This weekend, the MTA is embarking on its "LIRR Modernization Project Brings State of the Art Technology to Centralized Signaling and Switch Control at Jamaica," which means there will be very limited service between Jamaica and Penn Station this weekend and the weekend of November 6-7. The MTA recommends, "As a result of the extremely limited service, the LIRR recommends that customers use the LIRR for essential business travel only during these two weekends. Customers traveling for recreational purposes during this period should consider travel on the Port Washington Branch or other travel alternatives." Or, as the Post puts it, "It's the LIRR-arrrgh!" (LOL)
In August, a fire damaged the switch system at Jamaica (causing many commute problems), a system that's been in place since 1925. Apparently it was supposed to be replaced three years ago, but the Post previously reported, "cost overruns of 167 percent made the update yet another long-delayed MTA project." The current system involves manually operated cords and levers, but it will be computerized; a LIRR leverman said, "It's bittersweet. Right now the system is a bunch of roads, like a Jenga puzzle, only with a finite amount of movement."
Newsday says that the rest of the 700-mile LIRR, which is 176 years old (the oldest commuter railroad in North America), needs modernization, too: "More than 133 miles of the nation's busiest commuter railroad consisting of a single, unelectrified track, much the same as in Long Island's rural and agricultural days of the 19th century."