Rail safety tests conducted on Port Washington branch

Rail safety tests conducted on Port Washington branch
LIRR President Phillip Eng greeting commuters at the Mineola train station. (Photo by Rebecca Klar)

Residents traveling on the Port Washington branch last weekend experienced some delays due to rail safety tests being conducted between the Port Washington and Great Neck stations.

In an email to Blank Slate Media, the MTA’s deputy communications director, Aaron Donovan, said that as a result of the tests three subsurface problems were detected “that we immediately addressed to ensure they didn’t worsen to the point of one day leading to service issues.”

He said these issues are inside the rail and are not visible to track inspectors who walk the track every week.

Travelers may have seen the Sperry Rail Car riding along the tracks on Saturday. The bright yellow vehicle is outfitted with special equipment that helps to detect internal rail issues that cannot be caught by the naked eye.

LIRR President Philip Eng said in a statement: “We are increasing our use of advanced technology to identify defects in track before they have a chance to fail and cause train delays; we are making repairs in a proactive manner, rather than reactive.”

Passengers riding from the Port Washington, Manhasset and Plandome stations on Saturday were able to board buses or vans that took them to where service resumed in Great Neck. The buses left 25 minutes earlier than regularly scheduled train times.

Trains on the Port Washington branch operated hourly instead of every half hour between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m and buses ran between 1 a.m. and 5 p.m.

These tests will be occurring more frequently than they used to.

“We’ve doubled the frequency of these ultrasonic and induction tests to four times a year, from two, which we expect will reduce the number of instances of broken rails and ensuing delayed trains,” Eng said.

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