MTA Completes Some LIRR Track Laying

One of the big LIRR projects that will help a multitude of riders is the addition of an extra track on the Ronkonkoma line between Farmingdale & Ronkonkoma. When the project is completed fully, the agency will be able to provide every half hour service on the line compared to the hourly service provided now.

The agency has been using a New Track Construction (NTC) machine that has helped them complete the track laying between Central Islip & Ronkonkoma as part of phase 1. Here is more via Kyra Senese of Railway & Track Structures:

The MTA cites its use of a New Track Construction (NTC) Machine as a key factor in the timeliness of the project.

The machine lays track more than 10 times faster than the MTA has ever previously been able to do manually, which officials say will save $2.4 million in construction costs. At the faster speed, MTA officials say the machine is capable of laying one mile of track per day.

MTA officials say work has begun on the final phase of the project between Farmingdale and Central Islip and is expected to wrap up in 2018.

Extending from Farmingdale to Ronkonkoma, the double track is expected to significantly shorten delays along the LIRR. With $387.2 million in state funding, the project is set to be complete in the second phase through design-build contracting.

The track is also set to allow for more off-peak service in both directions by adding 13 miles of parallel track. The project is expected to boost frequency of rides available to one train every 30 minutes in both directions, a possible improvement from the previous standard of one train every hour. Lowered delays due to service disruptions are also predicted with the added track.

Gov. Cuomo toured the double track site with MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast, as the NTC machine was laying the final portion of the 3.5-mile Phase 1 track.

Click here for the complete story.

This will be a huge addition to the Ronkonkoma line which has long been under serviced even though it features the highest ridership in the system. Too bad it can’t get the same amount of the service the Babylon/Montauk lines do which feature over 80 trains to NYC a day during the weekdays.

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MTA eTix Debuts System Wide On LIRR

Two words can describe this next story, “ABOUT TIME” as the MTA has debuted its eTix mobile platform system wide on the LIRR. The platform enables customers on all LIRR lines to buy tickets on their phone & validate them for use before boarding the train. This will be a huge benefit when rushing for a train or if lines are too long to purchase a ticket before your train departs.

I can see myself using this app often as I tend to arrive at the very last second to catch my train. So anytime I can use it would be a win in my book. Hopefully people will not find a way to fraudulently use it as I am sure some are already working on ways how.

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Buses Replace Trains On Ronkonkoma Line

LIRR Ronkonkoma Line riders make note that buses will replace trains between Farmingdale & Ronkonkoma this weekend. Here are the complete details via the press release I received:

Buses will replace trains on the Long Island Rail Road’s Ronkonkoma Branch between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma for 48-hours over the weekend of August 20-21 for track work and the renewal of the railroad crossing at Carl’s Straight Path in Deer Park.

Customers can avoid the busing and long travel time by using the Babylon Branch or the Huntington/Port Jefferson Branch instead. Trains run every half-hour on the Babylon Branch and on the Port Jefferson Branch west of Huntington.

The tracks will be taken out of service at 12:45 a.m. on Saturday and returned to service by 12:45 a.m. on Monday. To determine how the track outage will affect their trip, customers should pick up a copy of the Special Timetable for the Ronkonkoma Branch covering both weekends or view the timetables at www.mta.info/lirr.

Ronkonkoma Branch

Eastbound:

Customers will travel by train as far as Hicksville where they will board buses up to 44 minutes earlier than normal for travel to stations Pinelawn through Ronkonkoma. Train service to Bethpage and Farmingdale is unaffected.

Westbound:

Customers at stations Ronkonkoma through Pinelawn will board buses up to 44 minutes earlier than normal to Hicksville where trains service resumes. Train service to Bethpage and Farmingdale is unaffected.

East of Ronkonkoma to Greenport

Eastbound:

Customers will board the 8:12 a.m. and the 1:12 p.m. from Penn Station one hour earlier than normal for Hicksville and change there for bus service to Ronkonkoma where normal train service will resume. Customers boarding at stations Bethpage through Central Islip will board a local bus for Ronkonkoma where normal train service will resume.

Westbound:

Customers will detrain at Ronkonkoma and board buses 21 minutes later for Hicksville where train service will resume. Customers traveling to stations Central Islip through Bethpage will board a local bus at Ronkonkoma to reach their final destinations.

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Buses Replace Trains On Harlem Line

Buses will once again replace trains on the Metro North’s Harlem Line between Southeast & Wassaic this weekend. Here are the details via the press release sent to me:

After 10 p.m. on Friday, August 19, buses will replace select trains on Metro-North Railroad’s Harlem Line at all stations between Wassaic and Southeast. From Saturday, August 20 through 2 a.m., Monday, August 22, substitute bus service will be provided for all trains between Southeast and Wassaic.

Buses will operate 15-30 minutes earlier than scheduled trains. Customers should listen for announcements and check local or express bus service to their destination while boarding.

Southbound, Friday, August 19:

Buses will replace the last train from Wassaic to Southeast, making stops at the following stations: Tenmile River, Dover Plains, Harlem Valley-Wingdale, Pawling and Patterson. Bus service will connect with the 12:18 a.m. train at Southeast and will operate up to 30 minutes earlier than normally scheduled train times.

Northbound, Friday, August 19:

The 8:52 p.m., 9:52 p.m. and 12:10 a.m. trains from Grand Central to Southeast will connect with bus service departing from the Southeast station at 10:23 p.m., 11:23 p.m. and 1:44 a.m. respectively, making their regularly scheduled stops at: Patterson, Pawling, Harlem Valley-Wingdale, Dover Plains, Tenmile River and Wassaic.

Southbound, Saturday, August 20 and Sunday, August 21:

Substitute bus service will be provided for all trains departing Wassaic and the following station stops: Tenmile River, Dover Plains, Harlem Valley-Wingdale, Appalachian Trail, Pawling and Patterson.

At Southeast Station, customers will connect with continuing train service to Grand Central Terminal. Buses will operate up to 30 minutes earlier than normal train times.

Northbound, Saturday, August 20 and Sunday, August 21:

Customers will connect with substitute bus service at the Southeast station for the following station stops: Paterson, Pawling, Appalachian Trail, Harlem Valley-Wingdale, Dover Plains, Tenmile River and Wassaic.

This weekend’s service change will help ensure the on-going reliability and safety of Harlem Line trains. Harlem Line improvements that will be underway this weekend include: changing the bearings on the Railroad’s Ten Mile River bridge, continued work on two of the Railroad’s bridges in Patterson in preparation for their future replacement, and track welding.

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MTA To Close Canarsie Tunnel For 18 Months

L train riders knew that one way or another their commute would be altered due to the closing of the Canarsie Tunnel. The main question was how extreme it would be as would the closure be spread out over a period of time while letting some service through or would it be done over a shorter period of time with no service through.

The decision has been made as the MTA has announced that they will be completely closing the Canarsie Tunnel for 18 months staring in 2019 to repair the extensive damage from Hurricane Sandy. Here is more via the official press release I received:

MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) today announced that the massive reconstruction work needed to the Canarsie Tunnel, which carries the L train under the East River between Brooklyn and Manhattan, will require a full closure of the tunnel for 18 months starting no sooner than 2019.

The decision to do the work under a full 18-month tunnel closure instead of a one-track, three-year closure, was made based on a detailed operational review, and only after significant community engagement in order to consider all adverse impacts. Serious consideration was also given to consequences of unplanned outages that would occur if one track was closed for three years.

“While the MTA always looks to avoid service disruptions, there is no question that repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel are critical and cannot be avoided or delayed. Throughout this process we have committed to engaging the community and listening to all concerns so that we can address them as we prepare for this necessary work,” MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said. “We are committed to working with the community just as closely as we develop ways to add service to help minimize the impacts of the closure.”

Since May, the MTA has held four large-scale, interactive community meetings in communities affected by the upcoming closure including Williamsburg, Bushwick, Canarsie and in Manhattan along the 14th Street corridor; hundreds of riders attended. The meetings were led by MTA Chairman Prendergast, NYCT President Veronique ‘Ronnie’ Hakim, Chief of Operations Planning Peter Cafiero and Senior Vice Presdient for Capital Program Management John O’Grady.

MTA officials also visited all 11 Community Boards along the L Line, which were overwhelmingly in favor of the full, shorter-duration closure. Of the comments MTA received directly through email, social media and at meetings 77 percent were in favor of the full, shorter closure.

“Approximately 80 percent of riders will have the same disruptions with either option. Throughout our extensive outreach process and review, it became clear that the 18-month closure was the best construction option and offered the least amount of pain to customers for the shortest period of time,” President Hakim said. “The 18-month option is also the most efficient way to allow MTA to do the required work. It gives us more control over the work site and allows us to offer contractor incentives to finish the work as fast as possible.”

“We think it is better to have a shorter duration of pain than a longer more unstable process – and risk unplanned closures – by leaving one track open during construction,” Hakim added.

The Canarsie Tunnel was one of nine underwater tunnels that flooded during Superstorm Sandy, all of which required major rehabilitation and repair. Some of that work was accomplished during night and weekend closures, while the R line’s Montague Tunnel under the East River was closed for 13 months and the G line tunnel under Newtown Creek was closed for two months, both for complete renovations.

The Canarsie Tunnel suffered extensive damage to tracks, signals, switches, power cables, signal cables, communication cables, lighting, cable ducts and bench walls throughout a seven-mile long flooded section of both tubes. Bench walls throughout those sections must be replaced to protect the structural integrity of the two tubes that carry trains through the tunnel.

During this rehabilitation process, the MTA will also make significant improvements to stations and tunnel segments closest to the under-river section. New stairs and elevators will be installed at the Bedford Av station in Brooklyn and the 1 Av station in Manhattan, and three new electric substations will be installed, providing more power to operate additional trains during rush hours.

Procurement of design and construction services for the project must begin to move forward this year in order to ensure that hundreds of millions of federal dollars are not lost.

MTA is now starting the process of fully developing alternative service plans and will continue to work with the community, City and State agencies, and all stakeholders to minimize impacts of the closure with added service including additional capacity on the M, J, and G trains. MTA plans to work closely with the City and State to develop routes and determine service levels needed to accommodate projected ridership.

MTA New York City Transit continues to closely inspect the Canarsie Tunnel and takes steps daily to ensure that it remains reliable until permanent repairs can be performed. Specifically, the agency has stepped up its inspection of the tunnel walls and has installed redundant power cables to ensure the pumping system will operate without interruption, but these are temporary measures and the tunnel must undergo extensive repairs.

Prior to the closure of the Canarsie Tunnel, the agency is preparing to rebuild two crucial sections of the M line in Brooklyn and Queens in order to ensure that two decades-old deteriorating overpasses remain safe for travel.

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