The long-awaited East Side Access for the Long Island Railroad at Grand Central Terminal has at last opened today after fifteen years of construction and a cost of $11 billion to complete.
Initial service, however, is limited to LIRR trains between Queens and Manhattan on what the MTA is calling the Grand Central Direct shuttle between Jamaica and the new Manhattan station, known as Grand Central Madison.
Full train service to Long Island, MTA officials say, will begin in three weeks. Nassau and Suffolk residents looking for a direct train to Grand Central will have to wait just a little longer.
Commuters can transfer at Jamaica for the shuttle to Grand Central Madison. During peak service, the shuttle stops at Woodside to allow transfers from the Port Washington line.
Fares to and from Grand Central Madison are the same as Penn Station.
First proposed in the 1960s, the East Side Access opens two additional tunnels between Queens and Manhattan. The MTA says this will boost train capacity to the city by 50 percent and improve LIRR service reliability. It expects 45 percent of LIRR commuters to use the Grand Central Madison station, reducing congestion at Penn. The project, the MTA states, will also improve performance along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor which shares the Harold Interlocking with the LIRR.