Merging the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) with the region’s other commuter rail systems is vital to supporting growth and improving access to jobs in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, according to a new report published Wednesday.
The report from nonprofit Regional Plan Association details an ambitious, 30-year proposal to join the LIRR with Metro-North and New Jersey Transit, bringing crosstown rail service from New Jersey through Long Island, and eventually adding 60 new stations and more than 200 new or reactivated track miles for a new rail system called the “Trans-Regional Express” (T-REX). The RPA report describes the proposal as “one of the largest public works projects undertaken since the early 20th century.” RPA estimates the costs for the project to be at $71.4 billion, or $2.4 billion per year if the plan could actually be built out in 30 years.
The three railroads combined offer 390 stations and over 2,000 miles of track, making it the nation’s largest and widest reaching commuter rail system. Marrying them together, the report said, would be the last step of a three-phase approach to creating the T-REX.
The first proposed phase would aim to create the crosstown commute from New Jersey to Long Island and a new hub at 31st Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan. The RPA believes tracks could be extended beyond Penn Station South, with two tubes extending under the East River out east to Queens. When completed, there would be three new train services with three new core commuting lines through the heart of the city that fan out through the region.
On Long Island, the RPA calls for more consistent off-peak and reverse-commute service. The proposal would require a fifth track on the LIRR mainline in Queens, between Winfield Junction and Jamaica Station. And to reduce demand on the mainline, two low-ridership branches would be converted to light-rail service that runs more frequently but will require a transfer to the main rail system.
Source: AM New York