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System-Wide LIRR Service To Be Restored For Morning Rush

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork)--  The Long Island Rail Road will have system-wide service restored for the morning rush on Tuesday.

"Thousands of Long Island Rail Road employees, aided by forces from the State Department of Transportation, worked continuously to clear the snow, repair equipment and restore our service. I thank them all for a job well done fighting a snowstorm that hit us harder than expected." said MTA LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski.

Service was restored today on several branches on the Long Island Rail Road Monday, but it remained suspended on four lines which means where trains were running, they were crowded and delayed.

The railroad scaled back expectations after switches refroze overnight.

As CBS2's Brian Conybeare reported, trains and platforms were packed for the commute home, and riders had already gone through a miserable morning to get to work.

Service resumed around 6 a.m. on the Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma, Huntington, Babylon and Greenport branches. Partial service was also offered on the Montauk branch as far as Speonk.

The rail road had initially planned to restore service starting at 5 a.m. Monday following Saturday's massive snowstorm that dumped more than two feet of snow in some areas of Long Island.

It then pushed the start time to 7 a.m. before finally announcing that service would in fact be resuming on some branches.

Mark Tenzer of Cedarhurst said he couldn't understand how some trains were still not running two days after the blizzard ended. He was among the thousands caught in Monday's chaos.

"I think they should fire the management of the Long Island Railroad. I think it's a very poorly organized organization," he said.

MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said the problems started when tracks and switches that were cleared Sunday refroze when the temperatures dropped.

"We had lines that refroze overnight," Lisberg told CBS2. "We also had problems with trying to position crews and trains in locations so that they can serve those outlying stations."

But once service was back up and running, commuters continued to encounter delays, cancellations and confusion.

Many called the morning chaotic and even dangerous as thousands crammed together on slick platforms trying to make it through crowded train doors and into claustrophobic cars, CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported.

"Service is intermittent, they can't really tell us when the next train is coming through. They told us to wait, so we're waiting," one man waiting at the Mineola station said. "They really should be able to get us in and out of the city for what we pay."

"I wish that the LIRR website and signage was better at keeping updated about what's actually going on because when I checked their website at 6 a.m., it still had the information from last night and that wasn't very helpful," one woman said.

"Just upsetting when you can't get to work and need to be there," another commuter said.

One man told WCBS 880's Sophia Hall that he arrived at the Hicksville station at 4 a.m. thinking trains were going to begin operating an hour later, but said they didn't start running until 6:30 a.m.

"They have 8 million people working for the rail road, I think they could have had it ready by this morning," the man said.

Some commuters decided to get into their cars and drive into the city, while others took a sick day from work, Hall reported.

Huntington commuters sat in the station waiting for hours for information while a voice over the load speaker was heard apologizing, McLogan reported.

"It's a joke, you know," said commuter Paul Cenzoprano. "They tell us the 6:15 is coming, then it's canceled. The guy calls over the thing saying we have no people here, the news on the radio says that they're gonna start again." 

"You couldn't get on the trains, whenever they stopped they were too crowded," Rich, of Garden City, told 1010 WINS' Samatha Liebman. "We waited like two hours to get on a train."

At Penn Station, electronic updates appeared on one screen, but the big information board remained blank, 1010 WINS' John Montone reported.

"At least give the customers the acknowledgement of when they're going to start," another commuter said.

Service remains suspended on the Port Washington, Far Rockaway, Hempstead, Long Beach and West Hempstead branches. There is also no service between Jamaica Station and Atlantic Terminal.

"We expect to have all segments of all branches operating Tuesday morning, but customers should allow extra travel time and check for the potential for weather-related delays before traveling," said Nowakowski.

LIRR tickets were being cross-honored Monday, by New York City Transit on the 2 and 3 trains between Brooklyn and Penn Station.

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