The Long Island Rail Road will offer an express train service starting Memorial Day weekend that will transport passengers from Manhattan to the South Fork in just over 90 minutes, and without requiring riders to transfer trains.
“The Cannonball,” which is a revival of a train that has run periodically since the 1890s—though never from Manhattan—will leave Penn Station on a Friday afternoon run and travel non-stop for 76 miles until reaching the Westhampton train station. From there, the train is scheduled to make additional stops in Southampton, Bridgehampton, East Hampton and Montauk. The Cannonball also will run on Sunday evenings for a return a trip to Manhattan, with additional stops in Hampton Bays and Jamaica. A one-way ticket on The Cannonball will cost $27.
According to Aaron Donovan, a press representative for the LIRR, the route has been designed to make traveling easier for Manhattan customers heading to the Hamptons for the weekend. In the past, he said, passengers heading east would have to take a train from Penn Station to Jamaica station, and then transfer to a second train, forcing them to carry their luggage while waiting on the platform for their connection.
“There’s no better way to get from Manhattan to the Hamptons,” said LIRR President Helena E. Williams in a prepared statement. “Our customers have long asked for a one-seat ride from Penn Station to the Hamptons, and we are listening to them. This move eliminates the need to change trains with baggage at Jamaica.”
According to Mr. Donovan, a new service also will allow passengers to reserve their seats through the LIRR website, new.MTA.info/lirr. And, for an additional $20, passengers can reserve special seats in two of the 12 double-decker cars on the train. Those passengers also can purchase beverages, including alcohol, and will have a snack service at their seats.
The Cannonball will leave Penn Station at 4:07 p.m. every Friday starting on May 24 and continuing through Labor Day weekend. The train will travel non-stop until reaching Westhampton at 5:41 p.m. From there, the train will also make stops at Southampton, Bridgehampton and East Hampton before arriving at Montauk at 6:48 p.m.
The LIRR will offer a return trip on Sundays that will depart Montauk at 6:37 p.m. and make stops at East Hampton, Bridgehampton, Southampton, Hampton Bays and Westhampton. It also will make an additional stop at Jamaica before arriving at Penn Station at 9:31 p.m., according to the LIRR.
“This is a good move for the East End,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board Member Mitch Pally is quoted as saying in a press release. “The LIRR clearly is responding to increased customer demand for direct service to Suffolk County, especially in the summer months during the height of the tourist and vacation season. This will help the local economy.”
In previous years, Mr. Donovan said a similar non-stop train has been offered on summer weekends but from Jamaica, and passengers would have to transfer trains. The original Cannonball was introduced in 1890 as an express train that operated between Hunterspoint Avenue in Long Island City and Southampton.
LIRR officials stated that the revival of the train is part of an effort to improve services on the Montauk line, in response to growing demand for train service on the South Fork. They said the Montauk line saw a 34-percent increase in summer ridership between 2011 and 2012.
The Cannonball will hold 1,400 passengers, in 10 coach cars and two reserved cars. The LIRR doesn’t plan to add or subtract cars.