MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- The MTA will begin operating limited LIRR shuttle service between Jamaica and Grand Central Madison by the end of the month, although the full opening of East Side Access remains several weeks away.
Over the next two weeks, the first of thousands of commuters will pour into Grand Central Terminal from Long Island.
They will step off their commuter trains to arrive on the East Side of Manhattan in the largest expansion of the Long Island Rail Road in one hundred years.
"We are thrilled to be at the precipice of opening this new service. It's going to be transformational for Long Island, it's going to be transformational for the entire region but you gotta do it right," Cathy Rinaldi, Interm LIRR President, said.
The first LIRR trains will start running as a shuttle service between the railroad's hub in Jamaica, Queens and Grand Central.
In the coming months, the railroad will begin direct service, giving commuters a one-seat ride to the East Side without changing trains.
The 11-billion-dollar project is 15 years in the making.
The new terminal, named Grand Central Madison, was expected to be open by now. Railroad officials say delays in testing forced that to be postponed.
"Our sense is that we will not be switching over to the new service for at least three weeks after the shuttle service begins," Rinaldi. "But we will be running during that time the full Penn service so we're not going to be switching off the Penn service. It gives our customers the opportunity to be able to understand what the new service means for them."
The direct link to Grand Central Terminal is expected to reduce LIRR travel time by 40 minutes a day.