Officials from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said the much-anticipated Grand Central Madison terminal will begin hosting Grand Central Direct trains before the terminal is fully operational, which is expected in 2023.
The Grand Central Direct service on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) will operate between Jamaica and Grand Central Madison after the terminal facility systems testing is completed. MTA was aiming to have Grand Central Madison, which is the first new downtown rail terminal in the United States in 67 years and the first extension of LIRR service in 112 years, opened by the end of 2022.
“The MTA has held the line on Grand Central Madison’s opening date and budget since I rebooted the project in 2017 by empowering project management, developing a clear understanding of 44,000 work items and creating priority-based scheduling,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “It was an approach to reset a long-running project I inherited and ensure we could open now. This work presaged the MTA’s new determination to deliver projects on time and on budget, as exemplified by the L Train project and by LIRR Main Line Third Track, which were both delivered on time and $100 million under budget. Specifically, we streamlined contracting to one team accountable for integrated design and construction and also incentivized that team to finish early.”
Grand Central Direct trains will operate between Grand Central Madison and Jamaica every 30 minutes during middays and weekends and hourly during weekday rush periods. The trains will be overlaid as additions to the LIRR’s existing timetables to ensure there are no changes to existing trains to Penn Station and other destinations.
“It isn’t every day that customers get access to a world-class new train terminal, so we wanted to open up the opportunity to see the space weeks in advance of the full-scale new service going into effect,” said Catherine Rinaldi, interim president, MTA LIRR, and president, MTA Metro-North Railroad. “Customers who are curious about the new terminal will be able to try it out, and we hope anyone who wants to will come take a look at the impressive new space.”
LIRR will have customer ambassadors on the Grand Central Madison concourse to greet customers and offer information about the new space. MTA says it will provide at least three weeks’ notice before the new full schedules for a fully operational Grand Central Madison go into effect.
Additionally, to encourage riders from LIRR and Metro-North to try the other’s services, MTA has introduced a Combo Ticket that enables customers to travel between Long Island, Manhattan’s northern suburbs and Connecticut all with one fare.