Governor Kathy Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber, along with federal and local elected officials [photo above] celebrated the official opening of Grand Central Madison with full Long Island Rail Road service beginning Monday, February 27. The new schedules provide increased service levels by a historic 41 percent and offer direct access to Midtown east, the biggest job hub in the country, provide more frequent, reliable service, including in Queens and Brooklyn, and true reverse-peak service on the Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma Branches for the first time.
“Grand Central Madison is a public transportation feat that will shorten commutes, giving commuters time back in their busy lives to spend with their families, friends and communities,” Governor Hochul said. “Grand Central Madison will dramatically expand service and operate more reliably for commuters and reduce overcrowding at Penn Station. Thanks to our continued partnership with Senator Schumer and the New York Congressional delegation, we will continue building safe and efficient public transportation worthy of New Yorkers.”
The new schedules add 271 LIRR trains per day and increase LIRR systemwide service to 936 trains per day, of which 296 will be to or from Grand Central Madison. The Grand Central Madison project, funded in part by USDOT, follows two other significant LIRR capital projects: the Double Track Project, which installed a second track for 13 miles between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma; and the Third Track Project, which installed a 9.8-mile third track between Floral Park and Hicksville. These once-in-a-generation investments alleviated certain capacity constraints, enabling the railroad to increase service and comprehensively rewrite the schedules for the first time in decades.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer said, “We are here today because the East Side Access train is quite literally about to leave the station — Hallelujah. Tens-of-thousands of transit riders can now breathe a sigh of relief. Thousands and thousands who work on the East side finally get the convenience they’ve craved. Look, I’ve been here for so much of the East Side Access journey — all $2.7 Billion of it. That’s how much I got the feds to kick in here. We all know how difficult it is to secure transit funding — for the country and for NY. Coupled with the other transit projects like Gateway, the NY transit gem is gearing up to shine like the top of the Chrysler building, and it is about time. I thank Governor Hochul, the MTA and everyone else who helped make transit history today.”
MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said, “Faster service and more trains will help bring the heart of New York City closer to Long Islanders and Queens residents, and the surge in reverse commuting will be a shot in the arm for Long Island employers looking to access a bigger talent pool. It’s a win-win.”
With implementation of the new schedules, there will be more than 500 additional station stops in Brooklyn and Queens and during the peak period, an LIRR train into Penn Station or Grand Central every 3 to 6 minutes and service to Atlantic Terminal approximately every 12 minutes. Grand Central Madison is the first major new rail terminal to open in the United States in 67 years and the first extension of the LIRR in 112 years, since service began to Penn Station in 1910.
The new schedules provide rush-hour through-service to Brooklyn from Freeport, Hempstead and West Hempstead. The MTA encourages all riders to consult the new schedules before traveling via the highly rated TrainTime app or at mta.info, where users can find pdf timetables.
The Combo Ticket
The beginning of service now enables the possibility of transferring directly between the LIRR and Metro-North Railroad. To provide a seamless connection between the systems, the MTA has introduced the “Combo Ticket” – a single ticket that enables customers to travel between Long Island, Manhattan’s northern suburbs and Connecticut all with one fare.
The Combo Ticket enables riders to buy a LIRR ticket in Huntington for a trip to White Plains or a Metro-North ticket in Poughkeepsie for a trip to Montauk. Riders choose their origin station with Grand Central as their destination and pay the regular fare plus a flat rate of eight dollars for a continuing trip to any destination on the other railroad. For more on the combo ticket, visit https://new.mta.info/fares/combo-ticket.
More on Recent Long Island Rail Road Improvements
Grand Central Madison, Double Track, and Main Line Third Track are part of an unprecedented $17.7 billion investment to transform and modernize the Long Island Rail Road with 100 projects throughout the system including construction of a more spacious LIRR Concourse at Penn Station with a new entrance at 33rd Street and Seventh Avenue, renewal and upgrading of 36 stations and 17 bridges, elimination of eight at-grade railroad crossings, activation of the Positive Train Control safety system, upgrades to 15 electrical substations, parking capacity increases, and yard expansions.