New York’s $11 billion train station has finally opened, offering some LIRR passengers a shorter route to Manhattan.

Looks like a million bucks! But it cost 11,000 times more.

On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority unveiled the sprawling $11 billion Grand Central Madison Terminal that will finally connect the Long Island Railroad to Manhattan’s east side – one of the world’s most expensive and delayed transit projects.

“It’s been quite a journey to get here,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said at the opening after she rode the first train into the new hall.

The gleaming, white-marble commuter subway junction under Grand Central Station was more than a decade late and, by some accounts, over budget by about $9 billion. It is also entering service in a world that has been turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic, with many of the riders it was designed for working from home several days a week.

“I’m literally talking about what started under my eight predecessor governors,” Hochul added. “People have lived and died without ever seeing it come to fruition—until now, until this very moment.”

The initial service will run roughly every half hour between LIRR’s Jamaica hub in Queens and the new concourse, now officially known as Grand Central Madison.

Officials say the shuttle will run for at least three weeks before a new full schedule is introduced to Manhattan’s East Side.

“This project is about improving the quality of life and giving something back to everyday New Yorkers,” said MTA Chairman Janno Lieber. “We are here, just a few weeks after the launch of a full service that will significantly improve and transform transport in the region.”

He added, “This project brings Long Island closer to the heart of New York.”

The station was originally supposed to open before the end of 2022, but the project, 14 years late, was again delayed by a month due to a faulty ventilation system needed for the fire suppression system.

Way down into the hole

Excited passengers take pictures of the historic day. Matthew McDermott

The new addition is 140 feet underground. Matthew McDermott


The station links the LIRR to the east side of Manhattan. Matthew McDermott


The eight platforms of Grand Central Madison are 140 feet underground, dug into a cavern large enough to accommodate a crane.

It took a Post reporter more than seven minutes to make the journey from the new LIRR platforms to the 4/5/6 trains – and it was at a fast pace and up the escalators, not just up them.

The platforms are so deep that passengers can hear incessant PA announcements—station reopening announcements, safety warnings, to stay clear of platform edges, subway transfers, date and time—echoing in deep wells, which are escalators 182 feet long. which riders raise to the main level.

The ride takes approximately 90 seconds, which Hochul jokingly offered to use for “meditation” when asked about it.

This hall is so huge that it stretches further than the eye can see – according to officials, it spans about six blocks, or about 1,600 feet.

It eventually connects to another set of stairs or elevators that will take you to the lower level dining hall of the historic Central Station, at the opposite end of the main station, and another set of escalators from the Lexington Avenue tube station.

Railroad winners and losers

One conductor smiles as the first train pulls into the new station. Matthew McDermott

The service will initially run approximately every half hour between the Jamaica LIRR hub in Queens and the new concourse. Matthew McDermott


On Wednesday, a group of passengers made history as they pulled into the new station. Brian Zack/NYPost

The terminal offers eight shiny new platforms. Matthew McDermott


These new schedules have become the subject of controversy. The MTA says some Long Island passengers heading to Manhattan will be able to save up to 40 minutes on their journey.

“For our passengers, the people we represent and care about the most, we are giving them something of value — we are giving them back time in their lives,” Hochul said. “Think of people from Long Island and also in Queens – east Queens, vibrant communities – where you have to take the bus to the subway.”

Hochul said she hopes the shiny new terminal and shorter commute times will give companies an extra incentive to lure workers back to their jobs in Midtown.

However, officials acknowledged that some of these savings would be spent on longer transmission times due to the size of the new station.

Other LIRR passengers bound for Brooklyn or midtown Manhattan — the claimed destination for nearly a quarter of rail passengers in the MTA survey — may now be forced to make an additional transfer or return from Midtown.

The proposed LIRR schedules would remove much of the current service from Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal, which offers convenient subway connections to downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan, and move trains to Grand Central Station.

Officials are proposing to replace this service with a new shuttle between the Atlantic and Jamaica, but that would mean another connection for many riders, which left them disappointed.

All in the name

Grand Central Madison is by far the most expensive rail project in the world. Brian Zack/NYPost

The new station was over budget by about $9 billion. Brian Zack/NYPost


The name was chosen to link the new station to the famous train station that sits above it. Matthew McDermott


The MTA said it chose the name Grand Central Madison to better tie the new service geographically to the famous train station above it – and apparently tried to use some grandeur of Grand Central to erase the memory of how horribly the project went awry.

Newspaper revelations and independent investigations have shown that the project excessive design requirementspolitical interference, mismanagement, battles with Amtrak and cozy relations between contractors and trade unionsboth of which are big players in Albany.

On a per-pound basis, this is the world’s most expensive rail project ever built.

A 2019 Post investigation revealed that East Side Access has expended huge amounts of MTA budget that could fund the ongoing overhaul of the ancient subway signaling system.

On Wednesday, officials repeatedly touted how the project would boost LIRR’s capacity by about 40 percent.

However, the MTA will struggle to take advantage of all the new and expensive infrastructure due to extreme inefficiencies and wasteful labor arrangements at the LIRR, a Post investigation published earlier this month found.

“Rocky” road

Long Island governors and politicians have dreamed for generations of holding the LIRR in Midtown East.

It was one of the landmark proposals of Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s ambitious transit dreams in the 1960s, which led in part to the creation of the MTA itself.

Construction of the 63rd Street Tunnel, connecting the new terminal to the Queens rail yards, began before the financial collapse of the Big Apple in the mid-1970s and was eventually completed in the late 80s.

Governor George Pataki and US Senator Al D’Amato picked up the baton and made East Side access one of their biggest transportation priorities in 1997, when its price only $2.1 billion was expected.

But the project has turned into a white elephant due to rampant delays and skyrocketing costs.

Just two years later, by 1999, the price had already doubled to $4.3 billion, with an opening date set for 2009. But construction only began in 2006, shortly before Pataky left office.

By 2012, the price had skyrocketed again to over $8 billion, and the expected completion was now in 2019 – ten years late.

In 2018, the MTA acknowledged that the price would reach $11.2 billion, and Lieber, who was then the newly minted head of the construction division, set a hard 2022 deadline for that.

“The project has become a mess,” he said. “But you know what? We delivered.”

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