Montauk Branch

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Montauk Branch
LIRR Cannonball train 2798.jpg
The Cannonball runs express through Bay Shore to the Hamptons along the Montauk Branch.
TypeCommuter rail, freight rail
SystemLong Island Rail Road
LocaleLong Island, New York, USA
TerminiLong Island City (physical line); Bay Shore (service pattern)
Stations33 (physical line); 16 (service pattern)
OwnerLong Island Rail Road
Operator(s)Metropolitan Transportation Authority (passenger)
New York and Atlantic Railway (freight)
Number of tracks2 (from Long Island City to Sayville)
1 (east of Sayville)
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Route map

1.9 mi
3.1 km
Long Island City
"7" train
73.1 mi
117.6 km
Lower Montauk Branch
99.9 mi
160.8 km
Penny Bridge
Fresh Pond
Zone 1
Zone 3
10.8 mi
17.4 km
AirTrain JFK notext logo.svg "E" train​​"J" train"Z" train
99.9 mi
160.8 km
West Hempstead Branch
99.9 mi
160.8 km
West Hempstead Branch
13.6 mi
21.9 km
St. Albans
99.9 mi
160.8 km
99.9 mi
160.8 km
Babylon Branch
99.9 mi
160.8 km
Babylon Branch
Zone 3
Zone 4
Valley Stream
19.5 mi
31.4 km
Zone 4
Zone 7
20.9 mi
33.6 km
Rockville Centre
22.9 mi
36.9 km
24.1 mi
38.8 km
25.9 mi
41.7 km
27.2 mi
43.8 km
28.2 mi
45.4 km
29.4 mi
47.3 km
30.3 mi
48.8 km
31.0 mi
49.9 km
Massapequa Park
Zone 7
Zone 9
32.9 mi
52.9 km
34.0 mi
54.7 km
35.5 mi
57.1 km
20.3 mi
32.7 km
26.6 mi
42.8 km
32.3 mi
52 km
end of
Zone 9
Zone 10
42.3 mi
68.1 km
Bay Shore
44.8 mi
72.1 km
46.9 mi
75.5 km
Great River
49.0 mi
78.9 km
51.5 mi
82.9 km
Blue Point
55.6 mi
89.5 km
Zone 10
Zone 12
59.4 mi
95.6 km
64.0 mi
103 km
Mastic – Shirley
73.1 mi
117.6 km
Zone 12
Zone 14
75.9 mi
122.1 km
83.7 mi
134.7 km
Hampton Bays
Canoe Place
90.9 mi
146.3 km
Water Mill
96.1 mi
154.7 km
103 mi
166 km
East Hampton
106 mi
171 km
117 mi
188 km

Distances shown are from Pennsylvania Station.

Logo of the Cannonball express train

The Montauk Branch is a rail line owned and operated by the Long Island Rail Road in the U.S. state of New York. The branch runs the length of Long Island, 115 miles (185 km) from Long Island City on the west to Montauk on the east. However, in LIRR maps and schedules for public use the term Montauk Branch refers to the line east of Babylon; the line west of there is covered by Babylon Branch schedules to Jamaica.[1][2]

Route description[edit]

Lower Montauk[edit]

Lower Montauk Branch (defunct Richmond Hill station) in 2019

The westernmost portion of the Montauk Branch in Queens, known as the "Lower Montauk", runs between Long Island City and Jamaica stations, mostly at street level with grade crossings. This portion had nine stations, four of which were closed by 1940. The remaining five stations (Richmond Hill, Glendale, Fresh Pond, Haberman, and Penny Bridge) were closed on March 13, 1998,[3] due to low ridership and incompatibility with then-new C3 bi-level coach cars that can only use high platforms (only Richmond Hill had an actual platform, the other four stations' platforms were just pavement strips beside the tracks). After these stations closed, the LIRR continued to use the Lower Montauk to operate express trains between Jamaica and Long Island City; there were only two such trains at the time of the 1998 station closures, one westbound in the morning, and one eastbound in the evening. These two trains were re-routed north to Hunterspoint Avenue in 2012, effectively ceasing passenger train service on the Lower Montauk. Soon after, full control of the Lower Montauk was transferred to the New York and Atlantic Railway for freight operations.[4][better source needed]

The New York City Department of Transportation has periodically floated proposals to repurpose the Lower Montauk Branch for rapid transit operations. In 1984, the Department studied an option to connect the branch to the New York City Subway through a proposed connection to the IND 63rd Street Line in Long Island City.[5] This proposal was unpopular in the communities surrounding the branch.[6] In 2017, the Department studied a plan to operate light rail service on the Lower Montauk Branch.[7]

After Penn Station opened in 1910 the Lower Montauk became the freight route, and when the present Jamaica station opened in 1913 the two Lower Montauk tracks continued past the south side of the station, south of Hall tower and the south Union Hall Street platform and on to Holban Yard. Those two tracks now carry trains to/from the Hillside Facility that has replaced Holban Yard; they can also carry nonstop Main Line trains past Jamaica station. East from Jamaica the Montauk Branch runs between the Main Line tracks (with two usually westward Main Line tracks north of it and two eastward tracks south of it) until it rises to cross above the other tracks at 40°42′21″N 73°47′04″W / 40.70585°N 73.7845°W / 40.70585; -73.7845 and turns southeast to swing parallel to the Atlantic Branch at 40°40′01″N 73°44′49″W / 40.667°N 73.747°W / 40.667; -73.747. The Montauk Branch east of Jamaica is 0.7 mile longer than the Atlantic.

Babylon Branch[edit]

The portion between Jamaica and Babylon stations has been electrified since 1925, and electric trains to Babylon are often identified as a separate service, the Babylon Branch. It is grade-separated on embankments or elevated structures. From Babylon east to Montauk, diesel-electric or dual-mode electric/diesel-electric locomotives haul trains of passenger coaches.

The Montauk Line has heavy ridership and frequent service as far as Patchogue station and commuter service as far as Speonk station. In the summer, with travelers going out to The Hamptons, Fire Island and other beaches, additional service is operated to the far eastern terminal at Montauk, such as the Cannonball, a Friday afternoon train departing from Penn Station (originally Hunterspoint Avenue) and running non-stop to Westhampton station in Westhampton. The Montauk Branch, along with the parallel Atlantic Branch, spawns three subsidiary branches: the West Hempstead Branch, Far Rockaway Branch, and Long Beach Branch.

The electrified portion of the Montauk Branch ends in the village of Babylon. Some of the Montauk's diesel trains begin or end their runs at Babylon station, connecting with electric trains there. Other Montauk diesel trains operate into New York City, to Jamaica station; Hunterspoint Avenue or Long Island City stations in Long Island City; or Penn Station.

East of Babylon[edit]

The terminal stations in diesel territory, east of Babylon, are Patchogue, Speonk, and Montauk. The Montauk Branch is double-tracked from just east of Long Island City all the way through Babylon, becoming single track at Y Interlocking (located east of the Sayville station) (a short section of track east of Long Island City is single tracked). Most Montauk Branch diesel trains operate west to NYC via the diesel-only Central Branch, joining the Main Line east of Bethpage station. Only a few actually run via the Montauk Branch west of Babylon, under normal conditions on the Main Line.

The Montauk was home to the last tower in North America that regularly used "hooping" train operations: PD Tower, in Patchogue. "Hooping" is the transfer of instructions to the engineer and conductor by attaching the folded orders to the "hoop", a rod several feet long with a loop at the end that is passed from the ground to a moving train by catching the loop on one's arm. The last train to get hooped at PD was train 2730 on May 6, 2006.[8]


Currently, the Montauk Branch intersects with the Bushwick Branch, Bay Ridge Branch, West Hempstead Branch, and Central Branch, as well as the Main Line at Long Island City and Jamaica and the Atlantic Branch at Jamaica and Valley Stream; the Far Rockaway Branch and Long Beach Branch are connected via the Atlantic Branch at Valley Stream. In the past, junctions existed with the Rockaway Beach Branch (a quarter mile east of Woodhaven Boulevard), Southern Hempstead Branch (Valley Stream to Hempstead), Manorville Branch (Eastport to Manorville on the Main Line), and Sag Harbor Branch (Bridgehampton to Sag Harbor). In early times, the Scoot ran frequently between Greenport on the North Fork, "around the horn" on the Manorville Branch, and east to Sag Harbor. In their day, both of those villages were very busy, bustling ports.

Formation and early days: 1860s to 1925[edit]

The South Side Railroad of Long Island built the line from Bushwick, Brooklyn to Patchogue in the 1860s, and completed the new line to Long Island City in 1870.[9] With the reorganization of the South Side as the Southern Railroad of Long Island in 1874 and its lease by the LIRR in 1876, this line became the Southern Railroad Division,[10] Southern Railroad of Long Island Division, or simply Southern Division.[11] Effective Sunday, June 25, 1876, all Southern Division passenger trains were rerouted to use the LIRR main line from Berlin Junction (west of Jamaica) to Rockaway Junction, and the LIRR's Rockaway Branch to Springfield Junction, where it crossed the Southern. This change resulted in the closure of the Southern's Berlin, Beaver Street (Jamaica), Locust Avenue, and Springfield stations.[12] The old line between Jamaica and Springfield, which became freight-only, was renamed the Old Southern Road.[13] The Southern was reorganized as the Brooklyn and Montauk Railroad in 1879,[14] and on March 14, 1880, the name was changed from the Southern Division to the Montauk Division.[15] Thus the old South Side Railroad, except between Jamaica and Springfield Junction, was now the Montauk Division.

The LIRR opened the Sag Harbor Branch, including the present Montauk Branch from Eastport to Bridgehampton, on June 8, 1870.[16] On July 27, 1881, after the South Side became part of the LIRR, its line – then the Montauk Division – was extended east to the Sag Harbor Branch at Eastport.[17] The Sag Harbor Branch east of Eastport became part of the Montauk Division,[18] and the old line from Manor (Manorville) to Eastport became the Manor Branch.[19] An extension to Montauk, splitting off the old Sag Harbor Branch at Bridgehampton, opened to Amagansett on June 1, 1895[20] and to Montauk by September,[21] and the line between Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor reverted to the old Sag Harbor Branch name.[22]

Babylon electrification: 1925 to present[edit]

Electrification of the Montauk Division from Jamaica to Babylon was completed on May 20, 1925,[23] and normal operation began the next day.[24] The Central Extension between Bethpage and Babylon was reopened for freight trains that had run via the Montauk Division.[14]

The Montauk station was initially near the center of a sleepy fishing village at the north end of Fort Pond (where Austin Corbin built a pier in his unsuccessful effort to have trans-Atlantic ships dock there.) The Great Hurricane of 1938 devastated the terminus area and tore up sections of the roadbed. The population center then moved two miles (3 km) to the south, away from the station.

1998 saw the closure of three lightly used stations: Center Moriches, Quogue, and Southampton College. Southampton College was temporarily reinstated in 2004, complete with a steel walkway over Route 27 to the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, during the U.S. Open tournament. At the conclusion of the tournament, the walkway was dismantled and the station stop discontinued.

On April 16, 2019, New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele announced that funding to design improvements on the Montauk Branch would likely be included in the 2019-2020 state budget. The funding would be used by the LIRR to design three passing sidings to be installed on the line in single-track territory between Speonk and Montauk. The installation of passing sidings would allow for increased service on the South Fork Commuter Connection. MTA President and CEO Pat Foye said that improvements to the Montauk Branch were identified in the LIRR's request for the MTA' s Twenty-Year Needs Assessment.[25]


West Hempstead Branch trains split off after St. Albans. Babylon Branch trains terminate at Babylon, while Montauk Branch trains continue beyond. Many non-electric Montauk Branch trains that run express between Jamaica and Babylon run via the Main Line and Central Branch.

Zone Station Miles (km)
from NYP[26]
Connections / notes
1 Long Island City Handicapped/disabled access 1.9 (3.1) 1854 BSicon SUBWAY.svg NYC Subway: "7" train"7" express train​ (at Vernon Boulevard – Jackson Avenue)
Bus transport MTA Bus: Q103
BSicon BOOT.svg NY Waterway: East River Ferry
Penny Bridge 1854 1998[3]
Laurel Hill 1890 1900
Haberman 1892 1998[3]
Maspeth 1895 c. 1924
Fresh Pond 1869 1998[3] Originally Bushwick Junction
Glendale 1869 1998[3]
Ridgewood 1883 1924
Richmond Hill 1868 1998[3] Originally Clarenceville
Shops c. 1900 1913 Part of the Morris Park Facility
Atlantic Branch converges at Dunton Interlocking
Dunton 1869
Originally Van Wyck Avenue, then Berlin
Main Line converges at Jay Interlocking
3 Jamaica Handicapped/disabled access 10.8 (17.4) 1836 BSicon BAHN.svg LIRR; Atlantic, Babylon, Belmont Park, Far Rockaway, Hempstead, Long Beach,
Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma, and West Hempstead Branches
BSicon SUBWAY.svg NYC Subway: "E" train​​"J" train"Z" train (at Sutphin Boulevard – Archer Avenue – JFK Airport)
Bus transport NYCT Bus: Q20A, Q20B, Q24, Q30, Q31, Q43, Q44 SBS, 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 at Hall Interlocking
Union Hall Street c. 1890 1976 Originally New York Avenue
Canal Street 1890[27] 1899
Hillside 1890[27] 1966
Main Line diverges at Rockaway Junction
St. Albans 13.6 (21.9) 1898[28] Bus transport NYCT Bus: Q4
Originally named Locust Avenue[29]
Springfield Gardens 1870s 1979 Originally Springfield
Atlantic Branch converges at Springfield Junction
Rosedale 15.8 (25.4) 1870 Served by Atlantic Branch trains
Originally Foster's Meadow
Queens / Nassau county line
Valley Stream Handicapped/disabled access 17.9 (28.8) 1869[14] Served by Atlantic Branch trains
Lynbrook Handicapped/disabled access 19.5 (31.4) 1867[14] BSicon BAHN.svg LIRR: Long Beach Branch
Bus transport NICE Bus: n4, n25, n31, n32
Originally Pearsall's Corners, then Pearsall's
7 Rockville Centre Handicapped/disabled access 21.1 (34.0) 1867 Bus transport NICE Bus: n15, n16, Mercy Medical Shuttle
Baldwin Handicapped/disabled access 23.0 (37.0) 1867 Bus transport NICE Bus: n35
Originally Baldwinsville,[30] then Baldwins
Freeport Handicapped/disabled access 24.5 (39.4) 1867 Bus transport NICE Bus: n4, n19, n40, n41, n43, n88 (summer only)
Merrick Handicapped/disabled access 25.9 (41.7) 1867
Bellmore Handicapped/disabled access 27.4 (44.1) 1869
Wantagh 27.8 (44.7) 1867 Originally Ridgewood
Seaford Handicapped/disabled access 29.5 (47.5) 1899 Bus transport NICE Bus: n54
Massapequa Handicapped/disabled access 30.5 (49.1) 1867 Bus transport NICE Bus: n54, n55, n80
Originally South Oyster Bay
Massapequa Park 30.8 (49.6) 1933 Bus transport NICE Bus: n54, n55, n80
Unqua 1880 1881
Nassau / Suffolk county line
9 Amityville 33.1 (53.3) 1868 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: 1A, S1, S20, S33
Copiague 34.2 (55.0) 1902 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S20, S31
Belmont Junction 1875 1876
Lindenhurst 35.5 (57.1) 1867 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S20
Originally Wellwood, then Breslau
Central Branch converges
Babylon Handicapped/disabled access 38.4 (61.8) 1867[14] BSicon BAHN.svg LIRR: Montauk Branch
Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S20, S23, S25, S27, S29, S40, S42, S47 (summer only)
Originally Seaside[14]
Terminus of electrification
10 Bay Shore Handicapped/disabled access 42.5 (68.4) 1868 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: 2A, 2B, S40, S41, S42, S45
BSicon BOOT.svg Fire Island Ferries to Fire Island (1 mile south)
Originally Penataquit, then Bayshore
Islip Centre 1868 1869
Islip Handicapped/disabled access 44.9 (72.3) 1868 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S42
Club House 1870 1897
Great River Handicapped/disabled access 47.0 (75.6) 1897 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S40, 3C
Originally Youngsport
Oakdale Handicapped/disabled access 49.2 (79.2) 1868 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S40
Sayville Handicapped/disabled access 51.6 (83.0) 1868 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S40, S57, S59
BSicon BOOT.svg Sayville Ferry Service to Fire Island
Bayport 1869 1980
Blue Point 1870
Patchogue Handicapped/disabled access 55.7 (89.6) 1869 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: 7A, 7B, S40, S54, S61, S63, S66, S68
Bus transport Patchogue Village Bus
BSicon BOOT.svg Davis Park Ferry to Fire Island
East Patchogue 1890[31] 1928
Hagerman 1890 1929
12 Bellport Handicapped/disabled access 59.6 (95.9) 1882 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: 7B, S66, S68
Originally Accobomac then Brewster Place[31]
Brookhaven 1884 1958
Mastic–Shirley Handicapped/disabled access 64.1 (103.2) 1960 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S66, S68
Mastic 1882 1960 Originally Forge
Center Moriches 1881 1998 Originally Moriches
East Moriches 1897 1958
Former Manorville Branch converged
Eastport 1870 1958 Originally Moriches
Speonk Handicapped/disabled access 73.4 (118.1) 1870
14 Westhampton Handicapped/disabled access 76.1 (122.5) 1870
Quogue 1875 1998
East Quogue 1871 c.1883 Originally Atlanticville[32]
Hampton Bays Handicapped/disabled access 83.0 (133.6) 1871 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S92
Originally Good Ground
Canoe Place 1935 1953
Suffolk Downs 1907 1921
Shinnecock Hills 1887 1932
Southampton College 1907
Originally Golf Grounds, then Southampton Campus
Temporarily reopened for the 1986 U.S. Open
Southampton Handicapped/disabled access 91.1 (146.6) 1871 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S92
Water Mill 1875 c. 1968[31] Originally Watermill
Bridgehampton Handicapped/disabled access 95.8 (154.2) 1870 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: 10B, S92
Former Sag Harbor Branch diverged
Wainscott 1898 1938
East Hampton Handicapped/disabled access 103.0 (165.8) 1895 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: 10B, 10C, S92
Originally Easthampton
Amagansett Handicapped/disabled access 106.0 (170.6) 1895 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: 10C
Napeague Beach 1895 1927
Fanny Bartlett 1924 1928
Promised Land c. 1900 1928
Montauk Handicapped/disabled access 117.0 (188.3) 1895 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: 10C


  1. ^ "MTA LIRR - LIRR Map".
  2. ^ LIRR Montauk Branch Timetable
  3. ^ a b c d e f Sengupta, Somini (March 15, 1998). "End of the Line for L.I.R.R.'s 10 Loneliest Stops". New York Times. Retrieved December 24, 2007. After 122 years, Glendale saw its last train on Friday.
  4. ^ "The LIRR Says Goodbye to Lower Montauk". (registration required)
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Lower Montauk Branch Rail Study" (PDF). New York City Department of Transportation.
  8. ^ Block Operator Chris Soundy hooping some of the last orders from “PD” tower to the engineer of eastbound DE-30ac #420 (Photo: by Pat Masterson May 4, 2006
  9. ^ "PRR Chronology, 1870" (PDF). (57.0 KiB), January 2005 Edition
  10. ^ Long Island Railroad Company, Long Island and where to Go, 1877
  11. ^ "Long Island". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. August 22, 1877. p. 1.
  12. ^ "Railroad Changes". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. June 27, 1876. p. 2.
  13. ^ "oldsouthernroad".
  14. ^ a b c d e f Vincent F. Seyfried, The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, Part One: South Side R.R. of L.I., 1961
  15. ^ "Railroad Reorganization". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. March 15, 1880. p. 10.
  16. ^ "Railroad Dedication". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. June 6, 1870. p. 2.
  17. ^ "Another Link". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. July 22, 1881. p. 4.
  18. ^ "Golden Days". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. August 1, 1881. p. 4.
  19. ^ "A Forest Fire". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. June 13, 1896. p. 4.
  20. ^ "Latest Long Island News". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. June 1, 1895. p. 7.
  21. ^ "The Fall Time Table". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. September 7, 1895. p. 7.
  22. ^ "New Block Signals". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. March 8, 1896. p. 7.
  24. ^ "PRR Chronology, PRR Chronology, 1925" (PDF)., June 2004 Edition
  25. ^ Wehner, Greg (April 16, 2019). "State Looks To Designate Funds For Expansion Of The LIRR Montauk Branch - Southampton". Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  26. ^ Station pages linked from LIRR Stations
  27. ^ a b "Rapid Transit Extension". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. June 24, 1890. p. 1.
  28. ^ Long Island Railroad Station History ( Archived January 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ 1898 Railroad Map of Queens and Kings County (Unofficial LIRR History Website)
  30. ^ "SSRR BALDWIN".
  31. ^ a b c "Babylon/Montauk stations".
  32. ^ "early LIRR stations".

External links[edit]

Route map:

KML is not from Wikidata

Media related to Montauk Branch (Long Island Rail Road) at Wikimedia Commons