View Full Version : Dangerous gaps on L.I.R.R. platforms

February 6th, 2007, 03:46 AM
Newsday investigates the Long Island Rail Road's gap issue.

Since 1995, the LIRR has logged nearly 900 gap incidents at
stations from Penn to Bridgehampton, according to records
obtained and analyzed by Newsday. The falls have involved
toddlers and senior citizens, regular commuters and occasional
riders, the disabled and the able-bodied. During that period, gap
falls have comprised an increasing percentage of rider accidents.


LIRR passenger risk higher than other area rail lines (http://www.newsday.com/news/specials/nyg-lilirr0120,0,7590700.story?coll=ny-rightrail-bottompromo)
Passengers on the Long Island Rail Road run a higher risk of injury than those on other rail divisions in the metropolitan area -- Metro-North, NJ Transit and the New York City subways -- accident data for each of the lines show. (Jan 21, 2007)

Litany of gap claims filed against LIRR (http://www.newsday.com/news/specials/nyg-lisuit0121,0,5947712.story?coll=ny-rightrail-bottompromo)
Lawsuits against the Long Island Rail Road stemming from falls into the gap date back more than 35 years, with plaintiffs claiming injuries as severe as torn ligaments, fractured bones, paralysis and dismemberment. (Jan 21, 2007)

A long way down for former Rockette turned gap victim (http://www.newsday.com/news/specials/nyg-lirann21,0,2596168.story?coll=ny-rightrail-bottompromo)
Sheila Rann used to say that Forest Hills Gardens was the best place to live because, thanks to the nearby Long Island Rail Road station, she could be in midtown Manhattan in eight minutes. (Jan 21, 2007)

Video: Former Rockette paralyzed in gap fall (http://javascript<b></b>:playVideo('1184890','\'Former Rockette paralyzed in gap fall','v','News','128033','News','fvCatNo=&backgroundImageURL=','video.newsday.com');)Critics : Report blames victim (http://www.newsday.com/news/specials/nyg-lialco0121,0,4384012.story?coll=ny-rightrail-bottompromo)
In just four pages, the state Public Transportation Safety Board concluded that Natalie Smead became the Long Island Rail Road's first gap-related fatality because she put herself in the path of an oncoming train and because she was drunk. (Jan 20, 2007)

Now, a political platform (http://www.newsday.com/news/specials/nyg-lireax0120,0,4182819.story?coll=ny-rightrail-bottompromo)
State lawmakers say they will convene public hearings on the Long Island Rail Road's plans to fix wide platform gaps, as the new MTA chief admitted the hazard had been ignored for too long. (Jan 20, 2007)

LIRR sees bigger problem, will fix 100 platforms (http://www.newsday.com/news/specials/nyg-linews0119,0,1556799.story?coll=ny-rightrail-bottompromo)
An estimated 38 percent of the Long Island Rail Road's platforms have problem gaps, and they will be reduced by the spring of 2008, railroad officials revealed Thursday. (Jan 19, 2007)

Thirty years of neglect (http://www.newsday.com/news/specials/nyg-limain0119,0,54048.story?coll=ny-rightrail-bottompromo)
The Long Island Rail Road knew for more than three decades that the gap between trains and platforms posed a serious threat to passengers, injuring hundreds of riders in terrifying falls. (Jan 19, 2007)

Timeline: LIRR knew about gap problem in 1970 (http://www.newsday.com/news/specials/nyg-litime0121,0,5624611.story?coll=ny-rightrail-bottompromo)Riders are split over the blame (http://www.newsday.com/news/specials/nyg-licomm0120,0,2020127.story?coll=ny-rightrail-bottompromo)
Eric Bell wants to know why it took decades for the Long Island Rail Road to do something about the gaps between trains and platforms that led to hundreds of falls. (Jan 19, 2007)

Reactions from New York's politicians (http://www.newsday.com/news/specials/nyg-lipols0120,0,2408760.story?coll=ny-rightrail-bottompromo)
Local politicians, from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to Rep. Peter King have spoken out about the gap issues facing the LIRR. (Jan 19, 2007)

Fix-it solutions offered (http://www.newsday.com/news/specials/nyg-lisolu0120,0,4636989.story?coll=ny-rightrail-bottompromo)
When the Long Island Rail Road's gap problems were highlighted last summer, a retired civil engineer from Kings Park started thinking about a solution. (Jan 19, 2007)

Victims ask why recent fixes weren't done sooner (http://www.newsday.com/news/specials/nyg-limove0119,0,639289.story?coll=ny-rightrail-bottompromo)
The Long Island Rail Road in recent months has realigned tracks, shifted platforms and tacked wooden boards to platform edges -- all in a concentrated effort to shrink the dangerous spaces between trains and platforms. (Jan 19, 2007)

How the gap problem all started (http://www.newsday.com/news/specials/nyg-liprob0119,0,7852846.story?coll=ny-rightrail-bottompromo)
The gap problem now facing the Long Island Rail Road was set in motion more than 150 years ago, as the fledgling railroad pushed east from Jamaica, building stations on donated land. (Jan 19, 2007)

Three falls in Syosset within 90 minutes (http://www.newsday.com/news/specials/nyg-lisyos0120,0,1748815.story?coll=ny-rightrail-bottompromo)
Any other day, Lori Wright might have just waited. But on the morning of Jan. 30, 1996, Wright had a business meeting in Manhattan and her westbound LIRR train had been stuck going on 15 minutes at Syosset station without explanation. (Jan 20, 2007)

Lack of oversight led to gap problem (http://www.newsday.com/news/specials/nyg-liresp0119,0,1098044.story?coll=ny-rightrail-bottompromo)
The LIRR's parent agency knew that education wasn't enough. (Jan 19, 2007)

Warnings ignored (http://www.newsday.com/news/specials/nyg-listud0119,0,5357890.story?coll=ny-rightrail-bottompromo)
The MTA inspector general released a report in 1987 titled, "An Investigation of Gaps Between Platforms and Trains At Metro-North Stations." (Jan 19, 2007)

LIRR statement about the gap issue (http://www.newsday.com/news/specials/nyg-liword0118,0,3916093.story?coll=ny-rightrail-bottompromo)
The following is the Long Island Rail Road's statement about the gap issue: (Jan 19, 2007)

Pinpointing the problems (http://www.newsday.com/news/specials/nyg-limeas0119,0,381729.story?coll=ny-rightrail-bottompromo)
Four-year-old Brittany Walker fell completely through a gap at a Long Island Rail Road station. Robert M. Garren, 38, of Flushing, fell up to his hip, and Patricia Freeman, 64, of Manhattan, fell up to her elbows. (Jan 19, 2007)

Copyright Newsday Inc.

February 9th, 2007, 07:43 PM
LIRR owns up to gap woes

Newsday Staff Writer

February 9, 2007

For the first time Thursday, Long Island Rail Road officials quantified the extent of their gap problem: The space between platforms and trains exceeds 10 inches on 32 platforms at 22 LIRR stations, and officials expect to spend more than $13 million fixing them.

Metro-North Railroad President Peter Cannito said his railroad has similar gaps on 26 platforms at 17 stations, but did not say how much it would cost to narrow them.

At a State Senate hearing in Syosset, legislators criticized the LIRR and its parent agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, for allowing dangerous platform gaps to remain unfixed for decades.

A five-month Newsday investigation found that MTA and LIRR officials knew for more than three decades that platform gaps threatened riders' safety. And over the past 11 years, gaps stretching as wide as 15 inches caused almost 900 customer accidents.

But until the death of a Minnesota teenager last August, the railroad did little more than warn riders to "watch the gap."

Much of the legislators' criticism Thursday focused on one of Newsday's findings: a 1987 MTA Inspector General report about gaps on Metro-North Railroad. The study, which found that rider education campaigns were not enough to prevent gap falls, was never shared with the LIRR.

"I'm having a tough time understanding that a report like this wasn't communicated," said state Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr. (R-Merrick). "We're talking 20 years ago. But no corrective action was ever taken."

MTA chief executive Elliot "Lee" Sander replied: "I think it's probable that there should have been more communication back then."

LIRR officials did not launch a plan to fix gaps systemwide until the death last August of Natalie Smead, 18, who slipped through a gap at Woodside station and scrambled in front of an oncoming train.

In other testimony, a representative of the LIRR Commuters Council slammed the railroad for losing the confidence of its customers.

"The gap issue is regarded as a symptom of major, systemic problems within the Long Island Rail Road," said Ellyn Shannon, who spoke for the advocacy group. "Many riders and commuters believe the LIRR has not put the safety of its passengers first."

Lawmakers took railroad officials to task for ignoring commuter council reports that for more than a decade have complained about dangerously wide gaps.

"A lot of the suggestions they have made have fallen on deaf ears," said state Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset).

Shannon Thursday asked the railroad to establish a permanent task force -- comprising members of different LIRR departments as well as a rider advocate -- to work on solving the gap problem.

Sander said he would consider her suggestion carefully. He added that he already was working to improve communication among MTA agencies and encourage them to share "best practices."

LIRR Acting President Ray Kenny, in his testimony, announced several new developments:

The railroad has formed a customer safety committee to review all gap accidents and ensure that the railroad has accurate measurements and accident reports.

The LIRR will have a strategy to fix the 32 gaps exceeding 10 inches by the end of the month.

Surveillance cameras will be installed on Syosset platforms by the end of the month.

By shifting platforms and tacking on wooden boards that shrink gaps, the railroad has reduced the gap on Syosset's Track 2 to less than 10 inches. But Track 1 will require more complex measures.

A study on solutions for Syosset, including mechanical gap fillers, will be completed by April.

At some stations, including Lawrence, engineers will stop trains in new locations on the platform to avoid the widest gaps.

Staff writer Eden Laikin contributed to this story.


February 14th, 2007, 03:42 PM
I say make the gap bigger

February 14th, 2007, 04:11 PM
I say make it so big that there's room for a 3rd rail!

Happy Hearts Day!!