Commuters walk from a Long Island Railroad train after a...

Commuters walk from a Long Island Railroad train after a press conference announcing the restoration of half-hourly weekend service between Port Washington and Penn Station held at the Port Washington LIRR station in Port Washington. (Nov. 15, 2013) Credit: Steve Pfost

Long Island Rail Road customers on the Port Washington branch will have many more chances to catch a weekend train into Manhattan beginning Saturday.

Half-hourly weekend service on the Port Washington line returns Saturday -- more than three years after the LIRR scaled it back to hourly as part of a cost-cutting effort.

"We lost customers. We ended up putting people on the roads with cars, which is exactly public transportation does not want to do," LIRR President Helena Williams said at a news conference at Port Washington station Friday. "Of course, it's wonderful to be doing this in time for the holidays."

Williams was joined by several elected leaders who support the increased service, including state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola) who said the LIRR was "absolutely getting it right" by returning to the old weekend schedule.

There will be 32 extra trains added on weekends -- 16 westbound and 16 eastbound. The trains will serve about 35,000 customers who use the Port Washington line each weekend, Williams said.

The return of half-hourly service is among $2.6 million in LIRR service restorations and additions approved by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in June. New half-hourly weekend service to and from Ronkonkoma and expanded weekend service to and from Greenport were also approved.

Port Washington resident Julie Conklin said the return of half-hourly weekend trains is "a big help" for her.

Since the LIRR moved to an hourly weekend schedule in September 2010, Conklin said she's had to miss many a concert in Manhattan because of the infrequent trains.

"How many times have I had to call someone and said, 'Do you want to use my tickets?" Conklin said.

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