Ronkonkoma Branch

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Ronkonkoma Branch
(Greenport Branch)
Deer Park Station - Westbound Train Leaves.JPG
A Penn Station-bound M7 train leaves Deer Park.
Overview
Type Commuter rail
System Long Island Rail Road
Status Operational
Locale Nassau and Suffolk County, New York, USA
Termini Greenport
Ronkonkoma
Farmingdale (Occasional weekdays only; East ends)
Penn Station (West end)
Stations 15
Services
Operation
Opened 1837-1844
Owner Long Island Rail Road
Operator(s) Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Rolling stock Budd M3, Bombardier M7 (West of Ronkonkoma)
Kawasaki C3, DE30AC (East of Ronkonkoma)
Technical
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Electrification 750 V (DC) Third rail (west of Ronkonkoma)
Route map

Main Line
to Penn Station & Long Island City
Atlantic Branch
to Atlantic Terminal – Brooklyn
AirTrain JFK
to JFK Airport
10.8 mi
17.4 km
Jamaica
"E" train​ ​"J" train"Z" train
Main Line
employees only
Queens/Nassau border
Zone 3
Zone 4
Belmont Park Branch
to Belmont Park
20.3 mi
32.7 km
Mineola
Ronkonkoma Branch
Zone 4
Zone 7
20.3 mi
32.7 km
Hicksville
29.7 mi
47.8 km
Bethpage
32.0 mi
51.5 km
Farmingdale
Zone 7
Zone 9
34.2 mi
55 km
Pinelawn
36.5 mi
58.7 km
Wyandanch
40.2 mi
64.7 km
Deer Park
closed 1978
closed 1869
Zone 9
Zone 10
42.9 mi
69 km
Brentwood
closed 1987
45.4 mi
73.1 km
Central Islip
50.3 mi
81 km
Ronkonkoma
Ronkonkoma Yard
end of electrification
Greenport Branch
55.9 mi
90 km
Medford
Zone 10
Zone 12
60.4 mi
97.2 km
Yaphank
closed 1922
closed 1949
Zone 12
Zone 14
75.1 mi
120.9 km
Riverhead
84.2 mi
135.5 km
Mattituck
91.9 mi
147.9 km
Southold
96.1 mi
154.7 km
Greenport

The Ronkonkoma Branch is a rail service operated by the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) in the U.S. state of New York. On LIRR maps and printed schedules, the "Ronkonkoma Branch" includes trains running along the railroad's Main Line from Hicksville (where the Port Jefferson Branch leaves the Main Line) to Ronkonkoma, and between Ronkonkoma and the Main Line's eastern's terminus at Greenport.[1][2] The section of the Main Line east of Ronkonkoma is not electrified and is referred to as the Greenport Branch.

The western segment between Hicksville and Ronkonkoma sees 24-hour service to Penn Station in New York City. The eastern segment between Ronkonkoma and Greenport is served by diesel-electric trains, and only sees a handful of trips each day. This segment is also notable for being one of the few dark territory areas of the Long Island Rail Road that does not have signals.

Segments[edit]

Electrified portion[edit]

Train #8054 at Farmingdale, using diesel locomotives due to construction.

The western segment of the line from Hicksville to Ronkonkoma was electrified in 1987,[3] eliminating diesel service between Ronkonkoma and Hicksville and creating a one-seat ride to Penn Station. Average rush-hour trip time from Ronkonkoma to Penn Station decreased from 97 minutes pre-electrification (including the mandatory transfer from a diesel to an electric train) to 71 minutes afterwards.[4]

The $168.5 million project attracted many new passengers. A survey of peak-hour Ronkonkoma Branch passengers conducted by the LIRR in April 1988 found that 42 percent of the branch's passengers were new to the line: 34 percent switched from other lines (the Port Jefferson and Montauk Branches), 6 percent were new to the LIRR as a whole and 2 percent recently returned to the LIRR. By September 1988, over 2,000 new riders during the morning rush hour had switched to the Ronkonkoma branch, much of which occurred in the first month after electrification, faster than the LIRR expected. Commuters complained that the expanded parking facilities at Ronkonkoma built in anticipation of electrification were overcrowded and already inadequate, and that double-parking and vandalism were rampant.[4]

In the decades since, the amount of parking at Ronkonkoma has expanded. In the present, diesel locomotives continue to provide all service between Ronkonkoma and Greenport. In conjunction with electrification, the MTA also planned to double-track the line between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma. However, this was deferred due to lack of funds.

Greenport Branch[edit]

The 46 miles between Ronkonkoma and Greenport is one of the few dark territory areas on the Long Island Rail Road that does not have signals. The relatively small amount of train movements on this segment are governed by train orders and timetable authority. This segment is served by diesel-electric "scoots", most of which terminate at Ronkonkoma, requiring customers traveling west of Ronkonkoma to transfer there. Two eastbound and three westbound scoots travel each weekday between Ronkonkoma and Greenport. Also, one eastbound and two westbound trains each weekday run between Ronkonkoma and Riverhead, and one eastbound each weekday runs as far as Yaphank. Weekend service consists of two round-trips each day between Ronkonkoma and Greenport. On Fridays during the summer, the eastbound trip to Yaphank is extended to Greenport, and one evening trip runs from Greenport to Jamaica, running express between Ronkonkoma and Jamaica. Added in summer 2016, this is the only Greenport scoot trip to serve the New York City terminals.[5]

The LIRR has tried to discontinue service east of Ronkonkoma on several occasions, citing minimal service due to low ridership. In 2010, the idea was entertained by the financially troubled MTA, who proposed eliminating all scoot service except for the popular summer weekend service.[6] Ultimately, weekday service remained, but weekend service outside of the summer season (defined as Memorial Day-Columbus Day) was discontinued. In 2013, the span of weekend service was extended to operate from early May to late November.[7] In 2016, the LIRR restored year-long weekend service between Ronkonkoma and Greenport.[8]

Despite proposing to eliminate most service east of Ronkonkoma, the MTA is enhancing the segment's infrastructure. The LIRR is required to install a positive train control signaling system on all its trackage by the end of 2018.[9] The MTA initially budgeted $29 million in its 2015-2019 capital program to add signals along the 10 mile segment from Ronkonkoma to Yaphank. This upgrade would install signals, track circuits and automatic speed control (ASC).[10][11] However, in a 2017 amendment[12] of the capital program, the agency postponed the construction of the new signal system, only including $2 million to fund design.[13] After positive train control was activated on the easternmost portion of the Montauk Branch in November 2017, the Greenport Branch became the only portion of the LIRR that lacked positive train control.[9]

In its 2015-2034 20-Year Capital Needs Assessment, the MTA describes extending electrification eastward from Ronkonkoma to Yaphank or Riverhead, as well as the addition of a second track between Ronkonkoma and Yaphank as long-term needs.[14] However, the MTA cites the high cost of electrification and other components as a barrier to present-day action.[15] If electrification were to be extended eastward, stations would also need upgrading, since all station platforms east of Ronkonkoma are only long enough to fit one train car.

Central Branch[edit]

Some LIRR maps also include as part of the Ronkonkoma Branch the non-electrified Central Branch, which splits from the Ronkonkoma Branch east of Bethpage and connects with the more southern Montauk Branch, just west of Babylon. There are no stations along this stretch, and it is mainly used by trains with diesel-electric engines going express from Jamaica to Babylon. No trains using this track appear on Ronkonkoma Branch schedules; they appear on Montauk Branch and Babylon Branch schedules, and some appear on schedules for Mineola and Hicksville on the Main Line, if a stop is scheduled there.

Projects[edit]

Second track between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma[edit]

Groundbreaking for Phase 1

In 2012, the MTA approved a project to build a second track between Ronkonkoma and Farmingdale. At the time, the only areas east of Farmingdale with two tracks were the segment between Deer Park and Brentwood stations, inclusive; at Central Islip station; and at Ronkonkoma station. Construction of the double track occurred on land that the LIRR has owned since the 1980s, when the land was acquired for the electrification project. The double track project also included upgrades to switches, grade crossings, and station facilities.[16] This project is intended to provide increase operational flexibilty; allow reverse-peak service between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma; and increase off-peak service between Hicksville and Ronkonkoma, with service operating half-hourly instead of just hourly. This additional capacity allows the Main Line to better serve as a substitute for South Shore lines in case of a disturbance caused by extreme weather.[16] The entire project cost $387.2 million and would be completed in August 2018. With the use of a New Track Construction (NTC), rail was laid down ten times as fast, saved $7 million, and allowed the project to be completed 16 months ahead of schedule compared to conventional rail-laying methods.[17]

Work on the two-phase project began in August 2015. As part of Phase 1, the section from Ronkonkoma to Central Islip, consisting of 4 miles (6.4 km) of track, was built to the north of the existing track. This section was laid using a NTC machine, followed by the installation of third rail. The southern track at Central Islip was extended to Brentwood to the south of the existing track.[18][19] Phase 1 was completed in August 2016.[17]

As part of Phase 2, a second track was added between Deer Park, through Wyandanch, and past Pinelawn to the east end of FARM interlocking at Republic to the south of the existing track. A design–build contract for this phase was awarded in June 2016.[20] This phase also involved rehabilitating grade crossings, demolishing pedestrian bridges, and building a second platform Wyandanch. Starting in August 2016, to accommodate the second track, supports were pile-driven into the existing embankment near the old site of the Deer Park station, brush was, and embankment was added between Pinelawn and the grade crossing at Little East Neck Road.[21]:92[22] The last five miles of track were added in January 2018,[23] and the LIRR began connecting the new second track to the existing double-track segments in spring 2018.[24][25]

As indicated in the MTA's 2015–2034 Capital Needs Assessment,the MTA will extend the double-track to Yaphank if funding is available. This will allow the LIRR to provide additional service in diesel territory, thereby saving travel time.[26]:64–65

Mid-Suffolk Yard[edit]

In 2015, the MTA conducted environmental studies to expand the existing rail yard in Ronkonkoma. This expansion, called the Mid-Suffolk Yard, will add 11 new tracks, increasing the number of total tracks from 12 at present to 23.[27] The expansion will use space already owned by the MTA located immediately to the south of the existing rail yard and north of MacArthur Airport. The increase in storage space will allow the MTA to increase peak-hour service once East Side Access is complete and service to Grand Central begins. The project is budgeted for $76.6 million.[28] Locations in Deer Park, Central Islip, and Yaphank were also considered for the construction of the yard. The Deer Park option was dismissed as it would have impacted several grade crossings, duplicated employee facilities and as it would not have benefited riders east of the station. The Central Islip site was dismissed as it would have been located in Connetquot River State Park. The Yaphank option was rejected because of the high cost of electrification and the requirement that station between Ronkonkoma and Yaphank receive upgrades.[29] Construction was expected to be finished by late 2018,[28] but as of June 2017 construction will start in September 2017, with completion being pushed back to March 2020.[30]

Possible reopening of Republic station[edit]

The MTA plans to reopen Republic station, which is located between Farmingdale and Pinelawn. The station closed in 1987 as part of the electrification project between Hicksville and Ronkonkoma, and was only used by a dozen daily riders daily, not making it cost-effective to upgrade the station to support electric railcars. However, within the last decade, there has been an increased amount of commercial and residential development along the Route 110 corridor near the station, a major north-south commercial route.[31] The reopened station would serve this corridor. Funding for the station was deferred from the MTA's 2010-2014 budget due to budgetary issues, but was revived in 2012.[32][33] The MTA budgeted $5 million in 2015 to design a new station and carry out environmental studies, although construction itself has not been funded yet. The rebuilt station will have two new 12-car platforms, and ADA-compliant ramps.[21]:88, 204

Stations[edit]

Zone Station name Miles (km)
from NYP[34]
Date
opened
Date
closed
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 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
Queens / Nassau county line
4 Mineola Handicapped/disabled access 20.3 (32.3) 1837 BSicon BAHN.svg LIRR: Montauk, Port Jefferson, Oyster Bay, and Ronkonkoma Branches
Bus transport NICE Bus: n22, n22X, n23, n24, n40, n41
Originally Hempstead, then Branch or Hempstead Branch
7 Hicksville Handicapped/disabled access 26.6 (42.8) 1837[35] BSicon BAHN.svg LIRR: Port Jefferson and Montauk Branches
Bus transport NICE Bus: n20H, n22, n22X, n48, n49, n78, n79, n80
Port Jefferson Branch diverges
Grumman 28.5 (45.9) 1942 1985
Bethpage Handicapped/disabled access 29.7 (47.8) c. 1854[36] Originally Jerusalem, then Central Park
Bethpage Junction 1873
Central Branch diverges
Farmingdale Handicapped/disabled access 32.0 (51.5) 1841[37][38] Bus transport NICE Bus: n70, n72
Nassau / Suffolk county line
9
Republic 33.0 (53.1) 1940 1987
Pinelawn Handicapped/disabled access 34.2 (55.0) c. 1890 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S31
Originally Melville
Wyandanch Handicapped/disabled access 36.5 (58.7) 1875 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: 2A, 2B, S23, S33
Originally West Deer Park, then Wyandance
Edgewood 1892 1914
Deer Park Handicapped/disabled access 40.2 (64.9) 1842[39][40] Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S27
Bus transport Tanger Shuttle Bus
Pilgrim State Hospital 1978
Thompson 42.2 (67.9) 1842[41] 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[42] 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
Lakeland
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[43]
Holtsville 54.2 (87.2) 1843 1998 Originally Waverly[44]
Medford Handicapped/disabled access 55.9 (89.0) 1844[45] Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S61
Bartlett's 58.7 (94.5) 1844 Originally Bellport
Fire Place 1844[45] 1845
12 Yaphank Handicapped/disabled access 60.4 (97.2) 1844 Originally Milleville
Carman's River 1844[45] 1845
Upton Road[46] 1918 1922
Camp Upton[46] 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
Former Manorville Branch diverged
Calverton 71.1 (114.4) 1852
1880
1858
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: 8A, S58, S62, S66, S92
Aquebogue 1892 1967
Jamesport 80.2 (129.1) 1844 1985
Laurel 81.7 (131.5) 1901 1967
Mattituck Handicapped/disabled access 84.2 (135.5) 1845 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S92
Cutchogue 87.2 (140.3) 1844 1962
Peconic 90.2 (145.2) 1844 c. 1970 Originally Hermitage
Southold Handicapped/disabled access 91.9 (147.9) 1844 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S92
Greenport Handicapped/disabled access 96.1 (154.7) 1844 Bus transport Suffolk County Transit: S92
BSicon BOOT.svg North Ferry to Shelter Island Heights

References[edit]

  1. ^ MTA LIRR - LIRR Map accessed May 6, 2011
  2. ^ "Complete Ronkonkoma/Greenport Branches online-schedule" (PDF). 
  3. ^ Schmitt, Eric (December 31, 1987). "Electric Service Extended by L.I.R.R." The New York Times. p. B3. Retrieved July 5, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b Saslow, Linda (September 11, 1988). "Electrifying L.I.R.R.: Pluses and Minuses". The New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved January 5, 2016. 
  5. ^ "LIRR Cannonball to Montauk & Other Summer Service Enhancements Highlight New Train Timetables Going into Effect on Monday, May 23". Retrieved July 25, 2016. 
  6. ^ "MTA plan cuts LIRR trains from Ronkonkoma to Greenport". Newsday. January 22, 2010. 
  7. ^ Gannon, Tim (August 2, 2013). "LIRR extending North Fork service; scoot train in sight". Suffolk Times. Suffolk, NY. Retrieved 2018-01-25. 
  8. ^ "MTA Long Island Rail Road Resuming Year-Round Weekend Service to Greenport and the North Fork". Retrieved July 25, 2016. 
  9. ^ a b "LIRR East End gets signals from 21st century". Newsday. 2017-11-12. Retrieved 2018-07-04. 
  10. ^ "MTA 2015-2019 Capital Program, page 96" (PDF). Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
  11. ^ "RONKONKOMA TO YAPHANK SIGNALIZATION". mta.info. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved February 1, 2017. 
  12. ^ Fitzsimmons, Emma G. (May 24, 2017). "M.T.A. Adds Funding for Expansion Projects Rather Than Subway Fixes". The New York Times. New York. Retrieved 2018-01-25. 
  13. ^ "MTA Capital Program 2015-2019" (PDF). Metropolitan Transit Authority. July 31, 2017. p. 61. Retrieved 2018-01-25. 
  14. ^ "MTA 2015-2034 20-Year Capital Needs Assessment, pages 70 and 73" (PDF). Retrieved January 4, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Mid-Suffolk Yard Alternatives Analaysis" (PDF). mta.info. Retrieved January 4, 2016. 
  16. ^ a b "Long Island Rail Road Double Track Project" (PDF). mta.info. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. February 2013. Retrieved April 10, 2015. 
  17. ^ a b "LIRR Double Track Project on Pace to be Completed Ahead of Schedule". mta.info. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved May 7, 2018. 
  18. ^ "Double Track' Information Center Opens Today at Ronkonkoma Station as Part of LIRR Public Outreach". mta.info. January 16, 2013. Retrieved April 10, 2015. The first phase includes an environmental review and, after completion of that review, a design of the entire project and construction of a four mile segment between Ronkonkoma and Central Islip. This phase is already completely funded and tentatively scheduled for completion by late 2016. Phase two – which requires $297 million and is not yet funded - will stretch a second track from Central Islip all the way to Farmingdale by the end of 2018. 
  19. ^ "Double Track Project - Phase 1" (PDF). mta.info. Retrieved April 10, 2015. 
  20. ^ "Two design-build contracts awarded for LIRR Double Track project". Railway Track & Structures. June 6, 2016. Retrieved January 17, 2017. 
  21. ^ a b "MTA 2015-2019 Capital Program" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. October 28, 2015. Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
  22. ^ *"1st phase of LIRR project ends with Cuomo visit". Newsday. August 22, 2016. Retrieved January 17, 2017. 
  23. ^ Wanek-Libman, Mischa (January 16, 2018). "Last rail being laid for LIRR double track". rtands.com. Retrieved May 18, 2018. 
  24. ^ "LIRR's double-track project nears completion". Progressive Railroading. April 30, 2018. Retrieved 2018-05-18. 
  25. ^ "LIRR schedules change as track work nears completion". Metro US. 2018-04-27. Retrieved 2018-05-18. 
  26. ^ "Capital Needs Assessment 2015-2034" (PDF). mta.info. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. October 2013. Retrieved May 7, 2018. 
  27. ^ "Mid-Suffolk Yard". mta.info. 
  28. ^ a b "Mid-Suffolk Yard Schedule". mta.info. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
  29. ^ "Mid-Suffolk Yard Alternatives Analaysis" (PDF). mta.info. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
  30. ^ "L60601YN New Mid Suffolk Electric Yard". web.mta.info. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved September 3, 2017. 
  31. ^ "Connect Long Island: Double Track Main Line & TODs" (PDF). Transportation Research Forum. April 3, 2014. Retrieved July 7, 2015. 
  32. ^ Castillo, Alfonso A. (April 26, 2010). "Plans for Republic Airport LIRR station put on hold". Newsday. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  33. ^ Hinko, Christy (June 1, 2012). "Senators Announce $138 Million To Advance New Republic Train Station". Farmingdale Observer. Archived from the original on July 8, 2015. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  34. ^ Station pages linked from LIRR Stations
  35. ^ Brooklyn Advocate, Long Island Rail Road, February 1837
  36. ^ "RAILROADS". New York Times. April 13, 1854. p. 7. Retrieved April 7, 2008. 
  37. ^ "The Long Delay at Hicksville". Newsday. Archived from the original on February 16, 2007. 
  38. ^ "Brooklyn Eagle v1, #1 (LIRR timetable)". Brooklyn Eagle. October 26, 1841. Archived from the original on June 12, 2011.  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.)
  39. ^ Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. March 14, 1842. p. 2.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  40. ^ "Long Island Railroad Company". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. March 16, 1842. p. 3. 
  41. ^ "Long Island Railroad". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. June 29, 1842. p. 2. 
  42. ^ Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. August 6, 1842. p. 2.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  43. ^ Holbrook Station @ Ronkonkoma MP 49-50; October 1957(TrainsAreFun.com)
  44. ^ May 13, 1912, Photo @ Ron Zeil collection (Unofficial LIRR History Website)
  45. ^ a b c "Long Island Railroad Co". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. June 24, 1844. p. 2. 
  46. ^ a b November 18, 1919 Long Island Rail Road Timetable