LIRR: Ronkonkoma Line’s Second Track Project Will Bring Better Service

RONKONKOMA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Congestion relief may be coming to a major branch of the Long Island Rail Road.

As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, 48,000 commuters ride the Long  Island Rail Road’s Ronkonkoma line each weekday and commuters say at times it isn’t a pleasant ride.

“It gets crowded later on in the day and everyone is pushing,” said commuter Giusppe Carrieri.

“There’s always delays on the Long Island Rail Road,” said commuter Susan Wright.

On Thursday, the LIRR announced an upgrade to improve service.

“This line was built 170 years ago. But it wasn’t until 1988 that it was actually electrified. In the intervening time, the ridership on this branch has doubled,” said LIRR President Pat Nowakowski.

And now, 27 years later the railroad is rolling out a $388 million double track project to add an 18-mile line of track to the busy Ronkonkoma branch.

“It’s something that’s long overdue,” said  State Sen. Thomas Croci.

Long Island business leader Kevin Law was among the dozens of dignitaries on hand for the construction groundbreaking.

“The Long Island Rail Road is one of our greatest assets here. Whether you use the railroad or not, we all benefit from it,” he told WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs.

Currently, there is only one track between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, which means if a train becomes disabled or something goes wrong on the tracks, there is no alternative route. All other trains both east and west have no way around the problem, causing major delays.

“One time we were thinking we had to take a bus maybe because it got stuck somewhere or there was an accident. That was a little scary because it was late at night and it was my wife and I,” said Joe Papagi.

Trains now run about once an hour but with the addition of the new track, trains will run more frequently.

Riders said the additional service can’t come soon enough.

“It’s really exciting. It’s actually going to be making commuting a lot easier,” said Carrieri.

“Then I can get to the city faster instead of having to wait every hour,” said Jason Woods.

Once the second track is installed, half-hourly service will be provided during off-peak times and weekends, Baker reported.

But the project is far from complete. The LIRR expects to finish the second track project by 2019.

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