Port Jefferson Branch

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Port Jefferson Branch
Stony Brook (LIRR station) in 2008.jpg
DE30AC #400 enters Stony Brook station westbound from Port Jefferson in 2008.
Type Commuter rail
System Long Island Rail Road
Status Operational
Locale Nassau and Suffolk County, New York, USA
Termini Floral Park
Port Jefferson
Stations 10
Opened 1854-1873
Owner Long Island Rail Road
Operator(s) Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Electrification 750 V (DC) third rail
(west of Huntington)
Route map
Main Line (west)
26.8 Hicksville
Main Line (east)
Landia closed 1973
31.0 Syosset
Suffolk County
Zone 7
Zone 9
34.0 Cold Spring Harbor
36.6 Huntington
end of electrification
39.4 Greenlawn
Northport Branch abandoned 1985
42.5 Northport
Zone 9
Zone 10
45.3 Kings Park
KPPC Branch abandoned 1988
49.0 Smithtown
51.5 St. James
Flowerfield closed 1958
55.1 Stony Brook
Setauket closed 1980
59.4 Port Jefferson
Miller Place closed 1938
Rocky Point closed 1938
Shoreham closed 1938
Wading River closed 1938

Distances shown in miles from Pennsylvania Station.

The Port Jefferson Branch is a rail line and service owned and operated by the Long Island Rail Road in the U.S. state of New York. The branch splits from the Main Line just east of Hicksville and runs northeast and east to Port Jefferson. Several stations on the Main Line west of Hicksville are served primarily by trains bound to/from the Port Jefferson branch, so LIRR maps and schedules for the public include that part of the Main Line in the "Port Jefferson Branch" service.

The Port Jefferson Branch is one of the busiest branches of the LIRR, with frequent electric service to Huntington where electrification ends, and diesel service east of Huntington continues to Port Jefferson. The MTA also refers to the line as the "Port Jefferson/Huntington Branch", "Huntington Branch" or the "Hicksville/Huntington Branch".


Port Jefferson Branch service (as distinct from the piece of railroad called the Port Jefferson Branch) extends east from Floral Park, where the Hempstead Branch separates from the Main Line. The line west of Huntington is electrified and double tracked. Electrification extends to a point east of Huntington before Greenlawn station on a layup track for electric trains. East of there the line is single track with passing sidings at Greenlawn, east of East Northport, Kings Park, Smithtown and Stony Brook allowing trains traveling in opposite directions to pass each other.

Electric trains on the branch operate between Penn Station and Huntington, providing local service on the branch; additional weekday service operates between Penn Station and Hicksville. Trains to the Ronkonkoma Branch provide supplemental service; these usually run express, stopping only at Mineola and/or Hicksville. Additional service to Mineola is provided by Oyster Bay Branch trains, and a handful of Montauk Branch trains also stop at Mineola and Hicksville on weekdays; one Montauk-bound train makes a stop at Hicksville overnight, though the vast majority of Montauk Branch trains that run on the branch do not stop. Service on the unnelectrified portion of the branch between Port Jefferson and Huntington is usually provided by diesel shuttles running between Port Jefferson and either Huntington or Hicksville, where customers transfer to electric trains for service to New York City. During rush hours, the branch sees extra service, including direct electric service to Atlantic Terminal, service to Penn Station that bypasses Jamaica, and direct service to Hunterspoint Avenue, Long Island City, or Penn Station from stations east of Huntington.

Stations on the electrified portion that have the heaviest traffic include Mineola, Hicksville, and Huntington. On the non-electrified portion, the heaviest traffic tends to be to the Stony Brook station where the State University of New York at Stony Brook is located.

Infrastructure improvements[edit]

New Electric Yard[edit]

The branch has no yard to store electric trains; east of Huntington, a single layup track with room for three trainsets is used for storage. Because of this lack of space, electric trains must deadhead from as far away as the West Side Yard in Manhattan for rush-hour service. Construction of a new electric yard would rectify this issue and allow the LIRR to increase branch service when East Side Access is completed and service to Grand Central Terminal begins. In the early 2000s, the MTA performed environmental studies evaluating over a dozen sites between Huntington and Smithtown for usage as a yard.[1] Electrification of the line would have to be extended if a site beyond Huntington was chosen; a site near Huntington would eliminate this need. Communities near the sites opposed the MTA's efforts to advance work on a new yard, arguing that the MTA was too secretive and that the increased train service and train movements would hurt their communities and decrease their quality of life. One commenter asserted that a yard would turn the communities along the line into the MTA's "storage closet" for East Side Access. Some opponents of the plan also argued that the MTA should extend electrification to Port Jefferson to utilize the existing diesel rail yard there, however, a full electrification of the line would add an extra layer of expenses to the project.[2][3] The MTA neglected to provide any funding for the project in its 2005-2009 Capital Program, deferring it until 2015, when the agency budgeted $8 million in its 2015-2019 Capital Program to conduct new environmental studies, create new designs and acquire land for a new electric yard. Construction would be funded in a future Capital Program.[4][5]

Third track between Queens Village and Hicksville[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 Queens Village to Hicksville in the future.[6][7] 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. The project has been stalled by fierce opposition from the villages of Floral Park, New Hyde Park, and Garden City,[8][9][10] 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.[11] In March 2015, LIRR president Patrick Nowakowski declared that the LIRR would not proceed with the project without the support of the local communities.[12]

Small segments of the third track have been built already or will be built, however. One segment is between Merillon Avenue and Mineola, built in the vicinity of Herricks Road during the grade crossing elimination project that took place in 1998.[13] Another segment will be built as part of the upcoming station renovation at Hicksville. This construction will connect Track 1 at Hicksville station to the North Siding track located about 3,000 feet west of the station. This short segment, when completed, will essentially serve as the eastern end of the future third track; it will also allow for a slight increase in peak-hour service.[14][15] The MTA has also left provisions for a third track in construction of other infrastructure along the line, such as the Mineola Intermodal Center located adjacent to Mineola station, Mineola Blvd Bridge, Roslyn Road Underpass in Mineola, and the replacement Ellison Avenue Bridge over the Main Line in Westbury.[16][17][18][19]

In January 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a transportation improvement plan which included several million dollars in funding to restart third track development.[20][21] Governor Cuomo said that unlike previous third track proposals, his plan involves building the third track within existing LIRR right of way, which will reduce the number of existing homes and businesses affected by installation of the third track.[22] While previous proposals would have affected around 250 properties, 80 of which were homes, Governor Cuomo's proposal would only require taking property from 50 properties in total, including around 20 homes.[22] This reduction in properties affected be accomplished by building a shorter third track than previous proposals, resulting in a 9.8-mile (15.8 km) three-track segment instead of the previously planned 11.5-mile (18.5 km) segment.[20][23]


The line from Hicksville to Syosset was chartered in 1853 as the Hicksville and Syosset Railroad and opened in 1854. The LIRR later planned to extend to Cold Spring Harbor, but Oliver Charlick, the LIRR's president, disagreed over the station's location, so Charlick abandoned the grade and relocated the extension south of Cold Spring, refusing to add a station stop near Cold Spring for years. Another argument at Huntington led to the line bypassing the town two miles (3 km) to the south, though a station was built. The line was extended from Syosset past Huntington to Northport in 1868,[24] and in 1873 the 1870-chartered Smithtown and Port Jefferson Railroad opened from a mile south of Northport to Port Jefferson,[25] turning the old line into Northport into the Northport Branch, the result of another argument between Charlick and Northport.[26]

The Port Jefferson Branch formerly extended to Wading River in 1895, and was once slated to continue eastward and rejoin the Main Line at either Riverhead or Calverton. From 1905 to 1928, Wading River was also the site of an LIRR Demonstration farm. The other one was east of Medford station on the Main Line. The line east of Port Jefferson was abandoned in 1938. The right-of-way is now owned by the Long Island Power Authority and used for power lines but there are plans to create a rail trail for bicycling, running, and walking.[27] The Port Jefferson Branch was electrified from Mineola to Huntington Station in 1970. The former Northport Branch was abandoned in 1985, and the Kings Park Psychiatric Center spur (see below) was abandoned in 1988.

Kings Park Psychiatric Center Spur[edit]

Kings Park Psychiatric run-off also known as KPPC is an abandoned spur off the Port Jefferson Branch for the Kings Park Psychiatric Center. This spur started just west of Kings Park station, ran north of the station house, crossed Indian Head Road (Suffolk CR 14) and then curved north to cross New York State Route 25A, where it ran along the western edge of the hospital property, and ended at the Hospital's coal power plant.

This spur was first used in the 1890s for coal and passenger use on Sundays. The route was the second largest spur in the Long Island Rail Road system when it was first completed. The route came to an end during the late 1980s.[28] Nowadays, this abandoned route is a Right-of-way for biking and is open to the public today. Also, today, only small fragments of rail remain as it most of it was removed during the demise of the complex.[29]

On a small note, electrification reached from Mineola to Hicksville & Huntington in 1970. For 15 years from Amott Interlocking east of Syosset Station to west of Huntington it was single-tracked. In 1985, the LIRR constructed a second electrified track in that area to avoid the single track bottle neck, this included Cold Spring Harbor adding a second platform.


In 1970, electrification was extended from Mineola to Huntington, the eastern limit of electrification on the branch. Since then, the LIRR has aspired to extend electrification beyond Huntington. In the 1980s, the railroad prepared to extend electrification to at least Northport, or Smithtown, although electrification of the Ronkonkoma Branch on the Main Line was seen as a higher priority, in part because the Main Line's central location in Suffolk County would benefit a larger number of people. Bruce McIver, president of the LIRR at the time, estimated in 1986 that electrification of the branch would cost $320 million, including new rolling stock. He argued that the limited funds the railroad had set aside for electrification would be better spent on other improvements, such as signal and yard upgrades near Penn Station. Financial constraints acted as another obstacle to electrification to Northport.[30] McIver also did not want to electrify the branch in a piecemeal fashion and wanted to wait until the railroad had the funds to electrify from Huntington to Port Jefferson all at once. In anticipation of electrification, the LIRR built full-length high-level platforms at all stations between Huntington and Port Jefferson. Because electrification has not occurred, these 12-car platforms are unique in the LIRR's diesel territory; the high-level platforms along the Montauk, Greenport and Oyster Bay diesel branches are all much shorter.

Instead of electrification, the LIRR ultimately pursued dual-mode locomotives that could switch between diesel power and electric power to serve Penn Station (where diesel emissions are banned). Senator Norman Levy said that "The people who ride the line would have just about all the positive aspects of electrification with this proposal."[31] The LIRR's dual mode locomotives debuted in the late 1990s, providing two round trips during weekday rush hours between Penn Station and Port Jefferson, the first time a one-seat ride was available.[32]

Proposed electrification extension[edit]

In 2015, multiple parties renewed calls for electrification of the branch. The LIRR estimated that electrification would cost up to $18 million per track mile, so electrification of the 23 miles from Huntington to Port Jefferson could cost approximately $414 million.[33][34][35] In its 20-Year Needs Assessment, the agency lists electrification eastward as a long-term goal.[36]

Grade crossing eliminations[edit]

The Port Jefferson Branch has also been known to have the most hazardous grade crossings in the country. In 1982, a van was struck by a diesel train at the Herricks Road crossing in between Mineola and Merillon Avenue. The crossing for many years was dubbed by the NTSB as "The most dangerous crossing in the U.S." In 1998, after a complicated project, the crossing was finally eliminated, with the tracks now going over the road on a bridge. Other crossings eliminated along the branch include: Mineola Boulevard in Mineola (1930), crossings within Hicksville when the station was elevated in the early 1960s, and Charlotte Avenue in Hicksville (1973). Ten years later Roslyn Road also in Mineola was eliminated in the same fashion.

Other hazardous crossings along the branch west of Huntington are Robbins Lane & Jackson Avenue in Syosset, School Street & Urban Avenue in Westbury, Willis Avenue & Main Street in Mineola, and New Hyde Park Road, 12th Street, and Covert Avenue in New Hyde Park. East of Huntington, Main Street in Port Jefferson is considered quite hazardous. There are plans, after a third track is added, for the branch will be fully elevated and grade separated from Hicksville Westward just like the Babylon Branch.


Zone Station Miles (km)
from NYP[37]
Connections / notes
1 For continuing service west of Jamaica, see City Terminal Zone
3 Jamaica Handicapped/disabled access 10.8 (17.4) 1836 BSicon BAHN.svg LIRR; Atlantic, Belmont Park, Far Rockaway, Hempstead, Long Beach,
Montauk, 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, 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
Queens / Nassau county line
Hempstead Branch diverges
Floral Park 16.7 (26.9) 1878 BSicon BAHN.svg LIRR: Hempstead Branch. Limited service for Main Line trains.
Originally Plainfield, then Stewart Junction, then Hinsdale, then East Hinsdale
New Hyde Park Handicapped/disabled access 18.0 (29.0) c. 1837 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[38] BSicon BAHN.svg LIRR: Ronkonkoma, Montauk, and Oyster Bay Branches
Bus transport NICE Bus: n22, n22X, n23, n24, n40, n41
Originally Hempstead, then Branch or Hempstead Branch
Oyster Bay Branch diverges
7 Carle Place Handicapped/disabled access 22.2 (35.7) 1842[39] Bus transport NICE Bus: n22
Originally Carll Place
Westbury Handicapped/disabled access 23.2 (37.3) 1837[38] Bus transport NICE Bus: n22, n35
New Cassel 1875 1876
Hicksville Handicapped/disabled access 26.6 (42.8) 1837[38] BSicon BAHN.svg LIRR: Ronkonkoma Branch
Bus transport NICE Bus: n20H, n22, n48, n49, n78, n79, n80
Main Line (Ronkonkoma Branch) diverges
Landia 1952 1973
Syosset Handicapped/disabled access 30.9 (49.7) 1854
Woodbury 1875 c. 1901 Replaced by Cold Spring Harbor in the early-20th Century
Nassau / Suffolk county line
9 Cold Spring Harbor Handicapped/disabled access 33.7 (54.2) c. 1901
Huntington Handicapped/disabled access 36.5 (58.7) 1868 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S1
Bus transport Huntington Area Rapid Transit: H10, H20 (.5 miles south of station)
Terminus of electrification
Greenlawn Handicapped/disabled access 39.2 (63.1) c. 1868 Bus transport Huntington Area Rapid Transit: H30
Originally Centreport
Former Northport Branch diverges
Northport Handicapped/disabled access 41.4 (66.6) 1873 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S41
Bus transport Huntington Area Rapid Transit: H40
Originally New Northport, then Northport East
Former Kings Park Hospital Branch diverges
Kings Park Handicapped/disabled access 45.2 (72.7) 1872 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S56
Originally St. Johnsland
Nissequogue Viaduct
Smithtown Handicapped/disabled access 48.9 (78.9) 1872 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S45, S56, S58
St. James Handicapped/disabled access 51.7 (83.2) 1873
Flowerfield 1910 1958
Stony Brook Handicapped/disabled access 54.9 (88.4) 1873 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: 3D, S60, S69, S76
Bus transport SBU Transit: Outer Loop, Railroad Routes 1 & 2
Setauket 1873 c. 1980
Port Jefferson Handicapped/disabled access 59.3 (95.4) 1873 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S60, S61, S62, S69, S76
BSicon BOOT.svg Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry to Bridgeport, CT
The following stations were on the former Wading River Branch which was abandoned on October 3, 1938
Miller Place 60.5 (97.4) 1898 1938
Rocky Point 64.4 (103.6) 1898 1938 Freight house still exists as a lumber yard
Shoreham 65.7 (105.6) 1900 1938
Wading River 68.7 (110.6) 1895 1938


  1. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20051219110814/http://www.mta.info/mta/planning/portj/scope.pdf
  2. ^ John Rather (August 27, 2000). "L.I.R.R. Expansion: The Other Shoe Drops". New York Times. Retrieved January 5, 2016. 
  3. ^ John Rather (November 30, 2003). "Proposed L.I.R.R. Yard Draws Fire". New York Times. Retrieved January 5, 2016. 
  4. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20080411174812/http://www.mta.info/mta/planning/portj/
  5. ^ "MTA 2015-2019 Capital Program, pages 24, 97 and 208" (PDF). Retrieved January 5, 2016. 
  6. ^ "MTA - Planning Studies". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Archived from the original on March 6, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Main Line Corridor Improvements Project Presentation" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved January 7, 2016. 
  8. ^ Stephanie Mariel Petrellese (November 11, 2005). "Floral Park Mayor To Address LIRR Expansion". The Garden City News. Retrieved December 23, 2006. 
  9. ^ Carisa Keane (June 24, 2005). "Residents: MTA/LIRR Needs to Get on Right Track". New Hyde Park Illustrated News. Retrieved December 23, 2006. 
  10. ^ Stephanie Mariel Petrellese (December 15, 2006). "Village Meets With LIRR On "Third Track" Project". The Garden City News. Retrieved December 23, 2006. 
  11. ^ Nardiello, Carolyn (September 16, 2008). "Third-Track Plan Isn’t Dead, L.I.R.R. Insists". The New York Times. Retrieved July 31, 2012. 
  12. ^ Castillo, Alfonso A. (March 3, 2015). "3rd track plan conditional on community support, LIRR chief says". Newsday. Retrieved October 20, 2015. 
  13. ^ Robert Gearty (April 22, 1998). "END'S NEAR FOR A KILLER LIRR X'ING". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Governor Cuomo Announces Final Design for Revitalized Hicksville Station". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. February 24, 2015. Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
  15. ^ "LIRR finalizes Hicksville Station design; includes East Side Access work". RT&S. February 24, 2015. Retrieved January 7, 2016. 
  16. ^ "$24.3 MILLION LIRR ROAD CROSSING ELIMINATION PROJECT IN MINEOLA COMPLETED". New York State Department of Transportation. December 31, 2008. Retrieved November 4, 2015. 
  17. ^ "National Steel Bridge Alliance 2009 Bridge Prize Competition" (PDF). Retrieved November 4, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Application for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Funds Ellison Avenue Bridge Reconstruction, page 3" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
  19. ^ "40,000 Customers Facing Delays This Weekend, Oct. 24-25, as LIRR Installs a New Bridge in Westbury". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. October 22, 2015. Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
  20. ^ a b Fitzsimmons, Emma G. (January 5, 2016). "Cuomo Revives Long-Stalled Plan to Add Track to L.I.R.R.". The New York Times. p. A18. Retrieved January 7, 2016. 
  21. ^ Third Main Line Track project web site
  22. ^ a b Madore, James T. (January 5, 2016). "Andrew Cuomo tells Long Island Association he’ll push LIRR third track, LI Sound tunnel". Newsday. Retrieved January 7, 2016. 
  23. ^ "LIRR Main Line Expansion Will Ease Commuting and Attract Businesses and Jobs" (Press release). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. January 5, 2016. Retrieved January 7, 2016. 
  24. ^ "PRR Chronology, 1868" (PDF).  (93.8 KiB), June 2004 Edition
  25. ^ "PRR Chronology, 1873" (PDF).  (100 KiB), February 2005 Edition
  26. ^ Ziel, Ron; Foster, George H. (1987). Steel Rails to the Sunrise. Mattituck: Amereon House. pp. 13–14. ISBN 0-8488-0368-X. 
  27. ^ Rather, John (April 10, 2009). "Agreement Moves Rails-to-Trails Project Forward". New York Times. Retrieved October 15, 2009. 
  28. ^ Mileposts 43-44 Kings Park (Bob Emery Map; September 1957; TrainsAreFun.com)
  29. ^ Kings Park State Hospital Spur (Train Web)
  30. ^ John T. McQuiston (November 24, 1985). "Pulling the Plug on Electrification". New York Times. Retrieved January 5, 2016. 
  31. ^ John T. McQuiston (February 23, 1986). "L.I.R.R. Electrification: New Plans, New Delays". New York Times. Retrieved January 5, 2016. 
  32. ^ Bruce Lambert (May 31, 1997). "The 4:49 to Port Jefferson: A Spoardic Promise of Modernity". New York Times. Retrieved January 5, 2016. 
  33. ^ Alfonoso A. Castillo (February 15, 2015). "Port Jefferson backs electrification of LIRR line". Newsday. Retrieved January 6, 2016. 
  34. ^ David M. Schwartz, Rick Brand (March 4, 2015). "Suffolk planning panel calls for LIRR electrification". Newsday. Retrieved January 6, 2016. 
  35. ^ Rich Murdocco (March 9, 2015). "Now Is Not the Time to Electrify More LIRR Tracks". Long Island Press. Retrieved May 3, 2015. 
  36. ^ "MTA 2015-2034 20-Year Capital Needs Assessment, page 70" (PDF). Retrieved January 5, 2016. 
  37. ^ Station pages linked from LIRR Stations
  38. ^ a b c Brooklyn Advocate, Long Island Rail Road, February 1837
  39. ^ "Long Island Railroad Company". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. May 28, 1842. p. 3. 

External links[edit]