LIRR employees work on completing a major modernization project near...

LIRR employees work on completing a major modernization project near Jamaica station. (Oct. 23, 2010) Credit: Uli Seit

The Long Island Rail Road will run "extremely limited" service this weekend as it completes a $56-million project to upgrade Jamaica Station's switching and signal system.

Before you head to your local train station Saturday or Sunday, here are some answers to questions you may have.

Q. Why did the LIRR choose this weekend to conduct some of the work, especially considering that the ING New York City Marathon is Sunday?

LIRR officials say they needed a block of four consecutive weekends for the project - two for the work itself and two backup weekends in case of bad weather. Those weekends had to fit in between Columbus Day - the traditional end of the Hamptons travel season - and the busy Thanksgiving travel week. They were aware that the marathon was set for Sunday, but say ridership does not increase significantly on that day.

Q. Why are the service disruptions necessary?

To complete conversion from Jamaica's antiquated mechanical switching system to a computerized system, LIRR workers must run hundreds of tests on various track switches and signals at Jamaica. That effectively requires shutting down Jamaica's switch and signal system. Just two tracks will be available to route trains through Jamaica this weekend.

Q. How bad will the service disruptions be?

In total, the LIRR will be running about one-third of its typical weekend service. The disruptions will be worse on North Shore branches, because there will be no direct service into Penn and because buses replace trains between Mineola and Jamaica. South Shore lines will have reduced service into and out of Penn. A dozen stations, including all in Brooklyn and some in Queens, will have no service at all.

Q. Should I drive instead?

That's up to you, but LIRR officials have advised customers to use trains for essential business only. If you live near an affected line, you may consider driving to a station where service is less affected. Normal parking restrictions have been lifted at several stations.

LIRR service: Changes to expect

  • Both Saturday and Sunday, service in and out of Penn Station will be cut from about nine trains an hour to about three.
  • On Sunday, the LIRR advises marathoners, or family and friends headed to watch the marathon, to use the Babylon, Long Beach and Port Washington branches for direct service to Penn. In addition, various runners' groups are offering charter bus service from LI to the marathon. Check with your local group.
  • North Shore LIRR branches will be affected more than South Shore lines.
  • South Shore trains will go through Jamaica and in and out of Penn Station at reduced schedules.
  • More trains will operate on the Port Washington Branch, running half-hourly 9 a.m.-1 p.m. westbound and 4-8 p.m. eastbound.
  • Between Mineola and Jamaica, buses will replace trains.
  • At Jamaica, westbound riders will be directed to the E subway line; LIRR tickets will be honored.
  • No LIRR service at Forest Hills, Hollis, New Hyde Park, Kew Gardens, Laurelton, Locust Manor, Merillon Avenue, Rosedale, St. Albans and all Brooklyn stations.
  • Free, unrestricted parking will be offered at LIRR stations including Manhasset, Little Neck, Oceanside, Lynbrook, Lindenhurst, Copiague, Massapequa, Massapequa Park, Seaford, Wantagh, Bellmore, Merrick, Freeport and Baldwin.

Compiled by Alfonso Castillo

Latest videos

Newsday LogoDON'T MISS THIS LIMITED-TIME OFFER1 5 months for only $1Save on Unlimited Digital Access