Riders prepare for 'summer of hell' on LIRR

- I took Long Island Rail Road into New York City Thursday and will again on Monday to compare the travel time once Amtrak begins crucial work at Penn Station.

With my ticket in hand, I searched for someone who commutes to the city during the week from Mineola. We found John Tomecek, who has a unique perspective on the upcoming construction.

"As bad as people make it out to be, it could definitely be worse," he said. 

Morning commuters packed the platform. Officials estimate nearly 10,000 riders will be affected by the disruptions caused by the repair work.

The 7:24 a.m. train came only 1 minute late. Finding a seat wasn't difficult but it is a holiday week so that might've helped.

By 7:37 a.m. we were about 5 minutes from Jamaica. 

John bought his July monthly pass. He prefers the train because he can relax.

"I can read, I can call people," John said. "It gives me time out of my busy day." 

The train was scheduled to get to Penn Station at 8:02 a.m. We arrived by 8:05. Not bad. But not everyone's commute is as smooth. Cell phone video shows a power outage in one of the cars on the Babylon line Wednesday afternoon.

Monday is the official start of what Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls "the summer of hell." The LIRR will be reducing service in and out of Penn Station by 12 percent in the morning and 18 percent in the evening to allow crews time to make critical track repairs.

The system has been plagued by a series of high-profile meltdowns, including derailments and power outages.

Many riders hope the LIRR has planned for the summer schedule. There is only one way to find out when we do it again on Monday. 

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