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13 treated after LIRR train derails in Queens

LIRR train derailment expected to impact commuters Friday
LIRR train derailment expected to impact commuters Friday 02:45

NEW YORK -- All eight cars of a Long Island Rail Road train derailed Thursday morning, injuring 13 passengers.

It happened near the Jamaica station in Queens. 

Thirteen people were treated. Two had more serious injuries, according to officials, but all of them are stable. 

LIRR riders should expect delays, cancellations and combined trains and track changes through midday Friday.

Watch Natalie Duddridge's report

13 hurt after LIRR train derails in Queens 03:07

CBS New York's Natalie Duddridge spoke to passengers, who described being rocked out of their seats. 

"Kind of like plane turbulence, but it was noisier. You could see smoke between the cars. It kind of just hopped off the rails. You could see the rocks and smoke," passenger Cheryl Blu said. 

Blu was riding train 722 which left Grand Central around 11 a.m. headed towards Hempstead when suddenly it derailed east of Jamaica station, at 175th Street and 93rd Avenue. 

Watch: Chopper 2 over the scene

LIRR traiin derails in Queens

Chopper 2 is over an LIRR train that derailed in Queens. Initial reports suggest several injuries. Watch more on CBS News New York: Read more:

Posted by CBS New York on Thursday, August 3, 2023

Chopper 2 captured the eight stalled train cars knocked off the rails. Pictures on the ground showed a closer look.    

"I saw some people, they were talking about getting hurt in the arms, or their head might hurt, they feel a little dizzy," Blu said. "There was some panic. People were running away from where the smoke was." 

Blu took cell phone video of first responders helping people off the derailed train. Dozens of people were helped by first responders to get to a rescue train, using a platform to connect the two. 

"This is a complex and dangerous operation, but they were able to get to work quickly," FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said. "They were able to get all the passengers off the train and to another location to be assessed by EMS." 

Nine passengers suffered minor injuries. Two others suffered moderate injuries, and two more serious.

MTA officials gave an update on the derailment, which we brought to you live on CBS News New York and WCBS-TV.

MTA gives update on LIRR train derailment 11:11

The rescue train took passengers back to Jamaica, where they were treated, and others were taken to local hospitals. 

It's unclear what caused the train to go off the tracks, though MTA officials said speed was not a factor. The train was traveling 54 miles per hour, which is below the maximum allowable speed in the area. 

LIRR train derails in Queens; Watch extended coverage 49:58

"The derailment did take place in what we call hall interlocking. That's the network of signals and tracks that allow trains to switch tracks and to switch directions," MTA Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber said.

That means until crews can repair the tracks, what's normally four lanes of train traffic is down to two.

"This is a critical component. What you've lost now is 50 percent of your capacity and because of now the congestion that's gonna build up in Jamaica, this may affect the trains that are going to the south shore," transportation engineer Carl Berkowitz said.

"The restoration process is not merely a matter of re-railing the train," Lieber said. "There's damage to the ties and other railroad infrastructure." 

At Penn Station, getting home without getting stuck was the top priority, followed by figuring out whether it will be worth it to ride the rails back in to the city Friday.

The schedule changes are difficult for riders who aren't used to the LIRR.

"I don't really know how to restructure the trains and everything, like, which one I should be getting on instead, so it's a little annoying and there should be people here helping us," New Jersey resident Taylor Zucosky said.

Eastbound trains bypass Hillside, Hollis and Queens Village. Cross-honoring will happen on the Q2, Q3, Q8 and Q110 buses for service between Jamaica and Queens Village.

For the latest updates on train service, CLICK HERE.   

Gov. Kathy Hochul said she's been briefed on the derailment and state personnel are assisting with the emergency response. 

"It looks like it was going through switches. So if I was there, and I'm not, one of the first things I would look at is what were the positions of the switches, and did some of the wheels miss where the switches go from one track to another," City College of New York train expert and engineer Robert Paaswell said.

Our morning team will have live coverage on the impact to your morning commute starting Friday at 4:30 a.m.

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