Transit officials are taking multiple steps to make the Long Island Rail Road more efficient as part of a new initiative called LIRR Forward.
LIRR President Phil Eng announced LIRR Forward on Monday, describing the effort as a “package of specialized actions” meant to make the rails more efficient for riders by targeting the root causes of problems like delays and track failures.
Through the effort, officials will focus on making the LIRR more reliable and safe, addressing the cleanliness of the cars and stations and improving communications through things like countdown clocks, GPS for train locations and updating the training for public information officers and other staff.
As part of the reliability improvements, officials will upgrade ten track switches over the next six months, focusing on those which have caused 44 percent of all the 205 switch failures in 2017, and will also inspect and upgrade the 370 track circuits that caused 36 percent of all LIRR track-circuit failures.
Workers will clear 180 miles of overgrown vegetation to lessen track incidents, install 14 third-rail heaters to prevent power failures that then lead to delays and cancellations during the snow and insulate components within the Atlantic Tunnel manholes ahead of hurricane season.
In 2017, 417 trains were delayed because of vehicles on the train tracks, so in response, the LIRR will install high-visibility traffic posts at crossings and also partner with the GPS app Waze to help prevent cars from accidentally turning onto the tracks.
“LIRR Forward is the first formal step in a new direction that will help us anticipate our problems before they arise, set standards on how to quickly and correctly respond to the challenges we face, to deliver what our ridership expects of us — which is safe, reliable service bolstered by timely, accurate and effective communication,” Eng said in a statement.
The initiative is not a “one and done” effort, he noted, but will instead be an ever-evolving plan for how the service can improve.
Also on Monday, changes meant to reduce crowding on the LIRR began. The LIRR added more cars to nine of the busiest rush-hour trains to provide more seats, and new branch timetables went into effect. Check the schedules via printed copies available at stations or online at web.mta.info/lirr/Timetable and on the LIRR Train Time app.