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Letter: LIRR should control own tracks

An LIRR train disappears into a tunnel westbound

An LIRR train disappears into a tunnel westbound on the way to Penn Station via an east river tunnel under the 49th Ave. underpass in Hunter's Point, Queens. (May 11, 2011) Credit: Craig Ruttle

Regarding the continued mayhem caused by Amtrak ["LIRR's 'cluster' of ills," News, Aug. 20], Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole said that these six recent delays in East River tunnel traffic are unrelated. Is the public supposed to accept that explanation?

The problem is poor funding from Congress for Amtrak. There are those in Washington who want to see Amtrak dismantled and privatized. Amtrak's funding requests are continually slashed to unrealistic levels, so maintenance and, more important, infrastructure improvements suffer.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority pays for Long Island Rail Road use of Penn Station, but that does not mean that that MTA money is used exclusively for maintenance of the tunnels or the interlockings (signal system, track, power, etc.) at Penn Station.

As the LIRR is the largest tenant at Penn Station, it would seem paramount that the railroad have control over the destiny of its trains and accountability to its customers. Without a public mandate, these issues will continue to plague the system, as the political will needed for a LIRR takeover of Penn Station does not yet exist.

Christopher Natale, Babylon

Editor's note: The writer is the general chairman of the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, which represents many LIRR track workers.