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LIRR commuters faced series of service issues

Commuters crowd around the 34th Street entrance to

Commuters crowd around the 34th Street entrance to the Long Island Rail Road's Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan after service was cancelled in both directions during the evening rush hour on Monday, March 6, 2017. MTA police prevented passengers from entering the station due to crowding. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

East and westbound LIRR commuters faced service cancellations, suspensions and delays late Monday due to Amtrak switch problems at Penn Station that halted trains for about two hours.

Service was restored in both directions by 8:15 p.m., more than two hours after MTA officials first reported the switch problem around 5:45 p.m. But multiple trains running in both directions were still delayed after service was restored.

MTA police also restored full access to the Penn Station Manhattan terminal by 7 p.m., ending their earlier restriction on access to the authority’s own station entrances and terminals, officials said.

Commuter Lisa Sack, 50, of Great Neck, who was at Penn Station, said she was extremely frustrated with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “There should be people out communicating to us,’’ she said. ‘‘We have no idea what’s going on.”

LIRR commuters have been forced recently to deal with numerous service delays and suspensions — at least three such incidents have occurred in recent months.

Cascading or so-called residual delays can continue for hours after the LIRR resolves an issue, and the result can be painful for commuters.

The most recent was a Feb. 17 suspension in both directions on the Ronkonkoma branch due to a track fire between Wyandanch and Deer Park. That incident came on the heels of a Feb. 7 suspension of service in both directions between Jamaica and Atlantic Terminal due to signal trouble during the evening rush hour.

Another service suspension in late January held up trains in both directions between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma after a non-passenger LIRR train hit a car on train tracks just west of Brentwood.

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) issued a statement in response to Monday’s delays, saying “I have heard from irate constituents all night who spent hours trying to get home to their families and are still waiting for the MTA to explain why the quality of service is getting worse while fares are increasing.”

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