The second section of third track on the Long Island Rail Road is complete, as viewed from Merillon Avenue, on Tuesday, Aug 30, 2022. (Marc A. Hermann / MTA)

New Section of Track Between Merillon Avenue and Mineola Gives LIRR More Flexibility During Disruptions 

LIRR Main Line Expansion Project Is on Schedule and $100 Million Below Budget 

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced the opening of the 2.5-mile second section of the Long Island Rail Road’s new Main Line third track between the Merillon Avenue and Mineola stations. 

“Just two weeks after opening the first section of the Third Track, we’re celebrating the next step in the MTA’s historic, multi-billion dollar investment into the Long Island Rail Road,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “Third Track, along with Grand Central Madison opening later this year, will allow the LIRR to increase its service by 40%, boosting Long Island’s economy for generations to come.” 

“Extending the Third Track to Mineola means customers along the Ronkonkoma, Port Jefferson/Huntington and Oyster Bay branches will see faster and more reliable service,” said LIRR Interim President and Metro-North Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi. “This project not only benefits commuters but provides modern amenities, including dozens of station enhancements, and economic opportunities for the communities we serve.” 

“We’ve been able to deliver this project on time and under budget while continuing to run service for Long Islanders returning to public transit,” said MTA Construction & Development President Jamie Torres-Springer. “Third Track will be a model going forward for how the MTA can deliver benefits for our customers better, faster and cheaper.” 

In addition to the additional track, the project included Mineola area elements, such as the elimination of the Willis Avenue and Main Street grade crossings, completion of the Mineola Harrison garage and replacement of the Mineola substation and motor generator.   

The LIRR Main Line Expansion Project is a major part of an unprecedented multi-billion dollar investment in 100 projects to transform and modernize the Long Island Rail Road that also includes the opening of service to Grand Central Madison this year, construction of a more spacious Penn Station LIRR Concourse and a new entrance at 33rd Street, renewal and upgrading of 36 stations and 17 bridges, elimination of eight at-grade railroad crossings, activation of the Positive Train Control safety system, addition of 13 miles of second track between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, upgrades to 15 electrical substations, parking capacity increases, yard expansions, and more. In addition to these transformational investments, the MTA, together with NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak, plan to seek federal funding later this year to rebuild Penn Station into a modern, spacious, world-class single-level terminal that is open to natural light. 

Major construction on the third track began in late 2018 and when fully opened later this year commuters along the Main Line corridor will have a mass transit solution that reduces road congestion and improves safety. Long Island businesses will reap the benefits of true bi-directional LIRR service that will fuel economic opportunity, enhance the knowledge economy and provide increased access to jobs and entertainment. 

When combined with the opening of Grand Central Madison the LIRR’s third track creates the ability to run more 45% more service and reduce delays along the Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma and Oyster Bay branches, all which run through Mineola, one of the top 10 busiest LIRR stations. As of May 2022, 136 trains ran through Mineola on weekdays. Under the new schedule, there will be 79 more trains, totaling 215. 

The construction of this third track from Floral Park to Hicksville will reduce train congestion and delays and enable true bi-directional service during peak hours with a more reliable rail network. Nearby residents no longer have to deal with the sounding of train horns and crossing bells. Traffic backups due to the closure of crossing gates and over-height truck collisions with railroad bridges are a thing of past.  

The first section of the LIRR’s Main Line Third Track opened on August 15 when Governor Hochul joined members of MTA leadership for a ceremonial ride along the three-mile stretch of track between Floral Park and Merillon Avenue stations, disembarking at the upgraded New Hyde Park Station.