Main Line (Long Island Rail Road)
|LIRR Main Line|
|System||Long Island Rail Road|
|Locale||Long Island, New York, USA|
|Termini||Long Island City
|Stations||29 passenger, 1 employee-only|
|Owner||Long Island Rail Road|
|Operator(s)||Long Island Rail Road|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 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:
- Port Washington Branch (at WOOD Interlocking in Woodside, Queens)
- Hempstead Branch (at QUEENS Interlocking along the Queens / Nassau County border)
- Oyster Bay Branch (at NASSAU Interlocking, east of Mineola station)
- Port Jefferson Branch (at DIVIDE Interlocking, east of Hicksville station)
- Central Branch (at BETH Interlocking, east of Bethpage station) – a single non-electrified track with no stations, connecting the Main Line to the Montauk Branch
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.
Route description and current train service
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. East of HAROLD, 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Third Main Line track
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. 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, 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.
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.
|Zone||Station name||Miles (km)
from Penn Station
|Connections / Notes|
|1||Long Island City||1.9 (3.1)||June 26, 1854|| NYC Subway: (at Vernon Boulevard – Jackson Avenue)
MTA Bus: Q103
NY Waterway: East River Ferry
|Hunterspoint Avenue||2.5 (4.0)||August 1860|| NYC Subway (at Hunters Point Avenue)
NYCT Bus: B62
MTA Bus: Q67
|For service to Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal, see City Terminal Zone|
|Woodside||4.9 (7.9)||November 15, 1869|| LIRR: Port Washington Branch
NYC Subway: (at 61st Street – Woodside)
NYCT Bus: Q32
MTA Bus: Q18, Q53, Q70 to LGA
|Port Washington Branch diverges|
|Forest Hills||8.5 (13.7)||1906|| NYC Subway: (at Forest Hills – 71st Avenue)
MTA Bus: Q23, Q60, Q64
|Kew Gardens||8.8 (14.2)||1879|| NYC Subway: (at Kew Gardens – Union Turnpike)
NYCT Bus: Q10, Q37
MTA Bus: QM18
Originally Maple Grove, then Kew
|Westbridge||1916||1939||Originally High Bridge|
|3||Jamaica||10.8 (17.4)||1836|| LIRR; Atlantic, Babylon, Belmont Park, Far Rockaway, Hempstead, Long Beach, Montauk, Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma, and West Hempstead Branches
NYC Subway: (at Sutphin Boulevard – Archer Avenue – JFK Airport)
NYCT Bus: Q20A, Q20B, Q24, Q30, Q31, Q43, Q44, Q54, Q56
MTA Bus: Q6, Q8, Q9, Q25, Q34, Q40, Q41, Q60, Q65
NICE Bus: N4
AirTrain JFK: Jamaica Station Route
|Atlantic Branch diverges|
|Union Hall Street||June 24, 1890||1976||Originally New York Avenue|
|Canal Street||June 24, 1890||1899|
|Hillside||June 24, 1890||July 1, 1966||Originally Rockaway Junction|
|Babylon and Montauk Branches diverge|
|Hillside Facility||1991||Employee-only station|
|Woodhull Park||June 24, 1890||1905 or 1906|
|Willow Tree||ca. 1837||1871 or 1872|
|Hollis||13.4 (21.6)||1885|| NYCT Bus: Q2, Q3
MTA Bus: Q110
|Bellaire||March 1, 1837||1972||Originally Flushing Avenue, then Brushville, then Interstate Park, then Brushville Road|
|Queens Village||15.0 (24.1)||1881|| NYCT Bus: Q1, Q27, Q36, Q83, Q88
NICE Bus: N24
|4||Belmont Park Branch diverges|
|Queens / Nassau County border|
|Bellerose||1898||Hempstead Branch only|
|Hempstead Branch diverges|
|Floral Park||16.7 (26.9)||1870s|| LIRR: Hempstead Branch
NYCT Bus: Q36, Q79
NICE Bus: N24
Originally Plainfield, then Stewart Junction, then Hinsdale, then East Hinsdale
|New Hyde Park||18.0 (29.0)||c. 1837|| NICE Bus: N24, N25
Originally Hyde Park
|Merillon Avenue||19.1 (30.7)||1837||Originally Clowesville, then Garden City|
|Mineola||20.3 (32.3)||March 1, 1837|| NICE Bus: N22, N23, N24, N40, N41, N78, N79
Originally Hempstead, then Branch or Hempstead Branch
|Oyster Bay Branch diverges|
|7||Carle Place||22.2 (35.7)||May 1842|| NICE Bus: N22
Originally Carll Place
|Westbury||23.2 (37.3)||March 1, 1837||NICE Bus: N22, N35|
|Hicksville||26.6 (42.8)||March 1, 1837||NICE Bus: N20, N22, N48, N49, N50, N73, N74, N78, N79, N80, N81, N87|
|Port Jefferson Branch diverges|
|Main Line also known as Ronkonkoma Branch|
|Bethpage||29.7 (47.8)||by 1854|| NICE Bus: N81
Originally Jerusalem, then Central Park
|Central Branch diverges|
|Farmingdale||32.0 (51.5)||October 15, 1841||NICE Bus: N70, N72|
|Nassau County / Suffolk County border|
|9||Pinelawn||34.2 (55.0)||1890s||Originally Melville|
|Wyandanch||36.5 (58.7)||1875|| Suffolk County Transit: S23, S33, 2A, 2B
Originally West Deer Park, then Wyandance
|Deer Park||40.2 (64.9)||March 14, 1842|| Suffolk County Transit: S27
Tanger Shuttle Bus
|Pilgrim State Hospital||1978|
|10||Brentwood||42.9 (69.0)||1870|| Suffolk County Transit: 3A, 3B, 3D, S27, S41, S45
Originally Modern Times
|Suffolk||August 10, 1842||1873|
|Central Islip||45.4 (73.1)||1873||Suffolk County Transit: 3C, 3D, S42, S45|
|Central Islip State Hospital|
||1843||1883||Originally Lake Road|
|Ronkonkoma||50.3 (81.0)||1883|| Suffolk County Transit: 6A, 7A, S57, S59
Eastern end of electrified service; originally Lake Ronkonkoma
|Holtsville||1843||March 16, 1998||Originally Waverly|
|Medford||55.9 (89.0)||June 26, 1844||Suffolk County Transit: S61|
|Fire Place||June 26, 1844|
|12||Yaphank||60.4 (97.2)||1844||Originally Milleville|
|Carman's River||June 26, 1844||1945|
|Manorville||67.0 (107.8)||by 1845||ca. 1968||Originally St. George's Manor, then Manor|
|Calverton||71.1 (114.4)||1852||ca. 1958||Originally Hulse Turnout, then Baiting Hollow|
|14||Riverhead||75.1 (120.9)||1844||Suffolk County Transit: S62, S90, S92, 8A|
|Mattituck||84.2 (135.5)||by 1845|
|Peconic||1844||ca. 1970||Originally Hermitage|
|Southold||91.9 (147.9)||1844||Suffolk County Transit: S92|
|Greenport||96.1 (154.7)||1844|| Suffolk County Transit: S92
North Ferry to Shelter Island Heights
- Manual Block vs. Automatic Train Control (The LIRR Today)
- The tunnels and the track to Penn Station are not owned by LIRR, but by Amtrak.
- from to
- New Service Enhancements Coming to the LIRR in 2014 (The LIRR Today). Retrieved 2013-09-07
- PDF (98.8 KiB), June 2004 Edition
- PDF (60.7 KiB), May 2004 Edition
- PDF (70.6 KiB), May 2004 Edition
- PDF (41.4 KiB), May 2004 Edition
- Bob Emery's LIRR Branch Notes (TrainsAreFun.com)
- Main Line Corridor Improvements EIS
- Main Line Corridor Improvements Project brochure
- Stephanie Mariel Petrellese (2005-11-11). "Floral Park Mayor To Address LIRR Expansion". The Garden City News. Retrieved 2006-12-23.
- Carisa Keane (2005-06-24). "Residents: MTA/LIRR Needs to Get on Right Track". New Hyde Park Illustrated News. Retrieved 2006-12-23.
- Stephanie Mariel Petrellese (2006-12-15). "Village Meets With LIRR On "Third Track" Project". The Garden City News. Retrieved 2006-12-23.
- CAROLYN NARDIELLO (2008-09-16). "Third-Track Plan Isn’t Dead, L.I.R.R. Insists". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-07-31.
- Station pages linked from LIRR Stations
- Vincent F. Seyfried, The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, Part Two: The Flushing, North Shore & Central Railroad, © 1963
- Westbridge Station and South Street Station (Arrt's Arrchives)
- "Rapid Transit Extension". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). June 24, 1890. p. 1.
- Woodhull Park Station, Hillside Station & RJ Tower (Arrt's Arrchives)
- Willow Tree Station (Arrt's Arrchives)
- Brooklyn Advocate, Long Island Rail Road, February 1837
- "Long Island Railroad Company". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). May 28, 1842. p. 3.
- "RAILROADS". New York Times. 1854-04-13. pp. p7. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
- "The Long Delay at Hicksville". Newsday.
- "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.)
- "untitled". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). March 14, 1842. p. 2.
- "Long Island Railroad Company". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). March 16, 1842. p. 3.
- "Long Island Railroad". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). June 29, 1842. p. 2.
- "untitled". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). August 6, 1842. p. 2.
- Holbrook Station @ Ronkonkoma MP 49-50; October 1957(TrainsAreFun.com)
- May 13, 1912, Photo @ Ron Zeil collection (Unofficial LIRR History Website)
- "Long Island Railroad Co". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). June 24, 1844. p. 2.
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