LIRR: Normal evening commute after 'track defect'

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Long Island Rail Road commuters Tuesday faced a second day of major morning service disruptions caused by Amtrak maintenance issues in the East River tunnels.

The LIRR reported the "track defect" in one of the tunnels, which are maintained by Amtrak, just before 8 a.m. While crews made repairs, the agency stopped three Penn Station-bound trains at Jamaica Station and diverted two others to Atlantic Terminal and Hunterspoint Avenue. New York City Transit honored LIRR fares to allow riders to finish their trips to Penn Station by subway.

It was the second straight day of LIRR morning disruptions caused by Amtrak work. On Monday, 10 morning trains were canceled, delayed or diverted because weekend track work in another East River tunnel didn't finish on time.

Amtrak spokesman Clifford Cole said the two incidents were unrelated.

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"We don't have a cause for the track conditions but are looking into it," Cole said of Tuesday's problem. "Amtrak apologizes for any inconvenience these incidents may have caused."

LIRR spokesman Aaron Donovan said Amtrak had completed repairs just before 11 a.m. Tuesday. There was no impact on the evening commute.

The back-to-back Amtrak tunnel issues led LIRR Commuter Council chairman Mark Epstein to renew his call for a commuter representative on Amtrak's board of directors.

"In addition, the LIRR must work harder to provide riders with up-to-date accurate information when service is curtailed so as to provide the rider with the means to better plan their work day," Epstein said Tuesday. "Riders deserve respect, reliability and representation from Amtrak."

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