open to shelter customers from the cold.
Snow accumulations as high as 30 inches in some places made it necessary for the LIRR to suspend service temporarily on the Long Beach, Far Rockaway, Hempstead and Oyster Bay branches, officials said, as well as the Montauk branch east of Speonk, the Port Jefferson branch east of Huntington and the Ronkonkoma branch east of Farmingdale. The West Hempstead branch does not operate on weekends, so no service changes were required.
In addition to high snowdrifts, weather-related third rail icing and switch and signal problems made it unsafe to operate on each of the suspended branches, according to the MTA. Service will be restored on each line “as soon as it is safe to do so.”
It is Long Island Rail Road policy to start suspending service temporarily if snow accumulations reach 10 to 13 inches. Officials said the downtime gives crews an opportunity to clear snow from tracks and switches. More than 1,200 LIRR employees worked over a 24-hour period while Nemo swept through the area, they explained.
Officials said customers may call 511, the New York State Travel Information line, for more information about possible changes to LIRR service this weekend. Revised schedules have also been posted on the MTA website.