IND Queens Boulevard Line
|IND Queens Boulevard Line|
|System||New York City Subway|
|Locale||New York City|
Jamaica – 179th Street
|Daily ridership||467,779 (2015, weekday) |
|Owner||City of New York|
|Operator(s)||New York City Transit Authority|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
IND Queens Boulevard Line
The IND Queens Boulevard Line, sometimes abbreviated as QBL, is a line of the B Division of the New York City Subway in Manhattan and Queens, New York City, United States. The line, which is underground throughout its entire route, provides crosstown service across Manhattan under 53rd Street and east through Queens to Jamaica. The two-track section in Manhattan and Long Island City, Queens, is also known as the IND 53rd Street Line.
- 1 Route
- 2 Services
- 3 History
- 4 Provisions for expansion
- 5 Station listing
- 6 Footnotes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The IND Queens Boulevard Line begins at Jamaica – 179th Street (E F trains) as a four-track subway under Hillside Avenue. Just after curving north under the Van Wyck Expressway, a flying junction joins the two-track Archer Avenue Line (E train) to the local and express tracks. Soon after, the line turns west under Queens Boulevard.
East of Kew Gardens – Union Turnpike, another flying junction ties the eastward tracks to Jamaica Yard. The other side of the wye curves west to become a lower level of the subway just west of Kew Gardens – Union Turnpike. After passing through 75th Avenue, those tracks join the local and express tracks at another flying junction.
At Forest Hills – 71st Avenue, the M R trains begin their westward routes. West of here, the line (now carrying the E F M R trains) runs under Queens Boulevard until it turns north onto Broadway after Grand Avenue – Newtown. Near Jackson Heights – Roosevelt Avenue, an abandoned trackless tunnel for the IND Second System branches off into an unused upper part of the station which is used for storage. At the intersection of Broadway and Northern Boulevard, west of the line's Northern Boulevard station, the express tracks turn west under Northern Boulevard. The local tracks take a longer route, remaining under Broadway, then turning south onto Steinway Street and west again onto Northern Boulevard, where they rejoin the express tracks. This is only one of two areas in the subway where the express tracks diverge from the local tracks (the other being the IND Culver Line between Seventh Avenue and Church Avenue.)
As the line leaves 36th Street, the two-track IND 63rd Street Line (F train) splits from both sets of tracks at a flying junction, running to Manhattan under 41st Avenue. The Queens Boulevard Line continues under Northern Boulevard to Queens Plaza (E M R trains) before line splitting into three parts at another flying junction. The express tracks (E M trains) continue towards Manhattan under 44th Drive, while the local tracks split two ways, with the 60th Street Tunnel Connection (R train) turning northwest and the IND Crosstown Line (no regular service) remaining under Jackson Avenue (Northern Boulevard south of Queens Plaza). From this point on, the Queens Boulevard Line has only two tracks.
The line continues west through the 53rd Street Tunnel under the East River into Manhattan. After Lexington Avenue – 53rd Street, the westbound tracks rise above the eastbound tracks. A flying junction after Fifth Avenue / 53rd Street, ties the westbound tracks into the southbound local tracks of the IND Sixth Avenue Line, which begin here as a merge of these connection tracks and the IND 63rd Street Line. At that junction, the Sixth Avenue express tracks turn west under 53rd Street, just to the south of the Queens Boulevard Line. The two lines share platforms at Seventh Avenue, but no connecting tracks are present.
Then the Queens Boulevard Line turns south below the IND Eighth Avenue Line with separate lower-level platforms at 50th Street. Then the tracks split to join the local and express tracks of the Eighth Avenue Line north of 42nd Street – Port Authority Bus Terminal. At that station, a special lower platform formerly served a single southbound track from the Queens Boulevard Line, merging with both southbound tracks of the Eighth Avenue Line south of the station; the long-disused platform was demolished in June 2013 to make way for the extension of the IRT Flushing Line.
|Time period||Section of line|
|full line (limited rush hour trips)
south of Briarwood (other times)
|north of 36th Street|
||no service||between Fifth Avenue / 53rd Street and Forest Hills – 71st Avenue (weekdays)|
||no service||between Queens Plaza and Forest Hills – 71st Avenue (all except late nights)|
During daytime hours, the portion of the line between 36th Street and Forest Hills – 71st Avenue is served by four services: the E, F, M, and R. The M operates via Sixth Avenue and 53rd Street to Queens Plaza before making local stops to Forest Hills – 71st Avenue on weekdays. The R enters Queens Boulevard from the Broadway Line and the 60th Street Tunnel before making local stops to Forest Hills – 71st Avenue at all times except late nights. The F train joins the IND Queens Boulevard Line from the 63rd Street Line and runs express to Forest Hills – 71st Avenue before making local stops to Jamaica – 179th Street at all times. The E train runs from the Eighth Avenue Line and 53rd Street to Queens Boulevard before making express stops along the line (except evenings and weekends when it makes all stops east of Forest Hills – 71st Avenue and during late night hours when it runs local on the entire line) to the Archer Avenue Line east of the Briarwood. Limited rush hour E trains also run express to Jamaica – 179th Street.
The entire line is patrolled by NYPD Transit Bureau District 20, headquartered at Briarwood.
The Queens Boulevard Line, also referred to as the Long Island City−Jamaica Line, Fifty-third Street−Jamaica Line, and Queens Boulevard−Jamaica Line prior to opening, was of the original lines of the city-owned Independent Subway System (IND), planned to stretch between the IND Eighth Avenue Line in Manhattan and 178th Street and Hillside Avenue in Jamaica, Queens.
As originally proposed in 1925, the line's junction with the IND Crosstown Line in Long Island City would have been a T-junction, allowing trains from Manhattan to travel south to Brooklyn via the Crosstown line. A map from June of that year shows a proposed alternate routing for the Queens Boulevard Line, that would have had the line turn via Kew Gardens Road after the Union Turnpike station instead of continuing via Queens Boulevard. After proceeding via Kew Gardens Road the line would have turned via Hillside Avenue. The map also shows a two-track line continuing from the Van Wyck Blvd station to 94th Avenue via Van Wyck Blvd (today's Van Wyck Expressway). During construction only bellmouths were built for the line, however they were eventually used for the IND Archer Avenue Line. The map also shows a proposed alternate routing in Elmhurst and Woodside. After the 65th Street station, the line would have diverged via 69th Street instead of continuing via Broadway, and would then turn onto Queens Boulevard.
The two tubes of the 53rd Street Tunnel under the East River began construction in spring 1927, and were fully excavated between Queens and Manhattan in January 1929, with a ventilation shaft built on Welfare Island (today's Roosevelt Island). During the line's construction, several intersections of Queens Boulevard with major roads were grade separated, in a similar manner to Grand Concourse in the Bronx during the building of the IND Concourse Line around that same time. At adjacent intersections with Woodhaven Boulevard and Horace Harding Boulevard (now the Long Island Expressway) in Elmhurst, Queens Boulevard's main road was depressed into underpasses. In Kew Gardens, Union Turnpike and the Interboro Parkway (now the Jackie Robinson Parkway) were depressed below Queens Boulevard at the level of the Union Turnpike station's mezzanine.
Queens Boulevard was wide enough for the construction of a four track subway line without serious disruption of surface travel, with the area alongside the boulevard not built up in many places. More often than not in some places, billboards would be visible instead of buildings. During the construction of the line, electric utility service was temporarily provided by a wooden pole line. Once the construction of the line was completed, the utility service was underground, and the Queens Boulevard trolley line was replaced by bus service, in part due to competition with the newly constructed subway line.
Opening and expansion
The first section of the line, west from Roosevelt Avenue to 50th Street, opened on August 19, 1933. E trains ran local to Hudson Terminal (today's World Trade Center) in Manhattan, while the GG (predecessor to current G service) ran as a shuttle service between Queens Plaza and Nassau Avenue on the IND Crosstown Line. An extension east to Union Turnpike opened on December 31, 1936. The line was extended to Hillside Avenue and 178th Street, with a terminal station at 169th Street on April 24, 1937. That day, E trains began running express west of 71st–Continental Avenues, while GG trains ran local over that portion of the line. 23rd Street – Ely Avenue station opened as an in-fill station on August 28, 1939. Upon its extension into Jamaica, the line drew Manhattan-bound passengers away from the nearby BMT Jamaica Line subway and the Long Island Rail Road.
From April 1939 to October 1940, the Queens Boulevard Line served the 1939 New York World's Fair via the World's Fair Railroad. The World's Fair line ran via a connection through the Jamaica Yard and through Flushing Meadows–Corona Park along the current right-of-way of the Van Wyck Expressway. After consideration to make the line a permanent connection to Flushing and northern Queens, the line was demolished in 1941.
On December 15, 1940, F trains began running via the newly opened IND Sixth Avenue Line, also running express west of 71st–Continental Avenues. 169th Street and Parsons Boulevard were both used as terminal stations during this time, with the E terminating at one station and the F at the other.
On December 11, 1950, in order to provide a more satisfactory terminal, the line was extended to 184th Street with a new four-track terminal at 179th Street. This extension was delayed due to the Great Depression and World War II. Both E and F trains were extended to the new station.
In 1953, the platforms were lengthened at 75th Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard to 660 feet to allow E and F trains to run eleven car trains. The E and F began running eleven car trains during rush hours on September 8, 1953. The extra train car increased the total carrying capacity by 4,000 passengers. The lengthening project cost $400,000.
On December 1, 1955, a connection to the 60th Street Tunnel opened, allowing trains from the BMT Broadway Line to serve Queens Boulevard as an additional local from 71st−Continental. Service was initially provided by QT Broadway−Brighton trains (predecessor to the Q train). This service would be replaced by RR trains in 1961, a new EE train in 1967, and N trains in 1976. The now-R train was rerouted back to the line in 1987, to provide direct access to the Jamaica Yard.
In December 1988, the Archer Avenue Lines opened, utilizing existing provisions east of the Briarwood station. The E was rerouted to its current terminus at Jamaica Center. In December 2001, the connection to the IND 63rd Street Line (built along with the Archer Avenue subway), was opened and F trains were rerouted away from the 53rd Street tunnel. Around this time, the G was truncated to Court Square during peak hours and the V train was created to replace the F via 53rd Street.
In 2010, budget constraints within the MTA led to service reductions on the line. On April 19, 2010, G service was permanently truncated to Court Square at all hours. On June 27, 2010 V service was eliminated, and the M train was extended via the Chrystie Street Connection to replace it.
Due to congestion on the line during peak hours, which has existed for much of the line's history the MTA is planning an automation project for the line, which will equip the tracks west of Union Turnpike with communications-based train control. It had previously been proposed to reverse-signal the line, to allow three of the line's four tracks to run in a single peak direction.
Provisions for expansion
IND Second System
The Queens Boulevard Line was originally planned to extend farther along Hillside Avenue into eastern Queens. The line would have gone at least to the intersection of Hillside, Springfield Boulevard and Braddock Avenue (the latter two both formerly part of Rocky Hill Road) in Queens Village, with later plans to go as far as Little Neck Parkway in Bellerose near the Nassau County border. The extension to Springfield Boulevard, which on contract drawings was referred to as Route 108-Section 13, would have been a two track extension of the D3 and D4 express tracks, with five stations, at 187th Street, 197th Street, Cross Island Boulevard (today's Francis Lewis Boulevard), 214th Street, and the terminal at Springfield Boulevard. All of these stations, with the exception of Springfield Boulevard, would have had two side platforms. Hillside Avenue was widened in the 1930s between 218th Street and 229th Street, in order to accommodate construction of the proposed Springfield Boulevard station. As part of the extension of the line to 179th Street in 1950, provisions were made to extend this line farther east via Hillside Avenue. East of the 179th Street there are two four track levels both used as train storage. The upper level was intended to be extended eastward, while the lower level was always intended to be used to relay and store trains. The tracks on the upper level are longer than the lower level tracks and the upper level tracks have a wooden partition at the bumper blocks. The tracks continue until 184th Street.
Several stations along the line also have provisions for other extensions as part of the IND Second System. The Roosevelt Avenue station has an additional upper level platform and bellmouth provisions east of the station, which would have gone to a Queens crosstown line to the Rockaways. The 63rd Drive station has similar bellmouths, which would have fed directly into the inactive portion of the Long Island Rail Road's former Rockaway Beach Branch near its former junction with the LIRR Main Line (Whitepot Junction). One stop west, the Woodhaven Boulevard station has provisions to be converted into an express station. East of the Briarwood station, there were additional trackways built for an extension down Van Wyck Boulevard (today the Van Wyck Expressway) to Rockaway Boulevard, near the current site of John F. Kennedy International Airport. None of these proposals were ever funded, and only the Briarwood bellmouths were used for future expansion, while the Rockaway line was connected instead to the IND Fulton Street Line.
Program for Action
When proposed in the mid-1960s under the MTA's Program for Action, the Archer Avenue and 63rd Street subway lines were two parts of a major planned expansion of Queens Boulevard line service. The 63rd Street tunnel would have facilitated service between the Queens Boulevard line and the Second Avenue Subway, via bellmouths west of Roosevelt Island which turn south towards Midtown and Lower Manhattan. These turnouts may be used for the third and fourth phases of the Second Avenue Subway. The proposed connection to the LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch resurfaced, with proposed branch lines along other LIRR lines to outer Queens areas without rapid transit service. Expected to be completed by the mid-1970s and early 1980s, these plans (the most important of which are outlined below) were derailed by the 1970s fiscal crisis, which delayed the completion of the Archer Avenue and 63rd Street lines.
The Archer Avenue and 63rd Street lines were planned to be connected by a "super-express" bypass of the Queens Boulevard line, proposed due to the overall congestion of the line during peak hours. The bypass would have used the outer two of the six trackways of the LIRR Main Line (formerly used by the Rockaway Beach Branch), which are currently unused, and would have allowed trains to travel at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour. It would stretch from the 63rd Street Line east of 21st Street – Queensbridge, with the possibility of access to the 60th and 53rd Street tunnels. At its east end, it would have left the LIRR right-of-way near Whitepot Junction and ran under Yellowstone Boulevard to the Queens Boulevard Line near 71st Avenue station. The 71st Avenue station would have been converted into a bi-level or tri-level station, with the super express tracks using the lower level(s) built south of the current station, before rejoining the main line Queens Boulevard tracks. There were also plans for an intermediate stop at the current Woodside LIRR station, and an additional 63rd Street line station at Northern Boulevard adjacent to Queens Plaza. The bypass and proposed Woodside station would have necessitated the widening of the LIRR Main Line right-of-way onto private property west of Winfield Junction, where the Main Line merges with the Port Washington Branch, and reorganization of the track layout in the Sunnyside Yards. Later proposals suggested routing the bypass directly to the Archer Avenue line via the LIRR Montauk Branch (which no longer has passenger service).
While plans to construct the bypass existed as late as 1985, the connection to the Queens Boulevard line at Northern Boulevard was built as an alternative to the bypass. A bellmouth was built at the end of the tunnel should construction on the bypass ever commence.
Northeast Queens line
Another less publicized plan around this time was a branch line diverging from the Queens Boulevard mainline near Woodhaven Boulevard, and running along the Long Island Expressway (LIE) corridor to Kissena Boulevard at Queens College, and later to Fresh Meadows and Bayside. This "Northeastern Queens" line, or Route 131-C, would have been built in conjunction with the planned widening of the expressway. The subway tracks would have been placed under the expressway or its service roads, or in the median of a widened LIE in a similar manner to the Blue Line of the Chicago "L". The Woodhaven Boulevard station, using existing provisions, would be converted to an express station. Three new stations would have been built on the line. One would have been a 99th Street, one would have been at Main Street, and the terminal station would have been at Kissena Boulevard. At Main Street there would have been three tracks, and two island platforms. East of the terminus at Kissena Boulevard, there would have been two levels of layup tracks, allowing for an extension further east. A similar line along the corridor had been proposed in the 1939 IND Second System plan as an extension of the BMT Broadway Line east of the 60th Street Tunnel, when the road was called Horace Harding Boulevard prior to the construction of the expressway.
Southeast Queens line
The most important of the proposed lines along LIRR branches was a "Southeast Queens" extension of the Archer Avenue subway along the Locust Manor branch to Springfield Gardens, which was the original intention of the Queens Boulevard extension to Archer Avenue. This would have used an existing provision east of Jamaica Center, and necessitated the installation of two dedicated subway tracks, construction of new stations and/or the conversion of existing facilities along the right-of-way.
|Station service legend|
|Stops all times|
|Stops all times except late nights|
|Stops late nights only|
|Stops weekdays only|
|Stops rush hours only|
|Stops rush hours in the peak direction only|
|Time period details|
|Station||Tracks||Services||Opened||Transfers and notes|
|Jamaica||Jamaica – 179th Street||all||E F||December 10, 1950|
|169th Street||local||F||April 24, 1937|
|Parsons Boulevard||all||E F||April 24, 1937|
|Sutphin Boulevard||local||F||April 24, 1937||Q44 Select Bus Service|
|IND Archer Avenue Line (E ) merges|
|Briarwood||Briarwood||local||E F||April 24, 1937||Q44 Select Bus Service|
|connecting tracks to Jamaica Yard|
|Kew Gardens||Kew Gardens – Union Turnpike||all||E F||December 31, 1936|
|Forest Hills||75th Avenue||local||E F||December 31, 1936|
|connecting tracks to Jamaica Yard; former connection to IND World's Fair Line|
|Forest Hills – 71st Avenue||all||E F M R||December 31, 1936|
|Rego Park||67th Avenue||local||E M R||December 31, 1936|
|63rd Drive – Rego Park||local||E M R||December 31, 1936|
|Elmhurst||Woodhaven Boulevard||local||E M R||December 31, 1936|
|Grand Avenue – Newtown||local||E M R||December 31, 1936|
|Elmhurst Avenue||local||E M R||December 31, 1936|
|Jackson Heights||Jackson Heights – Roosevelt Avenue||all||E F M R||August 19, 1933||IRT Flushing Line (7 ) at 74th Street – Broadway|
|Woodside||65th Street||local||E M R||August 19, 1933|
|express tracks go underneath (E F )|
|Northern Boulevard||local||E M R||August 19, 1933|
|express tracks diverge (E F )|
|Astoria||46th Street||local||E M R||August 19, 1933|
|Steinway Street||local||E M R||August 19, 1933|
|express tracks rejoin (E F )|
|Long Island City||36th Street||local||E M R||August 19, 1933|
|IND 63rd Street Line splits (F )|
|Queens Plaza||all||E M R||August 19, 1933|
|local tracks split to IND Crosstown Line (no regular service) and 60th Street Tunnel Connection (R )|
|Court Square – 23rd Street||express||E M||August 28, 1939||IND Crosstown Line (G )
IRT Flushing Line (7 <7>)
|53rd Street Tunnel|
|Midtown Manhattan||Lexington Avenue – 53rd Street||express||E M||August 19, 1933||IRT Lexington Avenue Line (4 6 <6>) at 51st Street|
|Fifth Avenue / 53rd Street||express||E M||August 19, 1933|
|connection to IND Sixth Avenue Line (M ) splits|
|Seventh Avenue||express||E||August 19, 1933||IND Sixth Avenue Line (B D )|
|[note 1]||50th Street||express||E||August 19, 1933||IND Eighth Avenue Line (A C ) (transfer in same direction only)|
|merges with IND Eighth Avenue Line (A C )|
- southbound only
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