LIRR’s new Manhattan terminal means more trains from Brooklyn, but most will be Jamaica shuttles

June 6, 2022 Raanan Geberer
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When the Long Island Rail Road’s long-awaited new East Side terminal adjacent to Grand Central opens, there will be more trains to and from the LIRR’s Brooklyn terminal at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues — but fewer of them will be through-trains to and from Long Island.

The addition of LIRR service to the new Grand Central platforms (now known as Grand Central Madison), which would provide Manhattan riders with an alternative to Penn Station, has been on the drawing board since the late 1960s. The first test train rode into the station, with Gov. Kathy Hochul aboard, in October, and as of now, the official opening of the new connection is scheduled for December. 

As far as Brooklyn service is concerned, the arrival of new service into Manhattan is a mixed blessing. A statement from the MTA points out that “train frequencies in Brooklyn are also increasing, with five trains per hour during the peak periods (a train roughly every 12 minutes) and three trains per hour during off-peak periods (a train every 20 minutes).”

In addition, all trains will stop at the two Brooklyn stations in between Atlantic Terminal and Jamaica — Nostrand Avenue and East New York. In general, Brooklyn trains will be more evenly spaced than they are today, the MTA says.

Current timetables show that during peak periods, there are four trains per hour during off-peak periods; and two per hour (in a few cases, three) during off-peak periods. At the present time, some trains, especially during peak hours, skip Nostrand Avenue and East New York.

On the other hand, most trains will be shuttles that operate between Jamaica and Brooklyn, although there will be limited through-service during peak hours to and from Freeport, Hempstead and West Hempstead, and one through-train per hour to West Hempstead during off-peak hours. 

The entrance to the Long Island Rail Road’s Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, also known as Flatbush Avenue. Wikipedia photo by Ajay Suresh

This means that the majority of Brooklyn LIRR riders will have to change at Jamaica — something that many do already, although commuters don’t necessarily look forward to changing trains at that crowded, busy Queens transit hub.

The new schedule would end at least two popular summer through-service options for Brooklyn LIRR riders — to and from Long Beach and Far Rockaway. 

On the other hand, the LIRR still advertises Brooklyn “destination packages” for Long Island residents who want to visit the borough to see the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and Luna Park in Coney Island.

The MTA emphasizes that the proposed new schedules are still only draft schedules. The transit agency plans to hold three virtual information sessions on the new timetables, on June 23, June 30 and July 7, all between 6 and 7 p.m.

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