MTA LIRR Prepares for Winter

Hi-rail cold air high-velocity snow blowers? Check.

Rail-bound snow brooms? Check.

Rail-bound and hi-rail hot air jets that reach 700 degrees Fahrenheit?


MTA Long Island Rail Road is doing everything possible to make sure its ready for whatever Mother Nature has in store this winter. Its snow-fighting machinery (see attached photos) is just part of a comprehensive winter storm operating plan that includes old fashioned snow shovels and ice picks and the dedicated workforce needed to get the job done.

"Our goal is to ensure that our response to a storm is immediate and well-coordinated across all departments at the LIRR," said LIRR President Helena Williams. "As always, the safety of our customers and our employees is our number one priority. In the event of a major storm, we may have to suspend service to ensure the safety of our customers and employees."

With every snow storm, hundreds of LIRR employees work around the clock before, during and after it hits to keep the Railroad operating. They clear the third rail of snow, keep switches from freezing and clear platforms and parking lots in very challenging conditions. This year, deployment of equipment and manpower will be directed and monitored from a new central command center at the LIRR's Hillside Facility that is equipped with a Global Positioning System.

The LIRR also keeps customers informed about train service via the news media, station and onboard announcements, our website and email service alerts from our 24/7 Public Information Office, which is located in the heart of the Railroad's transportation command center at Jamaica Station Customers may sign up for free email service updates at

Thousands of pounds of deicer has been stored at train stations and other key locations covering 700 miles of track from Manhattan to Montauk and crews will be out pre-salting platforms and clearing them once the snow starts. At LIRR repair shops and train storage yards, equipment has been winterized, emergency generators tested and heating systems fully inspected. Heaters are in place to keep track switches from freezing and anti-freeze trains are ready to prevent icing on the third rail. Special scraper shoes on electric trains also help reduce icing.

As in the past, when forecasters are predicting a significant storms, the Long Island Rail Road will be ready with a special Storm Operating Plan with train service tailored specifically to the emergency, including extra eastbound service if needed to bring customers leaving work early back home.

While the LIRR will work to keep train service operating on all 11 branches, it may be necessary to temporarily suspend train service when snow accumulation reaches between 10 and 13 inches to avoid stranding trains and for the safety of our customers and employees. These temporary suspensions, while snow is removed from the tracks, will continue until safe and reliable service can be restored.