Speaking in Manhattan on Tuesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that the East Side Access project will now be called Grand Central Madison and will be completed in 2022. Credit: Governor Kathy Hochul's Office

The long-awaited completion of the MTA's $11.2 billion East Side Access megaproject will result in a boost of about 50% in LIRR rush hour service — but also a "significant" reduction of LIRR morning service into Penn Station, officials said. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday joined Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials at the site of the LIRR's future home at Grand Central Terminal to reveal new details about the railroad's planned timetables for its new station, which will formally be known as "Grand Central Madison."

Hochul said the expected December opening of the station — after decades of planning — will give Long Island commuters "a world-class experience that is long overdue" and also "the gift of time" by shaving up to 40 minutes off the daily commute of passengers who work on Manhattan's East Side. 

"Today is an exciting day. It's a significant milestone. And I can't wait to take the first ride," Hochul said of the announcement about service levels and the station's new name.

 According to MTA chairman and CEO Janno Lieber, once the megaproject is complete, the LIRR will increase the total number of westbound trains it runs during the morning rush to 159 from the current 113.

The increase will be even greater during the evening peak travel period, when the railroad will operate 158 eastbound trains instead of the current 98. The boost will mean trains will run every 30 minutes to Huntington and Ronkonkoma, and every 15 minutes to Hicksville and Mineola. 

The new station, to be formally be known as "Grand...

The new station, to be formally be known as "Grand Central Madison," is expected to be open in December. Credit: Marcus Santos

But, while LIRR rush hour service into and out of Manhattan will increase by about 50%, MTA vice president Jolyon Handler, at an MTA Board meeting last week, acknowledged that upon the completion of East Side Access in December, "a significant volume of trains will be removed from Penn."

MTA officials on Tuesday clarified that there will be 10 fewer trains into Penn Station in the morning. However, in the evening, Penn Station commuters will have three more trains than they have now. The LIRR is already operating fewer trains than it did before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lieber said the impact on Penn Station commuters from the change will be "very moderate." MTA officials also project that about half of all commuters currently traveling into and out of Penn will opt to use Grand Central Madison instead.

"The impact to all of those people . . . who are headed toward East Midtown, which is the largest concentration of jobs in New York City — huge, huge benefits," Lieber said. "And the people who are going into Penn are probably going to see a slightly less crowded situation."

LIRR interim president Catherine Rinaldi said the railroad plans to release more detailed information about planned timetables later this week and will hold informational sessions this summer to gather feedback from railroad riders. 

"Whatever we hear now is a concept and the reality is still to come. So if people do have concerns, they should make their voices heard," said Lisa Daglian, executive director of the MTA Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee, which includes the LIRR Commuter Council.

Daglian applauded the vision for the LIRR's Grand Central Madison service, which she said will advance a "regional" approach to transit, with riders being able to easily transfer between the LIRR and Metro-North.

Hochul noted that Penn Station commuters also stand to gain from the completion of East Side Access, because it will free up capacity to move forward with a planned redevelopment of Penn to make it "bright and uplifting. "I'm very anxious to give the commuters into Penn Station an experience that far surpasses what they experience now," Hochul said. 

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