LIRR reviewing Belmont Stakes day performance

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LIRR President Phillip Eng greeting commuters at the Mineola train station. (Photo by Rebecca Klar)
LIRR President Phillip Eng greeting commuters at the Mineola train station. (Photo by Rebecca Klar)

Following train delays, the Long Island Rail Road is reviewing its performance and actions on the day of the Belmont Stakes.

An electronic component signal system failed, causing delays on multiple lines the day of the June 9 race.

LIRR President Phillip Eng, who was at Belmont all day leading the effort to restore train service, said customers deserve reliable train service and accurate communication.

“We are reviewing Belmont Stakes Day operations and pinpointing ways to further enhance our response, customer communications, and opportunities to add further redundancies,” Eng said in a statement. “I am committed to improving the way the LIRR operates not just for special events, but for all passengers who ride our railroad.”

All components were working normally until the component signal system at the Queens interlocking in Queens Village failed, according to LIRR spokeswoman Sarah Armaghan.

The LIRR had run practice drills and tested switches leading up to the race, Armaghan said. The systems are inspected daily, and no failures of this signal system were reported recently.

The piece that malfunctioned has been sent back to the manufacturer to get a better sense of what may have caused the failure, Armaghan said.

Despite the malfunctioning piece, the LIRR had an on-time performance of about 83 percent the day of the race, according to Armaghan.

The system, which Newsday reported broke down shortly after 1 p.m., was repaired by 5:20 p.m, Armaghan said.

Crews were positioned at key locations throughout the railroad system and were able, with manual operations, to keep trains running to Belmont while fixes were made, Armaghan said.

The issue was not a result of service to Belmont the day of the race, Armaghan said, adding that the interlocking carries high volumes of train each day in rush hour. 

There will likely be more large crowds passing through the Belmont station with the plans for the new New York Islanders arena to be built on site.

The Islanders, partnered with Sterling Development and Oak View Group, plan to create a 18,000-seat arena, a multipurpose event center, a retail center and a hotel.

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the plan in December, he said that the Belmont station will be revamped.

State Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill) told Newsday the issues the station experienced at Belmont shows it is not yet ready for the large crowds.

Phillips did note the LIRR’s fast response to the issues, according to Newsday, but said “it’s absolutely clear what exists has to be corrected.”

“Because what exists cannot handle the types of crowds that we are going to be bringing in to Belmont,” Phillips said. “What’s going to make this project or break this project is going to be transportation.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Klar by email at rklar@theislandnow.com, by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 204, or follow her on Twitter @rebeccaklar_.

1 COMMENT

  1. Who cares what Philips says -she already voted for the funding – she was one of the last two votes that could have stopped it.

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