"As a tunnel boring machine performs excavation work on the Queens side of the East River Tunnels, an important switch (Switch 813) will be taken out of service. This work will eliminate one of the three eastbound tracks normally used during the PM Peak period. Long Island Rail Road trains will operate using two main tracks between Penn Station and Jamaica instead of three during this time period," MTA says on its website.
"This reduction in capacity will result the cancellation/combination of three evening rush hour trains—two on the Babylon Branch and one on the Long Beach Branch. In addition, the schedules of four evening rush hour trains will be modified to allow eight other evening rush hour trains to be re-routed to the two remaining Main Line tracks.This construction program has been designed to allow train schedules to return to normal in the event that the tunneling and track work is completed earlier than anticipated," MTA says.
"The loss of Switch 813 and the access it provides to one of our eastbound tracks will temporarily reduce the LIRR's operational flexibility and significantly increase the impact of a service disruption should one occur. To provide a level of protection to operations, the LIRR will deploy added rescue equipment and personnel during the period that the switch and eastbound track are unavailable," MTA says.
ESA is designed to allow some LIRR trains direct access to Grand Central Terminal, on Manhattan's East Side. The project, recently targeted for completion in 2016, likely now will be completed by 2019.