MTA to Add New Light Rail Trains to LIRR

Trains will come out of authority's new capital budget

About a dozen new, smaller diesel trains have been approved for the Long Island Rail Road in a plan that will cost the cash-strapped department $78 million.

The money will come from the MTA's $26 billion five-year capital plan that was approved Wednesday. 

The group gave the green to spend $78 million to buy the trains for LIRR branches served by diesel engines, although the trains will not replace the older, diesel-fueled trains that have been prone to breakdowns for years.

The news of the project came on the same day the MTA announced layoffs of 750 additional employees in July, adding to the nearly 500 employees the MTA had already announced they planned to layoff.

The MTA will also eliminate dozens of bus routes and two subway lines, the V and W, this summer, and make service cuts to all trains and buses, including off-peak and night time service.

These cuts, though, are coming out of the MTA's operating budget, which is currently facing a $800 million budget gap. 

LIRR spokesperson Sam Zambuto says the plan is for the two-car light rail trains to operate as shuttles from stations with less
ridership, such as Greenport, to busier stations like Ronkonkoma

The changes wont be made until at least 2013, towards the end of the capital budget plan. 

"We are making efforts to make sure that every dollar that the MTA receives by fares, tolls, and taxes that support all of our work is
used wisely," said MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan. "We took that approach to reduce the size of our capital budget."

"The diesel trains that are being discussed are actually less expensive to operate than a duel-mode, multi-car full train set," added Donovan. "In that way, it's a way to reduce the operating cost to providing service to some of the more diesel territory."

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