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Greenport’s ‘biggest problem’: Noisy trains idling

Parking? Traffic?

Those problems have gotten a lot of attention from the Greenport Village Board in recent years.

But Flint Street resident Mike Osinski thinks Greenport’s biggest problem is the noise from Long Island Rail Road trains idling at the Greenport station. 

“My concern, and the concern of many of my neighbors, is the overwhelming, unnecessary noise coming from the train,” Mr. Osinski said at last Monday’s Village Board meeting. “If you want to find out what the neighbors think about in that area, they’re gonna tell you it’s the train idling four hours a day. It’s absurd.”

The board recently heard a presentation from Regional Plan Associates about ways to improve parking and traffic near the ferry. 

But Mr. Osinski said those are issues for out-of-towners. The train noise is an issue that affects the local people who pay taxes in Greenport, he said.

At the end of the meeting, Mayor George Hubbard Jr. asked that the village send a letter to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the parent of the LIRR, relaying the concerns raised by Mr. Osinski.

He added that any residents with comments or complaints about the LIRR can send them to the village as well so they can be included with the letter.

“If we can have complaints from 30, 40, 100 residents … about the same situation, it adds credence to it,” Mr. Hubbard said.

In response to The Suffolk Times’ request for comment, an LIRR spokesperson explained why trains typically idle in that location: “Because there is no train yard at Greenport station, eastbound trains that finish their run to the end of the line, then turn for westbound service at the station, a process that usually takes 30 to 40 minutes. Diesel engines require a significant amount of time (several hours) to shut off and turn on again, therefore making it impossible to turn them off and on again in time to run the next westbound train.”

The spokesperson added that “residents may be noticing the idling a bit more right now, as it is what we call low-adhesion season.”

This is a time during the fall when leaves on the tracks make them slippery after it rains. During this time, the LIRR operates a non-passenger equipment train at a lower speed to ensure that crossing gates work properly, and this causes the eastbound train to Greenport to arrive earlier than normal, according to the spokesperson. 

Mr. Osinski said he’s ridden trains all over the county and said he’s heard the response that diesels need to idle before — and he doesn’t believe it. 

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Photo caption: The LIRR station in Greenport. (Tim Gannon photo)

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