New York commuter system the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) has started a $2.6bn expansion programme involving modernisation of the congested LIRR Main Line.

LIRR expansion works include the addition of 9.8 miles of the third track between Floral Park and Hicksville, seven-grade crossing eliminations and seven bridge replacements, as well as modifications along the Main Line.

Additionally, modernising five stations, seven substation replacements and deployment of 7.5 miles of sound/retaining walls are included in the LIRR expansion project.

The overall programme, which includes 50 associated projects, forms a part of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $6bn investment for transformation of LIRR.

“The LIRR is the backbone of the region’s economy and this expansion effort will boost growth for generations.”

Cuomo said: “These projects taken together will create smoother and more reliable service for LIRR passengers while at the same time improving public safety by eliminating dangerous grade crossings.

“The LIRR is the backbone of the region’s economy and this expansion effort will boost growth for generations.”

Once complete, the upgrades are set to result in swift and reliable journeys along the line. Works are also expected to improve station facilities, increase safety at the crossings and reduce noise across the railway corridor.

Long Island Rail Road president Philip Eng said: “The complete transformation of the Long Island Rail Road is what this region needs. Thanks to the leadership of gov Andrew Cuomo, it’s finally happening.

“With this historic investment, coupled with our LIRR Forward initiative, people across Long Island will begin to experience the world-class railroad they expect and deserve.”

The overall expansion programme is expected to conclude by the end of 2022.