The Long Island Rail Road’s on-time performance fell in June after a streak of improvement that began late last year, according to figures reported Monday.
LIRR officials said 91.4 percent of trains operated on time in June — a drop from 92.1 percent during the same month last year. It was the railroad's lowest monthly on-time performance since November, when 86.9 percent of trains operated on time.
LIRR president Phillip Eng, at a meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's railroad committee in Manhattan, suggested the dip in punctuality in June was the result of “unprecedented work” on infrastructure modernization projects throughout the system that required track outages.
The heavy pace of track work will continue through August, when the railroad will have 11 separate construction work zones scattered across five branches, he said.
“I’m confident we’re making the right decisions as we continue to support and perform all this critical work,” Eng said. “It is the right decision to get this work done now, without deferring, and working hard to get this work done now while still providing 24/7 service to a robust ridership, even with reduced infrastructure.”
The LIRR’s on-time performance in June during peak travel periods was 91.2 percent in the morning and 89.9 percent in the evening — both lower than in June 2018.
The LIRR considers any train on time that arrives at its final destination within 5 minutes and 59 seconds of its scheduled time.
Before June, the railroad had improved its on-time performance in five of the previous six months — dipping only in February because of the effects of a fatal grade-crossing accident in Westbury that disrupted service through the area for days.
Despite the setback, the LIRR’s total year-to-date on-time performance through June — 93.5 percent — remains well above the 90.5 percent that the railroad reported in the first half of 2018, a year that went on to be the railroad’s worst since 1999 for that category.
One key project was completed over the weekend, as LIRR crews, working with private contractors, successfully installed a new rail bridge at Urban Avenue in Westbury, replacing a grade crossing that had been at the location for decades.
Toiling under the weekend's extreme heat, workers excavated the roadway and used jacks to slowly move the prefabricated bridge into place. The newly configured roadway underpass is scheduled to be open in November.
Urban Avenue is one of seven grade crossings to be eliminated as part of the LIRR's $2.6 billion effort to install a third track between Floral Park and Hicksville. It is the first grade crossing to be eliminated since a new bridge and underpass were constructed at Roslyn Road in Mineola, east of the Mineola station, 10 years ago.