Starting July 29, Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express will extend north to serve Middlebury, Vergennes and Burlington, Vt. (Amtrak/Steve Ostrowski)

Transit Briefs: Amtrak, Stantec/HART, Metrolink, New York MTA, San Diego MTS/NCTD

The Vermont Agency of Transportation (AOT) has reported that Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express will begin service to Burlington, Vt., next month. Also, Stantec has landed a contract extension for work on Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s (HART) light rail project; Southern California’s Metrolink is rolling out the next phase of its Earthquake Early Warning System; New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has launched an online trip planner for riders considering new Grand Central Madison commutes; and a new San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and North County Transit District (NCTD) program will offer free transit passes for young adults transitioning out of foster care.

Eight 7000-series trains have resumed service at WMATA and are running on the Green and Yellow lines. (WMATA 7000-Series Rapid Transit Cars: Courtesy Wikipedia )

Transit Briefs: LIRR, Metra, WMATA

MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) has completed New Hyde Park (N.Y.) station upgrades and removed three grade crossings as part of its $2.5 billion Third Track Project. Also, Chicago’s Metra is seeking rider feedback as it develops a new five-year strategic plan; and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) on June 16 returned to service eight 7000-series trains.

MTA Long Island Rail Road has published draft timetables showing service to Grand Central Madison and offering details on what it calls the “largest LIRR service expansion in history.”

LIRR Details ‘Historic’ Service Expansion

Riders of MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) could see weekday service increase 41% system-wide when Grand Central Madison terminal opens later this year, giving the commuter railroad two entry points to Manhattan’s Central Business District.

LIRR’s 2021 record on-time performance of 96.3% represents a 5.5 percentage point improvement over 2018’s rate of 90.4%.

Transit Briefs: LIRR, Sacramento RTD, TTC, VIA Rail

The 2021 on-time performance of MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) in New York has surpassed the previous record set in 2020. Also, this summer, Sacramento (Calif.) Regional Transit District (RTD) will start Gold Line light rail improvements; Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has partnered with Magnusmode on a new rider app; and VIA Rail Canada has selected Icomera to deploy Wi-Fi and an onboard digital platform for riders on its new trainsets.

On Oct. 31, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, MTA Acting Chair and CEO Janno Lieber, LIRR President Phil Eng and other officials traveled through the East Side Access project’s newly activated tunnel (pictured) during a test train ride from Jamaica, N.Y., to Grand Central Terminal. (Marc A. Hermann / MTA)

First Look: East Side Access Test Ride

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officials on Oct. 31 marked an East Side Access project milestone: test riding a Long Island Railroad train into Grand Central Terminal.

MTA Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber was among the officials touring construction of the East Side Access Project—connecting Long Island Rail Road to a new 350,000-square-foot passenger terminal under Grand Central Terminal—on May 27. (Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

ESA On Track for ’22 Opening

Civil construction of MTA Long Island Rail Road’s East Side Access (ESA) project has wrapped up, with third rail to be electrified and test trains to run this summer before LIRR service to Grand Central Terminal begins in December 2022.

For LIRR, a Potential First: Battery/Third-Rail ‘BEMU’

If all goes as planned, in about one year, MTA Long Island Rail Road will be testing a prototype “BEMU” (battery-electric multiple unit) that operates on third-rail power or batteries on the 13-mile, non-electrified Oyster Bay Branch. The program, a venture with Alstom, will be North America’s first test-of-concept of this application on commuter railcars.

Digital platform signs now show a diagram of the arriving train, real-time seating capacity in each car, and the observer’s relative position to the train (pictured) to help with seat selection.

LIRR Updates Rider Information Systems

MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) is introducing changes to its TrainTime® app as well as platform signs and audio announcements to provide real-time seat availability information an improve rider accessibility.

MTA Construction & Development and MTA Long Island Rail Road contractors eliminated five railroad crossings in 2020. Pictured is the School Street undergrade crossing project on the border of Westbury and New Cassel, N.Y.
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LIRR Expansion Project Moving Forward

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) reported that five railroad crossings were eliminated and bridge and station upgrade work continued in 2020, as part of its LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) Expansion Project. The project will add a third, 9.8-mile track from Floral Park to Hicksville, N.Y., to reduce train congestion and delays.

The Train Hall expands Penn Station’s concourse space by 255,000 square feet or 50% to serve Amtrak and MTA Long Island Rail Road. (Architecture and Interiors - FXCollaborative)

Moynihan Train Hall Opening Jan. 1

New York City’s Moynihan Train Hall will open for Amtrak and MTA Long Island Rail Road service Jan. 1. The $1.6 billion project, which renovated the 100-year-old James A. Farley Post Office Building at 8th Avenue across from Penn Station, wraps up Dec. 31.