Full rush-hour Long Island Rail Road service returns Monday, with the morning commute to be the first on a regular schedule since superstorm Sandy struck six weeks ago, state officials said Saturday.
Amtrak has replaced a damaged signal system in one of its two flood-ravaged East River tunnels. The restoration, in combination with an increase in speed permitted on a loop track that connects those tunnels to the Sunnyside storage yard, has made full service possible for the morning and evening rush hours, officials said.
"This was the last hurdle," said LIRR spokesman Aaron Donovan, predicting "smooth sailing" in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Amtrak, which owns and operates the tunnels, will continue working on restoring the signal system in the second flood-damaged tunnel, installing and testing the new equipment next weekend. The tunnels are expected to return to full train capacity by Christmas.
LIRR president Helena Williams last month urged Amtrak to fix the tunnel signal systems before the year's end. Amtrak, beating its own estimates by more than a month, had promised the work would be done by mid-January.
The LIRR has "been working closely with Amtrak to complete the work and find creative solutions to restore LIRR service as soon as possible," Williams said Saturday in a statement.
Amtrak officials could not be reached for comment.
"Restoring full LIRR rush-hour service will provide relief to those customers that endured crowded conditions during peak periods due to the loss of tunnel capacity from the flooding effects of Sandy," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement.
Off-peak LIRR service continues to operate on a regular schedule, officials said.