Main Line (Long Island Rail Road)

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For other uses, see Main Line (disambiguation).
LIRR Main Line
LIRR Main Line from Grand Av overpass jeh.jpg
At the Grand Avenue overpass
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 750 V (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,[ua 1] 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[ua 2] 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[ua 3] 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.[3]


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.[4][5][6][7]

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.[8]

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.[9][10] 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,[11][12][13] 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.[14]


Hempstead Branch trains run on separate tracks east of Queens Village (and, east of Floral Park, split to the south), 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. Trains stop at stations marked as ● and pass stations marked as —. Diesel trains stop at stations marked as ♦ during weekday rush hours. Some trains do not stop at stations marked as ¤.

Zone Station name Miles (km)
from NYP[15]
Port Jefferson
Connections / Notes
1 Pennsylvania Station Handicapped/disabled access1 0.0 (0.0) 1910 BSicon SUBWAY.svg NYC Subway: NYCS-bull-trans-1.svg NYCS-bull-trans-2.svg NYCS-bull-trans-3.svg (at 34th Street – Penn Station (Seventh Avenue))
NYCS-bull-trans-A.svg NYCS-bull-trans-C.svg NYCS-bull-trans-E.svg (at 34th Street – Penn Station (Eighth Avenue))
Bus transport NYCT Bus: M4, M7, M20, M34 / M34A SBS, Q32
BSicon BAHN.svg New Jersey Transit
BSicon BAHN.svg Amtrak
Long Island City Handicapped/disabled access 1.9 (3.1) 1854 BSicon SUBWAY.svg NYC Subway: NYCS-bull-trans-7.svg NYCS-bull-trans-7d.svg (at Vernon Boulevard – Jackson Avenue)
Bus transport MTA Bus: Q103
BSicon BOOT.svg NY Waterway: East River Ferry
Hunterspoint Avenue 2.5 (4.0) 1860 BSicon SUBWAY.svg NYC Subway NYCS-bull-trans-7.svg NYCS-bull-trans-7d.svg (at Hunters Point Avenue)
Bus transport NYCT Bus: B62
Bus transport MTA Bus: Q67
For service to Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal, see City Terminal Zone
Woodside Handicapped/disabled access 4.9 (7.9) 1869[16] BSicon BAHN.svg LIRR: Port Washington Branch
BSicon SUBWAY.svg NYC Subway: NYCS-bull-trans-7.svg NYCS-bull-trans-7d.svg (at 61st Street – Woodside)
Bus transport NYCT Bus: Q32
Bus transport MTA Bus: Q18, Q53, Q70 to LGA
Winfield 1864 1929
Port Washington Branch diverges
Grand Street 1913 1925
Rego Park 1928 1962
Matawok 1922 1925
Forest Hills Handicapped/disabled access 8.5 (13.7) ¤ ¤ 1906 BSicon SUBWAY.svg NYC Subway: NYCS-bull-trans-E.svg NYCS-bull-trans-F.svg NYCS-bull-trans-M.svg NYCS-bull-trans-R.svg (at Forest Hills – 71st Avenue)
Bus transport MTA Bus: Q23, Q60, Q64
Hopedale 1875 c. 1884
Kew Gardens Handicapped/disabled access 8.8 (14.2) ¤ ¤ 1879 BSicon SUBWAY.svg NYC Subway: NYCS-bull-trans-E.svg NYCS-bull-trans-F.svg (at Kew Gardens – Union Turnpike)
Bus transport NYCT Bus: Q10, Q37
Bus transport MTA Bus: QM18
Originally Maple Grove, then Kew
Westbridge[17] 1916 1939 Originally High Bridge
Dunton 1897 1939
3 Jamaica Handicapped/disabled access 10.8 (17.4) 1836 BSicon BAHN.svg LIRR; Atlantic, Babylon, Belmont Park, Far Rockaway, Hempstead, Long Beach,
Montauk, Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma, and West Hempstead Branches
BSicon SUBWAY.svg NYC Subway: NYCS-bull-trans-E.svg NYCS-bull-trans-J.svg NYCS-bull-trans-Z.svg (at Sutphin Boulevard – Archer Avenue – JFK Airport)
Bus transport NYCT Bus: Q20A, Q20B, Q24, Q30, Q31, Q43, Q44, Q54, Q56
Bus transport MTA Bus: Q6, Q8, Q9, Q25, Q34, Q40, Q41, Q60, Q65
Bus transport NICE Bus: N4
BSicon TRAM.svg AirTrain JFK: Jamaica Station Route
Atlantic Branch diverges
Union Hall Street 1890 1976 Originally New York Avenue
Canal Street 1890[18] 1899
Hillside c. 1909
May 15, 1911
Babylon and Montauk Branches diverge
Hillside Facility X2 X2 1991 Employee-only station
Rockaway Junction, also called Woodhull Park[19] 1875 or 1890[18] c. 1905
Willow Tree[20] March 1, 1837 June 1872
Hollis 13.4 (21.6) - ¤ 1885 Bus transport NYCT Bus: Q2, Q3
Bus transport MTA Bus: Q110
Originally East Jamaica
Bellaire 1837[21] 1972 Originally Flushing Avenue, then Brushville, then Interstate Park, then Brushville Road
Queens Village 15.0 (24.1) - ¤ 1881 Bus transport NYCT Bus: Q1, Q27, Q36, Q83, Q88
Bus transport NICE Bus: N24
Belmont Park Branch diverges
Queens / Nassau county line
Bellerose - - 1898 Hempstead Branch only
Hempstead Branch diverges
Floral Park 16.7 (26.9) - ¤ c. 1870 BSicon BAHN.svg LIRR: Hempstead Branch
Bus transport NYCT Bus: Q36, Q79
Bus transport NICE Bus: N24
Originally Plainfield, then Stewart Junction, then Hinsdale, then East Hinsdale
New Hyde Park Handicapped/disabled access 18.0 (29.0) - 1845 Bus transport NICE Bus: N24, N25
Originally Hyde Park
Merillon Avenue Handicapped/disabled access 19.1 (30.7) - ¤ 1837 Originally Clowesville, then Garden City
Mineola Handicapped/disabled access 20.3 (32.3) ¤ 1837[21] Bus transport NICE Bus: N22, N23, N24, N40, N41, N78, N79
Originally Hempstead, then Branch or Hempstead Branch
Oyster Bay Branch diverges
7 Carle Place Handicapped/disabled access 22.2 (35.7) - 1842[22] Bus transport NICE Bus: N22
Originally Carll Place
Westbury Handicapped/disabled access 23.2 (37.3) - 1837[21] Bus transport NICE Bus: N22, N35
New Cassel November 1875 March 1876
Hicksville Handicapped/disabled access 26.6 (42.8) 1837[21] Bus transport NICE Bus: N20, N22, N48, N49, N50, N73, N74, N78, N79, N80, N81, N87
Port Jefferson Branch diverges
Main Line is solely the Ronkonkoma Branch
Grumman 28.5 (45.9) Through to
Port Jefferson
via Huntington
1942 1985
Bethpage Handicapped/disabled access 29.7 (47.8) c. 1854[23] Bus transport NICE Bus: N81
Originally Jerusalem, then Central Park
Bethpage Junction 1873
Central Branch diverges
Farmingdale Handicapped/disabled access 32.0 (51.5) 1841[24][25] Bus transport NICE Bus: N70, N72
Nassau / Suffolk county line
Republic 33.0 (53.1) 1940 1987
Pinelawn Handicapped/disabled access 34.2 (55.0) ¤ c. 1890 Originally Melville
Wyandanch Handicapped/disabled access 36.5 (58.7) 1875 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S23, S33, 2A, 2B
Originally West Deer Park, then Wyandance
Edgewood 1892 1914
Deer Park Handicapped/disabled access 40.2 (64.9) 1842[26][27] Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S27
Bus transport Tanger Shuttle Bus
Pilgrim State Hospital c. 1931 May 21, 1978
Thompson 42.2 (67.9) 1842[28] 1869
Pineaire 1915 1986
10 Brentwood Handicapped/disabled access 42.9 (69.0) 1870 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: 3A, 3B, 3D, S27, S41, S45
Originally Modern Times
Suffolk 44.7 (71.9) 1842[29] 1873
Central Islip Handicapped/disabled access 45.4 (73.1) 1873 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: 3C, 3D, S42, S45
Central Islip State Hospital
Nichols Road
50.2 (80.8) 1843 1883 Originally Lake Road
Ronkonkoma Handicapped/disabled access 50.3 (81.0) 1883 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: 6A, 7A, S57, S59
Eastern end of electrified service; originally Lake Ronkonkoma
Hermanville 50.6 (81.4) 1850
Holbrook 51.6 (83.0) 1907 1962[30]
Holtsville 54.2 (87.2) 1843 1998 Originally Waverly[31]
Medford Handicapped/disabled access
(limited service)
55.9 (89.0) 1844[32] Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S61
Bartlett's 58.7 (94.5) 1844 1880 Originally Bellport
Fire Place 1844[32] 1845
12 Yaphank Handicapped/disabled access
(limited service)
60.4 (97.2) 1844 Originally Milleville
Carman's River 1844[32] 1845
Upton Road 1918 1922
Camp Upton 1917 1922
Wampmissic 65.1 (104.6) c. 1847–1848
Manorville 67.0 (107.8) 1844 c. 1968 Originally St. George's Manor, then Manor
Calverton 71.1 (114.4) 1852
c. 1958
Originally Hulse Turnout, then Baiting Hollow
14 Riverhead Handicapped/disabled access
(limited service)
75.1 (120.9) 1844 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S62, S90, S92, 8A
Aquebogue June 1892 July 1967
Jamesport 80.2 (129.1) 1844 1985
Laurel 81.7 (131.5) 1967
Mattituck Handicapped/disabled access
(limited service)
84.2 (135.5) 1844
Cutchogue 87.2 (140.3) 1844 1962
Peconic 90.2 (145.2) 1844 1970 Originally Hermitage
Southold Handicapped/disabled access
(limited service)
91.9 (147.9) 1844 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S92
Greenport Handicapped/disabled access
(limited service)
96.1 (154.7) 1844 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S92
BSicon BOOT.svg North Ferry to Shelter Island Heights

1Pennsylvania Station is owned by Amtrak and is not part of the Main Line.
2At Hillside Facility, trains stop to pick up any employees; however, passengers may not board or exit trains at this station.

Coordinate notes[edit]


  1. ^ "Blogger". (registration required (help)). 
  2. ^ The tunnels and the track to Penn Station are not owned by LIRR, but by Amtrak.
  3. ^ "New Service Enhancements Coming to the LIRR in 2014 (The LIRR Today)". Retrieved 2013-09-07. (registration required (help)). 
  4. ^ PRR Chronology, 1837 PDF (98.8 KiB), June 2004 Edition
  5. ^ PRR Chronology, 1841 PDF (60.7 KiB), May 2004 Edition
  6. ^ PRR Chronology, 1842 PDF (70.6 KiB), May 2004 Edition
  7. ^ PRR Chronology, 1844 PDF (41.4 KiB), May 2004 Edition
  8. ^ "LIRR Branch Notes". 
  9. ^ "MTA - Planning Studies". 
  10. ^ Main Line Corridor Improvements Project brochure
  11. ^ Stephanie Mariel Petrellese (2005-11-11). "Floral Park Mayor To Address LIRR Expansion". The Garden City News. Retrieved 2006-12-23. 
  12. ^ Carisa Keane (2005-06-24). "Residents: MTA/LIRR Needs to Get on Right Track". New Hyde Park Illustrated News. Retrieved 2006-12-23. 
  13. ^ Stephanie Mariel Petrellese (2006-12-15). "Village Meets With LIRR On "Third Track" Project". The Garden City News. Retrieved 2006-12-23. 
  14. ^ CAROLYN NARDIELLO (2008-09-16). "Third-Track Plan Isn’t Dead, L.I.R.R. Insists". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-07-31. 
  15. ^ Station pages linked from LIRR Stations
  16. ^ Vincent F. Seyfried, The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, Part Two: The Flushing, North Shore & Central Railroad, © 1963
  17. ^ "WESTBRIDGE". 
  18. ^ a b "Rapid Transit Extension". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). June 24, 1890. p. 1. 
  20. ^ "CABIN 10 JAMAICA". 
  21. ^ a b c d Brooklyn Advocate, Long Island Rail Road, February 1837
  22. ^ "Long Island Railroad Company". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). May 28, 1842. p. 3. 
  23. ^ "RAILROADS". New York Times. 1854-04-13. pp. p7. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  24. ^ "The Long Delay at Hicksville". Newsday. 
  25. ^ "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.)
  26. ^ "untitled". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). March 14, 1842. p. 2. 
  27. ^ "Long Island Railroad Company". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). March 16, 1842. p. 3. 
  28. ^ "Long Island Railroad". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). June 29, 1842. p. 2. 
  29. ^ "untitled". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). August 6, 1842. p. 2. 
  30. ^ Holbrook Station @ Ronkonkoma MP 49-50; October 1957(
  31. ^ May 13, 1912, Photo @ Ron Ziel collection (Unofficial LIRR History Website)
  32. ^ a b c "Long Island Railroad Co". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). June 24, 1844. p. 2. 

External links[edit]