Montauk Branch

The Montauk Branch is a rail line owned and operated by the Long Island Rail Road in the U.S. state of New York. The branch runs the length of Long Island, 115 miles (185 km) from Long Island City on the west to Montauk on the east. However, in LIRR maps and schedules for public use the term Montauk Branch refers to the line east of Babylon; the line west of there is covered by Babylon Branch schedules,[1] and many Montauk Brach trains operate via the Main Line due to increased track capacities.[2]

Montauk Branch
LIRR Cannonball train 2798.jpg
The Cannonball runs express through Bay Shore to the Hamptons along the Montauk Branch.
OwnerLong Island Rail Road
LocaleLong Island, New York, USA
TerminiLong Island City (physical line); Bay Shore (service pattern)
Stations33 (physical line); 16 (service pattern)
TypeCommuter rail, freight rail
SystemLong Island Rail Road
Operator(s)Metropolitan Transportation Authority (passenger)
New York and Atlantic Railway (freight)
Number of tracks2 (from Long Island City to Sayville)
1 (east of Sayville)
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification750 V (DC) third rail (Jamaica to Babylon only)
Route map

Long Island City
"7" train NYC Ferry
99.9 mi
160.8 km
Lower Montauk Branch
Penny Bridge (closed)
Haberman (closed)
Fresh Pond (closed)
Glendale (closed)
Richmond Hill (closed)
Zone 1
Zone 3
9.3 mi
15 km
AirTrain JFK notext logo.svg "E" train​​"J" train"Z" train
11.8 mi
19 km
Babylon & other services
11.8 mi
19 km
St. Albans
99.9 mi
160.8 km
Hempstead intermediate stops
14.0 mi
22.5 km
Zone 3
Zone 4
16.1 mi
25.9 km
Valley Stream
Port Jefferson intermediate stops
17.7 mi
28.5 km
18.6 mi
29.9 km
Zone 4
Zone 7
Port Jefferson intermediate stops
19.3 mi
31.1 km
Rockville Centre
21.2 mi
34.1 km
22.7 mi
36.5 km
24.1 mi
38.8 km
24.8 mi
39.9 km
25.6 mi
41.2 km
25.9 mi
41.7 km
27.7 mi
44.6 km
28.7 mi
46.2 km
29.5 mi
47.5 km
Massapequa Park
Unqua (closed)
Zone 7
Zone 9
30.6 mi
49.2 km
32.4 mi
52.1 km
33.7 mi
54.2 km
36.6 mi
58.9 km
Zone 9
Zone 10
40.7 mi
65.5 km
Bay Shore
Fire Island, New York
43.1 mi
69.4 km
45.2 mi
72.7 km
Great River
47.4 mi
76.3 km
49.8 mi
80.1 km
Fire Island, New York
Bayport (closed)
Blue Point (closed)
53.2 mi
85.6 km
Fire Island, New York
Hagerman (closed)
Zone 10
Zone 12
57.8 mi
93 km
Brookhaven (closed)
62.3 mi
100.3 km
Mastic – Shirley
Mastic (closed)
East Moriches (closed)
Eastport (closed)
70.8 mi
113.9 km
Zone 12
Zone 14
74.3 mi
119.6 km
Quogue (closed)
81.2 mi
130.7 km
Hampton Bays
Canoe Place (closed)
89.3 mi
143.7 km
Water Mill (closed)
94.0 mi
151.3 km
Wainscott (closed)
100.9 mi
162.4 km
East Hampton
104.3 mi
167.9 km
Promised Land (closed)
115.8 mi
186.4 km
Block Island

Distances shown from Pennsylvania Station

Logo of the Cannonball express train

Route descriptionEdit

Lower MontaukEdit

Lower Montauk Branch (defunct Richmond Hill station) in 2019

The westernmost portion of the Montauk Branch in Queens, known as the "Lower Montauk", runs between Long Island City and Jamaica stations, mostly at street level with grade crossings. This portion had nine stations, four of which were closed by 1940. The remaining five stations (Richmond Hill, Glendale, Fresh Pond, Haberman, and Penny Bridge) were closed on March 13, 1998,[3] due to low ridership and incompatibility with then-new C3 bi-level coach cars that can only use high platforms (only Richmond Hill had an actual platform, the other four stations' platforms were just pavement strips beside the tracks). After these stations closed, the LIRR continued to use the Lower Montauk to operate express trains between Jamaica and Long Island City; there were only two such trains at the time of the 1998 station closures, one westbound in the morning, and one eastbound in the evening. These two trains were re-routed north to Hunterspoint Avenue in 2012, effectively ceasing passenger train service on the Lower Montauk. Soon after, full control of the Lower Montauk was transferred to the New York and Atlantic Railway for freight operations.[4][better source needed]

The New York City Department of Transportation has periodically floated proposals to repurpose the Lower Montauk Branch for rapid transit operations. In 1984, the Department studied an option to connect the branch to the New York City Subway through a proposed connection to the IND 63rd Street Line in Long Island City.[5] This proposal was unpopular in the communities surrounding the branch.[6] In 2017, the Department studied a plan to operate light rail service on the Lower Montauk Branch.[7]

After Penn Station opened in 1910 the Lower Montauk became the freight route, and when the present Jamaica station opened in 1913 the two Lower Montauk tracks continued past the south side of the station, south of Hall tower and the south Union Hall Street platform and on to Holban Yard. Those two tracks now carry trains to/from the Hillside Facility that has replaced Holban Yard; they can also carry nonstop Main Line trains past Jamaica station. East from Jamaica the Montauk Branch runs between the Main Line tracks (with two usually westward Main Line tracks north of it and two eastward tracks south of it) until just west of Hillside Facility. At 40°42′21″N 73°47′04″W / 40.70585°N 73.7845°W / 40.70585; -73.7845 the Montauk Branch rises to cross above the other tracks and turns southeast. At 40°40′01″N 73°44′49″W / 40.667°N 73.747°W / 40.667; -73.747 it swings parallel to the Atlantic Branch between its Laurelton and Rosedale stations. The Montauk Branch east of Jamaica is 0.7 mile longer than the Atlantic.

Babylon BranchEdit

The portion between Jamaica and Babylon stations has been electrified since 1925, and electric trains to Babylon are often identified as a separate service, the Babylon Branch. It is grade-separated on embankments or elevated structures. From Babylon east to Montauk, diesel-electric or dual-mode electric/diesel-electric locomotives haul trains of passenger coaches.

The Montauk Line has heavy ridership and frequent service as far as Patchogue station and commuter service as far as Speonk station. In the summer, with travelers going out to The Hamptons, Fire Island and other beaches, additional service is operated to the far eastern terminal at Montauk, such as the Cannonball, a Friday afternoon train departing from Penn Station (originally Hunterspoint Avenue) and running non-stop to Westhampton station in Westhampton. The Montauk Branch, along with the parallel Atlantic Branch, spawns three subsidiary branches: the West Hempstead Branch, Far Rockaway Branch, and Long Beach Branch.

The electrified portion of the Montauk Branch ends in the village of Babylon. Some of the Montauk's diesel trains begin or end their runs at Babylon station, connecting with electric trains there. Other Montauk diesel trains operate into New York City, to Jamaica station; Hunterspoint Avenue or Long Island City stations in Long Island City; or Penn Station.

East of BabylonEdit

The terminal stations in diesel territory, east of Babylon, are Patchogue, Speonk, and Montauk. The Montauk Branch is double-tracked from just east of Long Island City all the way through Babylon, becoming single track at Y Interlocking (located east of the Sayville station) (a short section of track east of Long Island City is single tracked). Most Montauk Branch diesel trains operate west to NYC via the diesel-only Central Branch, joining the Main Line east of Bethpage station. Only a few actually run via the Montauk Branch west of Babylon, under normal conditions on the Main Line.

The Montauk was home to the last tower in North America that regularly used "hooping" train operations: PD Tower, in Patchogue. "Hooping" is the transfer of instructions to the engineer and conductor by attaching the folded orders to the "hoop", a rod several feet long with a loop at the end that is passed from the ground to a moving train by catching the loop on one's arm. The last train to get hooped at PD was train 2730 on May 6, 2006.[8]


Currently, the Montauk Branch intersects with the Bushwick Branch, Bay Ridge Branch, West Hempstead Branch, and Central Branch, as well as the Main Line at Long Island City and Jamaica and the Atlantic Branch at Jamaica and Valley Stream; the Far Rockaway Branch and Long Beach Branch are connected via the Atlantic Branch at Valley Stream. In the past, junctions existed with the Rockaway Beach Branch (a quarter mile east of Woodhaven Boulevard), Southern Hempstead Branch (Valley Stream to Hempstead), Manorville Branch (Eastport to Manorville on the Main Line), and Sag Harbor Branch (Bridgehampton to Sag Harbor). In early times, the Scoot ran frequently between Greenport on the North Fork, "around the horn" on the Manorville Branch, and east to Sag Harbor. In their day, both of those villages were very busy, bustling ports.

Formation and early days: 1860s to 1925Edit

The South Side Railroad of Long Island built the line from Bushwick, Brooklyn to Patchogue in the 1860s, and completed the new line to Long Island City in 1870.[9] With the reorganization of the South Side as the Southern Railroad of Long Island in 1874 and its lease by the LIRR in 1876, this line became the Southern Railroad Division,[10] Southern Railroad of Long Island Division, or simply Southern Division.[11] Effective Sunday, June 25, 1876, all Southern Division 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 Southern. This change resulted in the closure of the Southern's Berlin, Beaver Street (Jamaica), Locust Avenue, and Springfield stations.[12] The old line between Jamaica and Springfield, which became freight-only, was renamed the Old Southern Road.[13] The Southern was reorganized as the Brooklyn and Montauk Railroad in 1879,[14] and on March 14, 1880, the name was changed from the Southern Division to the Montauk Division.[15] Thus the old South Side Railroad, except between Jamaica and Springfield Junction, was now the Montauk Division.

The LIRR opened the Sag Harbor Branch, including the present Montauk Branch from Eastport to Bridgehampton, on June 8, 1870.[16] On July 27, 1881, after the South Side became part of the LIRR, its line – then the Montauk Division – was extended east to the Sag Harbor Branch at Eastport.[17] The Sag Harbor Branch east of Eastport became part of the Montauk Division,[18] and the old line from Manor (Manorville) to Eastport became the Manor Branch.[19] An extension to Montauk, splitting off the old Sag Harbor Branch at Bridgehampton, opened to Amagansett on June 1, 1895[20] and to Montauk by September,[21] and the line between Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor reverted to the old Sag Harbor Branch name.[22]

Babylon electrification: 1925 to presentEdit

Electrification of the Montauk Division from Jamaica to Babylon was completed on May 20, 1925,[23] and normal operation began the next day.[24] The Central Extension between Bethpage and Babylon was reopened for freight trains that had run via the Montauk Division.[14]

The Montauk station was initially near the center of a sleepy fishing village at the north end of Fort Pond (where Austin Corbin built a pier in his unsuccessful effort to have trans-Atlantic ships dock there.) The Great Hurricane of 1938 devastated the terminus area and tore up sections of the roadbed. The population center then moved two miles (3 km) to the south, away from the station.

1998 saw the closure of three lightly used stations: Center Moriches, Quogue, and Southampton College. Southampton College was temporarily reinstated for the 2004 and 2018 U.S. Open U.S. Open tournaments at the nearby Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, along with a steel walkway over Montauk Highway. At the conclusion of the tournament, the walkway was dismantled and the temporary platform was removed.

On April 16, 2019, New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele announced that funding to design improvements on the Montauk Branch would likely be included in the 2019-2020 state budget. The funding would be used by the LIRR to design three passing sidings to be installed on the line in single-track territory between Speonk and Montauk. The installation of passing sidings would allow for increased service on the South Fork Commuter Connection. MTA President and CEO Pat Foye said that improvements to the Montauk Branch were identified in the LIRR's request for the MTA' s Twenty-Year Needs Assessment.[25]


West Hempstead Branch trains split off after St. Albans. Babylon Branch trains terminate at Babylon, while Montauk Branch trains continue beyond. Many non-electric Montauk Branch trains that run express between Jamaica and Babylon run via the Main Line and Central Branch, with one rush hour roundtrip serving Mineola and Hicksville stations.[2]

Zone[26] Location Services Station Miles (km)
from NYP[27]
Connections and notes
1 Long Island City, Queens   Long Island City  
(rush hours only)
1854 Long Island Rail Road: Oyster Bay and Port Jefferson branches
NYC Subway: 7 and <7>​ (at Vernon Boulevard – Jackson Avenue)
MTA Bus: Q103
NYC Ferry East River Ferry
  Served by five peak round trip trains, one of which is Montauk train[2]
Penny Bridge 1854 1998[3]
Laurel Hill 1890 1900
Maspeth, Queens Haberman 1892 1998[3]
Maspeth 1895 c. 1924
Fresh Pond 1869 1998[3] Originally named Bushwick Junction
Glendale, Queens Glendale 1869 1998[3]
Ridgewood 1883 1924
Richmond Hill, Queens Richmond Hill 1868 1998[3] Originally named Clarenceville
Shops c. 1900 1913 Part of the Morris Park Facility
Dunton 1869
Originally named Van Wyck Avenue, then Berlin
3 Jamaica, Queens Jamaica   9.3 (15.0) 1836 Long Island Rail Road: Atlantic, Far Rockaway, Hempstead, Long Beach, Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma branches
New York City Subway: E​, ​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
Union Hall Street c. 1890 1976 Originally named New York Avenue
Canal Street 1890[28] 1899
Hillside 1890[28] 1966
St. Albans, Queens St. Albans 11.8 (19.0) 1898[29] New York City Bus: Q4
Originally named Locust Avenue[30]
Springfield Gardens, Queens Springfield Gardens 1870s 1979 Originally named Springfield
4 Lynbrook Lynbrook   17.7 (28.5) 1867[14] Long Island Rail Road: Long Beach Branch
Nassau Inter-County Express: n4, n25, n31, n32
Originally named Pearsall's Corners, then Pearsall's
7 Rockville Centre Rockville Centre   19.3 (31.1) 1867 Nassau Inter-County Express: n15, n16, Mercy Medical Shuttle
Baldwin Baldwin   21.2 (34.1) 1867 Nassau Inter-County Express: n35
Originally named Baldwinsville,[31] then Baldwins
Freeport Freeport   22.7 (36.5) 1867 Nassau Inter-County Express: n4, n19, n40, n41, n43, n88
Merrick Merrick   24.1 (38.8) 1867
Bellmore Bellmore   25.6 (41.2) 1869
Wantagh Wantagh 25.9 (41.7) 1867 Originally named Ridgewood
Seaford Seaford   27.7 (44.6) 1899 Nassau Inter-County Express: n54
Massapequa Massapequa   28.7 (46.2) 1867 Nassau Inter-County Express: n54, n55, n80
Originally named South Oyster Bay
Massapequa Park Massapequa Park 29.5 (47.5) 1933 Nassau Inter-County Express: n54, n55, n80
East Massapequa Unqua 1880 1881
9 Amityville Amityville 30.6 (49.2) 1868 Suffolk County Transit: 1A, S1, S20, S33
Copiague Copiague 32.4 (52.1) 1902 Suffolk County Transit: S20, S31
Belmont Junction 1875 1876
Lindenhurst Lindenhurst 33.7 (54.2) 1867 Suffolk County Transit: S20
Originally named Wellwood, then Breslau
Babylon Babylon   36.6 (58.9) 1867[14] Suffolk County Transit: S20, S23, S25, S27, S29, S40, S42, S47
Originally named Seaside[14]
Terminus of electrification
10 Bay Shore Bay Shore   40.7 (65.5) 1868 Suffolk County Transit: 2A, 2B, S40, S41, S42, S45
Originally named Penataquit, then Bayshore
Islip Centre 1868 1869
Islip   43.1 (69.4) 1868 Suffolk County Transit: S42
East Islip
Club House 1870 1897
Great River   45.2 (72.7) 1897 Suffolk County Transit: 3C, S40
Originally named Youngsport
Oakdale Oakdale   47.4 (76.3) 1868 Suffolk County Transit: S40
Sayville Sayville   49.8 (80.1) 1868 Suffolk County Transit: S40, S57, S59
Sayville Ferry Service to Fire Island
Bayport Bayport 1869 1980
Blue Point Blue Point 1870
Patchogue Patchogue   53.2 (85.6) 1869 Suffolk County Transit: 7A, 7B, S40, S54, S61, S63, S66, S68
Patchogue Village Bus
Davis Park Ferry to Fire Island
East Patchogue East Patchogue 1890[32] 1928
Hagerman Hagerman 1890 1929
12 North Bellport Bellport   57.8 (93.0) 1882 Suffolk County Transit: 7B, S66, S68
Originally named Accobomac, then Brewster Place[32]
Brookhaven Brookhaven 1884 1958
Shirley Mastic–Shirley   62.3 (100.3) 1960 Suffolk County Transit: S66, S68
Mastic Mastic 1882 1960 Originally named Forge
Center Moriches Center Moriches 1881 1998 Originally named Moriches
East Moriches East Moriches 1897 1958
Eastport Eastport 1870 1958 Originally named Moriches
Speonk Speonk   70.8 (113.9) 1870
14 Westhampton Westhampton   74.3 (119.6) 1870
Quogue Quogue 1875 1998
East Quogue East Quogue 1871 c.1883 Originally named Atlanticville[33]
Hampton Bays Hampton Bays   81.2 (130.7) 1871 Suffolk County Transit: S92
Originally named Good Ground
Canoe Place 1935 1953
Suffolk Downs 1907 1921
Shinnecock Hills Shinnecock Hills 1887 1932
Southampton College 1907
Originally named Golf Grounds, then Southampton Campus
Temporarily reopened for the 1986 U.S. Open, 2004, and 2018 U.S. Opens
Southampton Southampton   89.3 (143.7) 1871 Suffolk County Transit: S92
Water Mill Water Mill 1875 c. 1968[32] Originally named Watermill
Bridgehampton Bridgehampton   94.0 (151.3) 1870 Suffolk County Transit: 10B, S92
Wainscott Wainscott 1898 1938
East Hampton East Hampton   100.9 (162.4) 1895 Suffolk County Transit: 10B, 10C, S92
Originally named Easthampton
Amagansett Amagansett   104.3 (167.9) 1895 Suffolk County Transit: 10C
Napeague Napeague Beach 1895 1927
Fanny Bartlett 1924 1928
Promised Land c. 1900 1928
Montauk Montauk   115.8 (186.4) 1895 Suffolk County Transit: 10C


  1. ^ "MTA LIRR - LIRR Map".
  2. ^ a b c LIRR Montauk Branch Timetable
  3. ^ a b c d e f Sengupta, Somini (March 15, 1998). "End of the Line for L.I.R.R.'s 10 Loneliest Stops". New York Times. Retrieved December 24, 2007. After 122 years, Glendale saw its last train on Friday.
  4. ^ "The LIRR Says Goodbye to Lower Montauk". (registration required)
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Lower Montauk Branch Rail Study" (PDF). New York City Department of Transportation.
  8. ^ Block Operator Chris Soundy hooping some of the last orders from “PD” tower to the engineer of eastbound DE-30ac #420 (Photo: by Pat Masterson May 4, 2006
  9. ^ "PRR Chronology, 1870" (PDF). (57.0 KiB), January 2005 Edition
  10. ^ Long Island Railroad Company, Long Island and where to Go, 1877
  11. ^ "Long Island". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. August 22, 1877. p. 1.
  12. ^ "Railroad Changes". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. June 27, 1876. p. 2.
  13. ^ "oldsouthernroad".
  14. ^ a b c d e Vincent F. Seyfried, The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, Part One: South Side R.R. of L.I., 1961
  15. ^ "Railroad Reorganization". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. March 15, 1880. p. 10.
  16. ^ "Railroad Dedication". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. June 6, 1870. p. 2.
  17. ^ "Another Link". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. July 22, 1881. p. 4.
  18. ^ "Golden Days". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. August 1, 1881. p. 4.
  19. ^ "A Forest Fire". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. June 13, 1896. p. 4.
  20. ^ "Latest Long Island News". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. June 1, 1895. p. 7.
  21. ^ "The Fall Time Table". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. September 7, 1895. p. 7.
  22. ^ "New Block Signals". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. March 8, 1896. p. 7.
  24. ^ "PRR Chronology, PRR Chronology, 1925" (PDF)., June 2004 Edition
  25. ^ Wehner, Greg (April 16, 2019). "State Looks To Designate Funds For Expansion Of The LIRR Montauk Branch - Southampton". Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  26. ^ "New Fares — Effective April 21, 2019". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  27. ^ Station pages linked from MTA LIRR - Stations, accessed April 24, 2020.
  28. ^ a b "Rapid Transit Extension". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. June 24, 1890. p. 1.
  29. ^ Long Island Railroad Station History ( Archived January 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ 1898 Railroad Map of Queens and Kings County (Unofficial LIRR History Website)
  31. ^ "SSRR BALDWIN".
  32. ^ a b c "Babylon/Montauk stations".
  33. ^ "early LIRR stations".

External linksEdit

Route map:

KML is not from Wikidata

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