More than a dozen Long Island Rail Road trains that have been canceled, diverted or making reduced stops since as far back as January will return to normal Tuesday, as construction projects that were limiting the railroad s capacity have wrapped up, officials said.
Eight morning trains and five evening trains will return to their old schedules Tuesday, including trains on the Ronkonkoma, Babylon, Port Washington, Montauk, Long Beach and Hempstead branches.
The restorations follow the recent completion of work at the northeast portion of the busy Harold Inerlocking in Queens, just outside the East River Tunnels connecting to Penn Station, and of the latest phase of Amtrak’s infrastructure renewal effort at Penn.
That work included the complete reconstruction of Track 19 at Penn — primarily used by the LIRR — which was finished in July. The LIRR, which had canceled or re-routed several trains because of Amtrak’s work since Jan. 8, restored some trains in July, but others remained off the schedule as Amtrak continued other work in and around Penn.
Amtrak announced Friday that all its summer work at Penn, which included repairs inside its Empire Tunnel for trains going to Albany and to the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge, have been completed, allowing for the return of “regularly scheduled services including all previously announced modified routes” at Penn.
Amtrak has said it plans to continue modernizing infrastructure at the century-old Manhattan transit hub, but that the bulk of the work going forward will be conducted on nights and weekends and is not expected to significantly impact the LIRR.
LIRR president Phillip Eng called the return to pre-January rush hour service levels "great news for LIRR customers."
"I thank our customers for their patience throughout the last several months," Eng said. "As Amtrak progresses their continuing renewal work at Penn, we will closely coordinate to ensure that we can minimize any future disruptions to our LIRR customers."
The return of more service at Penn isn’t all good news for Larry Barr, of Merrick, who made use of a morning Babylon train that had been detoured to Hunterspoint Avenue — bringing him closer to his job on Manhattan’s East Side.
Still Barr, who has commuted on the LIRR for more than 40 years, said the service restorations and progress made on the various infrastructure projects are a sign that the 134-year-old railroad is serious about improving itself.
“I think that they’re taking a proactive approach to solving problems. They’re trying to clean up a lot of the past problems they’ve had,” Barr, 66, an electronics consultant said. “If they continue this path, I do think the railroad will be better for people and an easier ride.”
In addition, the LIRR said that progress made in its Double Track project, which aims to construct a second track between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, will allow for the restoration of several stops on some Ronkonkoma branch trips that had been truncated in recent months.
Full information on the schedule changes is in the August issue of the railroad’s MyLIRR newsletter, available at web.mta.info/lirr/MyLIRR.