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East Side Access

East Side Access is the MTA’s largest capital project. The finished project will provide Long Island Rail Road riders with 40 miles of new tracks, a new terminal beneath Grand Central, and the modernization of the busiest intersection of passenger train lines in North America.
Updated Jun 21, 2022
An escalator in a train station

Details

  • Location
    Manhattan, Queens
  • Type
    System Expansion
  • Status
    Construction

Area Map

40.752726213685, -73.9772294

Timeline

Pre-Planning
  • 1998: Decision made to complete the East Side Access project
Planning
  • 2001: Environmental Impact Statement approved
Construction
  • 2001: Construction began
  • 2007: Tunneling construction began in Manhattan and Queens
Completion
  • December 2022: LIRR service to Grand Central Madison will open to the public

About the project

By the end of 2022, Long Island Rail Road service to Manhattan's east side will become a reality.

The culmination of the East Side Access project will be the opening of Grand Central Madison, a new terminal along Madison Avenue between 43rd and 48th streets that will accommodate LIRR trains. This new service from Long Island to Grand Central will save commuters up to 40 minutes of travel time per day.

Approximately 45% of Long Island Rail Road commuters are expected to go to Grand Central Madison, so there will be less crowding at Penn Station and the surrounding subway lines. The new service to Grand Central will increase peak hour capacity, and — in combination with the Double Track and LIRR Expansion Project — will make true reverse commuting between Manhattan and Long Island a reality.

When the project is complete, trains at Harold Interlocking, a railroad junction that serves both Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road, will be able to pass through more efficiently. This will benefit travelers all along the Northeast Corridor. The project will also expand and strengthen the regional rail network, protecting it from future transportation crises.

Project benefits

  • A direct connection for all 11 LIRR lines to Grand Central Terminal and Midtown East

  • A new, 350,000-square-foot terminal with spacious waiting areas, retail and restaurants, real-time departure information, and free Wi-Fi

  • Over 160,000 passengers per day will save as much as 40 minutes on their trips

  • Two new tunnels that will increase train capacity to and from Manhattan by 50%

  • Less crowding at Penn Station

  • Improvements to and expansion of Harold Interlocking, a critical piece of the Northeast Corridor

A map of the East Side Access project area