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Rail News: Passenger Rail

LIRR takes delivery of first East Side Access tunnel boring machine


What costs $10 million, weighs 200 tons and just arrived on U.S. shores from Italy? MTA Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) tunnel boring machine, which will be used to dig a tunnel for the agency’s $6.3 billion East Side Access project. The project includes two new tunnels under Manhattan and Queens to connect with the existing 63rd Street tunnel below the East River and enable LIRR to operate trains to Grand Central Terminal.

The machine’s largest components arrived via ship in Red Hook, N.Y., on Saturday; smaller components are scheduled to arrive soon. Once the equipment clears U.S. customs, the pieces will be taken to Long Island City, where workers will lower the components into the 63rd Street tunnel and transport them under the East River to a “launch box” under 63rd Street and 2nd Avenue.

The machine will be assembled in the launch box and begin digging its way toward Grand Central Terminal later this summer. A second tunnel boring machine is scheduled to be delivered later this year to dig a second tunnel.

To be completed in 2013, the East Side Access project will provide LIRR commuters direct access to Grand Central Terminal, shaving more than 40 minutes off commute times. Currently, Long Island commuters take trains to Penn Station, then back-track to Manhattan’s east side. LIRR projects about 160,000 passengers will use the service daily.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/23/2007