Discussion of the past and present operations of the Long Island Rail Road.

Moderator: Liquidcamphor

  by Head-end View
I recently heard that trains are limited to only 5mph while crossing the drawbridge between Long Beach and Island Park. Anyone verify if this is true? And if so, why such a low speed limit instead of say 20mph? Is there a problem with the bridge itself?
  by ExCon90
There's a cab-ride video (I think by Retired Railfan) on YouTube that mentions that on departure from Long Beach, but no mention of the reason, and I didn't notice anything visible, but the train was certainly doing 5 mph.
  by Head-end View
Yes, LOL I've seen that video. That's where I confirmed the 5mph speed limit after once having watched a train take forever to get from the bridge to the crossing at Island Park Station.
  by west point
5 MPH ? That is less than Cat 1 track and even excepted track.
  by Kelly&Kelly
We can't confirm the speed of the day for Wreck Lead Bridge, but we can add some insight.

Like most movable bridges, the Lead Draw is a maintenance nightmare. Even the slightest misalignment causes an inability to properly display signals. There are several limit switches which prove the draw's closure and alignment. If any are slightly open (normally more than 1/8") signals cannot be displayed and a train will be held awaiting a qualified person to assure the span is closed an locked. Normal wear and tear of wooden ties makes this more prevalent.

The bridge also has an inherent defect: It's bent. Either undetected in its LIRR pre-purchase survey or damaged in its move up from Florida, the entire steel structure is wracked. That causes one corner when closing - one rail - to seat before the other. The higher rail, and the higher bridge members, must then be twisted and powered down by the motor, causing strain on the mechanism.

Often the bridge must be manually locked when switches fail to indicate that it is closed. This requires a B & B Supervisor, Signalman or mechanically qualified Transportation supervisor to possess the proper tool and crank in the locking bars. It causes delay, conflicts over authority and qualification and exorbitant overtime costs as these folks are called out.

Like most recurring maintenance problems, the blame gets volleyed back and forth between departments: Track, B & B, C & S and Transportation. Transportation, being among the politically weak, usually becomes saddled with the blame and found responsible for the remediation. That translates to allegations of excessive speed and the solutions of reducing the allowable speed. Thus, as the thing deteriorates physically and mechanically the speed is reduced until it gets so bad that an investment is made in rehabilitation. Then the budgeting of that work is debated between departments.

Speed restrictions and failures of the former 1880 wooden trestle and shear-pole swing span were a similar recurring "challenge", delaying commuters and enhancing workers' paychecks.

Another factor is the low yard speed due to a civil condition in the yard. There is a long-standing known defect in a portion of the yard's alignment, with one particular s-curve "encouraging" repeated derailments. The condition presented itself upon the arrival of the M-1s in 1968 and a subsequent derailment. After 54 years, multiple derailments and multiple realignment attempts, the problem has not been rectified and continues to result in speed restrictions in the yard.

We hope this sheds some light on Wreck Lead and Long Beach Yard speed restrictions and their history.
Last edited by Kelly&Kelly on Fri Jan 21, 2022 3:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  by Head-end View
Veerryy interesting!........... Thank you K & K for your informative summary of those issues. Much appreciated.
  by eolesen
I lived in Long Beach at one point in the 1990's, and recall it being a slow movement between the terminal and Island Park...
  by Pensyfan19
Does this mean it's time for a third Long Beach Bridge replacement? (And possibly with it, the end of Lead Tower?) Were trains limited to 5 MPH on the original swing bridge?
  by Kelly&Kelly
At the end year or two of its existence, the entire Long Beach wooden trestle had speed limited to 5 MPH, with an further restriction that no unnecessary acceleration or breaking be effected thereon. The piles were in very bad shape and the bridge would sway considerably under train traffic. Those piles weren't very deep in the sand.
  by Head-end View
Seems like the Long Beach passengers just can't catch a break...........