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LIRR Announces Six Express Trains Included in Port Washington Branch Revised Grand Central Madison Draft Timetables

Long Island Rail Road
Updated September 28, 2022 9:15 p.m.
Port Washington Branch Press Conference
Port Washington Branch Press Conference(Photo: Glen Sager / MTA Long Island Rail Road)

North Hempstead Officials Agree to Need for Additional Space in Port Washington Yard


MTA Long Island Rail Road Interim President Catherine Rinaldi today was joined by Senator Anna M. Kaplan and Assemblymember Gina L. Sillitti to announce that the LIRR has released revised draft timetables for the Port Washington Branch. Following comments received during public review of the first draft timetables released in June, the revised draft timetables include three morning and three evening rush hour Penn Station express trains serving Port Washington, Plandome, Manhasset and Great Neck. They accompany a recognition by North Hempstead officials for construction of additional track space in the Port Washington Yard to allow for more expansive growth of train service on the branch in the future.

“I am pleased that our service planners were able to find ways to create express service within the envelope of existing train and track capacity constraints,” said Long Island Rail Road Interim President and Metro-North Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi. “The true key to the addition of future service increases is expanding track capacity at Port Washington Yard. The Town of North Hempstead has committed to work with Senator Kaplan and Assemblymember Sillitti to advance this long sought-after project that is the bottleneck to having more service on the branch.”

Senator Anna M. Kaplan said: “When the MTA proposed cutting our express train service on the north shore, I asked my neighbors to join me in speaking out by making their voices heard—and boy did they! Thousands of residents in this community have spoken up about the impact of the proposed cuts on their daily lives, and today, the MTA has heard us, and taken action to address our concerns. I applaud the MTA and LIRR for working to ensure our community still has express train service to Penn Station even after Grand Central Madison opens this winter, but there is still more to be done to ensure our communities get the level of service we need and deserve. It’s time to get the long-derailed Port Washington Yard expansion project back on track to ensure that we can build on today’s announcement and deliver even more express train service down the road. I’m calling for the MTA and the Town of North Hempstead to find a path forward without further delay.”

Assemblymember Gina L. Sillitti said: "I want to say THANK YOU to the commuters, residents, and community leaders who stepped up and made their voices heard. You helped to make these changes possible. When the draft timetables were released at the beginning of the summer, I listened to the thousands of commuters who were outraged to see the elimination of the express trains. After thousands of public comments, three packed public hearings, and hours of testimony, I am grateful that the MTA and the LIRR heard the concerns and restored express train service back to the Port Washington Line. There is still more work to be done, but I am hopeful that we will see further improvements."

Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena said: “Today is a great day for the residents of the Town of North Hempstead! The MTA has heard our voices loud and clear and planned cuts to our express service have been abandoned ahead of the implementation of the new timetable this winter. Thank you to Interim LIRR President Cathy Rinaldi for meeting with me and my team over the last few months, listening to our feedback, and finding ways to compromise so we can all find a solution in the best interest of the residents. I look forward to discussions continuing between the Town and the MTA regarding future improvements at the Port Washington Station.” 

Town of North Hempstead Councilmember Mariann Dalimonte said: “Thank you to Senator Kaplan, Assemblywoman Sillitti, Governor Hochul and President Catherine Rinaldi for delivering what our residents so desperately needed. After multiple information sessions and countless comments from the public, New York State heard us loud and clear. The people of Port Washington have enjoyed express train services for decades, and the thought of losing those trains was shocking – so we are naturally pleased to announce today that service is being restored. We at the Town look forward to continuing our dialogue with the MTA about the expansion of the Port Washington train station, and we are committed to developing pragmatic solutions that will best serve the residents in our communities.”

Town of North Hempstead Councilmember Veronica Lurvey said: "Thank you to President Catherine Rinaldi for listening and working to develop a pragmatic solution that will best serve the residents. A huge thank you to Senator Anna Kaplan and Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti for your leadership and your diligent work to resolve this extremely important issue for the residents of the Town of North Hempstead. Express trains are essential to so many of my constituents. My colleagues in government and I fought hard for the return of express train service, and I am thrilled with today’s announcement.

Morning Rush Hour: 36% Service Increase Includes Three Express Trains

Under the revised draft timetables, three express trains stopping only at Plandome, Manhasset and Great Neck before running express to Penn Station with no intermediate stops would depart Port Washington at 7:14 a.m., 7:54 a.m. and 8:28 a.m. The trains quicken trip times by up to nine minutes from all four stations compared to earlier draft timetables released in June.

The revised draft timetables’ overall morning rush hour service includes 15 trains arriving in Manhattan between 6:16 a.m. and 9:51 a.m., up 36% from the current 11 that arrive at Penn Station between 6:21 a.m. and 9:34 a.m. The proposed rush hour arrivals include six trains arriving at Grand Central Madison between 6:37 a.m. and 9:20 a.m. and nine arriving at Penn Station between 6:16 a.m. and 9:51 a.m.

Afternoon/Evening Rush Hour: 43% Service Increase Includes Three Express Trains

The LIRR is proposing to schedule three afternoon/evening rush hour trains departing Penn Station at 4:16 p.m., 5:52 p.m. and 6:25 p.m. The trains would make only a single intermediate stop at Bayside before then running express again to Great Neck, Manhasset, Plandome and Port Washington.

Overall afternoon/evening rush hour service would include 20 trains departing Manhattan between 4:06 p.m. and 7:43 p.m., a 43% increase from the current 14 that depart Penn Station between 4:21 p.m. and 7:49 p.m. The proposed rush hour departures include 10 trains departing Grand Central Madison between 4:06 p.m. and 7:43 p.m., and 10 trains that depart Penn Station between 4:16 p.m. and 7:35 p.m.

Port Washington Branch Timetables Boost Overall Service 14% from Current Levels

Despite the lack of increased space to store trains at the Port Washington Yard, the revised draft Port Washington Branch timetables include 10 more trains each weekday than current timetables, increasing service by 14% to 103 trains per day. On weekends, the timetables add five trains per day, to 81 trains each Saturday and Sunday, up 16% from the 76 that operate currently. 

The LIRR’s new east side terminal at Grand Central Madison is allowing the LIRR to add nearly 275 trains per weekday, increasing service 41% systemwide and saving up to 40 minutes per day for customers traveling to the east side.

The length of time LIRR trains will need to reach Grand Central – known to service planners as running time – is the same as it is to Penn Station.

The Long Island Rail Road has committed to monitor travel patterns and train capacity after opening and make adjustments as necessary.

Final schedules are expected to be released this fall.