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A train returns to the Rockaways

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MTA Acting Chair Fernando Ferrer, (l.-r.) MTA Interim Executive Director Thomas Prendergast, Councilman Donovan Richards and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff peek out of the front of a vintage subway car first put into service in the 1930s. The transit and elected officials were on hand to welcome back the A train into and out of the Rockaways after service to the peninsula was suspended for seven months. Photo by Christina Santucci
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The vintage train arrives at the Howard Beach station for its ceremonial ride to the Rockaways. Photo by Christina Santucci
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TWU worker Bruce Swabb peers out the window. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Riders take a ceremonial return trip on the A train from the Rockaways to Howard Beach. Photo by Christina Santucci
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The view from the A train of Broad Channel shows lingering damage from Sandy. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Transit workers applaud as the train rolls into Broad Channel. Photo by Christina Santucci
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MTA Acting Chair Fernando Ferrer (c.) walks through the Broad Channel station. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Keith Hernandez snaps a photo of the sign, as he is joined by Melissa Rivera, Jared Maldonado and Alexa Nieves, who is holding her nephew Tristian Delahoz. Photo by Christina Santucci
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A train cookies were handed out to guests. Photo by Christina Santucci

After a seven-month suspension of A train service to and from the Rockaway peninsula, the subway has started running on its full line again – and transit officials commemorated the occasion in style Thursday.

A packed vintage A train, comprised of R1/R9 cars first put into service in the 1930s, rolled out of the JFK-Howard Beach station at about 10:30 a.m. on a ceremonial journey through Broad Channel to the Rockaways.

At Beach 116th Street, the final stop for the classic subway, riders – including MTA Acting Chairman Fernando Ferrer, MTA Interim Executive Director Thomas Prendergast and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff – were greeted with fanfare, including a doo-wop group and cookies with the A train logo and the words “It’s Back.”

Transit officials said the return of the train was certainly something to celebrate. The line sustained severe damage during Hurricane Sandy last year.

“In the context of government, this is the speed of light,” Ferrer told a crowd of MTA workers, community leaders and would-be subway riders gathered at the Rockaway Beach station.

In total, $75 million worth of work was performed to restore subway service to the Rockaways and an additional $9 million was shelled out to operate replacement bus and subway shuttle service, the agency said. Funding was supplied by the Federal Transit Administration, which allocated nearly $3.8 billion to the MTA for post-Sandy repairs.

And there is still much more work to be done to rebuild the infrastructure of the line and implement protections against future storms, according to the MTA.

But Thursday was a day mostly for smiles as passengers gleefully boarded cars, snapping photos of one another with their phones and peering out the windows at Jamaica Bay.

Barbara Toborg from the Broad Channel Civic Association was thrilled to hitch a ride on the vintage A train to the peninsula and back.

“I’m very happy to be on this old train. It’s historic,” she said of the return of subway service. Toborg lives close to the tracks and said she missed the sounds of the train during the seven months it did not stop in her neighborhood.

“Just hearing the clickety clack is reassuring,” she said.

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