This is the second post (Post 1) in a three part series documenting my Adventures on mostly the free LIRR and Metro-North Railroads after Governor Cuomo declared a transit emergency after Superstorm Sandy
I take the now Port Washington-bound (yesterday when I rode a train to Woodside on the line was only going as far as Great Neck) LIRR train at 12:14 back through the northern set (there the only ones open, the southern ones were flooded and being pumped) of the East River Tunnels, through Sunnyside Yard and to Jamaica where this branch splits from the mainline and whisks me on a viaduct through houses of dense Queens and am unable to spot the former Elmhurst Station that might be reopened. We go through Mets-City Field, a stop I need to splurge and take the train to when its open for a Mets Game or during the US Open to actually get platform photos at, and get to Flushing-Main Street where a lot of the train is getting off at the surprisingly small and simple station with platforms that are hard to get between for being in the middle of such a busy shopping district (Flushing-Main Street is the busiest subway station outside of Manhattan, 10th overall). The train arrives at Flushing-Main Street–(14 Photos) one minute early at 12:34 and clearly sits for the minute until its actual departure time. I stop in the ticket office where there three people chatting (its now open open twice a week for one shift until 2:00pm) and grap an already old temporary timetable (it claims trains are running only to Great Neck).
I then walk over the 7 train at Main Street (no photos, this station still needs a page) and head to the front car so I can see the turning operations at 74 Street. I hear the crew in the tower chatting with each other and a passenger even opens the door to it to ask how to get somewhere. The R62A destination signs say Special for the bottom terminal. We make all the local stops, the train gets relatively crowded and were all kicked off at 74 Street-Broadway–(6 Photos) by quite a large crew of transit employees standing on the platform, making sure the train is empty as we go to the relay track.
I head downstairs to Roosevelt Avenue-Jackson Heights–(10 Photos) and to my dismay just missing the M train (get a picture of it leaving and I’m at the southern end of the platform), I’m now a bit worried about my LIRR trip. I wait a good 8 minutes and even head up to the mezzanine to get a few more entrances photos.
An F train eventually comes and I decide to pass on the “This is the Last Stop, No were going to Jamaica Center” announcement at Forest Hills-71 Avenue to get pictures of the train at Union Turnpike–(4 Photos)
I take this M train to Sutphin Blvd–(7 Photos) and have 6 minutes to spare (I had wanted to do another photo stop to get the M at a different Archer Avenue station) before my LIRR train back to Manhattan (the next one isn’t for about 40 minutes). An M train is heading back to Manhattan on the opposite platform so I get photos of trains on both platforms.
I get my pictures and leave the station to head upstairs to my LIRR train that is sitting on track 1 (the schedule has given it six minutes of padding) I jumped on, getting a forward facing seat in the last car. The train leaves on time for a non-stop express run. At Kew Gardens we pass construction and a tree branch brushes my window along the 4 track main line.
We slow down going through sunny side before stopping. I think a Amtrak Regional train is heading ahead of us. We eventually pick up speed and zoomed through the East River Tunnel and then slow down again and stop in the tunnel. Full speed service has clearly not been restored yet and there is only one to two tunnel tubes available for service. We are then told we were waiting on track space. This almost makes me laugh since the LIRR is only running 4 trains per hour into Penn, – is the usual on a weekday midday (about 8 is the norm during the middle of the day). I guess a bunch of trains are being stored inside the station. I later learn that since only the north set of tubes are open only the northern half of the tracks are usable because of the switching situation. At 2:03 we start moving again and finally arrive at 2:06, 6 minutes late. This train arrives on track 19 that has the widest platform in Penn Station.
Now its time to head back to Grand Central for my evening Metro-North adventure. I decide to walk via the blackout zone. I set out down 33 Street and at Madison Avenue realize I’m on the blackout line. Shops are open lights are on on one side, everything is in the dark, store grates down on the other. I walk over to Park Avenue and get a few photos of the dark 33 Street–(4 Photos) Station entrances.
and also pass the closed (lack of ventilation) former trolley now narrow car tunnel beneath Park Avenue to 46th Street (I remember when it was two-way but now just one northbound lane of traffic). At 34th Street I reach one of the Brooklyn Bus Bridge stops and am forced to cross the street to get around the barricades of people waiting, over a block long with tons of police. in the street that will get out of the way when the next bus arrives.
I continue north to the next stop at 41 Street where the lights have come back on and there is some neat signage directing passengers to three different blocks to board different buses.
I get to Grand Central with 4 minutes to space. and the platform for my 2:34 New Haven Line train is #106 so I get a picture of the ramp that leads me down to this platform in the bowels of Grand Central. I double check with the conductors that the train is also free in Connecticut, they joke “If you buy the conductors a beer.”