Home News Local News LIRR plans to shuffle schedule, add trains on Greenport branch

LIRR plans to shuffle schedule, add trains on Greenport branch

A LIRR passenger train this weekend in Riverhead. Photo: Denise Civiletti

The Long Island Railroad’s “jury duty” train, established in 2010 to get Suffolk jurors to Riverhead before 9 a.m. every day that courts are in session, will be eliminated this fall.

“The jury train is being repurposed,” LIRR strategic investments manager Steven Ellinghaus said yesterday.

The jury train originates in Brentwood at 7:59 a.m., stops at Central Islip, Ronkonkoma, Medford and Yaphank, and arrived in Riverhead at 8:55.

But ridership on the jury train never grew, Ellinghaus said. “Something like 10 people ride the train,” he said yesterday.

Beginning this fall, an eastbound train will arrive in Riverhead at 8:14 instead of the jury train’s 8:55 arrival, Ellinghaus said. “So people can still get to Riverhead courts by train. They’ll just get there a little early,” he said.

Unlike the jury train, the new train will continue on to Greenport, making stops in Mattituck and Southold. The jury train had terminated in Riverhead and then returned west to Ronkonkoma.

The change is part of a restructuring of North Fork train service that will add the new eastbound train to Greenport on weekday mornings. It will make the westbound return trip departing Greenport at 10 a.m.

The railroad is also looking to add two weekend trains to and from Greenport seasonally, beginning in May 2018, Ellinghaus said. The additional weekend trains still need approval from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The plan for weekends would have trains arriving in Greenport at 5:45 a.m., 11 a.m., 4 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, from May to November. They would depart Greenport at 7 a.m. noon, 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. The off-season schedule would be unaffected.

All trains would make all stops between Greenport and Ronkonkoma in both directions, LIRR service planning senior manager Anthony Kingren said.

The LIRR officials met with the Southold Town Board yesterday to discuss the railroad’s plans.

The initiative is a reversal of the former stance of the MTA, which in January 2010 proposed to all but eliminate service on the Greenport branch, cutting all but summer weekend service. The MTA cited low ridership on the line as justification for the cuts, which drew sharp criticism from outraged elected officials. Officials countered with a proposed new public transit authority to serve the East End and renewed their call for the repeal of the MTA payroll tax. Eventually, the MTA backed off the planned cuts and began expanding service to the North Fork — starting with the jury train in September 2010.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website. Email Denise.