Thiele: Additional North Fork train service coming by the end of 2017

North Fork train service

An effort to increase train service to the East End has come one step closer to fruition, State Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) announced in a press release Monday.

Long Island Rail Road representatives met with local elected officials Thursday to discuss transit improvements for the East End, including adding an additional weekend train to Greenport, creating a “Fishermen Train” to promote tourism and increasing the number of weekday departures, the release states.

“The goal is to provide the above outlined additional service to the North Fork by the end of 2017,” Mr. Thiele said.

The proposal includes increasing the number of weekend trains to Greenport between April and November from two to three trips. Mr Thiele said it was determined that this additional trip “could be accommodated with existing equipment, if an additional crew is added.”

“The LIRR will review the cost of providing the needed crew and will provide a draft schedule for consideration by the North Fork local governments,” he said.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said in an email Tuesday he’s pleased with the latest developments to expand local train service because he believes it will promote tourism and ease traffic congestion.

“Assemblyman Thiele has been zealous in his advocacy for the East End to bring improved rail service to the residents here,” Mr. Russell said. “He has my deep gratitude for his efforts, as usual.”

The idea behind the Fishermen Train stems from a desire to promote the North Fork’s fishing industry, Mr. Thiele said. Currently, the LIRR runs an equipment train — which does not pick up passengers — from Ronkonkoma to Greenport arriving at 5 a.m. in order to have a train in Greenport for the weekday 5:30 a.m. departure.

The LIRR has proposed that — on a seasonal basis — this train could service passengers to Greenport, Mr. Thiele said.

In addition, the proposal outline Thursday includes increasing the number of weekday trips from three to four at the Greenport station by repurposing the LIRR’s “Jury Train” that currently runs from Deer Park to Riverhead, he said.

“It was determined that a fourth weekday departure from Greenport could be accommodated,” Mr. Thiele said, adding the LIRR is expected to create a draft schedule including the additional train service.

A plan to increase train service on the South Fork was also discussed Thursday and Mr. Thiele estimates the new schedule will begin in early 2018.

East End representatives and the LIRR are expected to meet again in March to further discuss the proposed train services and to finalize the new schedules, he said.

[email protected]

Photo: The Greenport train station. (Credit: Grant Parpan)