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LIRR's 'Cannonball' to Hamptons may sell out

The Long Island Rail Road has a piece of advice for travelers looking to take the first ever nonstop train from Penn Station to the Hamptons this afternoon: Be early.

The LIRR says it has seen unprecedented demand for the "Cannonball."

The agency announced last month that the popular Friday afternoon summer train, which has for years departed out of Hunterspoint Avenue in Queens, would run out of Manhattan this summer.

"It's entirely possible, and likely, that we'll be turning people away from that train," LIRR customer service vice president Joe Calderone said of the 4:07 p.m. train bound for Montauk. "The response has been overwhelming."

Calderone said the LIRR has already had to turn away more than 500 customers looking for the sold-out Hamptons Reserve Service, which lets 200 customers pick their seats before time in two cars of the Cannonball, and have drinks and snacks brought to them. The service also is about 70 percent sold out for the entire summer season, Calderone said.

Although some customers will be shut out of the Cannonball, they will still be able to take a number of trains heading out to the Hamptons Friday, including some extra trains being added this afternoon for the big getaway weekend.

The LIRR will run nine additional trains beginning at 1:43 p.m., including three on the Port Jefferson line, three on the Babylon line, and one each on the Port Washington, Montauk and Far Rockaway lines.

To accommodate large crowds, the LIRR will have extra police at Penn Station, and staff will be using hand-held devices to sell train tickets.

Travelers looking to ride the rails heading north will be able to do so on Amtrak or Metro-North Railroad, which have both resumed full service following last Friday's derailment of a New Haven-bound train, which crashed into an oncoming train. Metro-North is also adding extra getaway trains Friday.

Even Long Island's ferry providers are bracing for heavy travel. The Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry is offering a "much, much bigger schedule" than usual, said general manager Fred Hall.

Those using public transportation during their summer getaways won't be alone. An American Transportation Association survey found that 56 percent of people visiting a major U.S. city this summer plan to use public transportation for at least one activity -- an increase of 7 percent over 2012.

"Particularly in New York . . . the public transportation system is part of the fabric [of the region]" said Association spokesman Mantill Williams. "If you didn't ride the public transportation system in New York, then you really didn't have a New York vacation."

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