Project Benefits

Expanding and Improving Long Island’s Transportation and Quality of Life

The current heavily utilized two-track Main Line segment of the Long Island Rail Road between Floral Park and Hicksville faces many challenges that impact rail service, reliability, and public safety. The LIRR Expansion Project is a new proposal that will improve mass transit, reduce traffic congestion, protect the environment, and ensure Long Island’s economic health now and for the next century.

A Better Commute

Getting where you need to go with improved service.

Fewer Delays

The LIRR Expansion Project will mean fewer delays for LIRR customers. Today, with two tracks being used at capacity, a single incident or delay can severely hamper train service. Building a third track will address the delays and congestion along the Main Line that currently affect tens of thousands of commuters. The track will provide the kind of redundancy required for optimal railroad operations, allowing trains to avoid track and signal problems and to bypass disabled equipment.

Faster Commutes

The LIRR Expansion Project is the key piece in a multi-pronged, system-wide effort that will ultimately increase the Railroad’s capacity into Manhattan and speed rail travel throughout Long Island. The end result will be faster, direct service to the East Side of Manhattan, saving up to 40 minutes off commuting times for many customers, and reduced crowding on trains headed in and out of Penn Station. In addition to the LIRR Expansion Project, other ongoing efforts that will improve your commute include:

  • East Side Access – Direct LIRR service to Grand Central Terminal
  • Farmingdale to Ronkonkoma – Double Track Project
  • Great Neck – New pocket track to support future East Side Access service increases
  • Port Washington — Track extensions to support future East Side Access service increases
  • Jamaica Capacity Improvements – Track & switch upgrades to reduce the “Jamaica Crawl”
  • Mid-Suffolk and Huntington/Port Jefferson yards to support fleet and service growth

Bi-Directional Service

The LIRR’s Main Line carries 40 percent of all riders using just two tracks, which greatly limits its ability to serve Nassau and Suffolk Counties because both tracks must run in the same direction during peak hours in order to meet demand. This creates huge challenges for customers traveling to jobs on Long Island in the morning, customers traveling within Long Island and customers bound for New York City at night, ultimately forcing many of them into cars. In addition to making LIRR more reliable, with faster service and fewer delays, this project will enable true bi-directional train service for the first time.

Enhanced Intra-Island Service

Family, friends, sports teams, concerts, culture, airports, beaches, vineyards, and more will be easier to reach, no matter what time of day you’re traveling or which direction you’re heading.

Less Crowding

A third track will bring the flexibility needed for better train scheduling to and from Manhattan, which will help to ease crowding. Along with the Double Track Project adding a second track between Ronkonkoma and Farmingdale, more frequent service at more evenly space intervals will give customers more options and a better chance at finding a seat during the morning commute.

Peak-Period Rail Operations Affected by Incident

Existing Conditions

Trains operate in the same direction on both tracks. No reverse peak service

Trains from Track 1 merge with Track 2, causing delays to both tracks

Proposed Project

Two tracks in same direction and reverse service operates on one.

Track 2 affected by incident.

Reverse peak service held. Peak period trains rerouted to Track 3 to maintain two tracks for peak service direction, minimizing delays to commuters.

How an Incident on the Main Line causes System-wide Delays

For detailed information on the improved rail service of the LIRR Expansion Project, read the Transportation chapter of the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Safer, Quieter Crossings

Modifying grade crossings to enhance safety, ease traffic and reduce noise

The Main Line corridor’s seven street-level railroad crossings currently pose safety risks for drivers, pedestrians, and LIRR customers; cause substantial traffic delays, especially during rush hours; generate noise from bells and train horns at all hours.

The project team has been working hand-in-hand with the villages along the Main Line to develop a unique plan for each grade crossing that meets community needs. LIRR is committed to the modification of all seven crossings, building underpasses at some, while potentially closing others.

  • Horns must be blasted 4 times as trains approach and pass through each street-level crossing. For example, in New Hyde Park, this results in nearly 3,000 horn blasts every day.
  • There have been 24 deaths at the seven Main Line grade crossings since 1980.
  • At the busiest of the seven grade crossings, gates are down up to 24 minutes per hour during the am and pm rush hours causing severe traffic for drivers heading to schools and local jobs.
  • In 2015 alone, gates were struck by vehicles 138 times, causing mandated reductions in train speed and inconvenience for riders.

Proposed New Hyde Park Road Underpass

Proposed Grade Crossing Eliminations

Covert Avenue
S. 12th Street
New Hyde Park Rd.
Main Street
Willis Avenue
School Street
Urban Avenue

For detailed information about the potential grade crossing modifications of the LIRR Expansion Project, read the Project Description chapter of the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Station Improvements & Parking

Improvements to enhance stations and increase parking capacity

Station Improvements & Modifications

The Proposed Project will include various station improvements and modifications in order to accommodate the third track; enhance ADA accessibility; enhance pedestrian access; improve lighting, landscaping and other visual elements; and improve platforms and passenger waiting areas. One major improvement that will facilitate better service will be the lengthening of some station platforms, to allow passengers to disembark from 12-car trains without moving to the front of a train – an exercise that holds trains up at stations every day.

New Parking Facilities

Extensive consultation with local elected officials along the project area has led to Project proposals to add parking modifications throughout the project corridor, including new parking facilities to add spot capacity at Mineola and New Hyde Park Stations.

Proposed Parking Facilities Renderings

For detailed information on the station and parking facilities modifications of the LIRR Expansion Project, read the Project Description chapter of the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Noise Reduction

Significantly reduce noise levels for residents living along the project corridor

Crossing Noise Reduction

Currently, trains are required to blast their horns as they pass through grade crossings, whose gates are accompanied by loudly-ringing bells to warn nearby drivers and pedestrians, at all hours of the day and night. These sounds would be completely eliminated with the elimination of the seven grade crossings along the project corridor.

Noise Walls

Furthermore, the project proposes to build sound walls along the LIRR right-of-way in sections throughout the project corridor, lowering noise levels from passing trains even when they don’t blow their horns.

The noise–reducing benefits of the project’s noise walls will be especially felt after the completion of the MTA’s East Side Access Project, which will cause significantly more trains to pass through the Main Line corridor and is slated for completion in less than a decade.

For detailed information on the potential noise reduction benefits of the LIRR Expansion Project, read the Noise chapter of the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Less Congestion, Cleaner Air

Improving air quality and getting cars off the road.

Improving Our Air Quality

Highway congestion is a major contributor to air pollution. The LIRR Expansion Project will help us all breathe easier by getting more people out of cars and onto mass transit.

  • In 2010, Long Island vehicular traffic, including cars idling at grade crossings, produced nearly 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, or about 30 percent of the entire Island’s greenhouse gas emissions. (Long Island Carbon Footprint Project)
  • A commuter rail trip produces two-thirds less greenhouse gas per mile than a trip made in a single-occupancy vehicle. (MTA 2012 Sustainability Report)
  • The MTA transit network – subway, bus, and commuter rail – saves the region more than 17 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. (MTA 2012 Sustainability Report)
Getting Cars off the Road

By improving the availability and reliability of rail service on the Main Line, we can provide a more attractive alternative to driving. The result will be less congestion on the Long Island Expressway (LIE) and Long Island’s other major thoroughfares. According to the Long Island Index, it would require the equivalent of 10 traffic lanes to carry the daily equivalent of LIRR riders into Penn Station.

  • The LIE, which runs parallel to the Main Line, ranks among the worst in the nation in terms of congestion cost – the value of lost personal time and wasted fuel – at an estimated $150 million annually.
  • The average automobile commuter on Long Island experiences 110 hours of traffic delays every year. This is the equivalent of three 35-hour work weeks, time that could otherwise be spent with family and friends.
  • These delays cost the average commuter 35 extra gallons of gas a year.

For detailed information on the potential air quality and vehicular traffic benefits of the LIRR Expansion Project, read the Air Quality and Transportation chapters of the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Better Jobs, Stronger Economy

Retaining jobs and maintaining Long Island’s economic stability

Retaining and Attracting Talent

Workforce: The ability to attract skilled workers is crucial for Long Island’s economic health. Specialized industries like education, biotechnology and the health sciences – the lifeblood of the Island’s economy– will benefit from an improved mass transit system that connects them to the top talent they need.

Higher Education: More reliable train service will attract students to Long Island colleges and universities and make it more likely they will choose to live and work here after graduation. Today, students and faculty don’t always have the mass transit choices they need to make commuting to school an option. By ending the reverse peak blackout and scheduling better intra-Island service, they’ll be able to get to colleges and universities on their schedule.

Governor Cuomo outlines plans to make Long Island stronger than ever before.

For detailed information about the potential socioeconomic benefits of the LIRR Expansion Project, read the Socioeconomic Conditions chapter of the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement.