The LIRR's switching and signal upgrade on the Babylon branch was progressing on schedule Saturday and the railroad expected a return to normal service in time for rush-hour Monday morning, a spokesman said.

Major service disruptions continue on the line Sunday as part of the $23-million upgrade. Buses replace trains between Freeport and Babylon, and Long Island Rail Road officials advise customers to allow another 30 minutes for travel time.

Customers wishing to avoid the shuttle bus service are advised to use alternate branches, such as the LIRR's Ronkonkoma line. The LIRR put three extra westbound trains on the Ronkonkoma line Saturday.

"We don't anticipate any problems for Monday, but it is a major signal upgrade and we're monitoring progress as it goes along," LIRR spokesman Joe Calderone said. "There are milestones through both Saturday and Sunday that they must accomplish. We're going to be updating customers Sunday afternoon with a progress report and an outlook for Monday."

The weekend closures were to enable more than 400 tests of a new microprocessor-based switching and signal system between Wantagh and Amityville. Workers had in advance laid out 15 miles of fiber-optic and copper signal cable and already conducted 1,000 pretests, Calderone said.

The railroad also used this weekend's service disruption to do a cleanup of the right of way alongside the tracks near the Babylon station. Around 125,148 pounds of scrap steel, 32 cubic yards of debris and 500 discarded railroad ties were removed.

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