Category Archives: Long Island Railroad

Could this ‘visionary’ plan solve the area’s transit woes? (VIDEO)

NJ.com via California Rail News

With Penn Station’s failing infrastructure at capacity, a plan to merge the area’s train and bus service into one regional system is the cornerstone of an idea floated by a New York design firm as a solution to the region’s commuting problems.

Called ReThink NYC Plan 2050, the centerpiece of the idea is a unified commuter rail that connects NJ Transit, Metro North and the Long Island Rail Road lines through a revamped Penn Station…

Some funding for the plan, estimated to cost $48 billion, would come from scaling back plans to replace the Port Authority Bus Terminal with a smaller structure. It would eliminate plans to build an annex south of Penn Station, which Rick called “a $7 billion to $8 billion mistake.”
The main criticism of Penn South annex is the extra tracks would dead end, limiting their usefulness.

“No other city is building a terminal in its core,” Rick said.
Instead, all platforms under Penn Station would be extended beneath the Moynihan Station, which will be the new name of the converted Farley postal facility.

Firm hired to develop LaGuardia’s AirTrain

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces Parsons Brinckerhoff will develop plans for the AirTrain which will run along the Grand Central Parkway providing a link to Willets Point.

The engineering firm behind the Second Avenue Subway line has been awarded the $14.6 million contract to develop the initial plans for the AirTrain connection to LaGuardia Airport.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that multinational engineering and design firm Parsons Brinckerhoff was selected to conduct preliminary engineering work on two AirTrain stations at LaGuardia linked to a complex at Willets Point with easy transfers to the No. 7 subway line and the Long Island Rail Road.

“The new AirTrain will improve passenger experience, reduce traffic congestion and serve as a key part of the modernization and transformation of LaGuardia into a world-class airport,” Cuomo said. “LaGuardia Airport is an essential part of New York’s economy and transportation network, and by providing additional transit options, we will support new economic opportunities and growth throughout the region.”

Parsons Brinckerhoff will create a conceptual design for both the train right-of-way and the stations, and develop cost estimates for the project, conduct a detailed ridership analysis, analyze public-private partnerships and other options to identify the most advantageous financing plan for the AirTrain. The firm will also evaluate expanded parking and centralized car rental operations at the new Willets Point Complex.

Reliable and efficient rail service, to and from the airport, is critical to manage on-site airport parking, improve drop-off and pick-up activities at the terminals, and reduce congestion in and around the airport, including the Grand Central Parkway and neighborhood streets, according to Port Authority officials.

“LaGuardia Airport is the only major airport in the region without direct rail transit access,” Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye said. “With passenger demand expected to reach 34 million annually at LaGuardia by 2030, providing mass transit access to the airport is fundamental to transforming it into a world-class facility that supports future growth, while reducing roadway congestion and resulting emissions.”

Like any NY City project, the critics are coming out of the wood.

Read the full story in the Queens Times Ledger

Who brought Robert Moses down?

It was Nelson Rockefeller, Governor of New York State

He also formed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and saved the Long Island Railroad

Robert Moses was a double-edged sword. He built a lot of great things and destroyed a lot of great things at the same time.

Moses was one of the contributing factors to the rapid decline of commuter rail in the New York City metropolitan area in the 1950’s and 1960s. Just when state governments were starting to warm up to the idea of subsidies, Moses would use his power to block funding of any type to the railroads. To understand his attitude towards commuter rail, his mantra was more or less, “The public should not be providing funds to benefit private for-profit corporations.” Never mind that the private for-profit corporations were providing a necessary service. There would be no direct subsidy until he was out of power.

When Moses was removed from power by Rockefeller, they made Moses chairman of the World’s Fair committee, a position that would make him look bad if he turned it down. Since you can’t be chairman of more than one committee at a time, he lost his powerful position, and his voice. By 1968 he was a “consultant” to the MTA, and he passed away in 1981.

Let’s look at what happened immediately AFTER Moses was gone.
1965 – Governor Rockefeller proposes to purchase the LIRR from the PRR. Some commuter rail equipment purchases are funded for NYC lines out of Grand Central.
1966 – The Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority purchases the LIRR from PRR.
1968 – Five transit authorities are created across New York State, MCTA becomes MTA.
1970 – MTA contracts with Penn Central to subsidize Harlem and Hudson Line operations out of Grand Central.
1971- New equipment arrives on LIRR and PC lines… and so on and so on…

Was Moses the catalyst of all evil directed towards the railroads? The jury is still out, but he was certainly a major factor.

In reading about Moses, you see that Moses was a creature of his particular time, and that in that time, the things he did were fashionable politically and popular with the public. At the time, for example, everybody wanted expressways — these were the answer to all congestion problems — and few people seemed to realize the problems they would generate. The Moses projects were the projects that the politicians wanted to spend money on, so he was successful in getting it. The dreary housing projects he built later in his career are examples of the same thing.

Moses has to be judged by the standards and fashions of his time, and not in hindsight. He was no more or less foresighted than most others then.

It would be interesting to speculate what a young Moses would be doing now, with mass transit in fashion and lots of public money available.

Governor Cuomo’s Dreams About NY’s Penn Station

New York City’s Penn Station has had a crazy history. The “real” Penn Station was torn down in the ’60s and “replaced” by the basement of Madison Square Garden. It has gotten renovated numerous times and still is one of the worst excuses for a train station. It holds Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit and a couple of subway stations.

All kinds of mayors, governors and other people with ideas have made suggestions. Right next to Penn Station is the US Postal Services “GPO” (General Post Office) (ZIP Code 10000). It is a huge and with modern technology is kind of obsolete. Used to see cartoons of huge hall with 100 service windows and only one open. Finally the Postal Service decided to abandon it. WOW! It could become a train station!

Cuomo’s plan is to put Amtrak and Long Island RR would move and leave the “old” Penn Station to New Jersey Transit and the subways. Yes, have been many ideas over the years: Senators Moynihan and Schumer. Even people who just rode the trains.

MTA unveils budget and financial plans, proposes fare hikes

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) earlier this week released its preliminary 2017 budget and four-year financial plan, which together propose more than $1 billion for a host of initiatives.

In particular, the budget and plan would provide funds for measures to improve customer experience, increase service and service support, increase support for MTA’s capital program, enhance safety and security, and invest in necessary maintenance and operations.

As part of the financial plans, MTA is considering implementing two 4 percent fare increases in 2017 and 2019.

The four-year plan includes $195 million from 2017 through 2020 to support capital projects aimed at improving the rider experience. These include adding Wi-Fi, USB charging ports and digital screens to 400 subway cars, MTA officials said in a press release.

Other investments will allow MTA New York City Transit to enhance and expand its Lexington Avenue subway line platform controller.

In addition, MTA will invest an additional $46 million in safety and security initiatives from 2017 to 2020 to augment existing measures. Those investments include upgrading railroad crossings, adding on-board vehicle cameras, providing more “Help Point” intercoms, and improving security operations throughout the agency’s system.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) earlier this week released its preliminary 2017 budget and four-year financial plan, which together propose more than $1 billion for a host of initiatives.

In particular, the budget and plan would provide funds for measures to improve customer experience, increase service and service support, increase support for MTA’s capital program, enhance safety and security, and invest in necessary maintenance and operations.

As part of the financial plans, MTA is considering implementing two 4 percent fare increases in 2017 and 2019.

The four-year plan includes $195 million from 2017 through 2020 to support capital projects aimed at improving the rider experience. These include adding Wi-Fi, USB charging ports and digital screens to 400 subway cars, MTA officials said in a press release.

Other investments will allow MTA New York City Transit to enhance and expand its Lexington Avenue subway line platform controller.

In addition, MTA will invest an additional $46 million in safety and security initiatives from 2017 to 2020 to augment existing measures. Those investments include upgrading railroad crossings, adding on-board vehicle cameras, providing more “Help Point” intercoms, and improving security operations throughout the agency’s system.

Metro-North, LIRR mobile ticketing app to launch in August

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s eTix mobile ticketing app will be available to all MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and MTA Metro-North Railroad riders by the end of the summer, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday.
MTA’s new “eTix” app
Source: Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s website

The app’s launch date has been moved up from the original launch that had been scheduled for year’s end, according to a press release issued by Cuomo’s office.

LIRR and Metro-North riders can use the app to check schedules, see service status and purchase tickets without having to wait in line. The app also offers account management tools, which give riders the ability to secure refunds for unused mobile tickets, request duplicate receipts and manage profile information such as password and linked credit card numbers.

Beginning July 5, MTA eTix was made available for riders on the LIRR’s Port Washington Branch and Metro-North’s Hudson Line. During the week of Aug. 22, the app will be available systemwide for both commuter railroads.

“This new app puts riders first by eliminating the ticket line and helping New Yorkers and visitors get where they need to go with more freedom and convenience than ever before,” Cuomo said. “We will continue to create a 21st century transit system that embraces innovation to ensure that we are building a stronger, more competitive New York.”

Next year, MTA expects to allow LIRR and Metro-North riders to transfer to New York City Transit (NYCT) subway and buses with a single app and a single transit account, according to Cuomo’s release.

The app is powered by Masabi’s JustRide ticketing platform, which has been used by other U.S. transit agencies, including Southern California’s Metrolink.

In April, NYCT issued a request for proposals for a firm to develop a new mobile fare payment system. The agency is expected to launch that app in 2021.

LIRR awards major contracts for double-track project

MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) has awarded a $59.7 million contract to the Skanska-Posillico II joint venture to design and build 6.1 miles of trackbed between Farmingdale and Deer Park, N.Y.

MTA Long Island Rail Road’s Mineola station on the Main Line
Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority

The contract also calls for the joint venture to construct 1.3 miles of trackbed between Brentwood and Central Islip, N.Y.

Meanwhile, LIRR awarded a second $44.8 million contract to Ansaldo STS USA Inc. to design and build a new signaling system using computer-based train control software to better coordinate movement when LIRR’s second track is activated. The work includes final design, fabrication, delivery and system integration, and testing of new components associated with new interlockings at Farmingdale, Wyandanch, Deer Park, and Central Islip, and a modified interlocking at Ronkonkoma.

The contract also calls for the testing of transmitters and 28 new wayside huts.

The design-build contracts will “significantly advance” LIRR’s double-track project, which calls for adding a second track along an 18-mile stretch between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officials said in a press release.

“By using design-build contracts, we can eliminate a host of delays,” said MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast. “When one team handles both design and construction it eliminates the all-too-common disconnect between various phases of a project, and helps move the process along at a more rapid clip.”

The new track is designed to help the commuter railroad provide more frequent off-peak service to the Ronkonkoma Branch in both directions, increase flexibility and reduce delays associated with service disruptions.

The larger project is expected to be completed by 2018’s end.

Jenkins Curve in Bridgeport in 1966.

A pair of EF-4s heads west around Jenkins Curve in Bridgeport in 1966. Next stop. . .LIRR’s Bay Ridge Yard.

Model by Rick Abramson

Summer, 1966.  The Long Island Rail Road was busy reballasting a lot of track.  All the ballast originated at the New Haven Traprock quarry in Branford, handed off to the New Haven from the Branford Steam Railroad at Pine Orchard.  Shipped in 125-car lots, the trains consisted of New Haven’s 70-ton quad-hoppers filled to the max (meaning halfway).  These were “DO NOT STOP” trains, with the dispatcher closely monitoring their movement all the way.  I suspect that at least one passenger job may have been inconvenienced by these trains.

At S.S. 4 we were given a heads-up when they were crossing over at Pelham Bay, and the dispatcher called both S.S. 4 and S.S. 3 to make sure the train had a clear, unobstructed shot for Hell Gate Bridge.  And we had to call back, confirming that the signals were cleared off.  Then she came rolling through at 45 m.p.h.  You could feel how heavy the train was, but the two EF-4s made it appear easy.

Once she cleared off the model board, a sigh of relief followed, preceded, of course, by an OS to the West End dispatcher.

I don’t think you could do such a thing nowadays.  But, that’s progress, I think.

Cuomo unveils scoping report, website for LIRR expansion

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo late last week released a draft environmental impact scoping report for a proposed expansion of MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR).

MTA Long Island Rail Road’s Mineola station on the Main Line
Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority

The document outlines options for modifying grade crossings as part of the project, which calls for adding a third track along 9.8 miles of the railroad’s Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville. To ease local traffic congestion, construction work at the crossings would take place on an expedited timetable, with each project expected to wrap up in nine months or less, LIRR officials said in a press release.

“A third track on the main line is crucial to the future of Long Island,” said Cuomo in the release. “This project will make the LIRR more reliable for millions of customers, while also eliminating multiple dangerous train crossings along the main line.”

LIRR will hold four public hearings to give local residents, business owners and elected officials a chance to review the proposal. In addition, the MTA has launched a new website where the public can learn more about the project and provide direct input.

To date, there have been more than 80 meetings with local stakeholders.

MTA nets $27 billion in New York state’s 2016-17 budget

Under a New York state budget agreement announced late last week, New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will receive more than $27 billion in funding, including $8.3 billion toward the agency’s capital program.

The amount marks the state’s largest investment toward the capital program, MTA officials said in a press release.

The MTA will now submit a revised plan of projects to be supported by the capital program to its board and to the state’s Capital Program Review Board.

“The [capital] plan will enable the MTA to maintain critical infrastructure while renewing, enhancing and expanding our system to meet the ridership and growth demands of the future and improving the current experience for the millions who critically rely on our system each day,” said MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Prendergast.

The state budget also allocates $1.5 billion toward Phase II of the Second Avenue Subway extension.

Additionally, the budget sets aside $27.14 billion for the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). That sum includes $21.1 billion for capital improvement of highways, bridges, rail, aviation infrastructure, non-MTA transit and facilities throughout the state, according to a press release issued by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

The budget aligns capital programming for NYSDOT and MTA over a five-year period and includes additional commitments for priority projects and programs that extend over a sixth year, Cuomo’s release stated.