Long Island Rail Road Wrecks
Golden Pickle Works LIRR Crane, #214 MOW Car, Camelback E51sa #2 tender Calverton, NY 08/13/1926 Archive: Dave Keller

LIRR #113 Explosion, Oyster Bay - 1891
obayloco113explosion09-09-1891.jpg (28653 bytes)
Archive: John Hammond
Engine 113 had been placed on this train as a replacement for engine 112 which had been damaged three months earlier in an overturn in Greenvale. 112 had been rounding a turn coming into the Greenvale station when the engineer spotted a horse with its foot stuck in the switch apparatus. 112 hit the horse which caused the switch to trip, the engine made it past the switch but the following cars did not; when the cars overturned they took 112 with them. Harry Coombes, the engineer and Simeon Jarvis, the fireman were both pinned under 112 and killed. Ironically Townsend Dickenson survived the 112 incident at Greenvale only to be killed in the explosion of 113 a few months later. 113 (a 4-4-0 ) was built by the Rogers Company and delivered in 1888. The day before the explosion 113 had been in the shop having its boiler washed out and the flues cleaned according to local news reports. 
Archives/Research: John Hammond
 
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I believe what’s shown in this shot is the crown sheet and steam dome. These pieces came to rest more than 150 feet from the locomotive. Archive: John Hammond
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Archive: John Hammond
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Archive: John Hammond
"Oyster Bay Remembered" by John E. Hammond, Historian, Town of Oyster Bay
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As per, Vincent Seyfried’s locomotive roster, 4-4-0 #113, a Rogers product from June/1888, was renumbered to #45 in the large 1898 LIRR locomotive renumbering program.  That would mean this exploded locomotive, only three years old at the time of the explosion was actually rebuilt, placed back into service and lived to be renumbered seven years later. Info: Dave Keller, LIRR Historian
LIRR #51, Valley Stream, NY 1896
LIRR 51, Valley Stream, NY 1896.jpg (27392 bytes) 4-4-0 Class Camelbacks D53a built 1889. No data on this wreck available at this time.

 

 

January 11, 1912 LIRR Train Wreck at HEMPSTEAD

"Shortly before 11 o'clock, Sunday night, a milk train of wooden construction crashed into a steel car standing at the end of the track, telescoping the 1st wooden car about 20 feet, carried the bumper away and fence fronting the track, continuing across the street into the front porch of a building, reduced a taxicab to junk, also a telephone pole. The conductor (of the milk train), Henry Timerman of Woodhaven was instantly killed. Trainman John May of Woodhaven died on the morning of January 11, 1912. Motorman Henry Webber was operating the train from the opposite end and was not injured. No passengers involved." 

If there was a motorman operating the milk train, then said train was being run by another steel MU car at the other end of the train. The article says the milk train was of wooden construction. THAT would have been something to have a photograph of: A train of wooden milk cars being operated by an MP41 electric motor!!!!!

In the early days of LIRR electrification, it was not unusual to see a steel motor on each end of a passenger train, with wooden trailers sandwiched between. So . . . . why not on something as ordinary as a "milk run?" Only this was deadly and, judging by the force needed to crush the end of the MP41 and send it through the bumper and across the street that milk train was moving!lirr1912wreck3.jpg (52144 bytes)
I have two similar views in my archive, but they're taken a little further away and do not show the crushed end of the car facing the depot building. My one shot shows it burrowed into the building across Fulton Street. My other shot shows it as its being pulled out of the building, displaying THAT crushed end. (see below)  Info: Dave Keller 

lirr1912wreck.jpg (36396 bytes) lirr1912wreck2.jpg (34375 bytes) Uncoupled train did not stop at station, crossed Fulton Avenue and crashed into 
O. L. Schwenke Land & Investment Co. Building. Police Officer and spectators on scene
Archive: Dave Keller

September 22, 1913 College Point Wreck

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“ICC report courtesy of the Dave Keller Archive”

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Whitestone Landing station photographed c.1921 looking northeast towards the yard and end of the Whitestone branch at the water’s edge.  Visible at the far left along the platform is the “staff” cabin at that station location to prevent any further collisions along that branch.

This photo is historically significant in that this is the ONLY KNOWN photo ever taken of a staff cabin! 
Historical Data: Dave Keller


 
(J. V. Osborne photo, Courtesy of Art Huneke’s Arrts-Arrchives) 

Official LIRR explanation of the “staff” system ordered to be placed in effect as a result of the deadly collision 
Whitestone-Branch-Staff-Cabin-1.jpg (73229 bytes)  Whitestone-Branch-Staff-Cabin-2.jpg (72227 bytes) 
(Courtesy of Art Huneke’s Arrts-Arrchives)

April 15, 1918  Troop Train Wrecked Leaving Camp Upton east of C. Islip

On April 15, 1918 one of many L.I.R.R. troop trains left Camp Upton and was heading westbound along the Main Line under the control of engineer Tom Kelly when it derailed at speed just east of Foot’s Crossing (the present day crossing of the Veterans’ Memorial Highway over the L.I.R.R. east of Central Islip).

 

Operator Ayling told me he found out soon afterwards that the wreck was a result of sabotage. He mentioned to me that the train was full of soldiers heading towards New York City  and there were many, many injuries. It was later determined that there were 3 soldiers dead and 36 soldiers injured. He said at the time I spoke with him, that he never heard another thing about the wreck.  For some reason, the railroad men never got the true story and it was kept quiet at the time. For many years afterward he was afraid to let anyone know that he even had photos of the wreck, for fear that he was breaking some sort of security.  I managed to obtain the negatives from him before he passed away. 

 

Had this happened today, the media would have been pouring all over the site with helicopter coverage and high-powered zoom lenses and we’d all be watching it on television.

 

And . . .. had George Ayling known the real reason for the wreck, he’d have slept easy. 

 

I recently acquired the official ICC report on this wreck and, despite George’s facts, which were obviously typical railroad-man rumor and hearsay of the day, the derailment was a result of defective rails.  The reason George never photographed the locomotive, was that it and the first three cars were still on the tracks.  Chances are, it was uncoupled from the fourth car whose rear truck had derailed, and left the scene to make way for the wreck train.

 

I’ve scanned the first portion of the ICC report for anyone interested in reading it.  It gets extremely technical (i.e. boring) for us non-engineers so at that point I skipped to the very end and scanned the engineer’s summary and closing statement.  The report follows George Ayling’s photos of the wreck.  Info: Dave Keller

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Head-on view of derailed coach

Interior view of derailed coach
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Three coaches laying 
on their sides
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Two coaches laying on their sides with trainman walking at center of photo
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Two derailed coaches and torn-up tracks

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Railroad workers walking past three derailed coaches and torn-up tracks

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1921 Wreck of Cannonball west of Eastport 1921

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G54sa Camelback #16 west of Eastport 1921
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It is uncorroborated but supposedly the engineer of the locomotive was Forrest Jayne.  The story goes that he took the curve west of “PT” a “bit” too fast and the engine rolled over on her side derailing a number of head-end cars.  The above photos show the engine already righted and re-railed, although the firebox door is gaping wide open, the tender is still derailed and leaning and the wreck crane is working to clear up the mess of the jack-knifed American Railway Express cars.   James V. Osborne photos, Dave Keller info and archive.

July 30, 1924 Sunnyside Yard, Long Island City

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Eastbound passenger train derailment at Tower H
Collection: Courtesy of Arthur Huneke


August (Friday 13), 1926    Golden’s Pickle Works in Calverton

E51sa-2-PkleWks-Calvrtn-8-13-26.jpg (48968 bytes) E51sa camelback #2, spun around 90+ degrees and buried into Golden's Pickle Works - 8/14/26 
(C. T. Jackson Collection, Dave Keller archive)

 

 

The Great Pickle Works Wreck  

Gloom taunted the August night in 1926 even before the train crashed. Torrential lightning and rainstorms had plagued New York since at least the day before. The train was running 17 minutes late. And, if the power of superstition be respected, it was Friday the 13th.

As the yuppies of the era headed to the East End for a summer weekend escape from the city, the Long Island Rail Road had its most deadly Suffolk County crash in history. The Shelter Island Express plowed into a pickle factory in Calverton.

Six people were killed, including two young children and their mother, in what soon became known as the Great Pickle Works Wreck.

Golden Pickle Works Wreck-Psgr Car in Bldg (3)-Calverton, NY - 8-13-26.jpg (59930 bytes)And one death was more horrific than the next. Hamilton Fish, a stockbroker and a member of an aristocratic New York family, was thrown from the posh parlor car into Golden's Pickle Works and trapped by twisted steel from the wreckage. Tons of salt from damaged barrels on an upper floor poured down on him like sand through an hourglass, smothering him as he yelled for help and struggled to push the salt away from his mouth.

Rescue workers couldn't cut away the steel quickly enough to get him out. Others managed to help another man in a similar position by cupping their hands above his mouth and catching the salt, which was used in the pickle brine, and tossing it aside as rescuers struggled to free him.

LIRR engineer
William Squires, and fireman John Montgomery were in the lead engine, D16sb (4-4-0) #214 and both were pinned against the boiler in the locomotive’s cab, crushed by tons of coal that tumbled out of the coal tender as the engine fell to its side off the tracks. The steam pipes burst, hitting them with blasts of 600-degree superheated steam.

Golden Pickle Works Wreck-D16sb-214-Front-Calverton, NY - 8-13-26.jpg (53379 bytes)  Golden Pickle Works Wreck-D16sb-214-Rear-Calverton, NY - 8-13-26.jpg (52089 bytes)
LIRR D16sb #214 front/rear Calverton, NY 08/13/1926 Archive: Dave Keller

Golden Pickle Works Wreck-Camelback E51sa-No. 2-Front-Calverton, NY - 8-13-26 (burning off bell).jpg (56164 bytes)  Golden Pickle Works Wreck-LIRR Handcar with O2 & Acetylene Bottles-Calverton, NY - 8-13-26.jpg (172548 bytes)
LIRR Camelback E51sa #2 (burning off bell), close-up MOW acetylene/O2 bottles 08/13/1926 Archive: Dave Keller

The wreck happened at 6:08 p.m. Engine No. 214 was leading the two-engine Shelter Island Express to Greenport with more than 350 passengers. The express traveled only on Fridays, taking people to weekend holidays. Accounts say it was traveling from 40 to 70 mph when it jumped a switch leading to the pickle works. The first engine fell to its side, while the second flew toward the factory with the train behind it, news reports said.

LIRR engineer Charles T. Jackson’s claim to fame was being the surviving engineer of E51sa camelback #2, the second locomotive of that infamous, eastbound, double-headed “Shelter Island Express” that split a switch on Friday, August 13, 1926 (yes, Friday the 13th for the superstitious) and plowed into Golden’s Pickle Works, located trackside in Calverton. The fact that he and his fireman, Jim my Fitzgerald, survived the crash was a miracle

Golden Pickle Works Wreck-Wrecked Plant-Calverton, NY - 8-13-26.jpg (90587 bytes)Golden’s Pickle Works with giant pickle sign, trackside in Calverton, NY destroyed after being hit by derailed “Shelter Island Express” on 8/13/26 (Thomas R. Bayles photo, Dave Keller archive)

 

 



The engine crew of the lead locomotive, D16sb #214 died horribly as they were pinned against the scalding hot firewall. Charlie and his fireman Jim my Fitzgerald were thrown clear, but injured.  Charlie was flung from the cab through the cab's skylight which, luckily, was open to get some air and ventilation on that hot, humid, Long Island day in August, 1926.  Research: Dave Keller

Golden Pickle Works Wreck-Psgr Car in Bldg (2)-Calverton, NY - 8-13-26.jpg (46497 bytes)Golden Pickle Works Wreck: Passenger Car in building 08/13/1926 Archive: Dave Keller

 

 


The Pullman parlor car, which was called Easter Lily, was directly behind the second engine, and every passenger who died in the wreck had been seated in that luxury car, with its chairs that swiveled and a waiter who served drinks. There was a smoker car and five day coaches on the train as well.

Calverton1.jpg (84567 bytes)This is the only picture I have ever seen of showing the 214 just as 
she came to rest after the wreck. Every shot I have seen, published 
or not, has shown her re-railed and waiting to be
towed back to Jamaica. Just beyond her pilot truck can be seen Engine 
No. 2 laying on her left side. Just beyond is Pullman parlor car 
"Easter Lily" projecting into the Golden Pickle Works building.

 

Calverton2.jpg (87791 bytes)Here's 2nd engine No. 2 rolled over on her left side. "Easter Lily" is 
just beyond her.

 

 

 

 

Calverton3.jpg (109425 bytes)This shows the combine which was just behind "Easter Lily" and the 
coach which followed the combine.

 

 

 

Calverton4.jpg (87435 bytes)This is the rear car of the train which stayed on the track. In the 
foreground is the defective switch which caused the wreck.

 

 

 


The others killed were Mrs. George A. Shuford of Biltmore, N.C., and her two children, George A. Jr., 3, and Dorothy, 1. The two children were crushed in the parlor car wreckage. Their mother was pinned beneath the car for more than six hours, but was awake.

``Patiently and without a whimper Mrs. Shuford lay in the rain until the workmen had cut her free,'' reported The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Workers cut through the steel around her with torches. Before she was extricated, she ate a sandwich and had coffee, The Eagle reported. But six hours after she reached Southampton Hospital, she was dead of internal burns suffered from inhaling steam. She had been assured her children were fine, The New York Times said, and still thought they were at the time of her death.

Shuford, an only child, had been with her parents in the parlor car. She had been visiting them for a couple of weeks. Her father, Charles A. Angell, was the head of a Brooklyn contracting firm and a well-known resident of Shelter Island. With Shuford as well was her maid, who also was pinned in the wreckage and had to have her left leg amputated to get her out.

Golden Pickle Works Wreck-Psgr Car in Bldg (1)-Calverton, NY - 8-13-26.jpg (54059 bytes) Pictures from the day of the wreck show the pickle works caved into itself, with the almost comical giant sign shaped like a big, green pickle, still hanging above the attic windows. ``Golden's'' it said on the pickle.


There were various explanations for the wreck, from tampering with the track switch to its mechanical failure, said Vincent F. Seyfried, a Long Island Rail Road historian. ``Probably no one could really pin it down,'' he said. ``It's tough to reconstruct exactly what happened.''

The most popular theory is that the disaster was caused by a missing cotter pin on the switch. A switch facilitates the movement of the train from one track to another. A nut and bolt fasten the control rod to the switch. The cotter pin keeps the nut from unscrewing and falling off.

In this case, investigators said that the cotter pin had not been replaced, perhaps during maintenance. Investigators surmised that when the first engine passed by the split where the main track divided from a side track leading to the pickle factory, the vibration of the passing locomotive caused the nut to work loose. The second engine then jumped off the main track toward the factory.

About 300 rescuers worked by floodlights and flashlights and flashes of lightning to help the injured and to try to save the dying. The mud from the storms made their work slow and painstaking, newspapers reported.

The pickle factory was demolished and never reopened. The train locomotives, both more than 20 years old, were hauled to the scrap yard.

There's no sign now that the wreck ever took place. And life goes on.


October 25, 1932   Wreck of the Cannonball East of Amagansett

Train #20, the “Cannonball” was making its regular trip eastbound to Montauk late in the season on October, 25, 1932.  Pulled by G5s (4-6-0) #50, the name train had dropped its last passenger off at Amagansett and the train crew all settled into the last car of the train for a quiet, dead-head ride to the end of the line at Montauk. Conductor Leo Hantz had his young son with him on the run and everyone was enjoying the ride, awaiting the end of the trip.

While rounding the curve near M.P. 114, just west of Montauk, the big G5s rolled over onto her side, burying engineer Frank Obremski in the right bank of the hillside.  Fireman Ed Koehler was thrown clear and climbed up the bank where we was found and rushed to Southampton hospital where he died of his injuries.  None of the train crew nor Leo’s son all riding in the last car were injured.

Wreck-Cannonball-G5s-50-Amagansett-10-25-32.jpg (151724 bytes)The first photo is of G5s #50, minus one of her domes, rolled over onto her side.  The second photo is of the passenger cars jackknifed.  It’s amazing that, miles from everywhere, on what is still a pretty deserted stretch of track, the quantity of gawkers that turned out to witness the disaster!Wreck-Cannonbal-Coaches-Amagansett-10-25-32l.jpg (101344 bytes) 

 

 

 

 

 

Form 19-PD-Identifying-G5s-50-Cannonball-Wreck-10-25-32.jpg (146078 bytes)The form 19 train order shown here was issued at PD tower on that very day and copied and made complete at 5:09 pm  by block operator Bruckner.  It identifies train #20, the “Cannonball” as being pulled by engine #50.

Photos, text, and train order are from the archive of:  Dave Keller

September 21, 1938    Wreck at Quogue

"The Hurricane of September 21, 1938 and the Long Island Rail Road Wreck at Fairy Dell** in Quogue, LI, NY" by Raymond Robinson, Jr.

Train #26, the evening mail train, left Pennsylvania Station NY at 4:7 pm, bound for Montauk.  It should have arrived at Speonk at 7:00 pm, but because some tress were down, it was a few minutes late.

The Conductor of this train was my father, Raymond G. Robinson.  He and the rest of the crew had rooms in Montauk, so they could take train #27 out in the morning.

On that day, the wind had been blowing out of the northeast.  It blew most of the water out of the bays and out to sea.  The eye of the storm passed over us and soon after, the wind change and came out of the southwest, causing the tidal-wave that washed out the roadbed from under the track.  The newspaper article stated that the wind had blown the train off the tracks, which, of course, was not true.

When the tidal-wave came rushing back, it washed out the fill and roadbed where the head waters of Quantuck Bay flowed under the tracks.  It left the rails and ties intact.  When train #26 came along, the engine and tender, a PRR K4s, made it across OK, but the mail car and two coaches left the rails.

My father was in the first coach, eating his lunch.  When the car laid over, his arm went through the window.  No one was seriously injured, so he moved all the passengers to the rear coach which was still upright.

In order to report the wreck, he had to walk back to the Westhampton station.  While there, he discovered his arm was cut, so someone took him to Dr. Keller (a local medical doctor) and they sewed up the wound under the light of a kerosene lamp.

It took several days to clear up the wreck and rebuild the roadbed.  I was told that they never found one of the trucks from the mail car, which was buried in the marsh.  Info: Ray Robinson, Jr.

(** Fairy Dell is approximately 600 feet west of the Old Country Road grade crossing, by the present-day Quogue Wildlife Refuge.)

September 14, 1944 East of Syosset

The wreck was technically at Syosset as the derailment occurred east of the Syosset station, but west of “S” cabin, on the double track portion of the ROW and near an under-track drain culvert. North of the tracks were the sand pits that were excavated for the 1912-13 grade elimination project at Jamaica .

There was a heavy rainstorm and, due to the proximity of this excavation to the tracks, a washout occurred. Westbound train #647, pulled by PRR K4s #5406 derailed on September 14, 1944 as a result of this washout.  Dave Keller Historical Information

 

 


February 16, 1947 Wreck at Kings Park

Wreck of Train #4612 at Kings Park - February 16, 1947: All photos and info: Dave Keller Archives

It was approaching noon on Sunday, February 16, 1947 and train #4612 was being pulled eastbound towards Port Jefferson by leased Pennsylvania Railroad K4s (4-6-2) #5406.  The train was due to make a station stop at Kings Park at 12:08 pm then continue on to its final destination of Port Jefferson.  

The huge locomotive and train was almost at Harrison Avenue , the first crossing west of the station when it derailed, dragging the train across Harrison Avenue and onto the State Hospital spur access siding and rolled off the tracks onto the north side of the main, burrowing itself into the ground in front of the village’s tall community water tower, sending rails and ties and wheels everywhere, jack-knifing passenger cars in the process.

The New York Daily News account at the time stated the train ran a stop signal, hit an open switch and derailed at 12:07 pm. Engineer Walter A. Samb, 51, of Miller Place admitted to investigators that he saw the signal several hundred feet before the switch but couldn’t brake in time.  He said he got a clear order at Greenlawn eleven minutes earlier.

The crew of the preceding Kings Park State Hospital train, #4608, which was scheduled to arrive at Kings Park at 11:12, having taken the siding just west of Harrison Avenue and then making its final stop at the state hospital north of Route 25A at 11:22 am, was being questioned to determine responsibility for the open switch.

The eleven-car train hit the switch at 40 miles-per-hour and derailed.  The momentum carried the locomotive and train 250 feet, coming to a stop in front of the trackside water tower for the community of Kings Park .  Six coaches were derailed, and the newspaper reported in the same article that 31, 48 or 50 were injured, 10 seriously, so I have no idea of the actual count.  The fortunate thing, though, was that there were no deaths.

The other crew members identified in the report were Conductor John H. Hastings, 46, of Port Jefferson and Fireman Alfred A. King of Easthampton .

1-Wreck-Train-4612-Kings-PK-2-16-47-4.jpg (147241 bytes)This is an aerial view shortly after the wreck and was taken by a Daily News photographer.  The wreck train has not yet arrived on the scene.  The view is looking from the south side of the tracks, northwest and pretty much sums up the entire situation facing the wreck crew.  One upright car on the south siding (how did that get there?), locomotive and other cars on the Kings Park Hospital spur siding north of the main  and jack-knifed cars across all three tracks, with Harrison Avenue crossing in the background.

 

2-Wreck-Train-4612-Kings-PK-2-16-47-3.jpg (312968 bytes)An elevated view from the Kings Park village water tower, also taken by a Daily News photographer. It is looking from the north side of the tracks southeast. 

 

 


3-Wreck-Train-4612-Kings-Pk-2-16-47.jpg (45246 bytes)
The wreck crane is being put into position by a G5s drafted for emergency wreck service.  The view is from the south side of the tracks looking west and two derailed cars are about to get the attention of the two work cranes:  this one in the photo and the one behind the photographer as is evidenced in the next photo.  Both coaches are off their trucks and, in the right foreground behind the men can be seen one of the heavy-duty trucks off the Kiesel tender.  Interesting position, considering the tender wound up behind and north of the locomotive!  Steel was flying everywhere!

4-Wreck-Train-4612-Kings-Pk-2-16-47.jpg (46478 bytes)View from the south side of the tracks looking east, and shows both wreck cranes connected to the wrecked coach which is in mid-air, about to be swung back onto the re-railed trucks for transport back to Morris Park Shops.

 

5-PRR-K4s-5406-Wreck-Kings-Pk-2-16-47.jpg (47381 bytes)LIRR #5406 and the two cars looking from the south side of the tracks westward, towards the scene of the derailment.  The two passenger cars have been set back on their trucks and are awaiting a trip to Morris Park Shops.  The tender is missing, and the locomotive is yet to be righted.  Much of the mess has been cleared up and the coaches that didn’t derail had been removed previously from the site to allow for the clean up.  Judging by the previous aerial view, the tender is probably still sitting at a skew behind the cab of the locomotive and is not visible from this angle.  At the left you can see bonfires started in the frozen nearby field to keep the chill away from the wreck workers.  Now it’s time to begin work on the K4s!
P6-PRR-K4s-5406-Wreck-Kings-Pk-2-16-47.jpg (70051 bytes)
LIRR #5406 looking from the north side of the tracks eastward.  It shows the damage done as the locomotive dug in and the rails are sticking up in the air.  A westbound passenger train is proceeding past the wreck on the main and in the distance can be seen the wreck train containing bunk and work cars for the men who will stay on the site for however long it will take to get the mess cleaned up and cleared away.

7-PRR-K4s-5406-Wreck-Kings-Pk-2-16-47.jpg (80086 bytes)LIRR #5406 looking from the south side of the tracks eastward.  It shows two wreck cranes, the one in the foreground belonging to the Pennsylvania Railroad.  The one in the background is unidentifiable and may be that of the LIRR.  Both cranes are hooked up to the heavy locomotive and are about to hoist her up and onto the good trackage of the adjacent main.

8-Wreck-Cars-339-Train-4612-Kings-Pk-4-26-47-MPShops.jpg (44030 bytes)Two cars from the wreck in storage in the yard behind Morris Park Shops two months later, on April 26, 1947.  The car shown in its entirety appears to be #339. 

February 17, 1950 Wreck at Rockville Centre
Feb 17 1950 Both Engineers survived. 32 passengers died. LIRR trains #192 and #175   

 

 

 

 

 

  Newsday front page: 02/18/1950

 

merrickroad-morrisave_emery_gauntlet.jpg (228186 bytes)This map indicates the location of the accident.

 





Rockville Centre - Robert Emery Map c.1950

August 5, 1950 Huntington LIRR #642, Pass Train First-Class Eastbound

Wreck-LastInvolvingLIRRSteamLocos-G5s-29-untingtonNY08061950(F.Weber).jpg (106835 bytes)Last wreck between steam  locomotives on the LIRR - Freight versus passenger - G5s #29 on its side at right behind tender - Huntington, NY - 8/6/50 (Fred Weber photo, Dave Keller archive)


 

 

 

 

This accident occurred on that part of the railroad extending between Divide and Port Jefferson, N. Y., 32.5 miles. In the vicinity of the point of accident this is a single-track line, over which trains are operated by timetable, train orders and a manual-block system. At Huntington, 9.8 miles east of Divide, a siding 4,169 feet in length parallels the main track on the south. The west and east switches of this siding are, respectively, 3,343 feet west and 826 feet east of the station. An auxiliary track connects with the west end of the siding in the vicinity of the clearance point and parallels the main track westward. The accident occurred on the siding at a point 306 feet east of the west switch and 3,037 feet west of the station. Entry to the siding from the west is made through a No. 10 turnout, 180 feet in length. From the west the main track is tangent throughout a distance of 4,784 feet to the west switch of the siding and 2,733 feet eastwards. The grade for east-bound, trains is, successively, 0.4 percent descending 1,600 feet, level 600 feet, 0.3 percent ascending 2,800 feet, level 300 feet, and 0.5 percent descending 500 feet to the point of accident and 300 feet eastward.

The switch stand of the main-track switch is of the ground-throw, hand-operated, low-stand, type. It is located 6 feet 4-1/4 inches south of the center-line of the main track. The switch target is attached to a separate stand of the intermediate type, located on the north side of the main track, directly opposite the switch stand and 7 feet 11-1/4 inches from the center-line of the track. The switch stand and the target stand are so connected that when the switch is lined for main-track movements a V-shape white target with pointed ends, each of which is 13 inches long and 9 inches wide, and a green light are displayed in the direction of an approaching train. When the switch is lined for entry to the siding a two-lobe red target, 24 inches in length and 12 inches in width, and a red light are displayed at right angles to the track. The center of the target is 6 feet 2-1/4 inches above the level of the tops of the rails. It is provided with an oil-burning switch lamp, the top of which is 7 feet 4-1/4 inches above the level of the tops of the rails.

Extra 101 West, a west-bound freight train, consisted of engine 101, 20 cars and a caboose. This train departed from Port Jefferson at 6:51 a.m., entered the siding at Huntington and reported clear of the main track at 3:25 p.m. The engine was detached and switching was performed. Engine 101, headed west, with a cut of three cars coupled to the front end, stopped about 4:01 p.m., with the west end of the most westerly car of the cut of cars at a point 306 feet east of the west aiding-switch. About 10 minutes later the cut of cars was struck by No. 642.

No. 642, an east-bound first-class passenger train, consisted of engine 29 and six coaches. All cars were of steel construction. This train departed from Divide at 3:53 p.m., 2 minutes late, passed Block Station S, the last open office, 3.8 miles west of Huntington, at 4:03 p.m., 2 minutes late, and the moving at an estimated speed of 40 miles per hour it entered the siding at Huntington and struck the cars coupled to engine 101.

The three cars were derailed and engine 101 was moved eastward approximately 80 feet. The first and the third cars of the cut were demolished and the second car was badly damaged. Engine 101 was considerably damaged. No. 642 stopped with the front of the engine about 70 feet east of the point of accident. The engine was derailed and stopped on its right side south of the south rail of the siding. The tender was derailed but remained coupled to the engine and leaned to the south at an angle of about 20 degrees. The engine was considerably damaged and the tender was somewhat damaged. The first car was derailed and stopped in line with the siding. The first five cars were slightly damaged.

The swing brakeman of Extra 101 West, and the engineer, the fireman, the conductor and a ticket collector of No. 642 were injured. The weather was clear at the time of the accident, which occurred at 4:11 p.m.

During the 30-day period preceding the day of the accident, the average daily movement in the, vicinity of the point of accident was 26.8 trains.

Extra 101 West entered tile siding at Huntington at 3:26 p.m. The engine was detached from the train and switching was performed. About 4:01 p.m. the engine, coupled to the east end of a cut of three cars, entered the siding from the auxiliary track and stopped with the west end of the most westerly car 306 feet east of the siding switch. The conductor had instructed the other members of the crew that the main track would be used to perform switching after No. 642 arrived. Immediately before the accident occurred the engineer was in the cab of the engine and the fireman was on the ground south of the siding End in the immediate vicinity of the engine. The conductor and the swing brakeman were on the ground between the siding and the main track and in the vicinity of the west end of the cut of cars. The flagman was stationed east of his engine at a rail-highway grade-crossing to protect the movement of the engine during switching operations. The front brakeman was standing south of the main track and about 15 feet from the west siding-switch. The conductor said that as No. 642 was approaching the crossing he signaled to the front brakeman to move away from the switch. He said that the main-track switch was lined in normal position when No. 642 was about 500 feet west of the switch. When No. 642 was about 250 feet west of the switch the front brakeman lined the switch for entry to the siding. No. 642 entered the siding and the collision occurred a few seconds later. None of the other members of the crew of Extra 101 West saw the front brakeman operate the switch.

As No. 642 was approaching the west siding-switch at Huntington the speed was about 50 miles per hour. The engineer was maintaining a lookout ahead from his position in the cab of the engine and the fireman was attending the fire. The conductor was in the rear of the first car and other members of the train crew were at various locations in the cars of the train. The brakes of this train had been tested and had functioned properly when used en route. The engineer observed the engine and the cut of cars on the siding. Then No. 642 was about 750 feet west of the west siding-switch he closed the throttle preparatory to making the station stop at Huntington. He said that when the train was closely approaching the switch he saw a person proceed from an adjacent track to the switch and apparently operate it. The engineer then observed that the switch points were lined for entry to the siding. He immediately initiated an emergency application of the brakes. The fireman said that ten his engine was about 100 feet west of the switch he saw the red target indicating that the switch was lined for entry to the siding. The speed of the train had been reduced to about 40 miles per hour when the collision occurred.

The front brakeman was an inexperienced employee, and because of his inexperience he had been instructed by the conductor to operate switches only when specifically instructed to do so. He was aware that his train was into clear on the siding to meet No. 642. He said that after his engine with the cut of cars had stopped on the siding the conductor told him to station himself near the siding switch and to operate it when so instructed. When No. 642 was closely approaching the switch he saw the conductor signal to him and he said he thought it was a signal for him to open the main track switch. He said No. 642 was about 200 feet from the switch when he opened it. He did not observe the position of either the switch points or the switch target. Historical Data: Kyle V. Mullins

November 22, 1950 Collision at Richmond Hill west of Jamaica Station

"The People's Almanac" (Wallachinsky and Wallace, 1975, p. 564) gives the following very detailed description of what happened:

William W. Murphy, a 45-year veteran of railroading and just 4 years away from retirement, responded to the "restricted" signal on "C" tower 2 miles before the train's first scheduled stop at Jamaica. With the signal’s change to "approach," Murphy resumed his 30-mph speed. The next signal light on "J" (for Jamaica) tower showed "restricted" and again Murphy applied the air brakes. They grabbed and wouldn't release. Train 780 and its 12 cars carrying 1,000 homeward-bound passengers ground to a dead stop. Brakeman Bertram N. Biggam started to get the flares to put behind the stalled train.

Close behind on the same mainline track, Train 174 with 12 cars and 1,200 passengers thundered toward Jamaica. Motorman Benjamin J. Pokorny obeyed the signal at "C" tower and brought his train to a halt. When the signal changed, he accelerated to 15 mph. In back of him the "C" tower signal changed again back to "restricted," but ahead the signal on "J" tower flashed "approach." Train 174 resumed full speed. Too late Pokorny saw the stopped train ahead. In his last seconds of life he pulled the brake cord . . .

Neither train was equipped with an automatic repeater signal system, an electronic device mounted in the motorman's cab. Murphy and Pokorny had to rely on signal towers spaced at intervals along their route. Normally this signal-light system worked fine, but if a signal changed after a train had passed a tower, the system didn't work at all. Pokorny should have seen the taillights of the stalled train, if they were on. And that raised an unanswered question, for in a report by the Long Island Railroad to the Public Service Commission it was reported that within a 7-day period the taillights on 50 trains had been inoperative. . .

Passengers aboard Train 174 suffered their annoyance in silence. It wouldn't be the 1st time they had arrived home late. There was no warning of danger until the headlight of train 174 bathed the last car in its blinding glare. In seconds the two cars were fused together. The front car of Pokorny's train telescoped the rear of Murphy's train. Those not killed outright were overcome with fear. The trains were dark. Bedlam reigned inside the cars. People physically capable of moving couldn't because of the pileup of dead and injured bodies.

The noise of the collision was heard on 126th Street and Hillside Avenue. Soon help arrived, but it was an hour and 20 minutes before the last passenger was extricated from the bent and twisted cars. Amputations were performed on the spot and acetylene torches were used to free many trapped passengers. Priests administered last rites while doctors administered plasma. For hundreds of New Yorkers the tragedy turned Thanksgiving Day, 1950, into the blackest of black Thursdays. 

lirr-richmondhill_11-50.jpg (95690 bytes)Joe DeMay’s great info on this accident:  www.oldkewgardens.com

On a stretch of track east of the Kew Gardens Long Island Rail Road Station, a night-time New York to Hempstead commuter train came to a stop because its brakes would not release. As its motorman began working on the problem, a brakeman got out of the rear car and stood on the tracks holding a red lantern to warn any approaching train of its presence. Because there was no automatic stopping mechanism on these tracks, the Railroad's operating rules required the brakeman to do this whenever his train was stopped under circumstances in which it might be overtaken by another train. The brakeman was obligated under those rules to "insure full protection" of his train, and if necessary to accomplish that, he was to display a lighted "fusee" or put down "torpedos".

Note: A "fusee" is a type of flare which burns bright red for 10 - 15 minutes. It is very similar to the flares Highway Patrolmen put around the scene of a traffic accident. "Torpedos" are explosive caps fastened to the top of the rail and exploded by the pressure of a rolling wheel. They warn a motorman of danger ahead. A "brakeman" (also called a trainman") is the lowest ranking member of a train crew. His duties are to assist the conductor in anyway possible. Despite what the title suggests, a 1950 Long Island Rail Road brakeman was not responsible for the good working order of the train's brakes.

The brakeman soon heard the Hempstead train power up. He thought the braking problem was solved and that the train was about to get underway. So, he extinguished the lantern and reboarded the rear car. That was a mistake. It was not for the brakeman to guess when to return to the train. Under the Railroad's rules, he was to remain on the tracks until recalled by a specific signal from the train's whistle, and no such signal was ever given. In any case, the brakeman had guessed wrong. The brakes had still not released and the Hempstead train remained rooted to the ground. Now, however, it stood unprotected in the dark of night, with no rear warning lantern, fusee or torpedo to alert an oncoming train it was there. It was almost 6:30 PM - the middle of rush hour - when commuter traffic in that direction was four times heavier than during off-peak periods.

Probably seconds after the brakeman extinguished the warning lantern, a New York to Babylon train came around the bend about 4,600 feet back. At this point, the Babylon train received a "Go Slow" signal indicating congestion up ahead, so it reduced its speed to 15mph. However, as it passed through the Kew Gardens Station area, the motorman of the Babylon train caught sight of the next signal one half mile in the distance. That signal showed "All Clear". It never dawned on him that the All Clear signal was meant for the Hempstead train stalled in darkness only a third of a mile ahead. Since the Hempstead train no longer displayed a rear warning lantern, the motorman of the Babylon train did not see it was there. (Although the rear of the Hempstead train had two red lights called "marker lights", those lights were so small that they would not have been visible to him until too late.) Thinking the "All Clear" was meant for him, he increased speed. As the Babylon train left the Kew Gardens Station area and emerged from the Lefferts Boulevard overpass, it was traveling at about 35mph.

Meanwhile, on the Hempstead train, the brakeman had signaled his motorman that he was back onboard and that the train could proceed. The train did not move, The brakeman signaled again, and still the Hempstead train did not move. The brakeman was preparing to get back out on the tracks when the oncoming Babylon train struck from the rear. In the last seconds of his life, the motorman of the Babylon train had tried to apply his emergency brakes, but he succeeded only in slowing the Babylon train to about 30mph before impact. The force of the collision pushed the Hempstead train a distance of 75 feet, lifting its last car 15 feet into the air and splitting it lengthwise. The Babylon train had the superstructure of its first car sheared off to the floor and demolished. The rear brakeman was injured but survived. The collision left 78 dead and 363 injured. One witness described the dead as "packed like sardines in their own blood".

Press accounts in the aftermath of the collision had the Babylon train going 60 to 65mph at the time it hit. However, the Interstate Commerce Commission investigated the collision and found the speed at impact was about 30mph. Had the Babylon train been going 60mph or more, the resulting devastation would have been much worse and most likely other cars in the two trains would have separated or derailed. That did not happen. Only slight damage was suffered by the other cars all of which remained connected and on track.

The cause of the crash was officially determined to be disregard of the Go Slow signal by the deceased motorman of the Babylon train. He should have followed the Go Slow signal he had just passed rather than the All Clear signal a half mile ahead. However, the Interstate Commerce Commission's Report on the crash seemed to imply that the brakeman on the Hempstead train had not done all he could have to protect his train - a conclusion I find unavoidable given that the brakeman extinguished his warning lantern and returned to the train before being signaled to do so. It was a clear night, and the brakeman assumed at the time that no train would approach at more than 15mph. So he thought the risk of a casualty was remote. He miscalculated, just as the motorman of the Babylon train miscalculated.

The crash occurred only nine months after a head on collision between two Long Island Rail Road trains at Rockville Centre, NY killed 31 and injured 158. According to The Long Island Press newspaper, the two accidents caused the public to view to the Long Island Rail Road as unsafe and irresponsible. Queens District Attorney Charles P. Sullivan called it the "Death Valley Railroad." The disaster led to public demands for increased government scrutiny. Yet, blame for what happened that night extended beyond the Railroad's management to the very State Government that was called upon to take action.

Because the Long Island Rail Road was a monopoly, it was subject to regulation by the New York State Public Service Commission. The Commission had refused to allow the Railroad any rate increases for almost 30 years (1918 - 1947) despite the L.I.R.R.'s increased operating costs and resulting heavy losses. Furthermore, because people always had the option of taking their cars rather than the train, the Long Island Rail Road had to compete for the public's transportation dollars with the various New York State authorities that owned and operated the bridges, tunnels and highways. Unlike the Long Island Rail Road which was heavily taxed in all respects, those authorities paid no tax whatsoever on their real estate, assets or income. Moreover, bridges, tunnels and highways cost much less to maintain than a railroad. All of that left the Long Island Rail Road at a permanent competitive disadvantage, and every effort to level the playing field by providing badly needed subsidies for the Railroad was defeated in the State Legislature.

The result of that kind of transportation policy should not have been hard to foresee. By 1950, the Railroad was starved for cash and it's equipment was old and decrepit. The two cars involved in the crash were Class MP54A and had been built in 1910, more than 40 years earlier. Such cars were the rule, not the exception. One newspaper reporter cracked that if the Long Island Rail Road were a model train set, it would make a little boy cry to find it under his Christmas Tree. On the date of the collision, the Long Island Rail Road had already filed for bankruptcy reorganization and was operating under the supervision of two bankruptcy trustees. Two days after the crash, Governor Dewey told The Brooklyn Eagle newspaper that $50,000,000 was needed just to make the Long Island Rail Road, "reasonably safe and to insure something approaching satisfactory operation." That was money the perennially cash poor Railroad just did not have, and the State Government had mostly itself to blame for the situation.

In the aftermath of the crash, Automatic Speed Control (ASC) was installed on the tracks. The Pennsylvania Railroad (which owned the Long Island Rail Road) agreed to terminate the L.I.R.R.s bankruptcy and begin a 12 year, 58 million dollar improvement program. The L.I.R.R. gained exemption from much of its tax burden and the freedom to charge realistic fares.

The point of impact for the collision was 1,960 feet east of the Kew Gardens Long Island Rail Road Station near 125th Street - one block west of the Metropolitan Avenue overpass. Although press accounts at the time described that area as Richmond Hill, neighborhood boundaries have long since changed. Today, the site of the collision is considered to be in Kew Gardens.

August 13, 1962 Collision at Woodside

On August 13, 1962, at Woodside, NY, there was a collision between a pile-driving crane and a passenger train on the Long Island Railroad, which resulted in t he death of one passenger, and in the injury of 31 passengers, 6 train-service employees and the crane operator. This accident was investigated in conjunction with representative s of the Public Service Commission of New York.

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Further NY Times Material

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ICC Report #3962 The Long Island Railroad Company August 13, 1962 photos Archive: R. McEnery

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ICC Report #3962 Long Island Railroad 
Company August 13, 1962 
WIN Interlocking Archive: R. McEnery

September, 1962 Collision at Bay Ridge Yard

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Bay Ridge Yard 10/1962  
Photo: Ed Schleyer
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NH GP9 #1200 LIRR #447
Photo: Richard Glueck
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NH GP9 #1200 LIRR #447
Photo: Richard Glueck
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NH GP9 #1200 LIRR #447
Photo: Richard Glueck
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Light tower on the right side of photo is next to Yardmasters office
Unreported to news media. No one hurt!
Photo: Ed Schleyer
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At the scene: Bayridge Sept '62
Photo: Ed Schleyer

1965 LIRR C420 Bridgehampton Wreck 

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Composite of three Ed Schleyer photos

 Ed Schleyer, was a contemporary of my father and a fireman. He was riding the Montauk to Jamaica train that was overturned by juveniles, west of Bridgehampton, in 1965. Ed relates this story and has provided these images. If you ever needed a rationale for operating C420's with the long hood first, this is it. Intro: Rich Gluek

I was working the Montauk Greenport relief job as one of the senior Firemen. The engineer and I worked 3 days to Montauk, 3 days to Greenport and 3 days off. This was not a monotonous job. In my short time as a fireman, I hit cars, trucks and the guy that trimmed me off the job, hit an airplane. The day of this incident, I ran the train to Montauk and The engineer Howard King brought it back, well almost all the way back. I’m not sure of the consist, I think (2) varnish on the west end and (5) coaches, not Pings, (1) engine #215. We left Montauk with probably (1) paying rider. The flag man had his son riding in the rear coach with him. I don’t know if we picked up any riders before Bridgehampton, but we had way to much running time - Montauk to Speonk. We were in “coast”, until the curve before Bridgehampton. Now I am sitting with my feet up on the front door frame. Going around a right hand curve, I can’t see the roadbed ahead and Howard says “we’re going in”. I can’t connect this phrase to anything but a “meet”. I looked over at Howard and the next thing you know, I’m head to head with him. I’m wedged in between the water cooler and the control stand, laying down and the engineers front window is broken and lots of mud and water are passing over our heads. Howard got hit in the face with the windshield, but other than being covered with mud we were OK. At the moment we were turning over, the thought that we were at the Water Mill curve went through my mind. We had derailed and were going into the Water Mill Pond. I knew by now (everything in slow motion) I’m gonna survive the derailment, but I’m gonna drown, I don’t know how to 
swim. The water from the water cooler was draining on my head and the mud was filling up the engineers side of the engine.

When we stopped moving, I killed the engine and started digging Howard out. We went out the front door and walked down the side of the engine to someplace that didn’t look like a one story drop to the ground. I left Howard there and went in the front door of the head parlor car and came into the passageway that the attendant room connected to. The 
attendant was sitting on the corridor wall trying to collect the little liquor bottles that had spilled into the corridor. I reached down and picked out two bottles of scotch, I figured that we needed a drink. The attendant started freaking out about how he was responsible for all of the beer and chips etc. I told him that every volunteer fireman from Montauk to Speonk was gonna be here in a few minutes and he better go get in the ambulance that was outside or face all of the volunteers that were gonna show up. He went out the end of the corridor that I had come in. I went the other way and came into the head car where the conductor was on the other end of the car. The offset door was now up above our heads and the conductor was convinced he was gonna die there because we couldn’t climb up to the door. I grabbed him by the hand and led him to the other end where the door was on the bottom. The conductor went on his way and I went up to see Howard on the main track. It seems my timing was bad when I offered him the bottle of scotch. It seems that (2) teenagers, arrested and released, stole tools from a section shed and went to the switch that was the entrance to a coal trestle. They smashed the lock and switch stand, opened the switch and waited for us to go up the siding, off the end and into the school. Needless to say the locomotive couldn’t make the 15 mph turnout at 40 mph. 

Before I could leave I had to go back into the locomotive. I had to make sure there wasn’t a flag stick in the “Dead Man” and I had to pick up all my fillets of flounder that I had caught from the docks where the submarines used to tie up. Five pounds of fish that would have really smelled bad by the time #215 got back to the shops. I got the fish and climbed back outside on the outside of the engine compartment. When I got there a little old lady was screaming and yelling at me “ look what you did to the fence around the school”. I interrupted her shouting to ask her if she liked fillet of flounder and would she like five lbs right now. She said yes and I threw five lb plastic bag at her and hit her in the chest, knocking her on her rear. She said “thank you” and the problem with the fence disappeared. By now all the buses and cabs in town were gone, being used to transport the crew to Patchogue, I didn’t have a way to get home. As I started to walk toward the next crossing, I see a LIRR Bronco coming toward me on the tracks. When he got to me he stopped and asked what I was doing there, I told him and his response was, what do I look like, some kind of Taxi, if you want to get home you better start hitchhiking right now because it’s getting dark. With that he drove off. I walked to the crossing and found an open store. I went in and used the phone to call my wife. I told her that no matter what she hears, I’m OK. I went back to the crossing, took one last look and stuck out my thumb. The first car that came along was a fisherman headed back home. He dropped me off at the entrance to Belmont Lake State Park and my house faced on the park. The next day I took my wife and son back out to Bridgehampton, where I took the pictures.  Information, text, and photos: Ed Schleyer


1967 LIRR RDC Wrecked      Vignette on this day: Engineer “Patsy” Molese and the Budd Car by Dave Keller

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LIRR RDC #3101 Wrecked 1967, sold in 12/71 to Sarnelli Brothers and scrapped at the LIRR’s Corona Yard. 
Info: Dave Keller 06/2004
      

LIRRWreckedBuddCar-RGlueck.jpg (38008 bytes)Here’s a view of wrecked RDC1 #3101, taken on October 18, 1970 while it was stored out back of the Morris Park Shops in Queens .  The front of the car shows how the cab was cut away to extract the remains of Patrick Molese.  The unit was sold in December, 1971 to Sarnelli Bros. and scrapped at Corona Yard. (Photo by, and courtesy of, Richard Glueck)


January 25, 1969  LIRR PASSENGER TRAIN # 4186  Tunnel 3 East River

LIRR # 4186, an eastbound 10-car electrically-propelled passenger train, left Pennsylvania Station at 9:46 p.m., with approximately 400 passengers aboard the first five cars. About 9:50 p.m., the train entered tunnel 3 of the East River Tunnels. About that time, a series of three or four loud reports resembling sounds of explosions were heard emanating from an electrical-equipment cabinet located inside the fourth car just behind the front vestibule. The cabinet door opened, permitting fire and smoke to come into the car. An unidentified passenger gave the engineer a stop signal by pulling on the communicating whistle-signal cord extending through the car. The engineer promptly applied the brakes, stopping the train with the last car 500 to 1,000 feet inside the tunnel.

The passengers in the fourth car evacuated that car by going back to unoccupied cars at the rear of the train. During this period, the conductor and ticket collector searched the train for a fire extinguisher and found one in the 9th car. The conductor, however, discovered it was not in working order after returning to the fourth car. By that time, the fire and smoke in the car had intensified, and fire damage to a brake valve had caused an emergency application of the train brakes.

The conductor then proceeded to a nearby tunnel telephone and, at 9:58 p.m., informed the power director about the situation. As a result, power to the third rail was shut off at 9:59 p.m., and car inspectors were dispatched to the tunnel from Pennsylvania Station with instructions to take whatever action was necessary to enable No. 4186 to move out of the tunnel. In addition, train No. 4890, which had left Pennsylvania Station at 9:50 p.m. and had been routed to tunnel 3, was instructed by a Penn Central trainmaster to push No. 4186 through the tunnel to Harold, L. I.

About 9:57 p.m., No. 4890 stopped behind No. 4186. Approximately two minutes later, the power director shut off power to the third rail, preventing No. 4890 from moving forward to a coupling with the disabled train. About 25 minutes later, after going back to an interlocking station outside the west portal, both train conductors succeeded in having power restored to the third rail.

Meanwhile, smoke conditions in the tunnel worsened and all the passengers on the rear cars of the disabled train were evacuated to No. 4890. All the passengers in the first three cars evacuated the train by going to the elevated walkways along the tunnel walls. The front brakeman led and/or directed them about 3,400 feet eastward to an air shaft, where they eventually ascended via an emergency exit to the street surface at 1st Avenue and 33rd Street, New York City. The passengers'progress to the air shaft was impeded because of the poor lighting and smoke conditions in the tunnel.

About 10:22 p.m., when power was restored to the third rail, No. 4890 coupled to the disabled train and made several unsuccessful attempts to move it. The car inspectors sent to the scene then advised the conductor and engineer of No. 4890 that they were unable to release the brakes of the disabled train. Upon hearing this, the conductor of No. 4890 had his train detached from the disabled train No. 4890 then returned to Pennsylvania Station and stopped on station track 20 at 10:44 p.m., at which time passengers evacuated from the disabled train were given first-aid treatment for smoke inhalation and/or taken to hospitals.

Ambulances, and city fire and police department forces, were not called before approximately 10:30 p.m., when a crew member of the disabled train walked back to a stationmaster's office in Pennsylvania Station and advised that medical assistance was urgently needed for about 200 passengers. Approximately 20 minutes later, rescue forces were also called to the emergency tunnel exit at 1st Avenue and 33rd Street, when passengers from the first three cars of the disabled train emerged to the street surface. Historical Data: Kyle V. Mullins
ve crew members and 49 passengers of No. 4186 were injured by inhalation of smoke.

June 23, 1969, East End of Pennsylvania Station

The accident occurred near the east end of Pennsylvania Station, on the four-track line over which Long Island Rail Road trains operate between Pennsylvania Station and Long Island. C interlocking is located between the west portals of the East River Tunnels and Pennsylvania Station. Its signals govern movements of LI Rail Road trains between the west end of tracks No. 3 and No. 4 of the four-track line and station tracks 14 to 21. The interlocking station is at the east end of platform No. 10, between Pennsylvania Station tracks 18 and 19.

The current of traffic on track No. 4 of the four-track line is westward. The collision occurred on this track, 612 feet east of C interlocking station and a few feet east of the home interlocking signal governing westbound movements from track No. 4 to station tracks 14 through 21.

Some time before the accident, passenger train equipment was placed on Pennsylvania Station track 21 for temporary storage. Anticipating that station forces would remove this equipment before arrival of passenger train No. 751, a Long Island Rail Road yardmaster instructed the C interlocking operator to route No. 751 to station track 21. However, due to station forces experiencing difficulty with its air brake system, the passenger train equipment still occupied track 21 when No. 751 neared the station.

No. 751, a westbound passenger train consisting of seven electrically-propelled passenger cars left Hempstead, L. I., at 2:09 p.m. When the train stopped at Woodside, the conductor, acting without authority but in accordance with what appears to be a common practice, went home after arranging for an off-duty employee, a ticket collector, to replace him for the remainder of the trip to Pennsylvania Station. The ticket collector had been a conductor at one time, but had been disqualified from working in that capacity since 1962 because of a physical condition. No. 751 left Woodside without the engineer knowing the regularly assigned conductor had left the train.

About 2:55 p.m., after proceeding through the East River Tunnels on track No. 4 and entering C interlocking, No. 751 began to enter Pennsylvania Station track 21 at slow speed. The engineer then saw that track 21 was occupied by passenger train equipment, and stopped his train with the front end about 170 feet short of that equipment and 160 feet from the track platform. The rear end stopped within C interlocking limits. After the train stopped, it waited for station forces to remove the equipment from the track ahead.

No. 159, a westbound Long Island Rail Road passenger train consisting of 8 electrically-propelled passenger cars, left Babylon, L. I. at 1:49 p.m. About 2:53 p.m., while moving on track No. 4, it entered the East River Tunnels and continued toward Pennsylvania Station, following No. 751 at an interval of about three minutes. Seven minutes later, No. 159 stopped on track No. 4 at the C interlocking home signal, which indicated Stop due to the rear end of No. 751 occupying its track circuit. The engineer saw No. 751 standing about 200-250 feet ahead, and waited for the home interlocking signal to display a proceed aspect.

Approximately five minutes after stopping short of the passenger train equipment occupying station track 21, the engineer of No. 751, in response to a request of three off-duty employees, began to move his train slowly forward toward the east end of the track platform, causing loud electrical arcing sounds at the locations of the third-rail contact shoes on the cars. As the train moved forward, the communicating whistle sounded two short blasts (when moving, a signal to stop) and the engineer stopped the train a few feet short of the platform. A few seconds later, according to his statements, the engineer heard the communicating whistle sound three short blasts (when standing, a signal to back up) and looked into the passenger compartment of the first car for the conductor, but did not see him. Assuming the conductor had obtained authority for the reverse movement and had gone to the rear of the last car to protect the reverse movement, the engineer started to back his train through C interlocking without stationing himself at the controls of the leading car in the direction of the reverse movement, as required by the carrier's rules. The engineer stated that on two separate occasions after starting the reverse movement, the communicating whistle sounded three short blasts (when moving, a signal to stop at the next station). He construed these whistle signals as being confirmations of the first signal to back up. The train continued its reverse movement through C interlocking and, about 3:05 p.m., backed onto track No. 4 of the four-track line. Immediately thereafter, while moving backward at about 10 m.p.h. it struck No. 159, which was standing on track No. 4 a few feet east of the home interlocking signal.

Statements of the three off-duty employees in the vestibule at the front of the train substantiate those made by the engineer of No. 751 relating to the communicating whistle signals sounded before the collision.

The off-duty ticket collector, who was acting as the train conductor, was in the vestibule at the rear of the first car when No. 751 began to move in reverse. He heard the communicating whistle signals received by the engineer and took no exception to the reverse movement.

The flagman of No. 751 was in the vestibule at the front of the 6th car while his train waited on Pennsylvania Station track 21 for station forces to remove passenger train equipment from the track ahead. When his train moved slowly forward toward the station platform, intermittent arcing noise occurred at the locations of the third rail contact shoes. (The investigation revealed it is common practice for LI Rail Road engineers to use arcing sound, instead of train horn sound as required by rule, when recalling a flagman out providing protection against following trains. This is accomplished by setting the train brakes, then applying and shutting off power the number of times specified for the horn signal prescribed for recalling flagmen). Upon hearing the arcing noise, the flagman pulled the communicating whistle cord twice (when stopped, a signal to proceed; when moving, a signal to stop), intending this as a signal that he was on the train and not out providing protection against following trains. Since the train was moving when this signal was sounded, the engineer construed it to be a stop signal and promptly stopped the train, a few feet from the track platform and the passenger-train equipment ahead.

Apparently realizing that he had unintentionally caused the train to stop, the flagman again pulled the communicating whistle cord to signal the engineer to proceed. However, instead of sounding two short whistle blasts, he apparently sounded three short blasts (when standing, a signal to back up), resulting in the engineer moving the train in reverse. The reverse movement startled the flagman, and he pulled the communicating-whistle cord with the intention of signalling the engineer to stop. Instead of sounding two short whistle blasts, it appears he again sounded three short blasts (when moving, a signal to stop at the next station), resulting in the engineer assuming this was a confirmation of the first signal to back up and continuing the reverse movement. The flagman then decided to go to the rear vestibule of the 6th car, apparently with the intention of operating the emergency brake valve or the communicating-whistle signal apparatus in that vestibule. While going through the car, he again pulled the communicating-whistle cord with the intention of sounding a Stop signal and with the same result as described above. A few seconds later, No. 751 backed onto track No. 4 and struck No. 159.

Approximately 175 passengers and employees of both trains sustained injuries, which were primarily of the abrasion, contusion, sprain, and neck-whiplash types. Most injuries were relatively minor in nature. Numerous injured passengers were transported to hospitals for first aid Best available information indicates that three passengers were injured seriously enough to require hospitalization. Historical Data: Kyle V. Mullins


June 23, 1969 LIRR PASSENGER TRAIN #850 FIRE at Elmhurst

No. 850, an eastbound passenger train consisting of seven electrically-propelled passenger cars, was scheduled to leave Pennsylvania Station at 4:39 p.m. It was delayed in leaving, however, because of a collision between LI Rail Road trains at the east end of the station at 3:05 p.m. During the delay, passengers continued to board No. 850 until all its seats and standing room in the aisles and vestibules were fully, occupied. About 1,100 passengers boarded the train, according to estimates.

No. 850 left Pennsylvania Station at 5:50 p.m., 1 hour 11 minutes late, and proceeded eastward through one of the East River Tunnels to Long Island. Shortly after it emerged from the tunnel, wind forces caused a thin piece of metal (3 1/2" x 24") to fly up from the wayside and to lodge on the south side of the rear truck of the 7th (last) car, between the third-rail contact shoe hanger and the truck equalizer. This created a short circuit and an electrical arc between the third-rail contact shoe assembly and the truck frame or a journal box, igniting the lubricating material in the journal box. Shortly after passing Harold, L. I., at 5:56 p.m., the flagman noticed smoke arising from underneath the rear of the 7th car and signaled the engineer to stop.

When the train stopped, the flagman and front brakeman examined the rear truck of the 7th car and saw that the lubricating material in the journal box of the rear wheel on the south side of the truck was on fire. After making an unsuccessful search for a fire extinguisher on the train, the front brakeman extinguished the fire by stuffing a wet cloth into the journal box. He then returned to the front of the train and informed the conductor that the 7th car had an overheated journal (hot box). Soon afterward, the train proceeded eastward without either the flagman or front brakeman having noticed the strip of thin metal lodged on the rear truck of the 7th car.

No. 850 passed Win interlocking station in the Elmhurst section of Long Island at 6:12 p.m., while moving at a speed of about 30 m.p.h. About that time, the flagman heard loud explosive-type sounds caused by electrical arcing at the location of the rear truck of the 7th car. He then saw smoke and flames rising from the truck, and signaled the engineer to stop. As the engineer reduced speed to stop at a wayside telephone a short distance ahead, a passenger pulled the cord of the emergency brake valve in a car, stopping the train before it reached the wayside telephone.

Panic immediately developed among passengers in the 7th car when smoke and fire from the rear truck were seen to be rising above the south side of the car. At that time, the flagman opened the door on the south side of the rear vestibule of the 7th car to permit passengers to escape. Not being able to proceed forward through the car because of its crowded condition, the flagman alighted from the rear vestibule, ran forward along the south side of the car to the front vestibule, and opened the south door of that vestibule. While attempting to open the trap door over the steps, he was thrown to the ground by passengers leaving the car in panic. In the meantime, ticket collectors in the fourth car alighted from the train, saw what was happening, and ran to the rear alongside the train, opening doors on the south side of vestibules in the cars.

While passengers were evacuating the train, the conductor ran ahead to the wayside telephone and requested assistance. This resulted in power to the third rail being shut off at 6:21 p.m., about 20 or 25 minutes after the train stopped. About 6:18 p.m., fire and police department forces from several nearby communities arrived at the scene.

Immediately after the train stopped, passengers in the last car began to break out windows and jump to the ground. When the vestibule doors were opened, passengers jumped to the ground from unopened trap doors above the steps.

Eleven passengers were known to be injured as a result of jumping from the 6th and 7th cars through windows and/or unopened trap doors. Six other passengers subsequently claimed injury. Most injuries were of minor nature, consisting primarily of lacerations, contusions, abrasions, and sprains. Two passengers were hospitalized, one for a fractured ankle, the other for a back injury. Historical Data: Kyle V. Mullins

August 26, 1988 LIRR Passenger Train Crash Huntington, NY

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LIRLIRR  wreck from grade crossing accident in Huntington, NY. The Alco power pack  LIRR #606 was a total loss and eventually scrapped after being towed back 
to Morris Park.  Photos are from Aug 28, 1988 by Al Castelli
A LIRR westbound passenger train crashed into a tractor-trailer stuck at a grade crossing in Huntington, NY, about 8 P.M. Thursday night, derailing five cars and the locomotive, tearing up hundreds of feet of track and scattering debris. Eighteen people were slightly injured in the collision, which occurred about a mile east of Huntington.. The impact of the crash about one mile east of the Huntington station was so great that it toppled the diesel engine, throwing one railroad car into a lumberyard and another into a parked train on another track.

March 12, 1993   Bellerose Freight Derailment 

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Bellerose Freight Derailment Newsday 03/11/1993

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                      Bellerose Freight Derailment Newsday 03/12/1993

 

March 11, 2004  LIRR #160 Runaway Bushwick Branch

lirr160bushwickbranchaccident03-10-2004.jpg (42505 bytes)On March 11, 2004, about 2:18p.m.. the crew of a LIRR train, assigned to reposition equipment in various locations, left a locomotive (LIRR #160) unattended with only its air brakes applied. The locomotive was left on a descending grade in the Fresh Pond yard of the New York & Atlantic Railway (NYAR) in Queens , NY . The locomotive rolled away and traveled through the yard and onto the Bushwick Branch of the NYAR, where it passed over seven passive grade crossings and struck numerous vehicles before coming to a stop. Four occupants of three struck vehicles were seriously injures. A fire occurred when the engine came to a stop, after its collision with the last two vehicles. The LIRR estimated equipment damages of $83,000, the NYAR estimated minimal damages.  National Transportation Safety Board 

March 11, 2004: A driverless, out-of-control LIRR locomotive roared through several crossings near the Queens-Brooklyn border yesterday, hitting five vehicles and injuring four people, two of them critically.

The engine plowed through the cars as they crossed the tracks at three spots along the little-used Bushwick branch, leaving behind a path of destruction and burning debris, officials said.

The engine traveled nearly 1 1/2 miles after it came loose from two other locomotives at around 2:10 p.m. and meandered down the freight line during an engine change at the Fresh Pond Yard behind Rentar Plaza Shopping Center in Middle Village , officials said.

Mayor Bloomberg said the cause is under investigation. "Either the brakes weren't set or they failed," he said. "We don't have an answer as to why." Bloomberg said the crew working at the yards will be interviewed by police and tested for alcohol and drugs as part of the investigation. "The thing we should remember here is that we were lucky," said Bloomberg, who toured the crash site with officials from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the state agency that oversees the LIRR. "This could have been a much worse tragedy. Thank God it was not."

The runaway engine - traveling about 10 to 15 mph - hit a white car at an ungated crossing at 54th Street and Flushing Avenue in Maspeth at 2:11 p.m., leaving two men critically injured. They were taken to Elmhurst Hospital and listed last night in critical condition after undergoing surgery.

Demetrius Cuffie, 37, suffered several broken bones in his upper body and Jason Kusinitz, 33, suffered head and internal injuries and had to have his spleen removed. "We're all very nervous and concerned," said Kusinitz's brother Ian. "It doesn't make sense." Andrew Wigler, Kusinitz's lawyer, said the family "had no understanding" of how the accident could have occurred. "It would seem that there should have been multiple safeguards in place to prevent a happening of this sort."

Cuffie and Kusinitz are co-workers at a car-rental agency in Maspeth. Kusinitz's brother David is a cop assigned to the 109th Precinct in Queens . Witnesses said they saw the locomotive slam into the car, debris flying into the air as the engine rammed it.

"The car was like an accordion," said witness Lisa DaVino, 27. "It sounded like a bomb had gone off." Vincent Grauso, 21, who also saw the accident, said the locomotive hit the car with such force, it appeared to melt before his eyes. "It was pretty gory. The car was mangled from top to bottom," he said. "The men weren't moving at all. It was really awful."

The black and white locomotive then barreled into two other cars on Woodward Avenue at 2:14 p.m., injuring two others. Meir Mahlab, 72, a retired rabbi, and Sister Ave Clark, 59, a nun with the Amityville Dominican Order on Long Island were also taken to Elmhurst in stable condition. Mahlab's wife, Linda, said he was unable to tell her the details of the crash. "He just said, 'My spine, my spine,' " she said. "He's in a lot of pain, he could hardly talk."

Seconds after that impact, the locomotive hit two trucks owned by the New York and Atlantic Railway a few blocks away, over the Brooklyn border near Onderdonk Avenue . The impact sparked a minor fire near some tanks containing acetylene and oxygen, fire officials said. "I heard a big bang," said witness Xavier Zevallos, a warehouse manager who was working nearby. "All I could see was smoke and fire down the tracks."

One of the trucks was parked on the tracks because workers were doing repairs when the locomotive bore down on them, officials said. The engine came to a halt moments later, just a few blocks away at the end of the line when part of the truck got wedged under it, officials said. The Fire Department said no one was injured in that crash. Firefighters had the blaze under control at 3:08 p.m., officials said.

The locomotive was still running when FDNY Lt. William Pickett, who was at the scene to help those injured in the crash, jumped aboard. "The truck was still burning," he said. "That's when I climbed into the back of the train and into the engineer's compartment and applied the brake."

Residents of the area near the last crash said trains usually come through the crossing very slowly, its horn blowing, and often with a crew member standing outside. There are no gates, lights or bells at the crossing, but there are warning yellow signs.
Alex Ginsburg, Doug Montero and Clemente Lisi
Courtesy of: New York Post

By Nicholas Hirshon 
DAILY NEWS Writer  Wednesday, December 5th 2007, 4:00 AM 

WRECK 03/04/2004

Scattered wreckage was tossed after a LIRR locomotive smashed into cars and trucks in Ridgewood in March 2004.

Nearly four years after a runaway train incident injured four people, freight railroad tracks through Queens and Brooklyn are set to undergo a year-long series of safety changes.

A new state report unveiled last week includes a policy requiring trains to stop and wait for crews to flag them through crossings along the seldom-used Long Island Rail Road branch where the out-of-control locomotive accident occurred in Ridgewood in March 2004. 

The order also calls for more X-shaped signage - known as crossbucks - as well as yield signs and pavement markings at crossings throughout the two boroughs. 

Skip Carrier, a state Transportation Department spokesman, said the long-awaited changes were the result of a "full, thorough hearing process." 

But locals affected by the 2004 accident wondered why officials didn't push for any crossing gates. 

"I'm afraid what they're doing there is just putting up new signs - and to me, signs at that area don't mean anything," said Sister Ave Clark, 63, who was hurt when the train hit her car at 15 mph. 

Because the crew failed to secure the unmanned freight train, the 120-ton locomotive chugged without warning along tracks leased by the LIRR to New York and Atlantic Railway. 

That was moments after the train crashed at 55th St. into a car carrying Jason Kusinitz, now 36, who was put in a medically induced coma and still undergoes mental and physical therapy. 

His older brother, Adam, panned the state hearings into the incident as a "dog and pony show." Residents at a July meeting asked for crossing gates, but transportation officials rejected the request. 

"I don't see how they can come up with any logical explanation to not have gate crossings," Adam Kusinitz said. "If something was manned or unmanned coming down the tracks, the gate would prevent another tragedy." 

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, who supports more signage along the tracks, is still "not certain that's enough" to make them safe, her spokesman Dan Andrews said. 

The 20-page report also asks for the city and state to mull the installation of overhead LED lights at two crossings: Morgan and Metropolitan Aves. in Brooklyn and 56th St. and Flushing Ave. West in Queens. 

If officials agree to install LED lights, they must be operational within a year. If not, the overhead signs will include flashing red lights instead.

Long Island Rail Road track in Ridgewood to undergo safety changes

ALEX GINSBURG, DOUG MONTERO and CLEMENTE LISI
Courtesy of New York Post

03-11-2004lirr-crash.jpg (44357 bytes)March 11, 2004 -- A driverless, out-of-control LIRR locomotive roared through several crossings near the Queens-Brooklyn border yesterday, hitting five vehicles and injuring four people, two of them critically.

The engine plowed through the cars as they crossed the tracks at three spots along the little-used Bushwick branch, leaving behind a path of destruction and burning debris, officials said.

The engine traveled nearly 1 1/2 miles after it came loose from two other locomotives at around 2:10 p.m. and meandered down the freight line during an engine change at the Fresh Pond Yard behind Rentar Plaza Shopping Center in Middle Village , officials said.

Mayor Bloomberg said the cause is under investigation. "Either the brakes weren't set or they failed," he said. "We don't have an answer as to why." Bloomberg said the crew working at the yards will be interviewed by police and tested for alcohol and drugs as part of the investigation. "The thing we should remember here is that we were lucky," said Bloomberg, who toured the crash site with officials from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the state agency that oversees the LIRR. "This could have been a much worse tragedy. Thank God it was not."

The runaway engine - traveling about 10 to 15 mph - hit a white car at an ungated crossing at 54th Street and Flushing Avenue in Maspeth at 2:11 p.m., leaving two men critically injured. They were taken to Elmhurst Hospital and listed last night in critical condition after undergoing surgery.

Demetrius Cuffie, 37, suffered several broken bones in his upper body and Jason Kusinitz, 33, suffered head and internal injuries and had to have his spleen removed. "We're all very nervous and concerned," said Kusinitz's brother Ian. "It doesn't make sense."

Andrew Wigler, Kusinitz's lawyer, said the family "had no understanding" of how the accident could have occurred. "It would seem that there should have been multiple safeguards in place to prevent a happening of this sort."

Cuffie and Kusinitz are co-workers at a car-rental agency in Maspeth. Kusinitz's brother David is a cop assigned to the 109th Precinct in Queens .

Witnesses said they saw the locomotive slam into the car, debris flying into the air as the engine rammed it. "The car was like an accordion," said witness Lisa DaVino, 27. "It sounded like a bomb had gone off."

Vincent Grauso, 21, who also saw the accident, said the locomotive hit the car with such force, it appeared to melt before his eyes. "It was pretty gory. The car was mangled from top to bottom," he said. "The men weren't moving at all. It was really awful."

The black and white locomotive then barreled into two other cars on Woodward Avenue at 2:14 p.m., injuring two others.

Meir Mahlab, 72, a retired rabbi, and Sister Ave Clark, 59, a nun with the Amityville Dominican Order on Long Island were also taken to Elmhurst in stable condition.

Mahlab's wife, Linda, said he was unable to tell her the details of the crash. "He just said, 'My spine, my spine,' " she said. "He's in a lot of pain, he could hardly talk."

Seconds after that impact, the locomotive hit two trucks owned by the New York and Atlantic Railway a few blocks away, over the Brooklyn border near Onderdonk Avenue .

The impact sparked a minor fire near some tanks containing acetylene and oxygen, fire officials said. "I heard a big bang," said witness Xavier Zevallos, a warehouse manager who was working nearby. "All I could see was smoke and fire down the tracks."

One of the trucks was parked on the tracks because workers were doing repairs when the locomotive bore down on them, officials said. The engine came to a halt moments later, just a few blocks away at the end of the line when part of the truck got wedged under it, officials said.

The Fire Department said no one was injured in that crash. Firefighters had the blaze under control at 3:08 p.m., officials said.  

March 27, 2008 LIRR PASSENGER TRAINS at JAMAICA

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LIRR Train # 714 (9:35am Flatbush Ave-Hempstead) and LIRR Train #1618 (9:34am NYPenn-Huntington). 

The last two cars of the 9:35am AM FBA train derailed when arriving at Jamaica. Cars # 7627-28 The two trains collided between tracks 7 and 8. They collided with unoccupied cars of the 9:34am NYP train. Cars #7773-74
LIRR indicates the Huntington train was already in the station and the Hempstead train was just pulling in and didn't cross over the tracks onto track 8 properly, when the derailment occurred. The rear 2 cars derailed and collided with the Huntington train on track 7. WWOR TV reports 20 minor injuries.