Atlantic Branch

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     Atlantic Branch
Atlantic Branch Map.svg
Type Commuter rail
System Long Island Rail Road
Status Operational
Locale Western Long Island, New York, USA
Termini Atlantic Terminal
Valley Stream
Stations 8 passenger, 1 employee-only
  Atlantic Branch
(City Terminal Zone)
  Belmont Park Branch (Atlantic Terminal to Jamaica only)
Opening 1836 (west of Jamaica)
1867 (east of Jamaica)
Owner Long Island Rail Road
Operator(s) Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Electrification 750V (DC) Third rail
Route map
Rises onto Atlantic Avenue Viaduct
3.5 Nostrand Avenue NYCS A NYCS C
6.0 East New York NYCS L
Warwick Street closed 1939
Autumn Avenue closed 1939
Union Course closed 1939
Woodhaven closed 1939
Woodhaven Junction closed 1976
Clarenceville closed 1939
Morris Park closed 1939
Boland's Landing LIRR employees only
Dunton closed 1939
Montauk Branch
Morris Park Facility LIRR employees only
Main Line
AirTrain JFK Zone 1/Zone 3
11.3 Jamaica NYCS E NYCS J NYCS Z
Main Line
Montauk Branch
South Street closed 1922
Cedar Manor closed 1959
14.2 Locust Manor
Higbie Avenue closed 1960
15.1 Laurelton
Montauk Branch
16.0 Rosedale
Queens/Nassau County border Zone 3/Zone 4
17.7 Valley Stream
Far Rockaway Branch
West Hempstead Branch
Long Beach Branch

Distances shown in miles from Pennsylvania Station.

The Atlantic Branch is an electrified rail line owned and operated by the Long Island Rail Road in the U.S. state of New York. It is the only LIRR line that runs in the borough of Brooklyn.


Partly underground and partly elevated, the Atlantic Branch runs from Atlantic Terminal in Downtown Brooklyn to Valley Stream, in Nassau County, where it becomes the two-track Long Beach Branch with the two-track Far Rockaway Branch splitting southward just east of the Valley Stream station.

The section between Atlantic Terminal and Bedford Avenue is underground along Atlantic Avenue. From there the line is elevated above the median of Atlantic Avenue to Dewey Place (with a stop at Nostrand Avenue) before returning underground.

At East New York the line rises to street level to cross above the north-south, freight only Bay Ridge Branch, then descends once more to Jamaica. Between East New York and Jamaica, the intact but closed station at Woodhaven Junction is visible.

At 121st Street in Richmond Hill, Queens, the line rises to street level and passes the Morris Park Facility before joining the elevated Main Line at Jamaica.

It turns southeast immediately east of Jamaica, ducking beneath the eastward Main Line tracks. It curves parallel to the Montauk Branch after a few miles and continues next to it to Valley Interlocking in Valley Stream.

Atlantic Terminal saw completion in 2010 of $93 million in renovations, including a new entry pavilion.[1]


The current Atlantic Branch is the successor to two separate lines: the Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad (opened 1836) along Atlantic Avenue from Flatbush Avenue to Jamaica, and the South Side Railroad of Long Island (opened 1867) from Jamaica to Valley Stream.

Woodhaven Junction power substation

Atlantic Terminal to Jamaica[edit]

The Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad opened the line from South Ferry to what is now 151st Street in Jamaica on April 18, 1836.

Initially the line turned halfway between Classon and Franklin Avenues, running halfway between Herkimer Street and Schuyler Street (now Atlantic Avenue) along the line of the present Herkimer Place. It turned slightly to the southeast near Howard Avenue, crossing the centerline of Schuyler Street about one-third of the way between Hopkinson Avenue (Thomas Boyland Street) and Paca Avenue (Rockaway Avenue). It crossed into the town of New Lots just beyond Stone Avenue (Mother Gaston Boulevard).[2]

The Atlantic Branch was one of the first lines in the LIRR system slated to be electrified. In anticipation of this the entire line to Jamaica was to be grade separated. Between 1903 and 1905 the line was depressed into a tunnel from Flatbush Avenue to Bedford Avenue, then placed on an elevated viaduct from Bedford Avenue to Ralph Avenue then depressed back into a tunnel until Manhattan Crossing located just west East New York station. At East New York the line returned to grade level then rose onto another elevated viaduct until Atkins Ave. The rest of the line from Atkins Ave to Morris Park located just west of Jamaica remained at grade level along Atlantic Avenue with numerous grade crossings with the anticipation of grade separating the line later on. Additionally a new terminal and yard was built at Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues. Electric service commenced in 1905 with the line consisting of two tracks between Flatbush Avenue and Woodhaven Junction and four tracks beyond that point to Jamaica.

LIRR then ran two services along the line: the traditional commuter type services from points on eastern Long Island to Flatbush Avenue, along with what was called the "local" rapid transit type service, frequent elevated/subway like service at lower fare between Flatbush Ave and Queens Village (although referred to as a rapid transit type service, standard LIRR cars were used, and the service was operated by railroad rules, as opposed to rapid transit). At this time the line from Jamaica to East New York had many more stations along Atlantic Avenue spaced at closer intervals, much like an elevated/subway rapid transit line. The four tracks between Jamaica and Woodhaven Junction lent itself to this service with rapid transit trains using the outer two tracks while commuter trains used the inner two tracks.

In November 1925 25 "local" trains left Brooklyn each weekday for Queens Village, 12 more ran to Hillside, and 16 more ran to Jamaica. All trains made all stops, 15 of them west of Queens Village. Fare was probably 10 cents for 13 miles Queens Village to Brooklyn, compared to about 40 cents on "express" LIRR trains making six or seven stops (but a monthly ticket good on any train was $7.10).

For a while the LIRR operated joint service along the Atlantic Branch with the Brooklyn Rapid Transit company (BRT) consisting of two connections, one with the Fifth Ave El at Flatbush Avenue, and another with the Broadway and Lexington Avenue els with a connection built at Chestnut Street in Brooklyn. This allowed BRT trains to access the Rockaways and Manhattan Beach, while affording the LIRR a connection into Manhattan to the BRT terminal located at Park Row over the Brooklyn Bridge (this service predated the opening of the East River Tunnels to Penn Station). Nevertheless the Interstate Commerce Commission ended this service in 1916 when they classified different operating standards between rapid transit trains and regular heavy rail railroads which the LIRR was classified as.

By the late 1930s it was clear that the rest of the line needed to be grade separated. Much of the surrounding area along Atlantic Avenue in Ozone Park and Richmond Hill began their suburban development leading to more traffic along Atlantic Avenue which was plagued by the lines many grade crossings. The City of New York along with the LIRR thus allocated the funds to depress the rest of the line from Morris Park to East New York in a tunnel. Building of the tunnel commenced in 1939 (although plans to build the tunnel date back to 1893) with two of the lines four tracks being pulled out of service and the rapid transit service being discontinued.

In 1942 the tunnel was completed and opened with the two remaining at grade tracks pulled out of service. Around this time Atlantic Avenue was raised over the East New York station via a viaduct that separated the road and the railroad. The elevated trestle from East New York to Atkins Avenue was also demolished as it had been included in the new tunnel to Jamaica. Only one station was included in the new tunnel: Woodhaven Junction, where the Atlantic Branch crossed under the Rockaway Beach Branch. An interlocking and track connection was built just west of the Woodhaven Junction station to connect the two lines, but these closed after the abandonment of the Rockaway Beach Branch between 1955 and 1962.

Replacement of the Atlantic Avenue Viaduct at Nostrand Avenue in July 2011.

Jamaica to Valley Stream[edit]

The portion east of Jamaica was opened by the South Side Railroad of Long Island on October 28, 1867, as part of its initial line from Jamaica to Babylon. With the consolidation of the South Side into the Long Island Rail Road system in 1876, all passenger trains were rerouted to use the LIRR main line from Berlin Junction (west of Jamaica) to Rockaway Junction and the LIRR's Rockaway Branch to Springfield Junction, where it crossed the South Side. This change took effect Sunday, June 25, 1876, and resulted in the closure of the South Side's Berlin, Beaver Street (Jamaica), Locust Avenue, and Springfield stations.[3][4] This formed the current configuration, where the Montauk Branch follows this route, mostly ex-South Side, and the Atlantic Branch (then the Old Southern Road) uses the old South Side to Springfield Junction.

The line was soon reopened due to a lawsuit, but closed again by Austin Corbin as of January 6, 1881.[5]

Effective May 17, 1906, when an electrified third track opened alongside the Montauk Division from Springfield Junction to Valley Stream, the Old Southern Road and this new track became part of the Atlantic Division.[6]

Station listing[edit]

Only former stations that existed after the ca. 1905 improvement and electrification are listed in this table.

Station Connections/notes
Atlantic Terminal Handicapped/disabled access Subway: 2 3 4 5 B D N Q R trains at Atlantic Avenue – Barclays Center
Bus: B41, B45, B63, B65, B67
Nostrand Avenue Subway: A C trains at Nostrand Avenue
Bus: B25, B44, B65
East New York Subway: L trains at Atlantic Avenue,
A C J Z trains at Broadway Junction
Bus: B12, B20, B25, B83, Q24, Q56
Woodhaven Junction closed 1977
Boland's Landing, also known as the Morris Park Facility Employee only station
Jamaica Handicapped/disabled access LIRR: Babylon Branch, Belmont Park Branch, Far Rockaway Branch, Hempstead Branch, Long Beach Branch, Montauk Branch, Oyster Bay Branch, Port Jefferson Branch, Ronkonkoma Branch and West Hempstead Branch trains
Subway: E J Z trains at Sutphin Boulevard – Archer Avenue – JFK Airport
Bus: Q6, Q8, Q9, Q20A, Q20B, Q24, Q25, Q30, Q31, Q34, Q40, Q41, Q43, Q44, Q60, Q65
AirTrain JFK
Locust Manor Bus: Q3 (to JFK Airport), Q85, QM21
Laurelton Bus: Q77, Q85
Rosedale Bus: Q5, Q85, X63
New York City / Long Island border
Valley Stream Handicapped/disabled access Nassau Inter-County Express: n1, n2
Trains continue south via the Far Rockaway Branch or east via the Long Beach, Babylon and Montauk Branches

Full list, including all former stations[edit]

Miles from
Atlantic Terminal
Name Location Opened Closed
South Ferry
Henry Street
Clinton Street
0.0[7] Atlantic Terminal
earlier Flatbush Avenue
July 2, 1877 Present
Vanderbilt Avenue August 13, 1877[8]
Washington Avenue by late 1878[9]
Grand Avenue August 13, 1877[8] by late 1878[9]
1.22[10] Bedford
also called Franklin Avenue
east of Franklin Avenue by mid-1842[11]
1.57[10] Nostrand Avenue August 13, 1877[8] Present
Brooklyn Avenue August 13, 1877[8]
Kingston Avenue
Albany Avenue August 13, 1877[8]
2.27[10] Troy Avenue August 13, 1877[8]
by mid-1890[12]
by late 1878[9]
Schenectady Avenue by late 1878[9]
2.56[10] Utica Avenue August 13, 1877[8]
by mid-1890[12]
by late 1878[9]
Rochester Avenue August 13, 1877[8]
Ralph Avenue August 13, 1877[8]
Saratoga Avenue
Hopkinson Avenue August 13, 1877[8] by late 1878[9]
Rockaway Avenue by late 1878[9]
Stone Avenue August 13, 1877[8] by late 1878[9]
3.97[10] East New York
earlier Manhattan Beach Railroad Crossing
by late 1878[9] Present
4.10[10] Howard House
earlier East New York
Alabama Avenue by early 1843[13] 1905
Pennsylvania Avenue
Wyckoff Avenue Wyona Street by late 1878[14]
Bradford Avenue mid-1899[10][15]
Van Siclen Avenue by late 1878[16]
4.8[7] or 4.9[17] Warwick Street August 29, 1905 November 1, 1939[18]
5.02[10] Linwood Street
earlier Van Wicklens
by late 1878[9]
5.32[10] Norwood Avenue by mid-1890[12] November 5, 1915[19]
Cypress Avenue Crescent Street by mid-1853[20]
Cypress Hills west of Autumn Avenue by early 1849[21]
5.8[7] Autumn Avenue
earlier Railroad Avenue
April 28, 1905 November 1, 1939[19]
Adamsville west of Eldert Lane June 1872[19][22] November 1, 1876[19]
City Line
Unionville west of 80th Street
6.3[7] Union Course east of 80th Street by late 1842[23] November 1, 1939[19]
6.69[10] Woodhaven
earlier Woodville
east of 87th Street by mid-1848[24] November 1, 1939[19]
Trotting Course Lane 94th Street July 31, 1837[19] 1842[19]
7.19[10] Woodhaven Junction west of 100th Street by mid-1890[12] 1977
Chester Park 104th Street
7.79[10] Clarenceville 111th Street by late 1874[22] November 1, 1939[19]
Lefferts Avenue west of 119th Street by 1867 June 1870[19]
8.07[10] Morris Park west of 120th Street by mid-1890[12] November 1, 1939[19]
Morris Grove west of 124th Street 1878 1886
Boland's Landing 126th Street 1889
Berlin west of 130th Street
Berlin Junction ??
8.86[10] Dunton
originally Van Wyck Avenue, then Berlin
Van Wyck Avenue June 1869 November 1, 1939
Jamaica Sutphin Boulevard 1876 Present
9.6[7] Beaver Street
also called Jamaica—Beaver Street
east of Jamaica Station October 28, 1867 1913
South Street South Road November 15, 1917 June 1922
10.8[7] Cedar Manor
earlier Power Place
near Linden Boulevard 1906 1959
11.7[7] Locust Manor
earlier Locust Avenue
Farmer's Boulevard & Bedell Street June 1869 Present
12.6[7] Higbie Avenue
earlier Springfield
140th Avenue[25] 1908 1960
Springfield Springfield Boulevard October 28, 1867 1906
13.1[7] Laurelton
earlier Central Avenue
224th Street April 1907 Present
13.8[7] Rosedale
earlier Foster's Meadow
Francis Lewis Boulevard & Sunrise Highway Present
15.7[7] Valley Stream Franklin Avenue & Sunrise Highway June 1869 Present

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Governor Tours Atlantic Avenue Terminal Improvement Project: $200 Million Project Underway at Terminal Complex in Brooklyn, press release dated July 11, 2002
  2. ^ Joseph Hutchins Colton, Map of the city of Brooklyn, 1849, NYPL Digital Image ID: 434722
  3. ^ Vincent F. Seyfried, The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, Part One: South Side R.R. of L.I., © 1961
  4. ^ "Railroad Changes". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). June 27, 1876. p. 2. 
  5. ^ "Without Railroad Accommodation". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). February 22, 1881. p. 4. 
  6. ^ Employee timetable, May 17, 1906
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Employee timetable, May 17, 1906
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Steam Motors". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). August 12, 1877. p. 4. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Employee timetable, November 4, 1878
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Employee timetable, June 28, 1899
  11. ^ "Long Island Railroad". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). May 13, 1842. p. 2. 
  12. ^ a b c d e Employee timetable, June 24, 1890
  13. ^ "Long Island Railroad Co". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). March 4, 1843. p. 3. 
  14. ^ "Instructive". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). November 22, 1878. p. 4. 
  15. ^ Employee timetable, September 17, 1899
  16. ^ "Shocking". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). November 14, 1878. p. 4. 
  17. ^ Employee timetable, September 20, 1905
  18. ^ LIRR Notice for November 1, 1939
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Long Island Railroad Station History". Aug 12, 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-17. 
  20. ^ "Travel". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). June 16, 1853. p. 4. 
  21. ^ "The New Cemetery of the Cypress Hills". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). April 9, 1849. p. 2. 
  22. ^ a b Timetable, November 8, 1874
  23. ^ "Races, Union Course--Long Island Railroad". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). October 3, 1842. p. 3. 
  24. ^ Timetable, May 1, 1848
  25. ^ Street Name Changes in Queens, New York (

External links[edit]

Media related to Atlantic Branch (Long Island Rail Road) at Wikimedia Commons