Atlantic Branch

The Atlantic Branch is an electrified rail line owned and operated by the Long Island Rail Road in the U.S. state of New York. It is the only LIRR line that runs in the borough of Brooklyn.

Atlantic Branch
Atlantic Branch Map.svg
OwnerLong Island Rail Road
LocaleWestern Long Island, New York, USA
TerminiAtlantic Terminal
Valley Stream
Stations8 passenger, 1 employee-only
TypeCommuter rail
SystemLong Island Rail Road
Operator(s)Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Opened1836 (west of Jamaica)
1867 (east of Jamaica)
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification750 V (DC) third rail
Route map

0.0 mi
0 km
Atlantic Terminal
"2" train"3" train"4" train"5" train"B" train"D" train"N" train"Q" train"R" train
Atlantic Avenue Viaduct
1.6 mi
2.6 km
Nostrand Avenue
"A" train"C" train
3.4 mi
5.5 km
East New York
"A" train"C" train"J" train"L" train"Z" train
Woodhaven (closed)
Clarenceville (closed)
Morris Park (closed)
Dunton (closed)
Zone 1
Zone 3
AirTrain JFK notext logo.svg "J" train"Z" train
Beaver Street (closed)
South Street (closed)
Cedar Manor (closed)
11.7 mi
18.8 km
Locust Manor
Higbie Avenue (closed)
13.1 mi
21.1 km
13.8 mi
22.2 km
Zone 3
Zone 4
15.7 mi
25.3 km
Valley Stream
Distances shown from Atlantic Terminal


Partly underground and partly elevated, the Atlantic Branch runs from Atlantic Terminal in Downtown Brooklyn to Valley Stream, in Nassau County, where it becomes the two-track Long Beach Branch with the two-track Far Rockaway Branch splitting southward just east of the Valley Stream station.

The section between Atlantic Terminal and Bedford Avenue is underground along Atlantic Avenue. From there the line is elevated above the median of Atlantic Avenue to Dewey Place (with a stop at Nostrand Avenue) before returning underground. At East New York the line rises to street level to cross above the north-south, freight only Bay Ridge Branch, then descends once more to Jamaica. Between East New York and Jamaica, the intact but closed station at Woodhaven Junction is visible.

At 121st Street in Richmond Hill, Queens, the line rises to street level and passes the Morris Park Facility before joining the elevated Main Line at Jamaica. Immediately east of Jamaica, the line turns southeast, ducking beneath the eastward Main Line tracks. It curves parallel to the Montauk Branch after a few miles and continues next to it to Valley Interlocking in Valley Stream.


The current Atlantic Branch is the successor to two separate lines: the Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad (opened 1836) along Atlantic Avenue from Flatbush Avenue to Jamaica, and the South Side Railroad of Long Island (opened 1867) from Jamaica to Valley Stream.

Woodhaven Junction power substation

Atlantic Terminal to JamaicaEdit

The Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad opened the line from South Ferry to what is now 151st Street in Jamaica on April 18, 1836.

Initially the line turned halfway between Classon and Franklin Avenues, running halfway between Herkimer Street and Schuyler Street (now Atlantic Avenue) along the line of the present Herkimer Place. It turned slightly to the southeast near Howard Avenue, crossing the centerline of Schuyler Street about one-third of the way between Hopkinson Avenue (Thomas Boyland Street) and Paca Avenue (Rockaway Avenue). It crossed into the town of New Lots just beyond Stone Avenue (Mother Gaston Boulevard).[1]

The Atlantic Branch was one of the first lines in the LIRR system slated to be electrified. In anticipation of this the entire line to Jamaica was to be grade separated. Between 1903 and 1905 the line was depressed into a tunnel from Flatbush Avenue to Bedford Avenue, then placed on an elevated viaduct from Bedford Avenue to Ralph Avenue then depressed back into a tunnel until Manhattan Crossing located just west of East New York station. At East New York the line returned to grade level then rose onto another elevated viaduct until Atkins Ave. The rest of the line from Atkins Ave to Morris Park located just west of Jamaica remained at grade level along Atlantic Avenue with numerous grade crossings with the anticipation of grade separating the line later on. Additionally a new terminal and yard was built at Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues. Electric service commenced in 1905 with the line consisting of two tracks between Flatbush Avenue and Woodhaven Junction and four tracks beyond that point to Jamaica.

LIRR then ran two services along the line: the traditional commuter type services from points on eastern Long Island to Flatbush Avenue, along with what was called the "local" rapid transit type service, frequent elevated/subway like service at lower fare between Flatbush Ave and Queens Village (although referred to as a rapid transit type service, standard LIRR cars were used, and the service was operated by railroad rules, as opposed to rapid transit). At this time the line from Jamaica to East New York had many more stations along Atlantic Avenue spaced at closer intervals, much like an elevated/subway rapid transit line. The four tracks between Jamaica and Woodhaven Junction lent itself to this service with rapid transit trains using the outer two tracks while commuter trains used the inner two tracks.

In November 1925 25 "local" trains left Brooklyn each weekday for Queens Village, 12 more ran to Hillside, and 16 more ran to Jamaica. All trains made all stops, 15 of them west of Queens Village. Fare was probably 10 cents for 13 miles Queens Village to Brooklyn, compared to about 40 cents on "express" LIRR trains making six or seven stops (but a monthly ticket good on any train was $7.10).

For a while the LIRR operated joint service along the Atlantic Branch with the Brooklyn Rapid Transit company (BRT) consisting of two connections, one with the Fifth Ave El at Flatbush Avenue, and another with the Broadway and Lexington Avenue els with a connection built at Chestnut Street in Brooklyn. This allowed BRT trains to access the Rockaways and Manhattan Beach, while affording the LIRR a connection into Manhattan to the BRT terminal located at Park Row over the Brooklyn Bridge (this service predated the opening of the East River Tunnels to Penn Station). Nevertheless the Interstate Commerce Commission ended this service in 1916 when they classified different operating standards between rapid transit trains and regular heavy rail railroads which the LIRR was classified as.

By the late 1930s it was clear that the rest of the line needed to be grade separated. Much of the surrounding area along Atlantic Avenue in Ozone Park and Richmond Hill began their suburban development leading to more traffic along Atlantic Avenue which was plagued by the lines many grade crossings. The City of New York along with the LIRR thus allocated the funds to depress the rest of the line from Morris Park to East New York in a tunnel. Building of the tunnel commenced in 1939 (although plans to build the tunnel date back to 1893) with two of the line's four tracks being pulled out of service and the rapid transit service being discontinued.

Replacement of the Atlantic Avenue Viaduct at Nostrand Avenue in July 2011.

On December 28, 1942[2] the tunnel was completed and opened with the two remaining at-grade tracks pulled out of service. Around this time Atlantic Avenue was raised over the East New York station via a viaduct that separated the road and the railroad. The elevated trestle from East New York to Atkins Avenue was also demolished as it had been included in the new tunnel to Jamaica. Only one station was included in the new tunnel: Woodhaven Junction, where the Atlantic Branch crossed under the Rockaway Beach Branch. An interlocking and track connection was built just west of the Woodhaven Junction station to connect the two lines, but these closed after the abandonment of the Rockaway Beach Branch between 1955 and 1962.

Jamaica to Valley StreamEdit

The portion east of Jamaica was opened by the South Side Railroad of Long Island on October 28, 1867, as part of its initial line from Jamaica to Babylon. With the consolidation of the South Side into the Long Island Rail Road system in 1876, all 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 South Side. This change took effect Sunday, June 25, 1876, and resulted in the closure of the South Side's Berlin, Beaver Street (Jamaica), Locust Avenue, and Springfield stations.[3][4] This formed the current configuration, where the Montauk Branch follows this route, mostly ex-South Side, and the Atlantic Branch (then the Old Southern Road) uses the old South Side to Springfield Junction.

The line was soon reopened due to a lawsuit, but closed again by Austin Corbin as of January 6, 1881.[5]

Effective May 17, 1906, when an electrified third track opened alongside the Montauk Division from Springfield Junction to Valley Stream, the Old Southern Road and this new track became part of the Atlantic Division.[6]


East of Valley Stream, the Far Rockaway Branch continues to Far Rockaway and the Long Beach Branch continues to Long Beach.

Zone[7] Location Services Station Miles (km) Date
Connections / notes
Cobble Hill, Brooklyn South Ferry
Henry Street
Clinton Street
Pacific Park, Brooklyn Atlantic Terminal   0.0 (0.0)[8] 1877 Long Island Rail Road: Babylon, Hempstead, Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma, West Hempstead branches
New York City Subway: 2, ​3, ​4, ​5​, B, ​D, ​N, ​Q​, R and ​W​ (at Atlantic Avenue – Barclays Center)
New York City Bus: B41, B45, B63, B65, B67
Originally named Flatbush Avenue
Prospect Heights, Brooklyn Vanderbilt Avenue 1877[9] before 1890[10]
Washington Avenue c. 1878[11] before 1890
Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Grand Avenue 1877[9] c. 1878[11]
Bedford 1.2 (1.9)[10] c. 1842[12] c.1900[8] Formerly Franklin Avenue; Connected to the Brooklyn, Flatbush and Coney Island Railway
Nostrand Avenue 1.6 (2.5)[10] 1877[9] Long Island Rail Road: Babylon, Hempstead, Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma, West Hempstead branches
New York City Subway: A and ​C (at Nostrand Avenue)
New York City Bus: B25, B44, B44 SBS, B65
Brooklyn Avenue 1877[9] before 1890[13]
Kingston Avenue
Albany Avenue 1877[9] before 1890
Troy Avenue 2.3 (3.7)[10] 1877[9][13] c. 1899[10]
Schenectady Avenue c. 1878[11] before 1890
Utica Avenue 2.6 (4.1)[10] 1877[9][13] c. 1899[10]
Rochester Avenue 1877[9] before 1890
Ralph Avenue 1877[9] before 1890
Brownsville, Brooklyn Saratoga Avenue
Hopkinson Avenue 1877[9] c. 1878[11]
Rockaway Avenue c. 1878[11] before 1890
East New York, Brooklyn
Stone Avenue 1877[9] c. 1878[11]
East New York 3.4 (6.4)[10] c.1848[14] Long Island Rail Road: Babylon, Hempstead, Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma, West Hempstead branches
New York City Subway: L (at Atlantic Avenue), A, ​C​, J​, L​, and Z (at Broadway Junction)
New York City Bus: B12, B20, B25, B83, Q24, Q56
Originally named Manhattan Beach Railroad Crossing
Howard House 4.1 (6.6)[10] c. 1843[15] 1905 Originally named East New York
Pennsylvania Avenue
Wyckoff Avenue c. 1878[16]
Bradford Avenue 1899[10][17]
Van Siclen Avenue c. 1878[18]
Warwick Street 4.9 (7.9)[19] 1905 1939[20]
Linwood Street 5.0 (8.1)[10] c. 1878[11] c.1899[10] Originally named Van Wicklens
Norwood Avenue 5.3 (8.6)[10] c. 1890[13] 1915[21]
Cypress Hills, Brooklyn Cypress Avenue c. 1853[22] c.1890[13]
Cypress Hills c. 1849[23]
Autumn Avenue 5.8 (9.3)[8] 1905 1939[21] Originally Railroad Avenue
Adamsville 1872[21][24] 1876[21]
City Line
Woodhaven, Queens Unionville
Union Course 6.3 (10.1)[8] c. 1842[25] 1939[21]
Woodhaven 6.7 (10.8)[10] c. 1848[26] 1939[21] Originally named Woodville
Trotting Course Lane 1837[21] 1842[21]
Woodhaven Junction 7.2 (11.6)[10] c. 1890[13] 1977
Richmond Hill, Queens
Chester Park
Clarenceville 7.8 (12.5)[10] c. 1874[24] 1939[21]
Lefferts Avenue c. 1867 1870[21]
Morris Park 8.1 (13.0)[10] c. 1890[13] 1939[21]
Morris Grove 1878 1886
Boland's Landing 1889 Long Island Rail Road: Babylon, Hempstead, Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma, West Hempstead branches
Employee-only station to serve the Morris Park Facility
Berlin Junction
Dunton 8.9 (14.3)[10] 1869 1939 Originally named Berlin, then Van Wyck Avenue
3 Jamaica, Queens Jamaica   1836 Long Island Rail Road: Babylon, Hempstead, Montauk, Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma, West Hempstead branches
New York City Subway: J and ​Z (at Sutphin Boulevard–Archer Avenue–JFK Airport)
New York City Bus: Q20A, Q20B, Q24, Q30, Q31, Q43, Q44 SBS, Q54, Q56
MTA Bus: Q6, Q8, Q9, Q25, Q34, Q40, Q41, Q60, Q65
Nassau Inter-County Express: n4
AirTrain JFK: Jamaica Station Route
Beaver Street 9.6 (15.4)[8] 1867 1913 Also known as Jamaica—Beaver Street
South Street 1917 1922
South Jamaica, Queens Cedar Manor 10.8 (17.4)[8] 1906 1959 Originally named Power Place
Locust Manor, Queens   Locust Manor 11.7 (18.8)[8] 1869 New York City Bus: Q3, Q85
Originally named Locust Avenue
  Served by Far Rockaway Branch weekdays, Long Beach Branch weekends
Springfield Gardens, Queens Higbie Avenue 12.6 (20.3)[8] 1908 1960 Originally named Springfield
Springfield 1867 1906
Laurelton, Queens   Laurelton 13.1 (21.1)[8] 1907 New York City Bus: Q77, Q85
Originally named Central Avenue
  Served by Far Rockaway Branch weekdays, Long Beach Branch weekends
Rosedale, Queens   Rosedale 13.8 (22.2)[8] New York City Bus: Q5, Q85
Originally named Foster's Meadow
  Served by Far Rockaway Branch weekdays, Long Beach Branch weekends
4 Valley Stream Valley Stream   15.7 (25.3)[8] 1869 Long Island Rail Road: West Hempstead Branch
Nassau Inter-County Express: n1, Elmont Flexi

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Joseph Hutchins Colton, Map of the city of Brooklyn, 1849, NYPL Digital Image ID: 434722
  2. ^
    • "NEW RAIL TUNNEL TO OPEN MONDAY; First Trains for Public to Run in the Underground Route in Atlantic Ave" (December 26, 1942). New York Times Company. December 26, 1942. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
    • "ATLANTIC AVE. TUBE OPEN; First Long Island Train Passes Through at 2:47 A. M." (December 28, 1942). New York Times Company. December 28, 1942. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
    • "Tunnel Opened on Atlantic Avenue for L.I. Trains; Project Eliminates 20 Hazardous Grade Crossings in Its Run" (PDF) (December 31, 1942). Leader Observer (Queens/Brooklyn, NY). December 31, 1942. p. 1. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  3. ^ Vincent F. Seyfried, The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, Part One: South Side R.R. of L.I., © 1961
  4. ^ "Railroad Changes". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. June 27, 1876. p. 2.
  5. ^ "Without Railroad Accommodation". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. February 22, 1881. p. 4.
  6. ^ Employee timetable, May 17, 1906
  7. ^ "New Fares — Effective April 21, 2019". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Employee timetable, May 17, 1906
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Steam Motors". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. August 12, 1877. p. 4.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Employee timetable, June 28, 1899
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Employee timetable, November 4, 1878
  12. ^ "Long Island Railroad". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. May 13, 1842. p. 2.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Employee timetable, June 24, 1890
  14. ^ Timetable
  15. ^ "Long Island Railroad Co". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. March 4, 1843. p. 3.
  16. ^ "Instructive". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. November 22, 1878. p. 4.
  17. ^ Employee timetable, September 17, 1899
  18. ^ "Shocking". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. November 14, 1878. p. 4.
  19. ^ Employee timetable, September 20, 1905
  20. ^ LIRR Notice for November 1, 1939
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Long Island Railroad Station History" (PDF). August 12, 2012. Retrieved September 17, 2012.
  22. ^ "Travel". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. June 16, 1853. p. 4.
  23. ^ "The New Cemetery of the Cypress Hills". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. April 9, 1849. p. 2.
  24. ^ a b Timetable, November 8, 1874
  25. ^ "Races, Union Course--Long Island Railroad". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. October 3, 1842. p. 3.
  26. ^ Timetable, May 1, 1848

External linksEdit

Route map:

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