IRT Pelham Line

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IRT Pelham Line
The 6 and <6> trains serve the entire IRT Pelham Line.
Type Rapid transit
System New York City Subway
Termini Pelham Bay Park
Third Avenue–138th Street
Stations 18
Daily ridership 205,590[1]
Opened 1918–1920
Owner City of New York
Operator(s) New York City Transit Authority
Character Underground (Hunts Point & South)
Elevated (North of Hunts Point)
Number of tracks 2–3
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Electrification 600V DC third rail
IRT Pelham Line
Pelham Bay Park
Buhre Avenue
Middletown Road
Westchester Yard
Westchester Square–East Tremont Avenue
Zerega Avenue
Castle Hill Avenue
St. Lawrence Avenue
Morrison Avenue–Soundview
Elder Avenue
Whitlock Avenue
Hunts Point Avenue
Longwood Avenue
East 149th Street
East 143rd Street–St. Mary's Street
Cypress Avenue
Brook Avenue
Third Avenue–138th Street
IRT Jerome Avenue Line
Lexington Avenue Tunnel under Harlem River
IRT Lexington Avenue Line

The IRT Pelham Line, also called the Southern Boulevard–Pelham Bay Park Line,[2] is a rapid transit line on the New York City Subway, served by the 6 and <6> trains.[3] It was built as part of the Dual Contracts expansion and opened in 1918. It is both elevated and underground with Whitlock Avenue being the southernmost elevated station. It has three tracks from the beginning to just south of the Pelham Bay Park terminal. The Pelham Line also has a connection to Westchester Yard, where 6 trains are stored, just north of Westchester Square–East Tremont Avenue. As of 2013, it has a daily ridership of 205,590.


The construction of the Pelham Line was part of the Dual Contracts, signed on March 19, 1913 and also known as the Dual Subway System.[4] The Pelham Line was proposed to be a branch of the Lexington Avenue Line running northeast via 138th Street, Southern Boulevard and Westchester Avenue to Pelham Bay Park.[5]

A report, "Proposed Subway Plan for Subway Relief and Expansion" by Major Philip Mathews, published on December 24, 1926, proposed a connection from the Pelham Line to a newly proposed four-track Third Avenue subway that would run to City Hall and Downtown Brooklyn.[6]

On August 1, 1918, a branch of the IRT Lexington Avenue Line, the IRT Pelham Line was opened to Third Avenue–138th Street.[7] On January 17, 1919, the Pelham Line was extended to Hunts Point Avenue. The extension was originally supposed to be finished by the end of 1918, but due to the difficulty in acquiring materials, the opening was delayed. In January 1919, the Public Service Commission was acquiring property for a subway yard at Pelham Bay Park.[2] On May 27, 1920, the Pelham Line was extended to East 177th Street.[8] By October 24 of the same year, it was extended to Westchester Square, and by December 20, it was extended to the western edge of Pelham Bay Park.

When the New York, Westchester and Boston Railway was abandoned in 1937, one proposal for the replacement IRT Dyre Avenue Line was to connect the line to the IRT Pelham Line at Whitlock Avenue, rather than its current terminus at East 180th Street on the IRT White Plains Road Line.[6]


On June 6, 1946, the Board of Transportation announced that a contract for the instillation of signal equipment that would allow express service to run on the Pelham Line was jointly awarded to the Emerson–Garden Electric Company and L. K. Comstock & Company Incorporated for $129,516. The signals were to be installed between Third Avenue–138th Street and Parkchester.[9]

Beginning October 14, 1946, weekday rush and Saturday morning rush peak direction express service started, with Pelham Bay trains using the middle track between East 177th Street and Third Avenue – 138th Street.[10] This express service saved eight minutes between Third Avenue and East 177th Street. During this time, 6 trains that ran local in the Bronx when express trains operated began to terminate at East 177 Street to make room for express trains to Pelham Bay Park.[11] Express service did not start until this date because of the increase in ridership from the huge Parkchester housing complex at East 177th Street.[12]

On November 8, 1947, Union Switch and Signal Company was awarded a contract for $819,375 for block signaling on the Pelham Line. This would have allowed an extension of express service from Parkchester to Pelham Bay Park.[13]

The Westchester Yard was expanded between 1946 and 1949 and the scope of the project included a new signal tower, signal installations, and the elimination of the grade crossings between the yard and the Pelham Line north of the Westchester Square station. All of these projects would allow for sped up main line service and train movements in and out of the yard. The grade separation allowed trains to enter Westchester Yard without crossing the express track or the downtown local track and it allowed for the possibility of the extension of express service to Pelham Bay Park, which would save four more minutes.[12] The increased capacity of the yard allowed the yard to store 358 additional subway cars. With the additional storage space, it would no longer be required to lay up trains on the middle track of the line between East 177th Street and Pelham Bay Park, and it would allow for full day express service. The construction of substations would improve voltage conditions and allow for longer trains to be operated on the line. The work was projected to cost $6,387,000 and it was projected to be completed in 1950.[11]

On August 27, 1953, the New York City Transit Authority approved a plan to lengthen trains along the Pelham Line from seven cars to eight cars during rush hours. The change took place on September 8, 1953.[14]

Unrealized expansion plans[edit]

As part of a 1951 plan, the capacity on the Pelham Line would have been increased.[15]

In March 1954, as part of a proposed $658,000,000 construction program, the Pelham Line would have been connected to the Second Avenue Subway, with service being tripled on the Pelham Line.[16]

The IRT Pelham Line would be converted to B Division standards and connected to the Second Avenue line as Route 132–B of the 1968 Plan for Action. IND Second Avenue Line trains would run east under 138th Street, then along the right-of-way of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor from 138th Street to a point near the Bruckner Expressway and Westchester Avenue as an express bypass of the Pelham line, after which the line would split into a Pelham branch and a Dyre Avenue branch.[17]

The Brook Avenue station just east of Third Avenue–138th Street on the IRT Pelham Line would be reconstructed to allow a cross-platform interchange.[17][18][19] Further north, there would be a connection with the IRT Pelham Line near Westchester Avenue at the Whitlock Avenue station, and station platforms north to Pelham Bay Park would be narrowed and lengthened to accommodate the longer and wider B Division trains from the Second Avenue Subway. IRT local service on the Pelham Line would terminate at Hunts Point Avenue one stop south.[17][18][19] This project would have helped relieve overcrowding on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line, which is the busiest line in the country.[20]

Under Phase 2 of the Plan for Action, the Pelham Line would have been extended to a modern terminal in the Co-op City housing complex.[18][19]

Due to the 1975–76 fiscal crisis that affected the city, most of the remaining projects did not have funding, so they were declined. Expected to be completed by the mid-1970s and early 1980s,[21][22] lines for the Program for Action had to be reduced or canceled altogether due to the 1970s fiscal crisis.[23]

Extent and service[edit]

Service Time period Between
Third Ave–138 St
Pelham Bay Pk
NYCS-bull-trans-6.svg Local Rush hours
and middays
local no service
Other times local
NYCS-bull-trans-6d.svg Express Rush hours
and middays
express local
Other times no service

Express service operates between Parkchester and Third Avenue–138th Street during weekdays from approximately 6:30 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. At those times, Pelham Bay Park cannot handle the large number of 6 and <6> trains in service. As a result, 6 trains run local on the Pelham Line south of Parkchester and short turn there. <6> trains make all stops north of Parkchester, then run express using the center track between that station and Third Avenue–138th Street in the peak direction. At all other times, 6 trains run local on the entire line.[3]

Route description[edit]

Beginning at a junction with the IRT Jerome Avenue Line north of the Lexington Avenue Tunnel at 135th Street,[2] the IRT Pelham Line runs beneath 138th Street for the first three stations in Mott Haven, then curves to the northeast along eastbound Bruckner Boulevard before shortly curving north again along Southern Boulevard. After 145th Street at Samuel Gompers High School, the line curves to the northeast continuing to run under Southern Boulevard. The line returns under eastbound Bruckner Boulevard again, only to leave at Whitlock Avenue and begins to emerge from underground at Aldus Street. The line is transformed into an elevated line over Whitlock Avenue at East 165th Street, but shortly after this encounters the Whitlock Avenue Subway station and curves east over Westchester Avenue which runs over the Sheridan Expressway, Harlem River and Port Chester Railroad line, and the Bronx River. The line remains over Westchester Avenue throughout the rest of its journey.

East of Morrison Avenue station, the road runs over the Bronx River Parkway, and enters Parkchester. The station named after the neighborhood runs over the Hugh J. Grant Circle, which is also over the Cross Bronx Expressway. East of Castle Hill Avenue station, Westchester Avenue branches off to the northeast at Waterbury Avenue (which runs in the same direction prior to that branching), and the line follows. After the Westchester Yard the line runs over the Hutchinson River Parkway interchange just west of Middletown Road station. The line finally ends at Pelham Bay Park station, which contains a pedestrian bridge across Bruckner Expressway leading to the eponymous park.

Depiction in fiction[edit]

The train that is hijacked in the book The Taking of Pelham One Two Three by Morton Freedgood (writing as John Godey) and the three films based on the novel originated on this line from Pelham Bay Park at 1:23 (hence the name "Pelham 123"). It was subsequently hijacked on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line.

Station listing[edit]

Station service legend
Stops all times Stops all times
Stops all times except rush hours in the peak direction Stops all times except rush hours in the peak direction
Stops rush hours in peak direction only Stops rush hours in the peak direction only
Time period details
Handicapped/disabled access Station Tracks Services Opened Notes
Pelham Bay Handicapped/disabled access Pelham Bay Park 6 all times except weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction <6>weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction December 20, 1920 Bx12 Select Bus Service
Elevators are temporarily out of service for repairs until March 2016.[24]
Center Express track begins (No Regular Service to Parkchester)
Buhre Avenue local 6 all times except weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction <6>weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction December 20, 1920
Middletown Road local 6 all times except weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction <6>weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction December 20, 1920
connecting tracks to Westchester Yard
Westchester Square Westchester Square–East Tremont Avenue local 6 all times except weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction <6>weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction October 24, 1920
Castle Hill Zerega Avenue local 6 all times except weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction <6>weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction October 24, 1920
Castle Hill Avenue local 6 all times except weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction <6>weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction October 24, 1920
<6>weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction service switches to/from center express track
Parkchester Parkchester all 6 all times <6>weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction May 27, 1920 Q44 Select Bus Service
originally Parkchester–East 177th Street
Soundview St. Lawrence Avenue local 6 all times May 27, 1920
Morrison Avenue–Soundview local 6 all times May 27, 1920 originally Sound View Avenue, Morrison–Sound View Avenues
Elder Avenue local 6 all times May 27, 1920
Longwood Whitlock Avenue local 6 all times May 27, 1920
Handicapped/disabled access Hunts Point Avenue all 6 all times <6>weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction January 7, 1919
Longwood Avenue local 6 all times January 7, 1919
East 149th Street local 6 all times January 7, 1919
Mott Haven East 143rd Street–St. Mary's Street local 6 all times January 7, 1919
Cypress Avenue local 6 all times January 7, 1919
Brook Avenue local 6 all times January 7, 1919
Third Avenue–138th Street all 6 all times <6>weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction August 1, 1918
Center Express track ends
Merges with IRT Lexington Avenue Line (6 all times <6>weekdays until 8:45 p.m., peak direction)


  1. ^ MTA. "Average weekday subway ridership". Archived from the original on March 28, 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c "New Lines In Bronx Coming This Year: Rays of Rapid Transit to be Let Into Dark Sections in the West and North". The New York Times. January 7, 1919. Retrieved 25 January 2016. 
  3. ^ a b "6 Subway Timetable, Effective December 6, 2015" (PDF). New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved 2016-03-07. 
  4. ^—The Dual Contracts
  5. ^ "The Dual System of Rapid Transit (1912)". Retrieved March 25, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b—History of the Independent Subway
  7. ^ "Opening New Subway H Shortens Distance to A. & S.". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. August 1, 1918. p. 8. Retrieved January 25, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Bronx Subway Extension Opened". New York Times. May 28, 1920. Retrieved 25 January 2016. 
  9. ^ "Awards Subway Contract". New York Times. June 7, 1946. Retrieved January 25, 2016. 
  10. ^ Bolden, Eric. "NYCT Line by Line History". Retrieved 2016-09-01. 
  11. ^ a b Report for the three and one-half years ending June 30, 1949. New York City Board of Transportation. 1949. 
  12. ^ a b Null(0), Tramway (2014-10-08). "Streetcars and Spatial Analysis: Pelham Subway Line: Track Plan as of 1988". Streetcars and Spatial Analysis. Retrieved 2016-09-01. 
  13. ^ "Signals to Expedite Subway". New York Times. November 9, 1947. Retrieved January 25, 2016. 
  14. ^ Ingalls, Leonard (August 28, 1953). "2 Subway Lines to Add Cars, Another to Speed Up Service". New York Times. Retrieved January 25, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Board of Transportation - 1951". Retrieved March 25, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Improvements That Are Planned for Subways". The New York Times. March 24, 1954. Retrieved February 8, 2016. 
  17. ^ a b c "Highlights of Program For Subway, Rail and Air". The New York Times. February 29, 1968. Retrieved September 27, 2015. 
  18. ^ a b c "Full text of "Metropolitan transportation, a program for action. Report to Nelson A. Rockefeller, Governor of New York."". Internet Archive. November 7, 1967. Retrieved October 1, 2015. 
  19. ^ a b c Feinman, Mark. "The New York Transit Authority in the 1970s". Retrieved April 23, 2015. 
  20. ^ Second Ave subway construction, 34th St to 126th St, Manhattan :environmental impact statement. 1970-01-01. 
  21. ^ "New Line May Get Double Trackage: Transit Unit Shift on Queens Super-Express". The New York Times. February 21, 1971. Retrieved September 26, 2015. 
  22. ^ Burks, Edward C. (October 24, 1973). "Work Begun on Queens Subway Extension". The New York Times. Retrieved September 26, 2015. 
  23. ^ Joseph B. Raskin (November 1, 2013). The Routes Not Taken: A Trip Through New York City's Unbuilt Subway System. Fordham University Press. ISBN 978-0-8232-5369-2. Retrieved August 12, 2015. 
  24. ^ " | Station Information". Retrieved 2016-03-25. 

External links[edit]

Route map: Bing / Google

KML is from Wikidata