Some 500 Long Island Rail Road passengers were stuck on a late-night train without electricity or air conditioning for more than 90 minutes Thursday, LIRR officials said.
The 10:39 p.m. train to Babylon encountered switching problems in Queens about 15 minutes after leaving Penn Station, according to LIRR spokeswoman Meredith Daniels.
The train tried to return west to be routed around the bad switch. But along the way it lost its connection to the third rail, which provides electricity to the train, including for its air conditioning system.
The switch and electrical issues were unrelated, Daniels said.
"You had, unfortunately, two problems that happened," Daniels said. "It would have been less of a problem if it was just a switch problem or just a power problem. But together, it caused a longer delay."
With outdoor temperatures near 90 degrees, train crew members handed out bottled water to passengers, Daniels said. Shortly after midnight, a rescue engine, with MTA police officers on board, arrived at the scene to move the train until it regained electrical power.
"The worst part of it was the heat. I was in a suit -- as were most people -- that was drenched," said Tom O'Hanlon, 25, of Rockville Centre, who took the train with two colleagues following an after-work dinner. "We had babies on our car who were obviously getting very frustrated with the heat and were screaming."
O'Hanlon said the crew did try to keep passengers updated, but had little useful information.
MTA personnel opened the doors on the end of the trains to let air in, but Hanlon said it made little difference. On other cars, Hanlon said passengers took out emergency windows. Daniels said police had no reports of any such incidents.
"At least our car stayed pretty calm. But we could hear people yelling in other cars, getting a little testy," said O'Hanlon, who praised the train crew's efforts. "They were having just as much fun as anyone else did."
Daniels said police surveyed all eight cars of the train and made sure there were no medical emergencies and that "everyone was OK."
At 1:13 a.m., the train arrived at Jamaica, where the train was taken out of service and passengers transferred to another train to complete their trips. The train finally arrived at its destination, Babylon, at 2:26 a.m. -- two and a half hours late.
"We do apologize to our riders for the ordeal and for all they endured last night," Daniels said.