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Long Island Rail Road customers this summer will be able to take an express train from Penn Station to the Hamptons without making any stops, LIRR officials said yesterday. The popular Cannonball train, which for years originated in Queens, is moving to Penn Station beginning Memorial Day weekend.
The train will take riders from Manhattan to Westhampton Beach station in 94 minutes before continuing to Montauk. The Cannonball, which operates on Friday afternoons during the summer, is among the LIRR's oldest and most heavily used, transporting 1,400 riders each day.
Although most of its customers live in Manhattan, the train has never departed from Penn Station, in part because of logistical and reliability issues with the LIRR's diesel-electric trains. The Hamptons train service could bring several hundred additional riders to Penn Station, but Williams said its operation should go more smoothly, in part because Penn has more space and resources than Hunterspoint Avenue or Jamaica, including open ticket windows. At 14 cars long, including two locomotives, the Cannonball is the longest train operated by the LIRR at about twice the length of a typical diesel-electric train.
Montauk Chamber of Commerce president Paul Monte said the changes would benefit the East End economy.

LIRR Commuter Council chairman Mark Epstein welcomed the new service but called on the railroad to restore trains on the West Hempstead, Greenport and Port Washington lines that were cut in 2010. The LIRR is planning other improvements on its Montauk line, which saw a 34 percent boost in ridership last summer compared with the summer of 2011. The LIRR also is adjusting the schedule of some Montauk trains to better coordinate with Fire Island ferry service provided near some stations.
This photo shows work underway at the future 72nd Street Station, where crews are filling out the raw rock of the cavern with concrete lining. When I was in college, I learned pretty quickly that I should say I was from "beautiful Upstate New York" instead of just "New York", because the question "Which borough?" got annoying quickly. When Angelika needed to get her passport updated for her new last name, she visited New York for a day, taking an early bus, visiting the German consulate, and returning that evening. I took about 300 photos, trying to convey walking through Manhattan, kind of like I did for Montreal. 29th Street between 7th and 8th (and especially Kremer Pigments, which was an amazing place to visit).

I'll be writing more about New York City soon - less as a tourist, more as someone figuring out why Upstate doesn't work the way it used to. For decades, the train has left from the LIRR's small Hunterspoint Avenue station, where officials said crowding problems are common. The LIRR is introducing "Cannonball West" -- a Sunday evening express train out of Montauk that will stop at Jamaica and Penn Station. For an additional $20, riders can reserve seats in special cars where food and drinks are sold and wait service is provided.
The New York Penn Station area map (and Port Authority Bus Terminal maps) are not online yet.

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