ALBANY -- Democrats Thursday called for hearings on the Long Island Rail Road, saying it is now seen "in a light of mistrust and unreliability" after a wave of shutdowns, crime spikes and fraud scandals.

Sen. Martin Malave Dilan (D-Brooklyn), ranking member of the Senate Transportation Committee, fired off a letter outlining the recent LIRR controversies, including the arrest of 11 people in an alleged pension fraud scheme. He said Republicans who control the Senate should put a spotlight on the railroad.

"This reckless string of events has caused the LIRR to be seen in a light of mistrust and unreliability," Dilan wrote to his counterpart, Senate Transportation chairman Charles Fuschillo (R-Merrick).

Crime has reached a five-year high at LIRR stations, Dilan noted. He also said the railroad has experienced 12 major delays or shutdowns since August 2010.

A Fuschillo spokesman said he has launched discussions with the LIRR about service delays and federal officials regarding the fraud investigation.

"As chairman of the Senate's Transportation Committee, Senator Fuschillo meets frequently with LIRR chairwoman Helena Williams, even doing so this week to discuss the impact these delays are having on Long Island commuters and their families," said Fuschillo aide Chris Schneider. "In addition, he is reaching out to federal officials on the pension fraud scandal to work with them on a solution that protects taxpayers and ensures this won't happen again. Senator Fuschillo is always available to discuss these issues with Senator Dilan."

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