The MTA is running trains into the gleaming new Lengthy Island Rail Highway station beneath Grand Central Terminal – but the public isn’t allowed aboard.
An inner MTA memo obtained by Gothamist reveals that on Jan. 11 the LIRR operated 40 empty trains in or out of the station, dubbed Grand Central Madison. MTA officers mentioned the LIRR commonly checks the new service by running trains with out riders.
Gerard Bringmann, an MTA board member, mentioned he was advised the company plans to do one other “dress rehearsal” of full service on Thursday with no riders aboard. MTA representatives declined to verify the plan.
The MTA beforehand deliberate to open the station by the finish of 2022, a deadline set after years of building delays. The undertaking was initially scheduled to wrap up in 2011.
“I’ll be retired before it happens,” mentioned LIRR rider Kevin Brosnan, 60, after getting off a prepare at Penn Station.
Brosnan, who lives in Farmingdale and works on the Higher East Aspect, mentioned the new service might save him an hour of commuting time per workday. “I’ll believe it when it’s there, we’ve been hearing this for years,” he mentioned.
The empty service on Jan. 11 was a dry run for what the MTA calls Grand Central Direct, a shuttle with as much as two trains an hour between the new Midtown station and Jamaica Terminal. MTA officers introduced the service final month as a quickly truncated model of full service into the new station, which is slated to run as much as 24 trains per hour.
But the debut hasn’t occurred but on account of an issue with the air flow system at Grand Central Madison.
The ghost trains are commonly running into the new station whereas LIRR riders anticipate the MTA to repair the downside. The MTA has mentioned a few of the empty trains are used for coaching staff on the new tracks and terminal.
“Test trains that run sporadically are designed to familiarize staff with new tunnels, signals and related infrastructure,” MTA spokesperson David Steckel wrote in an announcement.
Bringmann — who represents LIRR riders on the MTA board — mentioned it’s good that the company is running security checks.
“Whereas I am disillusioned with the air flow challenge that is holding up the opening of Grand Central Madison, in relation to the MTA taking a PR hit versus the security of our riders, it is a no brainer,” mentioned Bringmann. “Rest assured, the responsible party for this delay, be it the contractor or the mechanical engineer, will be held accountable.”
When full prepare service to Grand Central Madison opens the MTA plans to spice up LIRR prepare service by 41%.
To organize, company officers mentioned the LIRR has employed 207 new staff. There at the moment are 2,500 staff in complete educated to function service into the new terminal — all of whom needed to discover ways to run trains in the new tunnels and into the new terminal, officers mentioned.
The $11.6 billion prepare terminal guarantees “a new experience” for commuters, but to date the MTA hasn’t mentioned when that have might be obtainable. Whereas the undertaking has been in the works for greater than 20 years, MTA Chairman Janno Lieber final week promised it might be days and weeks, not months, till the service opens.
“It’s a little frustrating, I wish there was an actual opening date,” mentioned LIRR rider Jessica Findlayter, 26, who commutes from Nassau County. She mentioned the new station’s opening would save her two-and-a-half hours a day as a result of her workplace is subsequent to Grand Central Terminal. The brand new service would additionally hold her from paying two subway fares a day to get from Penn Station to Manhattan’s East Aspect.
“I could wake up a little later, maybe make breakfast at home,” she mentioned.