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70° Good Afternoon

Two trains sideswipe each other at Jamaica station, LIRR says

Friday rush hour was not a happy one

Friday rush hour was not a happy one for LIRR commuters. Photo Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

Two passenger trains going in opposite directions sideswiped each other in a "minor collision" just west of the Jamaica station Friday evening, disrupting the east- and westbound rush-hour commute, authorities said.

No injuries were reported after a Huntington-bound train and a Montauk-to-Jamaica train collided before 6:30 p.m., said spokesman Aaron Donovan of the Long Island Rail Road. Initially, LIRR said the crash occurred between the Huntington train and maintenance equipment.

"I didn't even feel it," said C.S. Muncy of Manattan, a Newsday freelance photographer who was on the double-decker Montauk train. "The train came to a stop as it sometimes does and after a while, probably after a half hour, word came back that we hit another train."

The collision happened about 5:50 p.m., he said, and shortly after that, police officers could be seen walking around the outside of the train.

Photos from the scene showed one train car jammed up against a double-decker passinger train, which leaned off the tracks. On Track 4, where Donovan said one of the trains involved was hit, half the cars were stuck along the station platform and half just east of the platform.

LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski was scheduled to hold a news conference 9:30 p.m. at the Jamaica station.

Eastbound customers were warned of cancellations and delays. Westbound service, which was suspended between Jamaica and the Penn and Atlantic Terminal stations, was restored about 7:30 but residual delays were averaging 60 minutes, the railroad said.

Ronkonkoma, Port Washington, Port Jefferson and Babylon branch trains will operate from Penn Station, the LIRR said.

Dozens of exasperated commuters at Jamaica kept their eyes on smartphone or glued to the LIRR information screens on Friday night, waiting for trains that were hours delayed in some cases.

Bayport couple Josephine and Jasper Bailey spent two hours trying to get a train to Sayville, eager to get home after flying back from a seven-day vacation in Florida.

"It was beautiful, it was absolutely gorgeous," said Josephine of their vacation, "and this was the last thing we wanted to come home to. I'm annoyed. I don't want to end my vacation like this but I have no choice."

Then a train to Patchogue popped up on the information screen and the two rushed off, luggage in hand.

After a long week at work, intern Kelly Basdavanos, 21, was forced to take the subway from 103rd Street to Jamaica after getting to Penn Station around 6:30 p.m., only to find out she couldn't get her on her regular, train to Glen Cove.

"It's kind of just annoying that it's taking so long to get home after I was looking forward to a nice relaxing night," she said.

Other riders got stuck on trains, like Laurence Primus, who said his westbound train has been at a standstill for more than an hour after stopping just short of the Jamaica station.

"They told us absolutely nothing," said Primus, a Miami-based tennis pro who got on in Cedarhurst for night out at a Manhattan hotel lounge. "I'm annoyed. First I wanted a Scotch and cigar and now I want a cheeseburger."

He said passengers were calm and some had gone to the first car of the train to see if they could catch a glimpse of the damage on the other end of the station.

Police officers walked along the tracks, Primus said, and shortly after that, railroad workers took photos of the scene.

Passengers on the Huntington train got off at the Jamaica platform and were directed to subways and buses, LIRR's Donovan said.

Fares are being honored on the E subway from Jamaica to Penn and on the 2 and 3 subway lines from Penn to Atlantic Terminal, the railroad said.

Muncy said a rescue train eventually pulled up and a ramp was extended to his train, taking the double-decker train riders to the Jamaica station platform about 8:30 p.m.

His car on the rescue train was packed and he had to stand, he said: "Nobody was panicking. They started passing food to each other," including peanuts and potato chips.

With Alfonso A. Castillo


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