South Brooklyn Railway

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South Brooklyn Railway
4 Av 38 D train jeh.JPG
South Brooklyn Railway junction, under Exit 23 of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway
Type Freight rail
System None, although connected to New York City Subway and 36th–38th Street Yard
Status Operating
Locale Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York City
Termini 36th–38th Street Yard, Upper New York Bay (west)
Ninth Avenue (east)
Opening 1887
Owner City of New York
Operator(s) New York City Transit Authority
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

The South Brooklyn Railway (reporting mark SBK) is a railroad in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. It is owned by the City of New York and is operated by the New York City Transit Authority. Its original main line ran parallel to 38th Street from the Upper New York Bay to McDonald Avenue, and south on McDonald Avenue to the Coney Island Yards, mostly underneath the ex-Culver Shuttle and IND Culver Line of the New York City Subway.

The line still exists in parts. The section between the BMT West End Line's Ninth Avenue station and its interchange yard at Second Avenue and 39th Street is still open. The section under the Culver El has been paved over. Today, it runs only from the 36th–38th Street Yard in the east to the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in the west.


Another view of SBK merge with BMT West End Line
Second Avenue interchange yard

The South Brooklyn Railroad and Terminal Company was incorporated September 30, 1887 to build from the end of the Brooklyn, Bath and West End Railroad (West End Line) at 38th Street and 9th Avenue northwest to the foot of 38th Street, and was leased to the BB&WE, allowing BB&WE trains to run to the 39th Street Ferry.[1] The Prospect Park and South Brooklyn Railroad connected the Prospect Park and Coney Island Railroad (Culver Line) to the South Brooklyn Railroad in 1890.[citation needed] The company was reorganized as the South Brooklyn Railroad on January 13, 1900.[citation needed] The South Brooklyn Railway was leased to the Brooklyn Heights Railroad on July 1, 1903, but on February 28, 1907 it began operating independently, and leased the Prospect Park and Coney Island Railroad, which included the Prospect Park and South Brooklyn Railroad, giving it a line to Coney Island.[citation needed]

The South Brooklyn Railway, along with the other non-rapid transit properties of the Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation, was transferred to the New York City Board of Transportation on June 1, 1940;[2] operations were transferred to the New York City Transit Authority on June 15, 1953.[3]

Current status[edit]

The primary function of the South Brooklyn Railway is the occasional delivery of new rolling stock for the NYC subway, such as this R156 work locomotive.

The South Brooklyn Railway provides one of only two track connections between the New York City Subway and the rest of the American rail network. During the 1988 and 1999 reconstruction of the subway tracks on the Williamsburg Bridge, this connection allowed trains from the J/Z, L and M services, which were isolated during that period, to travel to Coney Island Yard for major work. At the other mainline rail connection at the Linden Shops, subway trains traveled via the Bay Ridge Branch of the Long Island Rail Road, to the Brooklyn Army Terminal. From there, the New York Cross Harbor Railroad brought the cars up to the interchange yard at Second Avenue, where the South Brooklyn Railway took them to Coney Island Yard via the BMT West End Line.

The South Brooklyn Railway has two locomotives, N1 and N2, a pair of GE 47T Diesels. They can also be seen on the subway when not needed for the SBK.

As of May 2012, the interchange with New York New Jersey Rail, LLC at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal Second Avenue Yard has been refurbished. A new ramp was installed at the 38th Street Yard at Fourth Avenue to allow receipt of new R156 locomotives and other subway rolling stock that are delivered on flat cars.[4]


  1. ^ "SBRT information". 
  2. ^ PRR Chronology, 1940 PDF (35.3 KiB), August 2004 Edition
  3. ^ PRR Chronology, 1953 PDF (48.7 KiB), December 2004 Edition
  4. ^ "South Brooklyn Railway". 

External links[edit]