Far Rockaway Branch

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This article is about the Long Island Rail Road line. For the section of the route which was incoroporated into the New York City Subway in the 1950s, see IND Rockaway Line.
     Far Rockaway Branch
LIRR Train 2820 leaves Cedarhurst.jpg
Far Rockaway Branch train 2820 departing Cedarhurst Station.
Type Commuter rail
System Long Island Rail Road
Status Operational
Locale Nassau County and Far Rockaway, New York, USA
Termini Valley Stream
Far Rockaway
Stations 7
  Far Rockaway Branch
Opening 1869 (as part of South Side Railroad of Long Island)
Owner Long Island Rail Road
Operator(s) Metropolitan Transportation Authority
No. of tracks 2
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Electrification 750V (DC) Third rail
Route map

The Far Rockaway Branch is an electrified rail line and service owned and operated by the Long Island Rail Road in the U.S. state of New York. The branch begins at Valley Interlocking, just east of Valley Stream station; the Long Beach Branch also begins there, heading east and south to Long Beach, and the Atlantic Branch heads west to Jamaica. From Valley Stream, the line heads south and southwest through southwestern Nassau County, ending at Far Rockaway in Queens. LIRR maps and schedules indicate that the Far Rockaway Branch service continues west along the Atlantic Branch to Jamaica.[1][2] This two-track branch provides all day service in both directions to the Atlantic Terminal (at Flatbush Avenue) in Brooklyn, with transfers required at Jamaica (on almost all non rush-hour trains originating in Far Rockaway) for Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan. During rush hour, express service may bypass Jamaica station.


The South Side Railroad built the branch in 1869 under a subsidiary called the Far Rockaway Branch Railroad. While constructing it in summer 1869, the company installed about 700 feet (200 m) of tracks across William B. McManus's farmland near Lawrence. But the transaction had not been completed, and McManus and his rowdy friends tore up the track the next night; a legal battle led to the company paying McManus.[3] The same year, the South Side established a subsidiary named the Hempstead and Rockaway Railroad designed to connect the line to the up and coming Southern Hempstead Branch. The H&R was dissolved in 1871.

The Far Rockaway Branch initially extended west to Rockaway Park. In 1887, a connection was built to the Rockaway Beach Branch at Hammels, and the older Far Rockaway Branch was abandoned west of Hammels.[4]

Due to the success of the branch, the South Side built the 200-foot (60 m) South Side Pavilion, a restaurant on the beach at what is today Beach 30th Street. With an additional subsidiary known as the Rockaway Railway (1871-1872; Not to be confused with the Rockaway Village Railroad), the line was extended west to the Seaside House (Beach 103rd Street) in 1872 and Neptune House (Beach 116th Street) in 1875.[3] Along with the rest of the South Side Railroad, the Far Rockaway Branch was acquired by the Long Island Rail Road in 1876.

Two stations on the branch were built as Arverne (LIRR station), both of which were built by Remington Vernam. The first of which was in 1888 at Gaston Avenue (Beach 67th Street). It had a large tower, was shaped like a Victorian hotel and had a connection to the Ocean Electric Railway, as did much of the Rockaway Beach and Far Rockaway branches. Due to a quarrel between the LIRR and Vernam, another Arverne Station was built at Straiton Avenue in 1892. From then on, the original Arverne station was known as Arverne-Gaston Avenue (LIRR station) to distinguish it from the Arverne-Straiton Avenue (LIRR station).[5]

Until 1950 trains from Penn Station could leave the Main Line at Whitepot Junction (40°43′31″N 73°51′39″W / 40.7254°N 73.8608°W / 40.7254; -73.8608) and head south past the Atlantic Branch connection at Woodhaven Junction (40°41′14″N 73°50′36″W / 40.6871°N 73.8433°W / 40.6871; -73.8433) to the Hammels Wye at 40°35′29″N 73°48′32″W / 40.5913°N 73.8088°W / 40.5913; -73.8088, turning right there to Rockaway Park or left to Valley Stream and Jamaica and maybe on to Penn Station. Frequent fires and maintenance problems, notably a May 23, 1950 fire between Broad Channel Station and The Raunt, led the LIRR to abandon the Queens portion of the route on October 3, 1955, which was acquired by the city to become the IND Rockaway Line, with service provided by the A train.[6] Most Queens stations along the former Far Rockaway and Rockaway Beach Branches reopened as subway stations on June 28, 1956, the exception being Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue station, which was split between the NYCTA and LIRR on January 16, 1958.

LIRR train at the existing terminus in Far Rockaway.

Station listing[edit]

Miles to Penn Station Connections/notes
For continuing service to points west, see City Terminal Zone
Sutphin Boulevard between Archer Avenue & 94th Avenue, Jamaica
11.2 LIRR: Atlantic Branch, Babylon Branch, Belmont Park 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
Jamaica-Beaver Street
closed 1913
Cedar Manor
South Jamaica
closed January 28, 1959
Locust Manor
Farmers Boulevard and Bedell Street, Locust Manor
[3] 14.1 New York City Bus: Q3 (to JFK Airport), Q85, QM21
Higbie Avenue
140th and Edgewood Avenues, Locust Manor
closed February 2, 1960
225th Street and 141st Road, Laurelton
[4] 15.0 New York City Bus: Q77, Q85
North Conduit Avenue and 243rd Street, Rosedale
[5] 15.9 New York City Bus: Q5, Q85, X63
New York City / Nassau County border
Valley Stream Handicapped/disabled access
Franklin Avenue and Sunrise Highway, Valley Stream
[6] 17.6 LIRR: Long Beach and West Hempstead Branch trains
Nassau Inter-County Express: n1, n2
Gibson Handicapped/disabled access
Gibson Boulevard and Munro Boulevard, Valley Stream
[7] 18.5 Nassau Inter-County Express: n1
Hewlett Handicapped/disabled access
Franklin Avenue between Broadway and West Broadway, Hewlett
[8] 19.4 Nassau Inter-County Express: n1, n31, n32
Woodmere Handicapped/disabled access
Woodmere Boulevard and Cedar Lane, Woodmere
[9] 20.0 Nassau Inter-County Express: n31, n32
Cedarhurst Handicapped/disabled access
Cedarhurst Avenue and Chestnut Street, Cedarhurst
[10] 20.9 Nassau Inter-County Express: n31, n32
Lawrence Handicapped/disabled access
Lawrence Avenue and Bayview Avenue, Lawrence
[11] 21.7 Nassau Inter-County Express: n31, n32
Inwood Handicapped/disabled access
Doughty Boulevard and Foote Avenue, Inwood
[12] 22.1 Nassau Inter-County Express: n31, n32
Nassau County / New York City border
Far Rockaway Handicapped/disabled access
Nameoke Street and Redfern Avenue, Far Rockaway
[13] 22.7 Nassau Inter-County Express: n31, n32, n33
New York City Bus: Q22, Q113, QM17
Subway: A train at Far Rockaway – Mott Avenue
The following stations were part of the segment that was abandoned on October 3, 1955, many of them converted into subway stations on the IND Rockaway Line on June 28, 1956.
South Side Pavilion
(On the boardwalk at Beach 30th Street)
Frank Avenue
Straiton Avenue
Eldert's Grove
Sea Side House
Neptune House
Atlantic Park


  1. ^ MTA LIRR - LIRR Map
  2. ^ LIRR Far Rockaway Branch Timetable
  3. ^ a b Ron Ziel and George H. Foster, Steel Rails to the Sunrise, ©1965
  4. ^ "The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History Volume #5(New York, Woodhaven & Rockaway Railroad; New York & Rockaway Beach railway; New York & Long Beach Railroad; New York & Rockaway railroad; Brooklyn rapid transit operation to Rockaway; Over L.I.R.R.)", by Vincent F. Seyfried
  5. ^ LIRR Station History
  6. ^ IND Rockaway Branch/Jamaica Bay Crossing, accessed June 14, 2006

External links[edit]

Media related to Far Rockaway Branch (category) at Wikimedia Commons