• The East Side Access Project Discussion (ESA)

  • Discussion of the past and present operations of the Long Island Rail Road.
Discussion of the past and present operations of the Long Island Rail Road.

Moderator: Liquidcamphor

  by photobug56
How can one tell for sure that a train on the PJ branch is direct to or from Penn? I'm referring to trains East of Huntington.

The most popular WB train from PJ arriving 7:20AM (at least in LIRR management fantasies) is, if I'm reading this correctly, is now about 15 minutes later. Only good thing about that is that subway service is usually running a bit better by then. But the train ride officially takes 3 minutes longer. 65 minutes to go 40 miles. If you change at Jamaica, an extra 6 minutes to go to GCT. That's a bit of an improvement for those going to GCT, though one wonders if it will be possible to get a seat on the train to GCT.

There is supposed to be a 2nd direct to Penn from PJ in the morning. If that's the one arriving 9:19, it still comes in too late for most people going to work, but it's ok for shopping before theatre (not that I really care about that).

At any rate, for inbound workers from PJ stations, IF the new times are OK for you, and you are going to GCT, you'll save several minutes.

EB in the PM, I can't tell what's direct. But I can tell that the extremely popular 7:22 from Penn is GONE. And there's a huge gap from 6:34 to 8PM between EB trains from Penn. EB from GCT is beyond pitiful - 7:04, then 9:13, then nothing.

Seems to me that rush hour service to PJ is taking a huge cut. Am I wrong?
  by gamer4616
Direct service to/from Penn for you would have no "J" in the Penn departure time and no "T" east of Huntington.

"J" indicates transfer at Jamaica
"T" indicates transfer at Huntington

Current timetables have the letter "E" to indicate a Hicksville transfer. That seems to be something that will no longer take place, with the new timetables.

So, the draft timetable for December has the following direct trains:

Direct to Penn from Northport
Train 613
Northport 6:29 am
Penn 7:34 am

Train 619
Northport 7:45 am
Penn 8:51 am

Direct from Penn to Northport
Train 660
Penn 4:54 pm
Northport 6:01 pm

Train 664
Penn 5:31 pm
Northport 6:40 pm
  by photobug56
So if, at the time (assuming this holds), people who prefer Penn will be a bit later on the early train in, but for most, not horribly, the 2nd train might work for people who can come in a bit after 9 - not as absurd as the current 'shoppers special' which runs after most people need to be at work.

Big Penn change is PM. The 4:19 'construction workers special' is gone, which considering how empty it often was makes sense. The 4:49 being 5 minutes later out of Penn but arriving at EN about the same time it does now is an improvement, while what was the 4:19 is now at 5:31, a time most would consider reasonable (though I'd prefer about 15 minutes later). So overall not bad for East Northport to Penn unless you miss the 6:34, then a long wait. I have had plenty of times when I took the 7:22, which would go away.

AM 6:29-7:40 decent, 6:51 to 8:03 OK,
PM 5:06 to 6:17 OK, 5:18 to 6:40 slow, 5:51 to 7:05 not as bad, 6:26 to 7:47 slow, 7:04 to 8:26 even slower, then nothing for well over 2 hours. If you miss the 9:13, you are SOOL you have to hope you can get to Penn for the 10:13.

So some big PM gaps or complete lack of trains, and trains that take 1:20 or longer to go 40-45 miles stink - though not as badly as the one train (6:01?) transfer at Hicksville that on a good day takes about 90 minutes for 40 miles.

I'm not going to call this a great schedule, but LIRR is doing their first new schedule for 'real' in a very long time, and fixing some really stupid issues. So I'd like to see some adjustments, but not massive change to this.

FYI, the impression I get from LIRR officials, etc., is that most 'Change at Jamaica' connections will be across the platform. Not up and over (and try not to have a heart attack). Of course, PM, get off a 12 car electric and switch to a 3 car diesel will still be a big problem. One they can't solve because they are so short on rolling stock.

Thanks gamer!
  by gamer4616
Some big changes here.

All West Hempstead trains will not stop at Valley Stream, but will stop at St. Albans. All trains will be direct to western terminals. It looks like they will be direct to Brooklyn (during off-peak/weekends). I like this plan. It prevents congestion in Valley. No more of holding trains while the scoots crosses over multiple tracks. West Hempstead trains are 6 or 8 cars, which will work great for Brooklyn.

It will certainly be interesting. I wonder how busy these GCT trains will be. I wonder how the crowding will be.

I don't like the re-numbering of the trains.
  by Head-end View
That new schedule states that it's just a draft, not the final product. I'm sure there will be revisions both before and after the start of the new service.

Such was the case in 1970-71 when the Huntington electrification service started. A couple of revisions over the first year until the dust settled.
  by photobug56
gamer4616 wrote: Thu Jun 02, 2022 8:45 pm Some big changes here.

All West Hempstead trains will not stop at Valley Stream, but will stop at St. Albans. All trains will be direct to western terminals. It looks like they will be direct to Brooklyn (during off-peak/weekends). I like this plan. It prevents congestion in Valley. No more of holding trains while the scoots crosses over multiple tracks. West Hempstead trains are 6 or 8 cars, which will work great for Brooklyn.

It will certainly be interesting. I wonder how busy these GCT trains will be. I wonder how the crowding will be.

I don't like the re-numbering of the trains.
For me, no idea at this point. I'm currently job hunting. My most recent position was just north of GCT. so this overall would have let me get up a bit later (I have taken the 6:18-7:20) for many years. It would usually pull into Penn about 7:23 - just late enough to miss the 1, 2, or 3 train I'd need, at that time to 42nd, thus adding 5- to 30 minutes to the trip depending on how messed up the IRT was that morning. On a decent day, I'd get into my office by 8AM. The gig change here is avoiding that subway rat race along with the subway fare. PM, I sometimes went to HPA, but in extreme weather, that was a PITA, the rotted out platform was scary, and the super high steps up and over, snow never cleared up above in winter, difficult, so I usually went to Penn, but usually couldn't make the 4:49. It was absurd that both direct PJ trains were before most people got out of work, so the Penn side is better than it was. And having the choice of leaving my building, walking to the corner, going down into the terminal versus the subway, again a big improvement. That the trains tend to be slow takes away (depending on when I go home) from the 2 governors time savings claim. But if my next job is near GCT I will absolutely use it.

Of course, who wants to commute when their work is better done remotely? I don't mind a couple days a week going in, though. In fact, I like working just north of GCT because I like GCT itself, and one can find affordable food on Lex or just off it.

The funny part is that if I need to use Penn, the commute gets a bit better than I'm used to. I didn't expect that. But - if I have to work late, that could be painful.
  by MattW
Pensyfan19 wrote: Thu Jun 02, 2022 5:06 pm Draft timetables have been released for ESA!

As expected, no direct GCT service to Port Jeff or Oyster Bay, with transfers available at Jamaica and Huntington.

https://new.mta.info/agency/long-island ... /schedules
Unless the LIRR suddenly went in with DEMUs or some kind of turbine package mentioned a few posts back (real or railfan idea?), it's physically impossible, right?
  by photobug56
Back in the mid 1990's, LIRR, knowing what could fit in the decades old and unused 63rd Street tunnel, chose to order equipment for diesel country that was about 3 inches too tall for the tunnel. I'm not guessing, they told me this during a 1996 tour of that tunnel. The officials who told me this had no explanation. Now, while it would make for less headroom, etc., some double deckers (and locos) have been made that would fit. This was a choice. At some point I came up with a reason - maybe correct, maybe not. At least one 'retired on the job' LIRR president had, in his rather feeble brain, concluded that everything east of Rt. 110 was still farm country, and other than farmers bring their goods to market, there wasn't much need for service in diesel country. Same guy who wanted to put a yard east of 110 to improve service to Huntington, but by so doing lessen service farther east on the PJ line. He actually told me this in person at a public hearing. I just don't know if this was part of the DD decision making.

I believe they could find equipment that would fit ESA. I also believe they don't want to, that they still consider diesel country passengers to be a nuisance. Maybe slightly less than they used to given that they propose to fix the EB direct PJ trains both running while people are still at work.

But either way, for years, LIRR has not taken diesel country commuters seriously. Even now, I just noticed that the proposed schedule has nothing inbound from 4:26 to 8:01 PM. Earlier service is about 90 minutes apart. The problems with that; 1. Stony Brook University students get extremely poor service, 2. If EB rush hour you miss your stop (remember when train crews didn't make announcements past Jamaica?) there is nothing coming back for hours, 3. if you need to go into the city outside of morning rush, service is quite rare.
  by checkmatechamp13
I think the issue is that they are only showing the trains that directly connect to the Port Jefferson trains within a certain amount of time. (For example, the 8:16pm out of Huntington is shown as connecting with the 7:04pm out of Grand Central. However, if somebody wanted to travel directly out of Penn Station and connect at Huntington, they would have to take the 6:46pm out of Penn, which isn't shown. If somebody were willing to transfer twice, they would have to take the 7:02pm out of Penn (or the 6:57pm to give a more reasonable cushion) and then transfer to that Huntington electric train which leaves Jamaica at 7:25pm and arrives in Huntington at 8:10pm). Given that they don't know whether a particular passenger wants to restrict themselves to transferring once or twice (or how much cushion they want to allow themselves), they just show the trains that directly connect at Jamaica or Huntington.

For the 8:09pm train out of GCT, the corresponding train is the 8:01pm out of Penn Station. For the 10:13pm out of Penn, the corresponding train is the 10:09pm out of GCT (or the 10:05pm for extra cushion). The 11:46pm Huntington train is actually out of GCT, not Penn Station (the Port Jefferson West and City Terminal Zones both show that train leaving from GCT, not Penn Station). The corresponding train is either the 11:13pm from Penn Station to Huntington, or the 11:35pm from Penn Station with a connection at Jamaica.
  by photobug56
One might conclude that whoever did this had no clue what they were doing in terms of presenting a clear view of what service would be like to people reading the draft, or they somehow expected that people would be willing to look at multiple schedules to figure it out. At least from the way I see it. I'm used to reading 'branch' schedules where I can get a fairly complete view. For instance, the PJ branch or line, Penn (and eventually GCT) to not EITHER Huntington or Port Jeff but both. Depending on where one lives, one might need, for instance, PM service to either Huntington or some station farther east. I normally go from and to East Northport, but say I'm at work late, or have a post work event (I might go to a 'seminar' that runs from say, 3PM to 6:30 or 7PM. So I'd typically go for the now going away 7:22, transfer to PJ at Huntington. Or, if I couldn't make that, a train to Huntington where my spouse could pick me up if that was our only viable choice. It takes looking at 2 separate schedule sets to figure out that I'd sort of still have the same choice. IMHO, very poor presentation - showing these differently than people are used to seeing really doesn't work well. For me to evaluate how this works for me I need one joint schedule.

The web page also states that there are no train connections at Jamaica. I don't know what to make of that.

I also noticed that HPA will have very limited service in either direction - at least according to these schedules, so I'm probably wrong in saying that. We all know that if one takes a train from HPA to Jamaica, sooner or later there will be a connection, official or not, to a viable eb train. Easy to misunderstand, but I think THIS is an old problem.
  by checkmatechamp13
I think one of the issues is that they're trying to make the schedules more like Metro-North schedules (where the outer branches are shown separately). The issue with that of course is that Metro-North is still based out of only one terminal, whereas the LIRR has multiple. They seem to think the general idea is that you can plan your trip as far as Jamaica, and then you can use the City Terminal Zone schedule to figure out the connections to/from your exact city terminal destination.

Also, a quick analysis of connection times between NYP & GCT trains:

During a typical off-peak period:

The Port Washington-Grand Central train arrives at Woodside on the :16s and the next train to Penn Station is on the :32s (Ronkonkoma train)

The Port Washington-Penn Station train arrives at Woodside on the :44s and the next train to Penn Station is on the :55s (Babylon train)

Outbound, the Penn Station-Port Washington Branch arrives at Woodside on the :28s, so you need to take a Ronkonkoma train from Grand Central that arrives on the :13s (:11s on the weekends)

Outbound, the Grand Central-Port Washington Branch arrives at Woodside on the :56s, so you need to take a Babylon train from Penn Station that arrives on the :49s (:44s on the weekends)

So long story short, it's a 7-16 minute connection (9-21 minute on weekends) depending on the destination and direction you are going.

For those on the branches passing through Jamaica, the longest weekday connections I see inbound are from the BTA-GCT trains at :11 to the RON-NYP trains at :24, the RON-NYP trains at :24 to the HUN-GCT trains at :40, and the RON-GCT trains at :55 to the HUN-NYP trains at :07

For outbound Far Rockaway riders who wish to travel from Penn Station, they are actually better off taking a Port Washington Branch train and making the connection at Woodside (7 minute wait), rather than Jamaica (16 minute wait from a Huntington train, or 10 minute wait from a Babylon train, depending on the exact timeframe). On weekends, the Far Rockaway trains come from Penn Station (arriving at Jamaica on the :45s), so the connections are Babylon trains that arrive 10 minutes prior.

Other than that, the longest weekday connection I see is from the NYP-LBH trains at :13 to the GCT-RON trains at :23.

On weekends, the longest inbound waits I see are from BTA-GCT train at :12 to a RON-NYP train at :24, from a BTA-NYP train at :33 to a HUN-GCT train at :43, and from a RON-GCT train at :57 to a HUN-NYP train at :09

The longest outbound waits I see on the weekends are from a GCT-Babylon local at :35 to the NYP-Babylon semi-express at :54 (in other words, if you want to take the semi-express, just take it straight from Penn Station, or take the subway to Jamaica to catch it). That GCT-Babylon local also connects with the NYP-RON train at :51, and the NYP-FRY train at :45. The other long wait is from a NYP-BTA train at :09 to the GCT-RON train at :21. All of the other connections as far as I see (except those late at night) are 10 minutes or less.
  by photobug56
I think that as LIRR riders see these they will freak out due to the presentation causing confusion. I'm trying to get word to MTA that they need to reissue these the way LIRR riders are used to seeing them. We have multiple western points - GCT, HPA, NYP and Brooklyn. I get that Brooklyn is separate, though I don't think some people will be that charitable, but it is different in that it has 'through' service. Unlike some here, most people don't want to have to look at multiple schedules to figure whether these schedules will work for them, and even if one does, it's easy to get it wrong.
Everyone - After downloading and reviewing a group of these proposed new LIRR schedules -
I noticed that they are in a MNCR typeface format - This may be from the influence of Acting LIRR President
Catherine Rinaldi - and a subtle way of unification for the LIRR and MNCR with the opening of GCT-Madison...

Weekday Peak hours are (again-as they should be) shaded in the branch line timetable color...
Good change from the repetitive "Peak AM" or "Peak PM" that the LIRR has used since the late 1990s -
Shaded areas denoting peak hours were used in LIRR timetables from the mid 90s on back to when
Off Peak fare options on the LIRR began with the September 1, 1975 fare increase...

I believe that the reason that the MTA released these drafts six months in advance is to make riders aware that
these schedule changes are going to be some of the most significant in LIRR history with the opening of ESA and
the completion of the Main Line Third Track Project - getting feedback from those interested such as our Forum
members is the way to get ideas of what will and what may not work for LIRR commuters going forward...

I figured that there would be some sort of "balance" of trains that run to Penn Station and GCT-Madison on a
percentage basis - and this is going to be a very delicate topic trying to get a good number of trains serving the
two major Manhattan terminals at times that will be convenient for the vast majority of LIRR riders...
No matter what the LIRR does there are going to be some that are not going to like the new schedule -
As the saying goes "You can not please everyone all of the time"...

Gamer - The proposed West Hempstead Branch timetable is very interesting taking note to the hourly service to
Brooklyn - running alongside more frequent shuttles to/from Jamaica Platform F...This gives the WH Branch the
western terminal that it distinctly needs - another thought is to try and schedule a percentage of trains from the
Far Rockaway and Hempstead Branches to and from Brooklyn to keep those traditional routings intact...

CMC - The LIRR has traditionally always been an EASTBOUND and WESTBOUND railroad - and has NEVER officially
used the dreaded generic terms "inbound" and "outbound" - I noticed in these MNCR-style drafts those terms
in the new pages - what should be used is: "EASTBOUND TO (DESTINATION)" and "WESTBOUND TO NEW YORK"
in the colored blocks at the top of the respective Branch timetables - which is something that I will mention when
comments about these new MNCR-type timetable formats are accepted by the MTA...
As an added thought - Since the middle 1990s LIRR Branch timetables have used the words "Eastbound" pointing
to the right and "Westbound" pointing to the left in triangles as a good reminder of travel directions...

The three letter codes for Branch Line terminals should be as noted - or using two letter codes for eastern station
names that have been (in some cases) previously used:
Babylon: BA or BAB (BTA makes NO sense to represent "Babylon" - There is NO "T")
Brentwood: BW or BWD*
East Williston: EW or EWL
Farmingdale: FD or FDL
Far Rockaway: FR or FRK
Freeport: FP or FPT*
Great Neck: GN or GNK*
Greenport: GP or GPT*
Hempstead: HP or HEM*
Long Beach: LB or LBH*
Massapequa: MQ or MPQ
Montauk: MK or MTK*
Oyster Bay: OB or OBY*
Port Jefferson: PJ or PJF
Port Washington: PW or PWA
Ronkonkoma: RK or RON* (the use of "KO" might confuse some people...)
Southampton: SH or SHM
Speonk: SK or SPK*
Wantagh: WG or WGH*
West Hempstead: WH or WHM
(*The three letter code is the same as my own thought BEFORE they were fully reviewed...)

The proposed LIRR schedules subject is going to be a major discussion on its own right and should be a separate
topic - as GEICO recently started - from the ESA pages as the drafts are reviewed and changes made in the coming
months in the anticipation of their implementation (optimistically) in December 2022...MACTRAXX
  by photobug56
From what I gather they only planned to start talking about schedules later this summer but were under huge pressure to say what they were thinking sooner rather than later. Ms. Rinaldi and the 'PR' rep were apparently getting bombarded with complaints about the ongoing either secrecy or what seemed putting off planning until the last minute. From my view, I'd made repeated requests just to know how diesel country to GCT transfers would be made, and all I was told - until the other day, was that they were thinking about it.

Having said that, despite their major screwup in making the schedules hard to follow by not showing them in full branch schedule format (as we've had for decades), that they made an effort, for the first time in a long time, to fix major problems in the schedules - for the most part.

But one odd part - officially, so far they've only posted one opportunity for public comment, a 2 hour session in July, that will likely have 10 times as that worth of would be commenters. No official way to just post comments on the website, or email them in. I suspect there will be a lot of pressure to open this up. But judging from past 'efforts' to elicit public opinion, I'm not optimistic. That's because, in the late 1990's, they did focus groups at Hillside for the design of the C3's, including the use of a mockup. My experience is that they boiled down the comments from those participating, and did just the opposite on every issue. MAYBE they've gotten better since.
  by photobug56
One other note. In 1996, LIRR setup a citizen's advisory committee / task force to advise them on ESA. I'd been a Manhattan Community Board member heavily involved in transit issues, and after moving to Long Island had developed LIRR management connections, and was appointed to this group. Only real event was a tour of the empty LIRR 63rd Street tunnel. As I recall, I could hear subway trains on the fairly newly opened line from the other level of the tunnel. I think that many of us had all sorts of questions. Then I never heard from them again, though I do have a souvenir they gave out that day somewhere. My impression was that they realized that having outside opinions might get in the way of what they wanted to do.
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