Main Line (Long Island Rail Road)

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For other uses, see Main Line (disambiguation).
     LIRR Main Line
Type Commuter rail
System Long Island Rail Road
Status Operational
Locale Long Island, New York, USA
Termini Long Island City
Stations 29 passenger, 1 employee-only
  Main Line
(City Terminal Zone)
Owner Long Island Rail Road
Operator(s) Long Island Rail Road
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Electrification 750V (DC) third rail
(west of Ronkonkoma)

The Main Line is a rail line owned and operated by the Long Island Rail Road in the U.S. state of New York. It begins in Long Island City and runs along the middle of Long Island about 95 miles (153 km) to Greenport. A mile east of Long Island City (east of Hunterspoint Avenue) the four tracks of the East River Tunnels join the two tracks from Long Island City; most Main Line trains use those tunnels rather than running to or from Long Island City.

Continuing east, five branches split from the Main Line; in order from west to east, they are:

Public timetables refer to the Main Line east of Hicksville as the Ronkonkoma Branch.

Trains on the Main Line between Long Island City and Ronkonkoma are governed by Automatic Block and Interlocking Signals and by Automatic Train Control (known as Automatic Speed Control by the LIRR). East of Ronkonkoma to Greenport trains operate in non-signalled or "Dark Territory", with all train movements governed by train orders and timetable authority.[1]

Route description and current train service[edit]

The Main Line has two tracks from just east of Long Island City to Harold Interlocking (HAROLD, 0.6 miles (0.97 km) northwest of the Woodside station), where the four track Northeast Corridor from Penn Station in Manhattan joins the Main Line after passing through the East River Tunnels.[2] East of HAROLD,[3] the four-track Main Line runs adjacent to the two-track Port Washington Branch until, 0.7 miles (1.1 km) southeast of the Woodside station, the Port Washington Branch turns northeastward. The Main Line continues southeast with four tracks to JAY Interlocking where it meets the Atlantic Branch and Montauk Branch at the west end of Jamaica station. Eight platform tracks and two bypass tracks pass Jamaica station, along with a few yard tracks and two former freight tracks on the south side that can be used by trains bypassing Jamaica. At HALL Interlocking[4] just east of the station there are eight through tracks: two usually westward tracks for Main Line and Montauk trains, two Atlantic Branch tracks that are about to duck under and turn southeast, two usually eastward Main Line/Montauk tracks, and the two former freight tracks on the south side of Hall tower.

Just east of there, Montauk Branch trains get their own two tracks in the center of the four Main Line tracks until the Montauk tracks fly over[5] the other tracks and head southeast. At QUEENS Interlocking, just inside Nassau County between the Queens Village and Bellerose stations, the four-track Main Line splits into the two-track Main Line and the two-track Hempstead Branch; the four tracks continue parallel to Floral Park station where the Hempstead Branch curves away southward. The two-track Main Line continues east to Mineola where the two track Oyster Bay Branch begins and curves to the north. The line continues east from Mineola to Hicksville where the two track Port Jefferson Branch begins and curves to the north. To FARM Interlocking (just east of Farmingdale station), the Main Line has two tracks, then is single track with passing sidings to Greenport except for a three-mile stretch of double track from west of Deer Park to east of Brentwood. The Main Line was electrified between Hicksville and Ronkonkoma in 1987, requiring construction of high platforms along that stretch. LIRR plans to eventually complete double track to Ronkonkoma as part of the Ronkonkoma Branch Double Track Project. Phase I of construction, which will double track the five mile stretch between Central Islip and Ronkonkoma stations, is set to begin construction in the Fall of 2013.

The Main Line west of Jamaica to HAROLD Interlocking is the only line that can reach the East River Tunnels, so all trains bound for Penn Station use it. The portion between HAROLD and the Long Island City station is used by trains originating or terminating at Hunterspoint Avenue and LIC.

Power station at NASSAU Interlocking in Mineola

East of Jamaica station, the Main Line is used by all trains on the Hempstead Branch, the Oyster Bay Branch (diverging east of Mineola), the Port Jefferson Branch (diverging east of Hicksville), and the Ronkonkoma Branch (terminating at Ronkonkoma, the easterly limits of the line's electrification). Some Montauk Branch trains use the Main Line on their way to Babylon via the Central Branch, diverging east of Bethpage.

Only a few diesel shuttle trains, informally known as scoots, operate between Ronkonkoma and Greenport. Weekend service east of Ronkonkoma only operates from early May to late November.[6]


The Main Line opened beyond Jamaica to Hicksville on March 1, 1837; shortly afterwards, the Panic of 1837 severely curtailed construction. It was extended to Farmingdale on October 15, 1841, Deer Park on March 14, 1842, Brentwood on June 24, Central Islip on July 14, and Yaphank on June 26, 1844. An opening excursion to Greenport was operated on July 27, 1844, and revenue service began over the full line on July 29.[7][8][9][10]

The line was electrified in stages throughout the early 20th Century. Electrification between Long Island City and Jamaica began on September 8, 1910. Prior to this segment however, the line was electrified from to Queens Village and Belmont Park in October 2, 1905, and then to Floral Park, in May 26, 1908. Hempstead Branch stations southeast of Floral Park were electrified on the same date, but stations along the Main Line east of Floral Park to Mineola were electrified by October, 1926. The Oyster Bay Branch, which left the main line at Mineola was electrified in June 1934, but only as far north as East Williston station. The rest of the line was electrified to Hicksville, and then north along the Port Jefferson Branch to Huntington in 1970, and finally the Ronkonkoma Branch was electrified in 1987.[11]

Third Main Line track[edit]

To accommodate an expected increase in Long Island Rail Road ridership once the East Side Access project to Grand Central Terminal is completed and to expand local and reverse peak service, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has proposed to build a third Main Line track from Floral Park to Hicksville in the future.[12][13] Components of the project include purchasing properties in the track's right of way, eliminating grade crossings (in conjunction with NYSDOT), relocating existing stations, and reconfiguring Mineola Station. Fierce opposition for building a third track comes from the villages of Floral Park, New Hyde Park, and Garden City,[14][15][16] which say the construction and the resulting increased train service will reduce the quality of life in their neighborhoods. These villages support station improvements and the elimination of grade crossings in lieu of third track expansion; however, the MTA has long insisted that a third track is a necessary component of LIRR's East Side Access expansion.[17]


Hempstead Branch trains run on separate tracks east of Queens Village (and split south, east of Floral Park), Oyster Bay Branch trains split off after Mineola, and Port Jefferson Branch trains split off after Hicksville. Montauk Branch trains that use the Main Line and Central Branch split off after Bethpage, but only some stop at Mineola and Hicksville east of Jamaica.

Jamaica is 11.2 to 11.3 miles (18 km) from Penn Station.

from Jamaica[18]
Long Island City Handicapped/disabled access Subway: 7 <7> trains at Vernon Boulevard – Jackson Avenue
Bus: Q103
NY Waterway
Hunterspoint Avenue Subway: 7 <7> trains at Hunters Point Avenue
Bus: B62, Q67
For service to Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal, see City Terminal Zone
Port Washington Branch diverges
Woodside Handicapped/disabled access

61st Street and Roosevelt Avenue Woodside

5.9 (9.5) LIRR: Port Washington Branch trains
Subway: 7 <7> trains at 61st Street – Woodside
Bus: Q18, Q32, Q53, Q70 to LaGuardia Airport
Forest Hills Handicapped/disabled access

Continental Avenue (71st Ave) & Austin Street, 2 blocks South of Queens Boulevard Forest Hills

2.3 (3.7) Subway: E F M R trains at Forest Hills – 71st Avenue
Bus: Q23, Q60, Q64
Kew Gardens Handicapped/disabled access

Austin Street and Lefferts Boulevard, between Queens Boulevard and Metropolitan Avenue. Kew Gardens

2.0 (3.2) Subway: E F trains at Kew Gardens – Union Turnpike
Bus: Q10, Q37, QM18
Jamaica Handicapped/disabled access

Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue Jamaica

0.0 (0.0) LIRR: Atlantic Branch, 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
Atlantic Branch diverges
Babylon and Montauk Branches diverge
Hillside Facility Employee-only station
193rd Street and Woodhull Avenue, Hollis
2.6 (4.2) Bus: Q2, Q3
Queens Village
Springfield Boulevard and Amboy Lane, Queens Village
4.2 (6.8) Bus: Q1, Q27, Q36, Q83, Q88
Belmont Park Branch diverges
New York City / Long Island border
Hempstead Branch diverges
Floral Park
Tulip Avenue and Atlantic Avenue, Floral Park
5.9 (9.5) LIRR: Hempstead Branch trains
New Hyde Park Handicapped/disabled access
New Hyde Park and 2nd Avenue, New Hyde Park
7.2 (11.6)
Merillon Avenue Handicapped/disabled access
Nassau Boulevard and Merillon Avenue, Garden City
8.3 (13.4)
Mineola Handicapped/disabled access
Front Street and Mineola Boulevard, Mineola
9.5 (15.3)
Oyster Bay Branch diverges
Carle Place Handicapped/disabled access
Cherry Lane and Atlantic Avenue, Carle Place
11.3 (18.2)
Westbury Handicapped/disabled access
Union Avenue and Post Avenue Westbury
12.4 (20.0)
Hicksville Handicapped/disabled access
Newbridge Road (Route 106) and West Barclay Street, Hicksville
15.8 (25.4)
Port Jefferson Branch diverges
Main Line also known as Ronkonkoma Branch
Bethpage Handicapped/disabled access
Stewart Avenue and Jackson Avenue, Bethpage
18.9 (30.4)
Central Branch diverges
Farmingdale Handicapped/disabled access
Off Secatogue Avenue, on Front Street and Atlantic Avenue, Farmingdale
21.2 (34.1)
Nassau County / Suffolk County border
Pinelawn Handicapped/disabled access
Wellwood Avenue and Long Island Avenue, Pinelawn Memorial Park
23.4 (37.7)
Wyandanch Handicapped/disabled access
Straight Path and Long Island Avenue, Wyandanch
25.7 (41.4)
Deer Park Handicapped/disabled access
Pine Aire Drive and Long Island Avenue, Deer Park
29.4 (47.3)
Brentwood Handicapped/disabled access
Brentwood Road and Suffolk Avenue, Brentwood
32.1 (51.7)
Central Islip Handicapped/disabled access
Lowell Avenue and Suffolk Avenue, Central Islip
36.4 (58.6)
Ronkonkoma Handicapped/disabled access
Hawkins Avenue and Johnson Avenue, Ronkonkoma
39.5 (63.6) easternmost electrified service
Medford Handicapped/disabled access
Medford Avenue (New York State Route 112) and Long Island Avenue, Medford
45.1 (72.6)
Yaphank Handicapped/disabled access
Yaphank Avenue and Park Street, Yaphank
49.6 (79.8)
Riverhead Handicapped/disabled access
Osborne Avenue and Railroad Street, Riverhead
64.1 (103.2)
Mattituck Handicapped/disabled access
Love Lane and Pike Street, Mattituck
73.4 (118.1)
Southold Handicapped/disabled access
Youngs Avenue and Traveler Street, Southold
81.1 (130.5)
Greenport Handicapped/disabled access
Wiggins Street and 4th Street, Greenport
85.3 (137.3) Ferry to Shelter Island and New London, Connecticut

Full list, including all former stations[edit]

Miles from LIC Name Opened Closed
0.0 Long Island City
earlier Hunter's Point
June 26, 1854 present
Hunterspoint Avenue August 1860 present
Woodside 1861 present
4.0[19] Winfield 1865 1929
Grand Street 1913 1925
Rego Park 1928 1962
Matawok 1922 1925
Forest Hills 1906 present
Hopedale 1875 by 1884
Kew Gardens
originally Maple Grove, then Kew
earlier High Bridge[20]
1916 1939
Dunton 1897 1939
9.9[19] Jamaica 1836 present
Union Hall Street
earlier New York Avenue
June 24, 1890 1976
Canal Street June 24, 1890[21] 1899
10.9[19] Hillside
earlier Rockaway Junction
June 24, 1890[21] July 1, 1966
Hillside Facility 1991 present
Woodhull Park[22] June 24, 1890 1905 or 1906
Willow Tree[23] ca. 1837 1871 or 1872
11.9[19] Hollis 1885 present
12.8[19] Bellaire
originally Flushing Avenue, then Brushville, then Interstate Park, then Brushville Road
March 1, 1837[24]
ca. 1871
13.6[19] Queens Village
originally Queens
Belmont Park 1905 present
14.5[19] Bellerose 1898 present (Hempstead Branch only)
15.3[19] Floral Park
originally Plainfield, then Stewart Junction, then Hinsdale, then East Hinsdale
1870s present
New Hyde Park
earlier Hyde Park
ca. 1837 present
Merillon Avenue
originally Clowesville, then Garden City
1837 present
originally Hempstead, then Branch or Hempstead Branch
March 1, 1837[24] present
Carle Place
earlier Carll Place
May 1842[25] present
Westbury March 1, 1837[24] present
New Cassel 1875
Hicksville March 1, 1837[24] present
Grumman 1942 1970's
originally Jerusalem, then Central Park
by 1854[26] present
Bethpage Junction (BETH Interlocking) 1873 closed
Farmingdale October 15, 1841[27][28] present
Republic 1940 1970's
earlier Melville
1890s present
originally West Deer Park, then Wyandance
1875 present
Edgewood 1892 1914
Deer Park March 14, 1842[29][30] present
Pilgrim State Hospital 1978
Thompson June 1842[31] 1869
Pineaire 1915 1986
originally Modern Times
1870 present
Suffolk August 10, 1842[32] 1873
Central Islip 1873
Central Islip State Hospital
Nichols Road
earlier Lake Road
1843 1883
earlier Lake Ronkonkoma
1883 present
Hermanville c. 1853
Holbrook 1844 1962[33]
earlier Waverly[34]
1843 March 16, 1998
Medford June 26, 1844[35] present
earlier Bellport
Fire Place June 26, 1844[35]
earlier Milleville
1844 present
Carman's River June 26, 1844[35] 1945
Upton Road 1918 1922
Camp Upton 1917 1922
Wampmissic by 1852
originally St. George's Manor, then Manor
by 1845 ca. 1968
originally Hulse Turnout, then Baiting Hollow
1852 ca. 1958
Riverhead 1844 present
Aquebogue 1892 c. 1967
Jamesport 1844 1985
Laurel 1901 1967
Mattituck by 1845 present
Cutchogue 1844 1962
earlier Hermitage
1844 ca. 1970
Southold 1844 present
Greenport 1844 present


  1. ^ Manual Block vs. Automatic Train Control (The LIRR Today)
  2. ^ The tunnels and the track to Penn Station are not owned by LIRR, but by Amtrak.
  3. ^ from 40°45′03″N 73°54′43″W / 40.75075°N 73.912°W / 40.75075; -73.912 to 40°44′18″N 73°53′38″W / 40.7382°N 73.894°W / 40.7382; -73.894
  4. ^ 40°42′01″N 73°48′22″W / 40.70025°N 73.8061°W / 40.70025; -73.8061
  5. ^ 40°42′21″N 73°47′04″W / 40.70585°N 73.7845°W / 40.70585; -73.7845
  6. ^ New Service Enhancements Coming to the LIRR in 2014 (The LIRR Today). Retrieved 2013-09-07
  7. ^ PRR Chronology, 1837 PDF (98.8 KiB), June 2004 Edition
  8. ^ PRR Chronology, 1841 PDF (60.7 KiB), May 2004 Edition
  9. ^ PRR Chronology, 1842 PDF (70.6 KiB), May 2004 Edition
  10. ^ PRR Chronology, 1844 PDF (41.4 KiB), May 2004 Edition
  11. ^ Bob Emery's LIRR Branch Notes (
  12. ^ Main Line Corridor Improvements EIS
  13. ^ Main Line Corridor Improvements Project brochure
  14. ^ Stephanie Mariel Petrellese (2005-11-11). "Floral Park Mayor To Address LIRR Expansion". The Garden City News. Retrieved 2006-12-23. 
  15. ^ Carisa Keane (2005-06-24). "Residents: MTA/LIRR Needs to Get on Right Track". New Hyde Park Illustrated News. Retrieved 2006-12-23. 
  16. ^ Stephanie Mariel Petrellese (2006-12-15). "Village Meets With LIRR On "Third Track" Project". The Garden City News. Retrieved 2006-12-23. 
  17. ^ CAROLYN NARDIELLO (2008-09-16). "Third-Track Plan Isn’t Dead, L.I.R.R. Insists". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-07-31. 
  18. ^ Station pages linked from LIRR Map
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h Employee timetable, November 5, 1905
  20. ^ Westbridge Station and South Street Station (Arrt's Arrchives)
  21. ^ a b "Rapid Transit Extension". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). June 24, 1890. p. 1. 
  22. ^ Woodhull Park Station, Hillside Station & RJ Tower (Arrt's Arrchives)
  23. ^ Willow Tree Station (Arrt's Arrchives)
  24. ^ a b c d Brooklyn Advocate, Long Island Rail Road, February 1837
  25. ^ "Long Island Railroad Company". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). May 28, 1842. p. 3. 
  26. ^ "RAILROADS". New York Times. 1854-04-13. pp. p7. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  27. ^ "The Long Delay at Hicksville". Newsday. 
  28. ^ "Brooklyn Eagle v1, #1 (LIRR timetable)". Brooklyn Eagle. 1841-10-26.  This is the very first edition of the paper. (Whether "late Bethpage" is meant to indicate 1> a flag stop at the community near Merritts Road, or 2> that the area near the Farmingdale LIRR station had lately been called Bethpage, or 3> that the Merrits Road community had been a temporary stop until the Farmingdale station was completed has not yet been determined.)
  29. ^ "untitled". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). March 14, 1842. p. 2. 
  30. ^ "Long Island Railroad Company". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). March 16, 1842. p. 3. 
  31. ^ "Long Island Railroad". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). June 29, 1842. p. 2. 
  32. ^ "untitled". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). August 6, 1842. p. 2. 
  33. ^ Holbrook Station @ Ronkonkoma MP 49-50; October 1957(
  34. ^ May 13, 1912, Photo @ Ron Zeil collection (Unofficial LIRR History Website)
  35. ^ a b c "Long Island Railroad Co". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). June 24, 1844. p. 2. 

External links[edit]