The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will miss its own year-end deadline for Long Island Rail Road trains to begin stopping at Grand Central Terminal, the agency conceded Thursday afternoon.
The agency now says it hopes to begin service in January in the new part of the terminal, known as Grand Central Madison, the culmination of the long-running and stalled East Side Access project.
In a prepared statement, MTA Construction and Development President Jamie Torres-Springer said, “As described at MTA’s board meeting last week, the opening of Grand’s GCM service Central Madison and Long Island Rail Road is dependent on the conclusion of system testing, consistent with our commitment to safety. A particular area of the 700,000 square foot terminal requires additional work that will take more than a few days. »
The statement added, “Given the logistics of concluding testing and launching service, we have advised MTA Chairman Janno Lieber that the terminal will not be opening this week. We will coordinate with the Federal Railroad Administration to open the new terminal and begin LIRR service as soon as possible in January.
Lieber had repeatedly promised the opening before the end of December.
The project, which cost $11.1 billion and was greenlit in 1998 with construction beginning in 2001, is expected to result in an approximately 50% increase in peak-hour LIRR service – but also a “significant” reduction in LIRR morning service at Penn Station, the agency said.
The MTA said the public would receive at least three weeks’ notice before the full-scale launch of Grand Central Madison, the debut of which will mean a major overhaul of train schedules for all passengers.
Earlier this month, the MTA announced plans to launch limited LIRR shuttle service between Jamaica Terminal and Grand Central Madison sometime this month before the full opening. Shuttle trains would operate mainly during off-peak hours.
As of Thursday night, the MTA’s website still listed December 2022 as the project’s “completion” date or when “LIRR service to Grand Central Madison will open to the public.”
In the spring, Governor Kathy Hochul, who oversees the MTA, said the then scheduled December opening of the station would give Long Island commuters “a world-class experience that is long overdue” and also ” the gift of time” by cutting up to 40 minutes off the daily commute for passengers who work on the East Side of Manhattan. She said, “I can’t wait to do the first round.”