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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Officials’ test train marks milestone for New York’s East Side Access project

Officials’ test train marks milestone for New York’s East Side Access project

By | November 1, 2021

Long Island Rail Road service to Grand Central Terminal to begin in 2022

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Commuter train in unfinished station
Commuter train in unfinished station
A test train occupies the unfinished Long Island Rail Road concourse at Grand Central Terminal on Sunday after providing New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and MTA and other officials with a look at the East Side Access project. (Marc A. Hermann/MTA)

NEW YORK — Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul provided a preview of Long Island Rail Road service to Grand Central Terminal on Sunday, riding a test train for the East Side Access connection into Grand Central.

The new route and station deep beneath Grand Central are scheduled to open in December 2022. They are part of an effort that will increase LIRR capacity into Manhattan by 50%, allowing up to 24 trains per hour, and will cut travel time to New York’s east side for Queens and Long Island commuters by up to 40 minutes per day.

The long-delayed, $11.2 billion project once was projected to open in 2009. It includes more than 40 miles of new track and nearly 13 miles of new tunnels.

“The East Side Access concourse is a model for modern transportation systems as we look to the post-pandemic future,” Hochul said during a press conference in the new concourse. “As the first modern train terminal to be built in more than a half century, the East Side Access concourse will expand rail service, cut down on travel times into East Manhattan from Queens and Long Island, and reduce crowding.”

MTA acting chair and CEO Janno Lieber said the project “will help spur economic growth, provide better connections to Metro-North Railroad and lead to reduced automobile traffic and improved air quality in the region.”

The MTA began operating test trains on the route last week, amNY.com reports. Sunday’s test train took about 27 minutes to travel from LIRR’s Jamaica station to Grand Central.

The new 350,000 concourse for LIRR traffic will include new station entrances, 25 retail storefronts, and WiFi and cell service, among other features.

17 thoughts on “Officials’ test train marks milestone for New York’s East Side Access project

    1. Late by thirteen years is a problem? That’s forty-seven years less late than the Second Avenue Subway. Such as it is – the subway hardly goes anywhere.

    2. In 1996, LIRR officials seemed to be saying that work had begun and would be completed within several years. Now they claim that work officially began years later – sometime about when some first implied it would be finished. And note – it’s not done yet – just because NY’s new governor got a ride (was this the real kickoff for her campaign?), that just reminds us about grandstanding. I hope it opens in 2022, and maybe it will. Or not.

      In all the video, I didn’t see any working, well anything besides the train and the lights. Escalators? Elevators? Emergency backup power for some of that for blackouts? Testing, and fixing problems could be done in about 13 months. But how long is it taking TFL just for testing (albeit thorough) on the Elizabeth Line?

      LIRR still is not talking much about what trains would go to GCT. And they’ve said nothing about how commuters from non-electrified lines will get there, now and in the future. Will at least some future diesel trains be built to fit?

    1. Better late than never to inflate the cost by billions and keep the guys (and ladies) employed. After all, what are billions when our faithful servants in Washington talk in trillions? (Here’s the answer – a trillion is a MILLION billion. Enough for hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place.)

      1. A trillion is a THOUSAND billion. Please get your math right when you’re talking about inflation of costs.

        1. Mike – You are correct. Just a mere thousand billion. “Crumbs,” as a well-known pol might have said. Sell those hotels.

      2. One report showed that TBM’s had 4 times as many people assigned to them as could actually work on them. Another had hundreds of paid employees without actual work assignments. And the pay rate – whether you did any work or not, well I’d like to earn that much.

  1. But its beautiful and amazing engineering.
    Late?? Remember the 63rd St tunnel was completed in the late 60’s; upper level for the Queens subway, lower level for LIRR.

    1. I was on an official LIRR tour of the lower level – in 1996. They even gave out mini lights to remember it by. We were members of a citizens advisory task force to LIRR for ESA. But that seemed to go away, perhaps when they realized that they had no clue at that point when it would be finished – plus, the members had questions LIRR couldn’t answer intelligently.

  2. And then there are the “proposed” Hudson River tunnels into the west side of Penn Station. Talk about late….

    1. My first thought was how much better this looks than the Washington subway, every station. Who misses the 1970’s?

  3. I hope they have thought about flooding. Back in 1957, CTA’s new stub LaSalle St station flooded. (This was before the freight tunnel flood.) Mother Nature can be mean.

  4. 27 minutes from Jamaica to lower GCT yet it’s 20 minutes or less from Jamaica to Penn Station with no provisions for LIRR dual-mode equipment or Amtrak reroutes if necessary due to service disruption at Penn.

    1. Before the DM’s were built, before the C3 bilevel cars were built – in 1996 I asked LIRR officials about how the equipment they were designing would fit. They told me that the cars or DM’s were 3 inches to tall to fit the East River tunnel lower level (3 inches by design). I asked them how commuters from non-electrified lines would get there. They said “across the platform transfer at Sunnyside Station”. And now you ask, what station? Anyone’s guess. I would guess that the 20 minute savings each way from ESA does not apply to such commuters.

  5. The governor is also talking about how she is moving forward with Mr. Cuomo’s plans for a real estate giveaway. Tear down just about everything surrounding Penn so you can build a bunch of new office buildings that no one needs – including demolition of a historic church. Apparently some affordable apartments are planned. Part of what would be demolished would be the last remnant above ground of the original Penn Station, along with Hotel PA (only affordable hotel in the area). Commuters would get a Taj Mahal super skylighted area. But nothing about reopening the passageway (under traffic) from Penn to PATH and the 6th Ave and Broadway lines, one that separates pedestrians from traffic and bad weather.

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