The LIRR track in Riverhead was unplowed at 4 p.m....

The LIRR track in Riverhead was unplowed at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009, as the main line between Riverhead and Greenport was shut down. Credit: Newsday / Mark Harrington

Commuters on the Long Island Rail Road should build in extra time for their trip Wednesday morning, officials advised.

"I think we're getting back. We're recovering from the storm, but you could still experience delays because of the thawing and the freezing," LIRR spokesman Joe Calderone said Tuesday night.

Riders should check the LIRR's Web site and e-mail alerts for updates on service conditions and listen to traffic reports, railroad officials said.

Tuesday, the nation's busiest commuter railroad continued to battle back from the harsh weather, which caused hundreds of delays for commuters and other riders this week.

During Tuesday morning's peak hours alone, there were 77 late trains, or about 22 percent of all the trains operated by the LIRR during that period. The average delay was 13.5 minutes, but some were as long as 43 minutes. Two trains were canceled.

On Monday, there were 292 late trains throughout the day - about 40 percent of all the scheduled trains for the day. There were 16 canceled trains.

LIRR officials warned customers traveling during Tuesday's evening rush hour to expect more "residual, blizzard-related delays" as continuing cold temperatures and blowing snow affected trains and switches.

The weekend's historic snowstorm wreaked havoc on service. The large drifts of snow caused one diesel train bound for Ronkonkoma early Sunday morning to break down in Wyandanch - stranding 150 riders for more than three hours.

In a message to riders published on the railroad's Web site Tuesday, LIRR president Helena Williams acknowledged "a difficult week for the LIRR" and thanked customers for their patience. "Please know that hundreds of LIRR employees worked around the clock before, during and after the storm to keep the railroad operating," she wrote.

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>> LINK: LIRR President's message about the 2009 blizzard

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