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Long Island Rail Road: On-time performance still trending up

Looking west from the Floral Park LIRR station

Looking west from the Floral Park LIRR station in Floral Park April 12, 2017. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The Long Island Rail Road’s improved punctuality continued in September, when 93.6 percent of trains arrived at their destinations on time, new stats show.

It was the LIRR’s second best month for on-time performance of the year, behind only August, when 93.8 percent of trains were on time, according to new LIRR statistics.

The LIRR’s improved on-time performance began in July, when 93.1 percent of trains were on time — better than any month in the first half of the year. The improvement came despite the LIRR reducing rush hour service at Penn Station because of an eight-week Amtrak construction project there.

The numbers were discussed Monday at a meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s LIRR Committee, where committee member Ira Greenberg noted that “for the first time in a long time” the railroad has been meeting its on-time performance goals in recent months.

“I think that’s a very good sign,” said Greenberg, who represents the LIRR Commuter Council.

The news was not so good for LIRR ridership, which fell again in September as compared to the same month last year. After increasing ridership for 25 straight months through March of this year, the LIRR has now lost riders in six out of the last seven months.

For the year, the LIRR has still carried slightly more riders than it during the same period in 2016, LIRR president Patrick Nowakowski said.

Nowakowski also on Monday announced an “important milestone” for the next generation of LIRR electric trains. The first four “M-9” train cars will soon be shipped from a manufacturing plant in Japan to Pueblo, Colorado, for testing next month, Nowakowski said. The LIRR plans to begin rolling out the new train cars next year.

There are also some important changes coming to LIRR service beginning in November, Nowakowski said.

Calling it among the “lessons learned” during the summer, when the LIRR added service before the morning rush hour to accommodate customers disrupted by Amtrak’s Penn Station repairs, Nowakowski announced that some early morning trains will make additional stops.

He also announced that the railroad will complete installation next month of a new signal system between Speonk and Montauk — a portion of what’s known as the LIRR’s “dark territory” because it has never operated with signals. Nowakowski said the “new signal system will enable us to operate a little more efficiently on the branch.”

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