LIRR trains arriving and leaving the Freeport station. (September 26,...

LIRR trains arriving and leaving the Freeport station. (September 26, 2007) Credit: Newsday File /Paul J. Bereswill

Long Island Rail Road passengers expressed concerns about safety Tuesday morning after a Newsday story that more trains have been going through stop signals this year than in the previous two years.

"The goal is to get us there safely, so why are they going through signals?" passenger Joseph Licata, 19, of Farmingdale asked as he waited for the 7:58 a.m. westbound train out of Farmingdale. "I'm absolutely concerned and would want to ask them why. What's the reason?"

The LIRR said Monday it has seen a significant increase in the violations as compared to the past two years. Eight trains have moved through a stop signal since the beginning of this year, according to the LIRR. There were no collisions and no one was injured.

There were five violations for all of 2009 and three in 2008.

Licata rides from the Farmingdale station four times a week to work as a security guard at the National September 11 Memorial in lower Manhattan.

Chuck Guarria, of Farmingdale, who rides the train every day to his job as a librarian in Queens, said he was surprised by the news. He said his daily round trips usually are without incident.

"There really is never a problem," Guarria, 46, said. "But I would be concerned about it being a safety issue."

Compton Bennett, 42, a graduate student at City College of New York who lives in Queens, also said his daily trips most often are smooth and without incident.

"They don't seem to just stop the train," he said. "If that happens, they always seem to blow a whistle."

The news of increased stop-signal violations, he agreed, would seem to be "a safety issue" for passengers.

LIRR officials said this year's eight violations were near Penn Station, Jamaica and a rail yard in Rockaway. In all cases, the trains were moving at less than 15 mph. Four of the eight trains contained passengers.

Signals are meant to alert trains to stop for any reason, including when another train is ahead. LIRR officials said there are safeguards to prevent accidents, even when a train passes a stop signal - including having tower operators monitor train movement to alert a train crew to stop.

Part of the LIRR's concerns over the violations are the delays they cause. LIRR rules require the agency to immediately replace the entire train crew and thoroughly inspect track and signal systems when a violation occurs.

Greg Johnson, 44, of Hempstead, a risk analyst for a financial institution, rides the train about once a month, he said. He wondered why trains that ran stop signals were delayed and inspected, because "it would seem to be a vicious cycle," he said. "If doing it causes a delay, then why are you doing it?"

With Alfonso A. Castillo

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