The Long Island Rail Road will restore year-round weekend service to and from Greenport, and make other improvements to its East End service, the agency’s president said Monday.
Since eliminating year-round service to its easternmost Main Line station in 2010 as part of a cost-cutting effort, the LIRR has offered only seasonal weekend service to Greenport. The reduced service originally operated only from Memorial Day through Labor Day but has been since extended to last from March until November.
Now, Greenport trains are here to stay — the product of recent negotiations between LIRR brass and East End lawmakers who have been clamoring for better service for its Hamptons workforce and weekend tourists.
“When we went out there we combined both a long-term look at what changes need to be made to our network with a short-term look at what is out there now and what ... problems are out there,” LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski said at a Manhattan meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s LIRR Committee. “We tried to find ways to work together and make adjustments to the service to make it better, to make it more attractive to the residents out there.”
Nowakowski said the expanded service will require a “small increase” in costs that will be detailed in the MTA’s preliminary 2017 operating budget, expected to be released Wednesday.
In another short-term improvement for the East End, the LIRR is planning to introduce a “South Fork Commuter Connection” — a small, diesel train that will shuttle passengers daily between Speonk and Montauk. The service is aimed at serving Suffolk residents who travel east for jobs in the Hamptons.
Long-range improvements to the LIRR’s East End service will be considered as part of the railroad’s ongoing Network Strategy Study, which shapes the railroad’s service through 2040.
Assemb. Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor), who has long pushed for better LIRR service in Suffolk, said his wish list includes electrifying the tracks from Ronkonkoma to Riverhead and building a second track between Sayville and Montauk.
“There is a real demand here — a real need for the service,” said Thiele, who praised the LIRR’s “enlightened leadership” for working toward a more robust transit system on the East End. “For the railroad, I think there’s a real business opportunity for them to provide service where growth is taking place.”
In another potential boost to its East End service, the LIRR Committee Monday took its first steps toward building a new, state-of-the art maintenance facility for its diesel fleet.
The LIRR Committee approved issuing a request for contractor proposals to build a new shop to replace its 125-year-old Morris Park facility in Richmond Hill. It was originally built in the 19th century to service steam engines, but has become “wholly inefficient as the fleet continues to age and maintenance requirements have increased,” according to the LIRR.
“The new facility will help to provide more efficient maintenance practices and increase capacity which, in turn, will result in increased car availability to our customers,” the LIRR said.