Long Island Rail Road customers: You’ve been warned.
Signal and switch work at Jamaica Station will effectively cripple service on two upcoming weekends, with agency officials even advising riders to use the LIRR for “essential business travel only.”
From Oct. 23 through 24, and Nov. 6 through Nov. 7, only three trains will operate each hour between Jamaica and Penn Station as the LIRR cuts over to a modern signal and switching control system in Jamaica.
During those four days there will be no trains running between Mineola and Jamaica and Queens Village and Jamaica, and no service between Jamaica and Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn.
Buses will replace trains between Mineola and Jamaica, and Queens Village and Jamaica. Riders can use the E train between Penn Station and Jamaica.
No LIRR train or bus service will operate to or 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.
The $56 million Jamaica signal modernization project, funded through the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Capital Program, calls for replacing early 20th century-era equipment with a new microprocessor technology signal system in the three interlockings — known as Jay, Dunton and Hall — that control train movement through Jamaica. Upon completion of the project, signals and switches will be controlled from one facility, Jamaica Central Control.
In August, a fire in the Hall interlocking paralyzed the system for several days. According to MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan, the project was scheduled prior to the incident, “although the fire certainly brought to light the power of the Hall tower.”
“This will modernize the switches through Jamaica,” he told the Chronicle last Friday.
The new system will provide redundant signal control systems and will allow for quicker recovery time in the event of a power surge, lightning storm or fire-related service disruption, such as the one that occurred over the summer.
According to the LIRR, it also will increase operational flexibility for the large volume of trains that pass through the area, helping to reduce customer delays.