LIRR chief blames Amtrak for spate of service woes

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HICKSVILLE -

Long Island Rail Road President Pat Nowakowski on Monday laid the blame on Amtrak for a spate of recent service problems.

Complaints have been mounting from LIRR riders and critics about overcrowding, delays, cancellations, repair work and the so-called "winter of worry" service changes.

As News 12 reported, last week LIRR trains to and from Penn Station were temporarily suspended because of a disabled Amtrak train in one of the East River tunnels. In addition, repair work is ongoing as Amtrak rebuilds three LIRR tracks at Penn, leading to service changes. And the first two weeks of January  saw delays and headaches because of the extreme cold.

At a committee meeting Monday, Nowakowski blamed Amtrak for much of the LIRR’s recent issues.

"It’s been one disaster after another… Amtrak needs to do better," Nowakowski said. "It's not going fast enough. We need to keep whatever pressure we can on Amtrak to have them perform the work that needs to be done."

Amtrak officials responded with a statement that says in part that it realizes it must take a more aggressive approach to renewing aging infrastructure at Penn Station.

That work is expected to last until May 28.

Commuters who spoke with News 12 say they're tired of the finger-pointing, and just want reliable service.

"I've been riding the rails since 1980 -- you expect the worst and pray for the best,” said one passenger.

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