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LIRR 'Not Satisfied' With On-Time Performance, Says It's Working On 'Long Term' Improvements

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Long Island Rail Road said it is working on making things better after new statistics showed trains were late more often in 2015 than at any point since 2000.

According to an annual report from the LIRR, 9 percent of trains were late in 2015, CBS2's Diane Macedo reported. The MTA also reported a 29 percent increase in trains that never reached their destination.

"Delays, cancellations and then they have to merge trains and it's so crowded," said LIRR rider Corazon Singh.

"I don't think it's acceptable at all," said commuter Steve Callaborough of Garden City. "I normally take a train here to Hunters Point. It's late two out of five days."

"I take a train way before I have to be at work just to be on time," said Mineola resident Audrey Aponte. "I definitely think we pay enough to get more."

The rail road said a lot of factors slow down train service, including train derailments, East River Tunnel issues, trains versus cars and trespassers. The long list of incidents for 2015 even included a plane crash on the LIRR tracks.

But while some of those issues are beyond the LIRR's control, transit officials said they are working on improvements.

"The LIRR is undertaking extensive infrastructure renewal that will improve on-time performance over the long term. This includes the West Side Yard overbuild, bridge replacements, a major reconfiguration of Harold Interlocking, and other construction projects along the LIRR's busiest branch lines," the rail road said in a statement.

The rail road also said once finished, projects like the Ronkonkoma branch double track and the East Side Access project will improve on-time performance.

One thing Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing for is a third track along the Main Line from Floral Park to Hicksville, but residents who live along the line are already promising a fight, Macedo reported.

"I think that would be a lot of construction, probably make things a lot slower until built," said Aponte.

"You'd be taking some of the property away and a lot of trains are coming through as it is, and it's very loud, and to add to would, I think, just make the problem even worse," Callaborough told CBS2.

Passenger Fardad Sabzevari said whatever the solution, the MTA should find other ways to make it up to riders in the meantime.

"I don't think you should have to pay if you don't have a seat," said Sabzevari.

The rail road said all of these projects "will improve operational flexibility, service reliability, and on-time performance," but acknowledged they do "create challenges for day-to-day LIRR operations and on-time performance" in the short-term.

"The LIRR is not satisfied with the recent trends and is working to turn them around," it said. "But there is reason for optimism that over the long term, the work being done will influence trends in a positive way for many years into the future."

Currently, the MTA projects the Ronkonkoma branch double track will be completed in late 2016, and the East Side access project in 2022.

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