LIRRCC Responds to Penn Station Derailment


Statement of the LIRRCC on the June 17, 2013 LIRR Derailment

June 18, 2013

The Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council (LIRRCC) is extremely concerned with the increase that it has seen in serious track incidents and derailments throughout the MTA system over the past eight months.  While we are grateful that there were no injuries from last night’s LIRR derailment in Amtrak’s East River Tunnels, the resulting “Monday madness” at Penn Station was only the latest in a string of service disruptions. Last night’s incident not only derailed a train but the plans of tens of thousands of LIRR riders.  At this time of year with widespread graduations and other celebratory events, many riders were particularly negatively impacted by last evening’s disruption of service.

The LIRRCC calls for a full investigation of this incident by Amtrak, the Federal Transit Administration, and the Long Island Rail Road.  Questions that must be addressed by this investigation include the cause and contributing factors of the incident, the lessons that can be learned and how similar incidents can be avoided in the future, and whether this incident occurred in one of the Penn Station tunnels that was damaged in Superstorm Sandy and reconstructed by Amtrak.  The Council expects the investigation to be thorough and prompt and calls for its results to be released to the general public by all of the three agencies.

Once again the LIRRCC was discouraged by the lack of information given by the railroad to its riders.  Riders deserve timely and accurate information that will allow them to plan their travel during times of crisis.  While outside sources were reporting a derailment, the LIRR email alert system was reporting a disabled train in the tunnel.   Words matter, and the words used by the LIRR did not convey the seriousness of the situation and may have contributed to the overcrowding seen at Penn Station and resulting overcrowding on trains. Riders who were at Penn Station have expressed frustration at the lack of information during this disruption.

“During a service disruption or other crisis, information is the least expensive and most valuable commodity that can be provided to riders.  Last night, that commodity was in short supply for LIRR riders” said LIRRCC Chair Mark Epstein.