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96th Street subway station open for preview before Second Avenue subway line opening

UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan — The new 96th Street subway station is open for business — kind of.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and the MTA have opened the station up to tours for a few hours on Friday, December 23 and on the previous day.

Visitors can venture underground into the 96th Street Station from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday evening.

The 3 news stations along the Second Avenue Subway line are scheduled to open for train service on Jan. 1 from noon to 9 p.m. after nearly a century of complications.

The Q train will run along the new section of line and continue down its present configuration all the way to Coney Island.

"If we have to push the train down the track, that train is going to run on January 1," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at the new station.

Visitors can walk around the mezzanine and platforms, though trains will not be running.

Construction on the line and the stations has been exceptionally difficult because of the density in New York both above and below ground, said MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast. Workers had to navigate a maze of utility underground while working.

The difficulties lead to several delays over the years. Delays have led to congestion on the 4, 5 and 6 lines. The lines, which are the only ones serving the east side of the city, are the most crowded in the world, Gov. Cuomo said.

The new Second Avenue line should reduce travel time by 10 minutes or more for commuters on the Upper East Side, MTA officials said. Once it opens, the line will be the first major subway expansion in over 50 years. The full line will stretch 8.5 miles from Harlem to Lower Manhattan.

Regular service will begin Monday morning, January 2, 2017.

Gov. Cuomo has invited leaders and other guests to a reception along the line on New Year's Eve for a ceremonial first ride.