According to a report released on Monday, the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) has shown improvement. The detailed report contains a 3 month evaluation which was lead by former Metro North Railroad boss Donald Nelson. The report stated that the system is in excellent shape. However not all the news was good!
The report also states that gap accidents are up an astounding 145% over the same 6 month period in 2006 & 2007! The report also points out problems with unreliable diesel engines & overgrown vegetation along the tracks. Next to nothing was discussed about the LIRR’s response to customer safety.
Mr. Nelson held a press conference at the Jamaica Station. He commented on such issues as the LIRR bring service into Grand Central Station which prompted him to say how the next few years “are going to be hell on this railroad”. He also went on to explain why he did not examine the gap issue as it “had already been examined top to bottom. I don’t know what else the railroad can do.”
The sad state of the LIRR diesel fleet was brought up because of their lack of reliability. The LIRR only has 45 diesel engines out of 1000+ cars but they have proven to be the least reliable. According to Mr. Nelson they break down quite often & need to be replaced. Their future was pretty much sealed based on this quote: “It is obvious that the entire diesel fleet is in serious trouble”.
Mr. Nelson also noted how 182 railroad bridges are “not in a state of good repair” although he went on to say that the bridges are “functional and safe”. His recommendation called for the hiring of 30 more workers. He also had a problem with the current maintenance of stations especially regarding platform repairs & electrical upgrades.
He says that the LIRR only addresses these issues “as needed” instead of being proactive about them. He feels this also translates into the vegetation problem which prompted him to say how it “is all-pervasive and exists on all lines”. He claims that little has been done to deal with vegetation in the last 5 years. According to LIRR President Helena Williams said the agency has been tackling the issue since the summer & is seeking funding to continue working at it along with station maintenance.
The Long Island Railroad Commuter Council President Gerard Bringmann had mostly compliments for Mr. Nelson’s report saying that it “makes a lot of valid points”. However he had one slight against the report & that was in regards to a comment Mr. Nelson made in regards to customer information. Mr. Nelson’s comments were that customer information at stations & aboard trains was “very good”. Mr. Bringmann strongly disagreed stating that “They still leave us in the dark way too often.” He also questioned Mr. Nelson’s anonymity while riding the LIRR saying “I just wonder how anonymous he was when he went around”.
Now I have to chime in & ask a few questions. My main question was what did this report accomplish outside of stating the obvious. Also where can I get a 6 month $100,000 contract to make “obvious” suggestions & helping implement these “obvious” suggestions? This is the reward that Mr. Nelson received from LIRR President Helena Williams. Sometimes you wonder what are people thinking when they first step into a new powerful position. The choices they make at first leave you wondering how they got the job to begin with. No, lets not make a quiet entrance in our first few months on the job, lets throw away $100,000 on a pointless assignment!
I rode the LIRR almost daily for 6 years & saw the growing of bushes, trees, & vegetables along the track. I could have told you that they needed to be dealt with. I also could have told you how many stations needed to be maintained on a more consistent basis & upgrades be made. I could have also told you your diesel fleet sucked considering how many times I heard of people getting screwed by a broken down diesel. The sad part is I could have done this for much less than $100,000! If you gave me an unlimited pass to ride the LIRR 24×7 for an entire year, I would have called it even!
I need to send in my resume as I clearly am in the wrong field!