- Long Island Rail Road
railroad_name=Long Island Rail Road
logo_filename=MTA Long Island Rail Road logo.png
image_caption=The Long Island Rail Road provides electric and diesel rail service east-west throughout Long Island, New York.
Long Island, New York
(PRR-operated from 1928 to 1949)
hq_city=Jamaica Railroad Station
Jamaica, NY 11435The Long Island Rail Road or LIRR is a
commuter railsystem serving the length of Long Island, New Yorkthat has been classified as a Class II railroadby the Surface Transportation Board. [ Surface Transportation Board, [http://www.stb.dot.gov/Decisions/readingroom.nsf/603de3fe8389457185257497001cb44d/0b736207efd3a05885256c1e004a77aa?OpenDocument LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD COMPANY--DISCONTINUANCE OF SERVICE EXEMPTION--IN GARDEN CITY, LONG ISLAND, NY] , September 6, 2002] It is the busiest commuter railroad in North America, servicing around 81 million passengers each year, and the oldest US railroad still operating under its original name. There are 124 stations on the LIRR, and more than 700 miles (1100 km) of track [http://www.mta.info/lirr/pubs/aboutlirr.htm About the MTA Long Island Rail Road] ] on its two lines to the two forks of the island and eight major branches. Each weekday, the LIRR provides more than 282,410 rides to customers. [http://www.mta.info/mta/network.htm#statslirr Long Island Rail Road statistics] ] It is publicly owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which has styled it MTA Long Island Rail Road.
In addition to commuter trains, the LIRR runs trains for travelers to eastern Long Island, including the express "Cannonball" to
the Hamptons, operated since the 1890s.
Freight service on the system has been operated by the
New York and Atlantic Railwaysince 1997, including three freight-only branches and Bay Ridge Yardin Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
The current LIRR
logocombines the circular MTA logo with the text "Long Island Rail Road", and appears on the sides of trains.
The LIRR has three western (
New York City) terminals.
Pennsylvania Station, in
Midtown Manhattan, is the busiest of the three, serving almost 500 daily trains. It is reached via the Amtrak-owned East River Tunnels(the only LIRR-used trackage not owned by the LIRR) from the Main Line in Long Island City. The New York City Subway's 34th Street–Penn Station (IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line)and 34th Street–Penn Station (IND Eighth Avenue Line)stations are located next to the terminal.
Flatbush Avenue station in
Downtown Brooklynserves most other trains. It is located next to the New York City Subway's Atlantic Avenue–Pacific Street station complex, providing easy access to Lower Manhattan.
A handful of daily trains run to Hunterspoint Avenue or beyond to Long Island City on the
East Riverin Long Island City. From Hunterspoint Avenue, the Hunters Point Avenue (IRT Flushing Line)subway station can be reached for Midtown Manhattan access.
Access to a third major terminal is currently under construction. In 2013 the LIRR intends to initiate service to
Grand Central Terminalvia the East Side Accessproject; provision was made for this route on the lower level of the 63rd Street Tunnelunder the East River, which currently carries the IND 63rd Street Line( F (New York City Subway)) of the New York City Subwayon its upper level. Construction of the East Side Access project will reduce congestion during rush hour times as well as increase the number of trains operating during peak hours. [ MTA Capital Construction- [http://www.mta.info/capconstr/esas/index.html East Side Access] ] [ U.S. Department of Transportation, [http://www.dot.gov/affairs/dot11706.htm U.S. Transportation Secretary Signs Record $2.6 Billion Agreement to Fund New Tunnel Network To Give Long Island Commuters Direct Access to Grand Central Station] , December 18, 2006]
Jamaica Station is a major station and transfer point in
Jamaica, Queens, where the railroad's headquarters are located. [ [http://www.mta.info/lirr/jobpostings/ MTA LIRR - Employment Opportunities] (includes mailing address)] (The parent MTA is headquartered in Manhattan.) Jamaica encompasses eight tracks and six platforms, plus yard and bypass tracks.Fact|date=January 2007 At Jamaica, passengers can transfer between trains of all services but the Port Washington Branch. Transfer is also made to separate facilities for three different subway lines (at the Sutphin Boulevard/Archer Avenue–JFK station), a number of busroutes, and the AirTrain automated electric rail system to JFK Airport. [ [http://mta.info/lirr/html/ttn/jamaican.htm LIRR: Jamaica] ]
Lines and services
All services except the Port Washington Branch pass through Jamaica; the trackage west of Jamaica (except to Port Washington) is known as the
City Terminal Zone. The City Terminal Zone includes portions of the Main Line and Atlantic and Montauk Branches, as well as the Amtrak-owned East River Tunnelsto Penn Station.
The Main Line runs from Long Island City east to Greenport; trains using the East River Tunnels from
New York Penn Stationjoin the line at Sunnyside Yard. It is electrified west of Ronkonkoma; diesel trains continue to Greenport. The services that run along this line are named after the branches that they use; trains beyond Hicksville, where the Port Jefferson Branch splits, are known as Ronkonkoma Branchand sometimes Greenport Branchtrains. A short unnamed electric branch from Queens Village serves Belmont Parkon race days.
Montauk Branchruns from Long Island City to Montauk, meeting the Main Line at Long Island City and Jamaica. It is electrified from Jamaica east to Babylon; only diesel trains use the "Lower Montauk" section west of Jamaica or the outer section east of Babylon. Only trains east of Babylon are considered part of the Montauk Branch service; the line from Lynbrook to Babylon carries Babylon Branchtrains. The electrified Atlantic Branchruns from Downtown Brooklyneast to Jamaica, where it meets the Main Line, and then heads southeast to end at the Montauk Branch at Valley Stream. The part east of Jamaica is considered part of the Far Rockaway Branch service.
Port Washington Branch- the only one that doesn't serve Jamaica - branches from the Main Line east of Woodside and heads east and northeast to Port Washington.
Port Jefferson Branchbranches from the Main Line at Hicksville, with electric service to Huntington and diesel service to Port Jefferson. Until 1938, it continued east to Wading River.Ron Ziel and George H. Foster, Steel Rails to the Sunrise, ©1965]
Oyster Bay Branchsplits from the Main Line at Mineola and heads north and east to Oyster Bay. The first bit to East Williston is electrified; only diesel trains run along the majority of the line to Oyster Bay.
The diesel Central Branch runs southeast from the Main Line at Bethpage to the Montauk Branch at Babylon, giving an alternate route to the Montauk Branch east of Babylon. The Central Branch used to continue west from Bethpage to near Garden City, where it used what is now the Hempstead Branch to the Main Line at Floral Park.
Far Rockaway Branchsplits from the Atlantic Branch at Valley Stream and runs south and southwest to Far Rockaway. It used to continue west along what is now the New York City Subway's IND Rockaway Lineto Hammels and Rockaway Park.
West Hempstead Branchbranches from the Babylon Branch at Valley Stream and runs northeast to West Hempstead, originally continuing to junction the Hempstead Branch and Main Line.
Long Beach Branchsplits from the Far Rockaway Branch at Valley Stream but does not curve away until Lynbrook, where it turns south to end at Long Beach.
In addition to the commuter services, the LIRR operates trains for vacationers, including the premier "Cannonball", to
the Hamptons. [ [http://www.mta.info/lirr/Hamptons/ MTA LIRR - Hamptons Service] ] The LIRR first entered the area with the Sag Harbor Branchin 1869, and begin to serve Montauk in 1895 with the completion of the Montauk Branch. By 1895, a special fast train on the Main Line to Greenport was known as the "Cannon Ball"; [cite BDE|title=Latest Long Island News|md=June 5|y=1895|page=7] a section split at Manorville to serve Montauk via the Manorville Branchand Montauk Branch by 1897. [cite BDE|title=Fifty-five Miles an Hour|md=June 10|y=1897|page=4] In 1949, when the Manorville Branch was abandoned, the "Cannon Ball" was shifted to the Central Branch. The " Sunrise Special", a first-class train to Montauk, was added in 1926. [ New York Times, [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F00D14F73A5E1B7A93CBA8178ED85F428285F9 Long Island Trains on Summer Schedule] , May 19, 1926, page 31] For a time, Pullman parlor cars and sleeping cars were operated through Penn Station to Montauk from points such as Pittsburgh and Washington.
Other eastern Long Island services included the local "Scoot", which operated between the two forks (Greenport on the North Fork to Amagansett on the South Fork) via the
Manorville Branch. It was eliminated in February 1931 due to the effect of the Great Depressionand competition from the automobile.
Four non-electrified lines are only used for freight, now operated by the
New York and Atlantic Railway. The Montauk Cutoff Secondaryis a short connection from the Main Line at Sunnyside Yardsouth to the Montauk Branch, separating passenger and freight movements. The Bushwick Lead Trackruns west from the Montauk Branch at Maspeth to Bushwick Terminal. The Bay Ridge Branchruns south and west from the Montauk Branch at Fresh Pond to Bay Ridge. At Fresh Pond, it meets CSX Transportation's Fremont Secondary, which goes over the Hell Gate Bridgetowards Upstate New Yorkand New England. The Garden City-Mitchel Field Secondaryis a remnant of the Central Branch from Garden City to Mitchel Field.
The LIRR has a long history of rocky relations with its passengers [
Newsday, [http://www.newsday.com/news/local/nassau/nyg-limain0119,0,5268238.story?page=2&coll=ny_news_local_nassau_promo - Thirty Years of Neglect] ] , especially daily commuters [ New York Times, [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F04E6D81531F933A05754C0A96F958260 - Commuting in Misery] ] . Various commuter advocacy groups have been formed to try to represent those interests, in addition to the state mandated [http://www.pcac.org/councils/lirrcc.htm LIRR Commuters Council] .
One criticism of the LIRR is that the railroad has not improved service to the "east end" of Long Island as the twin forks continue to grow in popularity as a year round tourist and residential destination. Demand is evidenced by flourishing bus services and the early formative stages of a new [http://www.eastendshuttle.org/ East End Transportation Authority] .
Another criticism is that the On Time Performance (OTP) calculated by the LIRR is meaningless and manipulated to be artificially high. The "percentage" measure is used by many other US passenger railroads but the criticism over accuracy is specific to the LIRR. As defined by the LIRR, a train is "on time" if it arrives at a station within 5 minutes and 59 seconds of the scheduled time. [
LIRR, [http://www.mta.info/mta/ind-perform/month/lirr-otp.htm - LIRR OTP] ] The criterion was 4 minutes and 59 seconds until the LIRR changed it because of a bug in their computer systems. [ LIRR Commuters Campaign, [http://free.corefusion.net/Free/LIRR/home.nsf/79ac00a06b2683fa852567ca007965b7/76c174526086cf74852573a20058ff37?OpenDocument - LIRR On Time Performance questions] ] Critics [ LIRR Commuters Campaign, [http://free.corefusion.net/Free/LIRR/home.nsf/Main?OpenView - LIRR Commuters Campaign] ] believe the OTP measure does not reflect what commuters experience on a daily basis, and that the 'real' On Time Performance of the LIRR is about 70% to 75% rather than the 92% to 96% that is published. The LIRR publishes the current OTP in a monthly booklet called [http://www.mta.info/lirr/KeepingTrack/ Keeping Track] .
A more accurate way to measure delays and OTP has been proposed to the LIRR. [
LIRR Commuters Campaign, [http://free.corefusion.net/Free/LIRR/home.nsf/79ac00a06b2683fa852567ca007965b7/cbe5ea8c72c96c73852573c1006d61fa?OpenDocument - New OTP Proposal] ] Called the "Passenger Hours Delayed" index it can measure total person-hours of a specific delay. This would be useful in comparing performance of specific days or incidents, day-to-day (or week-to-week) periods, something the current measure cannot do. This 'PHD' index measure is used by some transportation research organizations and would be more meaningful to commuters. As of September 2007it has not been adopted. The two methods are not mutually exclusive and could be kept and published simultaneously.
2007 ridership was 86.1 million, up 4.9% over 2006. The all time highest ridership was 91.8 million in 1949. [http://www.progressiverailroading.com/news/article.asp?id=15045]
The LIRR and other railroads that became part of the system have always had freight service, though this has diminished over the years. The process of shedding freight service accelerated with the acquisition of the railroad by New York State.
In recent years there has been some appreciation of the need for better railroad freight service in
New York Cityand elsewhere on Long Island. Both areas are primarily served by trucking for freight haulage, an irony in a region with the most extensive rail transit service in the Americas as well as the worst traffic conditions. Proposals for a Cross-Harbor Rail Tunnelfor freight have languished more than a century.
Freight service is now operated on lease by the
New York and Atlantic Railway, a short line railroad owned by the Anacostia and Pacific Company. It has its own equipment and crews, but uses the rail facilities of the LIRR. To the east, freight service operates to the ends of the West Hempstead, Port Jefferson and Montauk branches, and to Southold on the Mainline. On the western end it provides service on the surviving freight-only tracks of the LIRR: the Bay Ridge and Bushwick branches; the nearly freight-only "Lower Montauk"; and to an interchange connection at Fresh Pond Junction in Queens with the CSX, Canadian Pacific, and Providence and Worcesterrailroads.
The Long Island Rail Road was consolidated from a number of railroads during the 19th century. The
Pennsylvania Railroadpurchased a controlling interest in 1900, as part of a joint plan to provide direct access to Manhattan. Perennial financial distress did not end in the PRR era, and the LIRR was bought by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 1966.
May 17 2007, Long Island Rail Road was awarded a Bronze E. H. Harriman Awardfor its safety record in 2006. [cite press release| url=http://www.aar.org/Index.asp?NCID=4002| title=Railroad Employees Post Safest Year Ever in 2006| publisher=Association of American Railroads| date= 2007-05-17| accessdate=2007-05-18| ] However, The New York Timesreported that up to 97% of LIRR retirees file for occupational disability upon retirement, a rate railroad expert Glenn Scammel said was impossible in any work environment but the gulag. [cite news
title=A Disability Epidemic Among a Railroad’s Retirees
publisher=The New York Times
The former LIRR Police Department, which was founded in 1863, was absorbed along with the
Metro-North RailroadPolice to form the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police(MTA Police) in 1998.
Section 1097.5 of the "Rules and Regulations Governing the Conduct and Safety of the Public and Use of the Long Island Rail Road Company Terminals, Stations and Trains" prohibits drinking any
alcoholic beverageor possess any opened or unsealed container of alcoholic beverage, except in premises or areas allowing the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages, such as on trains or platforms or in bars or restaurants. [ [http://www.mta.info/lirr/pubs/Rules/Rules.htm MTA LIRR - Rules and Regulations] ]
"In an effort to maintain orderly travel for our customers attending the
St. Patrick’s DayParade" as claimed by LIRR, LIRR has banned alcoholic beverage on St. Patrick’s Day. [ Newsday, [http://www.newsday.com/news/local/longisland/ny-lilirr0313,0,5777704.story LIRR bans alcohol on St. Patrick's Day] , March 12, 2007] In 2007, such a ban to confiscate opened and even unopened beverages and fine their possessors about 50 USDcreated controversies. New York State Senator Martin Goldenproposed that the MTA lift what he dubbed a discriminatory ban. [ The New York Sun, [http://www.nysun.com/article/50305 Ban of Liquor on St. Patrick's Riles Railroad Commuters] , March 13, 2007]
LIRR has also banned alcohol on
New Year's Eve. [See the references from Newsday.com and The New York Sun above.]
Alleged pension and disability fraud
As part of an investigation into alleged abuses of pension and disability payments to retirees of Long Island Rail Road, U.S. Federal agents raided the
Long Islandoffice of the Railroad Retirement Boardon September 23, 2008. New YorkGovernor David Patersonissued a statement calling for Congress to conduct a full review of the Board's mission and daily activities. Officials at the Board's headquarters in Chicagodeclined to comment on the case. [cite news| url=http://www.newsday.com/news/local/crime/ny-lilirr245855478sep24,0,2929639.story| title=Agents raid Westbury railroad retirement board office| work=Newsday| date=September 24, 2008| author=Kessler, Robert E.| accessmonthday=September 26| accessyear=2008| ] [cite news| url=http://www.amny.com/news/local/wire/newyork/ny-bc-ny--lirr-disability0923sep23,0,2167453.story| title=Paterson wants Congress to eye railroad board| work=AM New York| date=September 23, 2008| accessmonthday=September 26| accessyear=2008| ]
Long Island Rail Road fleet
List of presidents and trustees of the Long Island Rail Road
List of Long Island Rail Road stations
Long Island Rail Road massacre
* [http://www.mta.info/lirr/ MTA Long Island Rail Road]
* [http://www.eastendshuttle.org/ Five Towns Rural Transit]
* [http://www.mta.info/lirr/html/ttn/lirrtt.htm Long Island Rail Road Schedule (official)]
* [http://thenexttrain.com/at/lirr/ Long Island Rail Road Schedule (alternative)]
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20061114163034/northport.k12.ny.us/~bellrose/fee/LI95/vanbrink.html Long Island Rail Road History]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.