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LIRR reports fewer diesel engine breakdowns

Long Island Rail Road officials have reported a 32 percent drop in breakdowns and delays among its diesel locomotives as the result of new maintenance procedures.

“While we still have additional improvements to make, we are encouraged that our focus on this issue has produced tangible results for our customers in the form of fewer breakdown and delays,” said LIRR President Helena Williams.

A task force headed by LIRR Senior Vice President of Operations Raymond Kenny oversaw a project to locate and correct problems in the LIRR’s 22 dual mode locomotives, which run on either electrified or non− electrified tracks. They were breaking down every 12,425 miles rather than the acceptable mileage of 30,000 miles.

Booz Allen Transportation, a consulting agency hired by the LIRR, issued a dozen recommendations to fix the problem.

LIRR officials said the key was reorganization of the LIRR’s diesel maintenance operations with all diesel fleet functions now headed by a newly established position known as general manager of diesel shops and yards.

The report said there were 32 percent fewer repeat maintenance problems so far this year compared with the same period of 2007.

Under previous procedures, locomotives with problems while operating were brought into the shop but not held long enough for a proper diagnosis. Such locomotives were sent back into service with a “trouble not found” ticket only to have the problem recur.

The LIRR said a major part of the solution was the upgrading of the railroad’s Morris Park Shops, where locomotive maintenance is performed. The shops were built to repair locomotives of the late 19th century and had long needed to be updated to maintain modern equipment.

Such improvements helped solve the problem of steadily increasing diesel train delays from 2002 to 2007 which averaged a 9.5 increase each year with more than 700 delays last year alone.

LIRR officials said the remedial work ended completely the problem in which dual mode locomotives were unable to switch from diesel to electric mode.

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