In a press conference on Tuesday morning, held in the almost-completed 700,000-square-foot Long Island Rail Road terminal below Grand Central Terminal, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the complex would be open for rail service to Long Island by the end of this year.
And the terminal will have a new name — Grand Central Madison, which notes the subterranean positioning beneath Grand Central Terminal and Madison Avenue. Long Island Rail Road train service to the new terminal represents the largest expansion of service in 112 years since Pennsylvania Station opened on September 8, 1910.
Train riders will be able to directly enter to and from Madison Avenue. This new terminal is the largest passenger rail terminal to be built in the United States since the 1950s.
Grand Central Madison will be devoid of Amtrak and NJ Transit, and less liable to service disruptions by other non-MTA operators, which will mean fewer delays. With a new location, the Long Island Rail Road will be updating their schedules, which currently reflect commuter patterns of thirty years ago. Draft schedules will be available to the general public months before the new service starts, according to LIRR Interim President Catherine Rinaldi.
“Grand Central Madison will be a game-changer for Long Island,” Hochul said, “allowing the LIRR to dramatically expand service and operate more reliably for commuters, and reducing overcrowding at Penn Station.” The expectations is that most trains will still terminate at Penn Station, but a large minority will end at the new terminal.
“Boon for the East Side”
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney indicated that the new service would further increase total ridership as New York’s economy returns. She originally backed the project for federal funding with former Senator Alfonse D’Amato in 1995.
“Grand Central Madison will be a huge boon for the East Side in addition to alleviating congestion at Penn Station,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “This terminal and the increased service also incentivize less car travel to Manhattan, which is a win for the environment and quality of life.”
The culmination of an idea that began soon after Grand Central Terminal was completed in 1913, a serious discussion of a link between Long Island and the East Side started in 1969, with a proposed terminal at East 48th and Third, only to be thrown out by local East Side neighbors. After fits and starts, planning started in 2001, with construction six years later.
At a question and answer session for the media following the briefing, one reporter asked about the project’s viability in a post-pandemic NYC.
Hochul, without missing a beat, replied: “Build it and they will come.”