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LIRR restores limited service to Long Beach

The Long Island Rail Road resumes limited train service to the Long Beach branch, which sustained heavy damage by superstorm Sandy. Major repairs still are needed before normal service can return to the full branch, officials say. Videojournalist: Jim Staubitser (Nov. 14, 2012)

The Long Island Rail Road resumed train service Wednesday to storm-ravaged Long Beach on a limited basis.

"I can't tell you how pleased I am to be here today. I can't tell you how pleased I am to have ridden a diesel train here," LIRR president Helena Williams said at the Long Beach station.

"We are back in business with our diesel equipment," she said, before pausing for a service announcement over the station's speaker system.

"That's a good announcement right there," she added.

Long Beach service will operate hourly during peak hours and every two hours at other times during the workweek, officials said. There will be only bus service from Lynbrook to Long Beach on weekends and holidays.

There is still no timetable for a return to full train service.

Williams, MTA chairman Joseph Lhota, State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and other officials rode one of the Lynbrook-to-Long Beach trains shortly before noon, hours after commuters boarded the first trains before dawn.

Asked whether full service -- and power -- is likely by Christmas, Williams replied: "We are working hard to do that."

She said tracks, electrical substations and the Long Beach storage yard need more repairs before normal service with electric-powered trains can resume.

"We will get those substations up and running, and we will be back with electric service," she said, again without providing a timetable.

Excluding Long Beach, the MTA has been able to resume service on its 10 other LIRR branches in the past week, though peak service in most areas remains modified and there were 18 fewer trains than normal for Wednesday's morning commute.

Lhota said costs incurred by the storm would not influence the fare increase proposed before Sandy.

"We fully expect, working with the folks at FEMA as well as our insurance providers, that we will have 90 to 100 percent coverage for all of the damage that was done," Lhota said.

With John Valenti

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