LIRR making adjustments first week of full Grand Central Madison service

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Saturday, March 4, 2023
LIRR making adjustments first week of Grand Central Madison service
The MTA is scrambling to adjust the Long Island Rail Road schedule days after the first major overhaul in decades. CeFaan Kim has the latest on the planned changes.

MANHATTAN, New York (WABC) -- The MTA is scrambling to adjust the Long Island Rail Road schedule days after the first major overhaul in decades.

Starting Monday, the MTA is adding three more shuttle trains to Brooklyn during the morning rush hour, scheduled to depart Jamaica at the following times:

- 6:45 a.m.

- 7:29 a.m.

- 8:09 a.m.

There will also be cars added to some rush hour trains on the Babylon, Long Beach, Port Washington and Ronkonkoma branches.

The LIRR changes were meant to accommodate service to the new Grand Central Madison but it has led to chaotic scenes of overcrowded trains and platforms.

At Jamaica Station, some of the worst crowding conditions have happened because of confusion over the new schedules.

At Penn Station, riders have been met with crowded platforms and standing room only trains after the railroad diverted some service to the new Grand Central Madison.

The MTA estimated 40% of riders would move their commutes to the new east side terminal, but so far they say it's only been about 30%.

Now, they are adjusting schedules and adding back train cars, using only 1980s cars that had been decommissioned.

All of this is causing headaches for people simply trying to get to work.

It's the LIRR's first major schedule shuffle in generations.

At the beginning of the week, the LIRR ramped up its full commuter schedule at the gleaming new Grand Central Madison, allowing Long Island commuters, for the first time, access to the east side.

Full Long Island Rail Road service begins today at Grand Central Madison. N.J. Burkett has the story.

"We have very happy customers here at Grand Central Madison," LIRR President Cathy Rinaldi said.

But Rinaldi admits MTA planners drew down too much service to Penn Station, on the west side, inconveniencing customers who never had any interest in the east side.

"Some of our customers going to Penn have seen trains more crowded than they would like, more crowded than I would like, and we're taking cars from trains that are not crowded to build up the trains where we're continuing to see heavy ridership," said Cathy Rinaldi, LIRR President.

"The trains are short," commuter Emil Samuels said. "They used to be 10 car trains. Now they're eight car trains. But really what's concerning me is they're not holding the connections. This morning as we pulled into Jamaica with a crowded train, there was an empty Penn Station train, and it just closed its door and left."

It's no easy feat post COVID, with just 70% of the pre-pandemic peak ridership, and with patterns that have been all over the place.

MTA leadership is asking their customers to be patient.

"One of the challenges is we're not seeing the same thing every single day, so post COVID Mondays and Fridays are quiet, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are a little busier," Rinaldi said. "But what are we to make of a train that's really, really crowded on a Tuesday and then not at all crowded on a Wednesday?

There have been problems for commuters in Brooklyn too because the MTA got rid of some direct service to Atlantic Terminal, forcing commuters to connect at Jamaica.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul chimed in.

"This is a temporary situation," she said. "Any new adjustment, the first new train station in over 100 years, so it's going to take a little bit, but it is very temporary."

All train schedules are available via the Traintime app and online at


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