New LIRR terminal can be opened despite missing security function: Feds

A new Long Island Rail Road station may open at Grand Central Terminal next month after federal authorities granted a waiver of a safety rule that requires specific technology that prevents train crashes, but which LIRR leaders say is unnecessary, has learned The Post.

Federal authorities are allowing the East Side Access Tunnel — which brings trains from Long Island to Midtown — to open without installing “hazard detector” technology, which automatically stops Amtrak trains before they can accidentally get on the tracks, for the new $11 billion Grand Central Madison terminal.

Local officials say the technology isn’t needed because the new tunnel and station already have several safeguards in place to prevent oversized Amtrak trains from accidentally going the wrong way. The technology will eventually be added after the station opens.

“When an Amtrak train carrying oversized rolling stock is headed toward the [Grand Central Madison] tunnel, there are a number of redundant safeguards in place to prevent this train from entering the tunnel,” safety authorities wrote to FRA. “Fulfilling LIRR’s request is in the public interest and consistent with railway safety.”

Kathy Hochul in a hard hat
Governor Kathy Hochul has toured the facility several times since taking office last year.
Michael Dalton
reg.  MTA CEO Andrew Cuomo and Janno Lieber walk down an escalator in hard hats and safety vests
The project has gone through several governors since its inception in 2008.
Stephen Yang

The LIRR has until February 15 to integrate hazard detection into its onboard train computers, FRA said.

“We received the FRA waiver as expected, as the LIRR train control system already has features that prevent oversized trains from entering the east side tunnels,” MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said in a statement.

New York began building East Side Access in 2007. The project was originally supposed to cost $2.2 billion — a fifth of the final price.

The new Grand Central Madison terminal, which runs along Madison Avenue, is 150 feet underground. According to the heads of state, it will increase the capacity of the LIRR by 45 percent.

a train platform in Grand Central Madison
The platforms at Grand Central Madison are 150 feet underground.
Stephen Yang

LIRR Commuter Council Chair Gerard Bringmann said he was confident the MTA could meet the FRA’s February deadline.

“Regulations provide for safety redundancies – like a belt with suspenders – and we’re confident that in anticipation of the extra work, service can start with the systems that are now in place,” Bringmann said. “With this waiver, we hope to allow LIRR riders to arrive in Grand Central in good time before the end of the year.” New LIRR terminal can be opened despite missing security function: Feds


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