LIRR signalman target of derailment, time-keeping probes

LIRR signalman target of derailment, time-keeping probes

A former Long Island Rail Road signalman already suspected of lying about his hours is the target of a separate criminal probe into the Memorial Day weekend derailment that snarled travel to the Hamptons.

Stuart Conklin, 62, of Ronkonkoma, claimed on federal forms to have walked the tracks and tested electrical connections at the site of the two-train crash — but video evidence proved otherwise, a railroad source told The Post.

As a result, he failed to flag the broken track circuit cited by federal investigators as a factor in the May 25 Speonk derailment.

“The cameras proved he never walked the tracks on the dates he signed the forms. It would have been found and repaired,” the source said.

Conklin, who made $153,769 in 2018, tendered his resignation on May 31 — after being confronted with the allegations, along with evidence from a separate probe into his timesheets, the source said.

He basically made his own hours,” according to the source, who said Conklin’s no-work approach was an open secret among his colleagues.

A Federal Railroad Administration analysis said the derailment happened because a train lost its electric connection to the tracks. But FRA investigators were not allowed to interview an assistant signalman due to a criminal investigation by the US Attorney’s office in the Eastern District, The Post reported last week.

The source said the assistant signalman would have been able to verify or disclaim Conklin’s forms. The US Attorney’s office declined to comment.

Confronted by The Post Friday, Conklin said it was the first he was hearing of the allegations. He referred further questions to his lawyer, who did not return messages.

The Saturday morning derailment devastated Memorial Day weekend train service in Suffolk County, just as travelers were trying to get to the beach for the long holiday weekend. Thousands of angry passengers were forced to scrap their plans or hire pricey ride services.

The accident happened after a westbound train, which was returning to New York City without passengers, pulled off the main tracks into a siding. But the train was too long for the side track and the rear end of the train stuck out onto the main track, where it was struck by the locomotive of an eastbound train with 32 passengers on board. The locomotive of each train derailed but no one was injured. A signal that could have stopped the train did not work properly because of the bad electrical connection.

No one was injured, but the incident caused extensive damage to the tracks.

Conklin is the latest LIRR fraudster to come to light since The Post exposed an employee who took home a whopping $344,147 in overtime on top of his $177,499 salary. Some of the railroad’s highest earners have since been revealed to have claimed significant hours for time they spent sitting at home.

The MTA declined to comment and would not say when Conklin resigned, citing an “ongoing criminal investigation.”

“Stuart Conklin no longer works for the Long Island Rail Road,” said spokesman Tim Minton.

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