LIRR full service at Grand Central Madison begins with notable schedule changes

LIRR service will increase dramatically, but at some stations more than others

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, February 28, 2023
LIRR full service at Grand Central Madison begins today
Full Long Island Rail Road service begins today at Grand Central Madison. N.J. Burkett has the story.

MANHATTAN, New York (WABC) -- Full Long Island Rail Road service began Monday at Grand Central Madison.

This new service is not making all commuters too happy.

Many commuters in Port Washington will now have to transfer to get to Penn Station.

The connection from Jamaica to Atlantic Terminal is being replaced by shuttle service.

The MTA says it will "up" service by 41 percent, adding 271 additional trains per weekday.

Eyewitness News traffic reporter Heather O'Rourke tracked the changes as they went into effect Monday morning.

Derick Waller reported from Great Neck, and John Del Giorno reported live from NewsCopter 7.

John Del Giorno reports from NewsCopter 7 on the changes that are welcome for some, not so much for others.

For many LIRR passengers, the long-awaited change can't come soon enough.

Amy Luria is a designer from Port Washington who has business on Manhattan's East Side.

"I'm personally very excited for my business and my family," she said. "It's a welcome addition."

But while many commuters will get more service and more places to go, others will be inconvenienced by a new schedule that could double or triple their travel times.

For Jeremy Filner, also from Port Washington, it's going to be more like a nightmare, with added subway trains and long transitions to them in Grand Central Madison's cavernous new space.

Plus, he's a teacher and now has fewer choices on this line, for earlier trains heading home.

"That's adding half an hour to my evening commute, which means my evening commute's looking at 2 hours minimum every night," Filner told Eyewitness News.

The revamped schedules eliminate several morning trains to Penn Station, require more frequent transfers, add local stops on trains that currently are express, eliminate timed connections at Jamaica, and also eliminate most direct trains between Long Island and Atlantic Terminal.

"The bottom line is Atlantic Terminal is going from 116 trains a day to 155 trains a day, it's going to have more frequent service in the peak, instead of having a train every 15 to 18 minutes, it's going to have a train every 12 minutes. And we are excited about how we think the Atlantic Terminal piece of our network is going to benefit from the way we are structuring things now," said Janno Leiber, MTA Chair and CEO.

Commuters on the Port Washington and Oyster Bay branches voiced concerns about the changes during public hearings last summer, but their schedules got relatively few revisions.

In fact, in Port Washington, the much loved 38-minute express train is now gone in the evening commute.

And in its place are slightly longer express trains and some that have transfers at Bayside.

"The Oyster Bay Branch and folks know this, have got some constraints on it physically. It's got one-track territory, some other constraints," Leiber said. "So again, the goal is for everybody to get a little bit more. And I hope that over time, people will start to realize that those Mineola connections, one after another, are going to be a plus.

The MTA maintains there will be a 41% increase in service and a 51% increase in service to Mineola.

They say the schedules, the first major change in recent memory, recalibrated to accommodate post-pandemic work patterns, remain a work in progress.

The new station at Grand Central Terminal opened earlier this month for a shuttle service, but the expanded LIRR schedule brings the long-awaited station to its full potential.

Lieber said he does not "absolutely know" how many people will use Grand Central Madison, but the MTA believes roughly half of riders can now shorten their commutes by switching to the station.

"There are going to be some folks who are accustomed to certain commutes who may not change it at the outset. People are accustomed to their routines. So we don't know. But the origin and destination information suggests about half of the commuters would have a faster and more convenient commute if they went to the east side, to Grand Central."

Lieber said the MTA is bracing for negative feedback from some riders.

"Listen, nobody likes to have their routine changed and loyal Long Island Rail Road commuters have their trains, they have their people that they've traveled with, they have conductors that they know. Those patterns of behavior are deeply engrained," he said. "They are going to get a lot of trains, at all times of day, in all directions, that may have been unavailable before."

Interim LIRR President Catherine Rinaldi said MTA outreach workers will be out in force Monday.

"We are going to do our best to make the transition a smooth one. We will have a lot of people out in the system, a lot of people help navigate the new terminal," she said.

Branch-by-branch Details:

Babylon Branch

  • Overall service will increase by 30 trains per day, to 155 trains
  • Peak service will increase by 53%
  • Trains will make all local stops to Wantagh or run express to Wantagh and then make all stops to Babylon
  • Far Rockaway Branch

  • Trains will increase from just eight, to 60 trains daily
  • During peak, 11 morning trains and 10 evening trains will operate
  • All trains will stop at Jamaica for service to Brooklyn
  • Hempstead Branch

  • Service will increase from 13 trains daily to 57
  • During peak, 18 trains will run to and from Manhattan
  • All trains will stop at Jamaica for transfers to all western terminals
  • Long Beach Branch

  • Total rush hour service to Manhattan will increase by 10 to 23 trains
  • Peak trains will be spilt between Penn Station and Grand Central, and service more evenly spaced
  • All trains will stop at Jamaica for Brooklyn transfers
  • Montauk Branch

  • Two direct trains from Speonk and Penn Station will continue during rush hour
  • Additional service to and from Montauk between Memorial Day and Labor Day
  • Timetables were adjusted for rush hour departure times to improve even spacing of trains
  • Oyster Bay Branch

  • Overall service will increase by 10%
  • Two direct trains between Oyster Bay and Penn Station will continue during rush hour
  • Off-peak midday weekday service will continue to run every one to two hours
  • Port Jefferson Branch

  • LIRR will add 38 trains per weekday, a 39% increase over current levels
  • Peak service has been increased by 51% at Mineola and 43% at Hicksville
  • From stations east of Greenlawn, trains will be better spaced to provide service at more desirable times
  • Port Washington Branch

  • 13 LIRR trains added daily
  • New schedules will offer more express trains for Bayside, Douglaston and Little Neck stations
  • Off-peak and weekend travelers will be able to access trains every half hour to and from Manhattan
  • Ronkonkoma Branch

  • Service will increase by 50% daily
  • Additional trains will run during the summer
  • New schedules will eliminate gaps up to 95 minutes in reverse-peak service due to capacity constraints
  • West Hempstead Branch

  • Daily service will at least double
  • Off-peak trains will run every hour between West Hempstead and Atlantic Terminal
  • All trains will stop at St. Albans
  • Service to Atlantic Terminal, Nostrand Avenue and East New York

  • LIRR is increasing service to Atlantic Terminal by 30% daily
  • All Brooklyn trains will make stops at Nostrand Avenue and East New York
  • Most Brooklyn trains will originate or terminate at Jamaica
  • Enhanced Service for Local Event Venues

  • More frequent train service to attend events at Barclays Center and Forest Hills Stadium
  • Elmont-UBS Arena is now a full-time station
  • Hudson Valley riders can transfer from a Metro-North train directly to an LIRR train for service to Mets-Willets point for Mets games, Citi Field events and US Open tennis
  • All train schedules will be available via the Traintime app and online at


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