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Lhota open to bringing Metro-North into Penn

Joseph Lhota waves from the Senate galley after his confirmation vote as chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y., on Monday, Jan. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
AP Photo/Mike Groll
By Philip Newman

Just as the Long Island Rail Road will one day bring commuters into Grand Central Terminal, Metro-North Railroad trains could join the LIRR in serving Penn Station, according to MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota.

“I believe there is room for Metro-North to go in there,” Lhota said last Thursday at a meeting of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Lhota said he was aware of opposition to the MTA’s discussions about bringing Metro-North into Penn Station, including several Long Island members of the state Legislature.

Opponents have warned that the proposal would not work because of the number of LIRR trains that leave and arrive at the station. Some critics of the plan said they were concerned the presence of Metro-North would force the LIRR to reduce its service.

“Penn Station, no question, is very, very constrained,” Lhota said, but he added “we’re examining it. You just can’t close doors.”

Lhota said the MTA was looking into the idea of acquiring space in Penn Station from New Jersey Transit and Amtrak to provide room for Metro-North.

Under the proposal, Metro-North would begin providing service into Penn Station in 2018, the same time as MTA’s $7.3 billion East Side Access project to bring the LIRR into Grand Central is scheduled for completion.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

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