The long-delayed Long Island Railroad terminal beneath Grand Central will finally open Wednesday – albeit as part of a soft-launch with limited service.
After 15 years of construction on the $11.6 billion transit hub, the MTA will offer some shuttle service between Jamaica, Queens and the new LIRR terminal as the agency slowly rolls out the commuter line, the agency announced Monday.
The first train will leave Jamaica at 10:45 a.m. and is scheduled to arrive at the “Grand Central Madison” LIRR terminal at 11:07 a.m., the MTA said.
The limited shuttle runs will continue for “at least three weeks,” the agency said. After which, the LIRR will run full service from Long Island to the new 700,000-square-foot terminal named for its location running underground on Madison Avenue.
The state agency said the three-week soft launch will allow customers to “acquaint themselves with the new terminal as existing schedules continue.”
The MTA plans to add the new train line schedules to its website and in the TrainTime app ahead of launching full service.
The express ride from Jamaica to Grand Central Madison will continue as the “Grand Central Direct” line once full service begins.
Trains on the direct line will run between 6:15 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on weekdays and from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on weekends.
The MTA will honor Penn Station tickets for those traveling to Grand Central Madison during the initial service period, the agency said.
MTA officials and Gov. Kathy Hochul had hoped the extensive project — also referred to as East Side Access — would have been completed before the end of the year, but the opening was pushed back to this month due to a faulty fan.
The most recent delay is just a minor blip in the project’s long-winding history of setbacks and rising costs.
The historically-late terminal was first proposed over 50 years ago.
Workers began building a tunnel under the East River to serve the station in the 1960s, but by the next decade, the city abandoned its plans as it stared down increasing financial issues.
The MTA picked the plans back up in the 1990s, setting an estimated completion date of 2009 and a price tag of $4.3 billion — less than half of the current cost.
The MTA estimates that the new train lines — once in effect — will increase overall LIRR service by 41%. Before the pandemic, officials estimated the new stop would serve 150,000 daily riders.
The new terminal will include four new LIRR platforms as well as a concourse with 25 retail shops and a floor-to-ceiling mosaic by the famed Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.