LIRR Modernization Project Brings New Technology to Centralized Signaling and Switch Control at Jamaica

Extremely Limited LIRR Train Service Weekends of October 23-24 and November 6-7 during final cutover to new system

The Long Island Rail Road will be cutting over to a state of the art centralized signal and switching control system at Jamaica during two weekends – October 23-24 and November 6-7 – in the final stage of a modernization project. The Jamaica Cutover Project will result in significant service changes for all LIRR branches, except the Port Washington Branch, which will have added trains on those two weekends.

The new signal system upgrade will bring state-of-the-art computerized microprocessor technology to Jamaica's critical switching area and centralizes the switching and signal control from three existing signal towers at Jamaica – including Hall Tower where the switching board was damaged by a major fire that disrupted service in August.

Impact on LIRR Service

During the two cutover weekends, there will be extremely limited LIRR service, especially between Jamaica Station and Penn Station. The LIRR recommends the use of LIRR trains for essential business travel only. Buses and subway service will replace LIRR trains on most branches. Many customers will need to take the "E" subway line service between Jamaica and Penn Station.

The significant adjustments to LIRR service during the cutover weekends are required because train movement through Jamaica Station is being limited to two tracks (one track east and one track west) while the work is underway. Additionally, routes will be limited through Jamaica resulting in the ability to move three trains per hour in each direction from the south shore only. Normally, the LIRR operates 2 to 3 times more weekend trains through Jamaica from 10 of its 11 branches. Because of the route restrictions, trains will also bypass some LIRR stations.

The key customer travel info for both weekends includes:

  • Recommend LIRR should be used for essential business travel only
  • Port Washing Branch is the only unaffected LIRR branch and extra trains Are being added each weekend between 9 AM and 8 PM
  • Only three trains will operate each hour between Jamaica and Penn Station (about one-third regular weekend service level)
  • Alternative subway service is available via NYC Transit's "E" subway line between Penn Station and Jamaica (the Archer/Sutphin stop on the "E")
  • There will be no LIRR train service between Jamaica and Atlantic Terminal, Brooklyn
  • Buses replace LIRR trains between Mineola and Jamaica on the Huntington/Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma (overnight period only) and Oyster Bay Branches
  • Buses replace LIRR trains between Queens Village and Jamaica on the Hempstead Branch
  • Babylon and Huntington weekend service will be reduced from half-hourly to hourly.
  • Most Ronkonkoma trains will be re-routed along the Babylon Branch for a portion of the trip
  • Allow up to 70 minutes of additional travel time
  • No LIRR train or bus service will operate to/from Atlantic Terminal, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Hollis, Locust Manor, Laurelton, Rosedale, Merillon Avenue, New Hyde Park, St. Albans, Nostrand Avenue and East New York.
  • Bicycles will not be permitted on buses or trains

NYC Marathon Runners & Spectators

To avoid busing and subway transfers, those heading to the NYC Marathon are advised to use the "E" subway line from Jamaica or the Babylon, Long Beach or Port Washington Branches for direct service to Penn Station. Please consult special timetables for early morning departure times on these branches.

Sports Fans and Theater-goers:

Consider taking the Babylon, Long Beach or Port Washington Branches, the "E" subway line service or alternate forms of transportation.

LIRR customers are advised to pick up special weekend timetables dated October 23-24 and November 6-7 and familiarize themselves with the significant changes taking place these weekends.

Extra LIRR personnel will be on duty throughout the two weekends to assist customers and to make sure the project is completed on time.

Click here to view a branch-by-branch description of how service will be impacted during the two cutover weekends.

To view the LIRR's brochure on the Jamaica Cutover, click here.


The Modernization Project

The Jamaica Signal cutover project consists of installing a new microprocessor technology signal system in the three interlockings (signal and switching areas) that control train movement through Jamaica. These three interlockings are called Jay, Dunton and Hall. Upon completion of the project – which requires two 48-hour weekend service disruptions – signals and switches will be controlled from one facility, Jamaica Central Control; instead of the three towers located in each of these interlockings.

New JCO Center

The project brings state-of-the-art technology to this critical LIRR location by replacing the 1910's-era electro-mechanical Model 14 Interlocking Machines at the three towers with a modern microprocessor based system. The new more reliable system will increase operational flexibility for the large volume of trains that pass through this area, helping to reduce customer delays. The new system also will provide redundant signal control systems and will allow for quicker recovery time in the event of a power surge, or lightning storm or fire-related service disruption like the one experienced in August 2010, when high voltage power entered the signal system and damaged the wiring to the signal control board in Jamaica's Hall Tower.

Old JCO Center

The cost of the project is approximately $56-million. Funding is provided by the MTA Capital Program.

Jamaica Cutover Project Video

Project and service information will also be available on Facebook and on Twitter (LIRRAlerts) / Twitter (LIRRScoop).