Open main menu

The Hempstead Branch is an electrified rail line and service owned and operated by the Long Island Rail Road in the U.S. state of New York. The branch begins at the Main Line at Queens Interlocking, just east of Queens Village station. It parallels the Main Line past Bellerose to Floral Park, where it splits southward and continues east via the village of Garden City to Hempstead Crossing. There it turns south to the final two stations, Country Life Press and Hempstead.

Hempstead Branch
LIRR Bombardier M-7 7425 train 757.jpg
Hempstead Branch train #757 enters Stewart Manor, due west to Brooklyn.
TypeCommuter rail
SystemLong Island Rail Road
LocaleQueens and Nassau County, New York, USA
TerminiHillside Facility
Opened1873 (as part of the Central Railroad of Long Island)
OwnerLong Island Rail Road
Operator(s)Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification750 V (DC) Third rail
Route map

10.8 mi
17.4 km
AirTrain JFK notext logo.svg "E" train​​"J" train"Z" train
employees only
13.4 mi
21.6 km
15.0 mi
24.1 km
Queens Village
Zone 3
Zone 4
Belmont Park
seasonal service
16.1 mi
25.9 km
16.7 mi
26.9 km
Floral Park
18.1 mi
29.1 km
Stewart Manor
19.1 mi
30.7 km
Nassau Boulevard
20.2 mi
32.5 km
Garden City
20.8 mi
33.5 km
Country Life Press
22.6 mi
36.4 km
Distances shown in miles from Pennsylvania Station.

LIRR maps and schedules show Hempstead Branch service continuing west along the Main Line to Jamaica. The Hempstead Branch's trains stop at Hollis and Queens Village stations on the Main Line, but these two stations are not served by any other Main Line branch.[1][2] The line is double tracked to just east of Garden City Station, where it is reduced to one track at Garden Interlocking for the final 1.4 miles to Hempstead station.


The original Hempstead Branch of the LIRR ran south from Mineola, ending just west of the current terminal in Hempstead.[3] It opened on July 4, 1839 as the first branch of the LIRR.[4]

The Central Railroad of Long Island opened from Flushing east to Hempstead Crossing and south to Hempstead on January 8, 1873; the main line east from Hempstead Crossing opened later that year on May 26.[5] CRRLI extended their line east to Bethpage, Farmingdale, and Babylon resulting in the creation of their own Hempstead Branch running parallel to the one owed by the LIRR. The Central Railroad's successor, the Flushing, North Shore and Central Railroad, was leased to the LIRR on May 3, 1876, and in June a connection at Hempstead Crossing was built, allowing trains from Mineola to use the ex-Central's Hempstead Branch; the original LIRR Hempstead Branch was abandoned south of Hempstead Crossing.[6]

Covert Avenue grade crossing

The old Central main line through Hempstead was named the Central Branch by the LIRR, while the line from Mineola on the LIRR's Main Line south past Hempstead Crossing to Hempstead was the Hempstead Branch.[7] The New York Bay Extension Railroad opened the current West Hempstead Branch in 1893,[8] resulting in a realignment of the Hempstead Branch from Hempstead Crossing south to Meadow Street to better connect to the new line.[9]

Electric service on the current route of the Hempstead Branch, from Queens Village east along the Main Line and Central Branch and south along the Hempstead Branch to Hempstead, was inaugurated on May 26, 1908.[10][11]:18 In 1910, the branch's connection to the Main Line was double-tracked.[12]:23 The then-Hempstead Branch north to Mineola was electrified on October 20, 1926, along with the West Hempstead Branch.[13]

The line north of Hempstead Crossing last saw passenger service on September 14, 1935,[14] and was abandoned for freight in 1965.[15] Park Interlocking at Floral Park was taken out in the circa-1960 grade crossing elimination; since then Hempstead Branch trains switch off the Main Line at Queens Village and continue next to it to Floral Park.[16]


New Elmont stationEdit

The MTA plans to build the Elmont station in Elmont, New York, as part of the Belmont Park redevelopment. The station will include two new 12-car platforms, and ADA-compliant elevators. The eastbound platform will open first, in 2021, followed by the westbound platform in 2023.[17][18]


Zone Station Miles (km)
from NYP[19]
Connections / notes
1 For continuing service west of Jamaica, see City Terminal Zone
3 Jamaica   10.8 (17.4) 1836   LIRR; Atlantic, Babylon, Belmont Park, Far Rockaway, Long Beach,
Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma, and West Hempstead Branches
  NYC Subway:  ​​   (at Sutphin Boulevard – Archer Avenue – JFK Airport)
  NYCT Bus: Q20A, Q20B, Q24, Q30, Q31, Q43, Q44 SBS, Q54, Q56
  MTA Bus: Q6, Q8, Q9, Q25, Q34, Q40, Q41, Q60, Q65
  NICE Bus: n4
  AirTrain JFK: Jamaica Station Route
Union Hall Street 1890 1976 Originally New York Avenue
Canal Street 1890 1899
Hillside 1966
Hillside Facility 1991 Employees-only station
Woodhull Park[20] 1890 c. 1905
Willow Tree[21] c. 1837 c. 1871
Hollis 13.4 (21.6) 1885   NYCT Bus: Q2, Q3
  MTA Bus: Q110
Bellaire 1837 1972 Originally Flushing Avenue, then Brushville, then Interstate Park, then Brushville Road
Queens Village   15.0 (24.1) 1881   NYCT Bus: Q1, Q27, Q36, Q83, Q88
  NICE Bus: n24
Belmont Park Branch diverges
Queens / Nassau county line
Elmont   2021-2023 Proposed station
Bellerose 16.1 (25.9) 1898
Floral Park 16.7 (26.9) 1878   LIRR: Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson, and Ronkonkoma Branches
Main Line (Port Jefferson Branch) diverges
Stewart Manor   18.1 (29.1) 1873   NICE Bus: n25
Nassau Boulevard   19.1 (30.7) 1907
Garden City   20.2 (32.5) 1872   NICE Bus: n40, n41
Garden City-Mitchel Field Secondary diverges
Country Life Press   20.8 (33.5) 1911
Hempstead   22.6 (36.4) 1872   NICE Bus: n6, n6X, n15, n16, n16X, n27, n31, n32, n35, n40, n41, n48, n49, n54, n55, n70, n71, n72, Mercy Medical Shuttle
  Short Line Bus: 495


  1. ^ MTA LIRR - LIRR Map
  2. ^ LIRR Hempstead Branch Timetable
  3. ^ Map showing the route & connections of the Central Rail Road Extension Company of Long Island, 1873
  4. ^ "PRR Chronology, 1839" (PDF). (82.7 KiB), June 2004 Edition
  5. ^ "PRR Chronology, 1873" (PDF). (100 KiB), February 2005 Edition
  6. ^ "PRR Chronology, 1876" (PDF). (116 KiB), April 2006 Edition
  7. ^ Pennsylvania Railroad, Long Island Railroad map Archived July 24, 2012, at, 1941
  8. ^ Interstate Commerce Commission, Valuation Report, Long Island Railroad Archived January 12, 2002, at
  9. ^ Arrt's Arrchives: Hempstead Crossing
  10. ^ "PRR Chronology, 1908" (PDF). (52.2 KiB), March 2005 Edition
  11. ^ The Long Island Railroad Twenty-Seventh Annual Report For The Year Ending December 31st, 1908. Long Island Railroad Company. 1909.
  12. ^ The Long Island Railroad Thirtieth Annual Report For The Year Ending December 31st, 1911. Long Island Railroad Company. 1912.
  13. ^ "PRR Chronology, 1926" (PDF). (101 KiB), June 2004 Edition
  14. ^ "PRR Chronology, 1935" (PDF). (47.8 KiB), August 2004 Edition
  15. ^ "PRR Chronology, 1965" (PDF). (83.5 KiB), June 2004 Edition
  16. ^ Floral Park Station History (TrainsAreFun)
  17. ^ "Islanders arena project at Belmont Park now includes new LIRR station". Newsday. July 8, 2019. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  18. ^ "New Full-Time LIRR Station Planned Near Belmont Park – CBS New York". CBS New York. July 8, 2019. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  19. ^ Station pages linked from LIRR Stations Archived September 7, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ Woodhull Park Station, Hillside Station & RJ Tower (Arrt's Arrchives)
  21. ^ Willow Tree Station (Arrt's Arrchives)

External linksEdit