May 31, 2023

Case Study: Long Island Rail Road

by Brian Calotta

The Long Island Railroad (LIRR) is currently undergoing a significant transformation with substantial investments and upgrades aimed at improving the public transit system and simplifying the daily commute for Long Island residents. 

One of the key challenges LIRR faced during the cold Northeastern winter season was maintenance of these stations during snowfall. Instead of relying on traditional snow removal methods, LIRR decided to implement a more efficient and cost-effective solution by designing each station to have a snow melt system.

Westbound LIRR train pushed by DE30AC #401 at St. James station, looking from the ramp at the east end of the platform, April 2022
Westbound LIRR train pushed by DE30AC #401 at St. James station, looking from the ramp at the east end of the platform, April 2022 Photo Credit: ComplexRational via Wikimedia (

LIRR awarded a mechanical contract for the snow melt system on five stations to their trusted partner, Donnelly Mechanical. 

“They had a decision to make about whether to keep it all from one source,” says Brian Calotta, Business Development Manager at Uponor. “With more than 70 million passengers in 2022, finding a solution that could withstand high usage was essential. So, Donnelly decided on Uponor PEX and PP-RCT because of the durability of the pipe.” 

Working alongside technical sales representatives from Wales Darby, the project incorporated Wirsbo hePEX™ and Uponor PP-RCT, which offer durability, ease of installation, and longevity, all backed by the company’s 25-year warranty on PEX and 10-year warranty on PP-RCT. 

The decision to consolidate all aspects of the project with the Uponor Complete Polymer Solution was largely driven by the durability and corrosion resistance of Uponor PEX and PP-RCT, making them an ideal choice for the high-usage environment of train stations. Furthermore, the lightweight nature of the pipes and ease of installation in confined spaces under the platform ensured an efficient and seamless process. 

“Installers found the Uponor Complete Polymer Solution to be a one-stop-shop for all their needs,” says Calotta. The design, training, and installation processes were effortless with the expertise and support Uponor provided. 

The switch from traditional metallic materials to the Uponor Complete Polymer Solution was motivated by the desire for a solution that would perform reliably over a long lifespan, eliminating the possibility of corrosion, while also providing the convenience of one warranty holder for all products. 

With several stations already completed and a sixth station in progress, Uponor has demonstrated its reliability in enhancing the LIRR. The combination of the Uponor PEX and PP-RCT piping systems, along with design and training support, has delivered a durable, efficient, and cost-effective solution for the LIRR snow melt system, ensuring smooth and reliable operation during the winter season.