NEW YORK (CBSNewYOrk) — A plan that could bring Metro-North service and thousands of commuters to Penn Station is pitting commuters against Long Island Railroad advocates.

Co-op city resident Mark Vargas can’t even talk about his daily commute to Manhattan without getting aggravated.

“You got to take the bus to the train and it’s kind of difficult when it’s kind of cold,” he told CBS 2’s Ann Mercogliano. “It’s nice to have another option.”

Vargas is rooting for a plan that would build a Metro-North station not far from where he lives and bring some Metro-North trains into Penn Station.

“I’m all for it, anything that gets us quicker to work,” he said.

It’s part of the Penn Station Access Study. Some of the study’s highlights include the Metro-North joining the LIRR, Amtrak and NJ Transit in sharing 21 existing tracks at Penn Station and construction of new stations, including four in the Bronx and two on Manhattan’s West Side – all at a cost of $1.2 billion.

It’s a study that’s been in the works for years, but seems to be gaining momentum.

MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota claims it’s on his radar, saying “I think the opportunity to view the MTA as one MTA…it’s a great goal to have, so I’m going to look at it.”

While many commuters told us they’d like to see this go ahead, advocates of the LIRR say they’re not so sure a plan like that could work.

“The Long Island Railroad is at maximum capacity at Penn Station. There’s no room to fit any additional trains in there,” said Gerry Bringmann of the LIRR Commuter Council.

While advocates are gearing up for East Side access into Grand Central Terminal, they fear adding another train service to Penn Station still won’t add up, even when that project is completed.

“Penn Station is maxed out,” said Bringman.

MTA officials admit the plan is controversial, but say the study is not off the table.

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Comments (3)
  1. VY says:

    Additional tracks at Penn Station could be dug out on the north side of track 21 under 34th Street adding between 2 and 4 teacks serviced, each set of 2 tracks serviced by a center platform.
    Eiter way, the LIRR will shift 8 to 10 of it’s Penn Station rush hour trains to the new Grand Central service, plus and additional 15 to 20 trains per hour added service into Grand Central.
    This means the LIRR will go from 35 to 40 trains an hour into Penn Station during rush hour to 60 trains an hour, half to Penn Station and half to Grand Central.
    That’s basically a 50% increase in total Manhattan rush hour service.
    The track space opened up by moving 8 to 10 rush our trains from Penn to Grand Central can be used by Metro North to add New Haven Line service and Hudson Line Service into Penn.
    The 4 railroads that will be using Penn will have to closely cooperate in order to use the limited space.

  2. Glenn Makoushinski says:

    Raze the darn thing down and rebuild a new Penn Station to fit more people and trains! It’s not like it wasn’t done before…

    1. The Realist says:

      The “envelope” of Penn Station is fixed. The ONLY way to fit more tracks is to rip out the platforms, which would defeat the purpose of having trains there.

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