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Widespread LIRR Delays After Third Rail Problem Strands Trains In East River Tunnel

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The LIRR is giving Tuesday morning commuters a taste of the Mondays, with widespread delays reported on trains bound for Penn Station. The problem this time has to do a third rail power malfunction on tracks under the East River. Two trains were stuck in one of the tunnels this morning; the first originated in Babylon at 6:12 a.m. and was due in Penn Station at 7:14 a.m. Alison Frankel, a columnist for Reuters, was among those stranded:

LIRR spokesman Aaron Donovan tells Gothamist that trains bound for Penn Station are experiencing delays up to 30 minutes, and that "a handful" of trains are being canceled at Jamaica Station in Queens or diverted to Hunterspoint Avenue or Atlantic Terminal.

"Amtrak had a third rail power problem inside one of the East River tunnels," Donovan said in an email shortly before 9 a.m. "There were two LIRR trains that became disabled. One, carrying 1,000 passengers, was in the tunnel for 75 minutes. That train has been cleared but there is still another one stuck that is being towed now." Here's a brief synopsis of this morning's commute, via the LIRR Twitter feed:

NYC Transit is cross honoring LIRR tickets at certain stations:

No injuries have been reported on the disabled trains, and conductors have been distributing water to frustrated commuters.

Not to be outdone, the L train also had problems earlier this morning, following reports of a smoke condition at 6th Avenue. Service has since resumed, with residual delays.

Today's LIRR headache is the latest in a seemingly ongoing delays in LIRR service, stemming in part from infrastructure deterioration in Penn Station. This summer Amtrak, which owns the tracks, is planning at least six weeks of repair work on a network of aging New Jersey Transit and Amtrak tracks. The repair work will necessitate the temporary closure of multiple tracks, and commuters who use Penn Station are already being told to expect delays.

However, the Penn Station repair work will not include improvements to tracks regularly used by the LIRR, Newsday reports.

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