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LIRR’s new trains may come later than promised, officials say

A mockup of a new M-9 train, shown

A mockup of a new M-9 train, shown in Japan, was especially built for the Long Island Rail Road and manufactured by Kawasaki Rail Car Inc. The LIRR has purchased 92 new cars for $377 million. Credit: LIRR

The LIRR’s next generation of train cars could roll off the assembly line nine months later than originally promised, railroad officials say.

The railroad revealed Monday that Japanese manufacturer Kawasaki Rail Car Inc. has said it will need an extra 5 1⁄2 months to deliver the first of the Long Island Rail Road’s new M-9 electric train cars, pushing the delivery date to November 2018 instead of June 2018.

The potential delay comes after the LIRR already granted Kawasaki a 3 1⁄2-month schedule extension. LIRR officials said in a statement that they “do not agree with” Kawasaki’s latest claimed delay. Kawasaki did not respond to requests for comment.

LIRR officials Monday also offered early glimpses of the new trains, which, from the exterior, look similar to the M-7 models that make up the majority of the railroad’s existing electric fleet. However, the front of the new train cars is yellow, instead of the current black, yellow and gray color scheme, and features new electronic destination signs.

“This will make it easier for the passengers to see when they’re waiting on the platform as the train approaches the station,” Jim Allen, the LIRR’s director of new rolling stock, said Monday during a presentation to Metropolitan Transportation Authority board members in Manhattan.

The train interiors will feature LED lights, closed armrests less likely to snag passengers’ clothes than those on M-7 trains, and four to six additional seats per every pair of cars. The seats will be blue with white backs — similar to those on most LIRR trains now.

The LIRR has already purchased 92 new cars at the cost of $377 million and expects to purchase as many as 416 new cars in total. The trains are needed to replace the LIRR’s 30-year-old M-3 electric cars and to bolster the railroad’s fleet as needed for its East Side Access plan to connect to Grand Central Terminal.

The haggling over the time needed to deliver the new trains comes as the manufacturer and the LIRR continue to negotiate a settlement to “amicably resolve a number of open issues that have arisen during the design phase of the project.”

Those issues include the revelation last year that the new cars were not designed to include enough space to fit the hardware for federally mandated “positive train control” crash-prevention technology.

MTA officials separately reported Monday that they were also falling behind installing the positive train control systems on the LIRR and Metro-North. In October, Congress agreed to extend the deadline to have the systems in place by three years, pushing it to December 2018 — a date that the MTA has said for two years it could meet.

But Monday, the MTA, through an independent engineer hired to monitor the $968 million project, reported delays in the design, manufacturing and delivery that could result in “major schedule impacts.”

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