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MTA Mulls Suit Against Amtrak Following Series Of Derailments

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Recent problems at Penn Station haven't just had commuters seething -- the Long Island Rail Road is ready to sue.

"I think there are some opportunities to pursue legal redress against Amtrak," said Mark Hoffer Esq., LIRR vice president, general counsel and secretary.

As WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported, always colorful board member Charles Moerdler did not hold back when it came to Amtrak's management of Penn Station.

"It is doing a lousy job, and that's a compliment to it," he said.

The MTA is considering suing Amtrak for negligence in maintaining the equipment at Penn Station which Amtrak owns. The MTA claims it lost money from recent derailments -- there were two in less than two weeks earlier this month, and in March.

Landon told 1010 WINS' Samantha Liebman that it couldn't hurt.

"It would definitely put a little fire under their butts, but something needs to be done," he said.

But what will such actions do to solve the immediate problems commuters face right now?

"Suing ain't really going to change the problem," said Ronkonkoma commuter Victor Rivera. "They're still going to be dealing with the same issues no matter what. So, I don't think suing is anything more financial thing."

Nick, who commutes from East Islip every day, also doubts a lawsuit will help commuters.

"So what is that, the MTA is gonna sue Amtrak and get paid for it, and then where's that money gonna go to? It's not going back to the customer," he said.

Transit expert D.C. Argrawal said the solution may be a plan hatched back in the 1990s – called the One Penn Station Plan, where all transit agencies worked as a team.

"I think the three agencies will have to sort of come together and figure out a role for each one of them, both in operations and in financing ," Agrawal said.

He said with a One Penn Station Plan, if NJ TRANSIT or the LIRR track needed fixing, approval for the work would not need to go through Amtrak as it does now – because labor agreements would already be in place prior and work would get done quicker.

But several board members on Tuesday were in favor of an MTA takeover of operations. LIRR riders make of more than half of the volume at Penn said Mitchell Paley of Stony Brook, but they've become victims of what he called Amtrak's mismanagement.

"It should be ours. I'd rather control my own destiny, than worry about somebody else's destiny," he said.

Amtrak issued a statement saying they are doing their best to maintain an aging infrastructure with decades of under-investment.

A disabled Amtrak train once again caused problems for commuters after it stalled near a Penn Station platform on Tuesday. The incident created delays up to 45 minutes, and forced some trains to divert to Hoboken.

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