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East Side Access

Project Overview

East Side Access is one of the largest transportation infrastructure projects currently underway in the United States. East Side Access provides new, direct LIRR service into a new concourse below Grand Central Terminal on Manhattan’s East Side, reducing commutes into Manhattan by up to 40 minutes. The project encompasses work in multiple locations throughout Manhattan and Queens, and includes more than eight miles of tunneling. 

East Side Access is an integral component of the broader LIRR system expansion initiative to help reduce passenger crowding, train congestion and automobile traffic, and to provide connections with additional regional transportation options such as Metro North Railroad and New York City Transit subways; East Side Access will also alleviate train and passenger congestion at New York Penn Station and its neighboring subway stations. Passengers traveling from Midtown East will enjoy easier access to JFK International Airport via the AirTrain at LIRR’s Jamaica Station. 

When completed, East Side Access will serve approximately 162,000 customers a day, providing them with a faster and easier commute from Long Island and Queens to the east side of Manhattan in a new eight-track terminal and concourse below Grand Central Terminal. 


Project Elements

  • Project teams have excavated the dense bedrock beneath Manhattan and the mixed face soil under Queens to make room for new train tunnels, platforms, service facilities and ventilation and access shafts. Techniques included tunnel boring, cut-and-cover, drilling and blasting. 

  • A new terminal with eight tracks, four passenger platforms, mezzanines and concourses has been constructed. 

  • Teams are building a brand-new 350,000 square foot passenger concourse directly below the lower level of Grand Central Terminal, with 25,000 square feet of new retail space. The focus now is on architectural finishes and final systems testing. 

  • Tracks have been replaced, reconfigured, and modernized from Harold Interlocking in Queens to Grand Central. The complex network of switches and tracks at Harold Interlocking, one of the busiest train interlockings in the U.S., is being reconfigured to improve service and reduce delays. This work will benefit the entire northeast corridor. 

  • New facilities for ventilating the tunnels and concourse and powering trains are being constructed, while existing facilities are being modernized and improved. 

The project is expected to open to the public in December 2022.  

Project Benefits

  • Faster, direct service for Long Island and Queens commuters to the East Side of Manhattan, the densest job hub in North America 

  • Increased rail capacity and reduced passenger crowding on trains, subways and in Penn Station 

  • Better connections to Metro-North Railroad 

  • Reduced automobile traffic and improved air quality in the region 

  • Economic growth and smart, transit-oriented development  

East Side Access map