An MTA Long Island Rail Road Kawasaki M9 EMU in 2018.

(Bebo2good1, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Long Islan Rail Road logo.


See also: Long Island Rail Road History

The Long Island Rail Road (reporting mark LI), often abbreviated as the LIRR, is a commuter rail system in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of New York, stretching from Manhattan to the eastern tip of Suffolk County on Long Island. With an average weekday ridership of 354,800 passengers in 2016, it is the busiest commuter railroad in North America. It is also one of the world's few commuter systems that runs 24/7 year-round. It is publicly owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which refers to it as MTA Long Island Rail Road. In 2022, the system had a ridership of 70,342,700, or about 253,800 per weekday as of the first quarter of 2023.

The LIRR logo combines the circular MTA logo with the text Long Island Rail Road, and appears on the sides of trains. The LIRR is one of two commuter rail systems owned by the MTA, the other being the Metro-North Railroad in the northern suburbs of the New York area. Established in 1834 and having operated continuously since then, it is the oldest railroad in the United States still operating under its original name and charter.

There are 126 stations and more than 700 miles (1,100 km) of track on its two lines running the full length of the island and eight major branches, with the passenger railroad system totaling 319 miles (513 km) of route. As of 2018, the LIRR's budget for expenditures was $1.6 billion plus $450 million for debt service, which it supports through the collection of fares (which cover 43% of total expenses) along with dedicated taxes and other MTA revenue.


Brief History

The Long Island Rail Road Company was chartered in 1834 to provide a daily service between New York and Boston via a ferry connection between its Greenport, New York, terminal on Long Island's North Fork and Stonington, Connecticut. This service was superseded in 1849 by the land route through Connecticut that became part of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. The LIRR refocused its attentions towards serving Long Island, in competition with other railroads on the island. In the 1870s, railroad president Conrad Poppenhusen and his successor, Austin Corbin acquired all the railroads and consolidated them into the LIRR.

The LIRR was unprofitable for much of its history. In 1900, the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) bought a controlling interest as part of its plan for direct access to Manhattan which began on September 8, 1910. The wealthy PRR subsidized the LIRR during the first half of the new century, allowing expansion and modernization. Electric operation began in 1905.

After the Second World War, the railroad industry's downturn and dwindling profits caused the PRR to stop subsidizing the LIRR, and the LIRR went into receivership in 1949. The State of New York, realizing how important the railroad was to Long Island's future, began to subsidize the railroad in the 1950s and 1960s. In June 1965, the state finalized an agreement to buy the LIRR from the PRR for $65 million. The LIRR was placed under the control of a new Metropolitan Commuter Transit Authority. The MCTA was rebranded the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 1968 when it incorporated several other New York City-area transit agencies. With MTA subsidies the LIRR modernized further, continuing to be the busiest commuter railroad in the United States.

The LIRR is one of the few railroads that has survived as an intact company from its original charter to the present.

See History of the Long Island Rail Road for additional information.


The LIRR ticket counter at Penn Station displays all locations accessible from Penn Station. (Antony-22, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Long Island City station and yard. (Source: via Wikimedia Commons)

Major stations

The LIRR operates out of four western terminals in New York City. Major terminals include:

  • Pennsylvania Station, in Midtown Manhattan, is the busiest of the western terminals, serving almost 500 daily trains.[9] It is reached via the Amtrak-owned East River Tunnels (the only LIRR-used trackage not owned by the LIRR) from the Main Line at Harold Interlocking in Long Island City. The New York City Subway's 34th Street–Penn Station (IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line) (1, ​2, and ​3 trains) and 34th Street–Penn Station (IND Eighth Avenue Line) (A, ​C, and ​E trains) stations are adjacent to the terminal. It also connects LIRR with Amtrak and NJ Transit trains.
  • Grand Central Madison is located under Grand Central Terminal and was built as part of the East Side Access project. Service to the new terminal began on January 25, 2023. Provision was made for this route on the lower level of the 63rd Street Tunnel under the East River, which carries the New York City Subway's IND 63rd Street Line (F and <F>​ trains) on its upper level. The East Side Access project is expected to reduce congestion while increasing the number of trains during peak hours. It serves as the primary terminal for the Hempstead Branch and serves all other electrified branches (as the LIRR's diesel fleet has a loading gauge too large for the 63rd Street Tunnel).
  • Atlantic Terminal, formerly known as Flatbush Avenue, in Downtown Brooklyn serves the West Hempstead Branch, with limited Hempstead and Babylon Branch service during the weekday peak. Other trains run as shuttles to Jamaica. It is next to the New York City Subway's Atlantic Avenue–Barclays Center station complex (2, ​3, ​4, ​5​, B, ​D, N, ​Q​, R and ​W​ trains), providing easy access to Lower Manhattan. With the opening of East Side Access, service between Atlantic Terminal and Jamaica is served mostly by shuttles.
  • Rush-hour trains run to one of two stations in Long Island City, Queens: Hunterspoint Avenue or Long Island City on the East River. From Hunterspoint Avenue, the Hunters Point Avenue subway station (7 and <7>​ trains) can be reached. The Long Island City station is near the Vernon Boulevard–Jackson Avenue subway station, also served by the 7 and <7>​ trains, and the Long Island City station also connects to the NYC Ferry's East River Ferry to Midtown or Lower Manhattan.

In addition, the Jamaica station is a major hub station and transfer point in Jamaica, Queens. It has ten tracks and six platforms, plus yard and bypass tracks. Passengers can transfer between trains on all LIRR lines except the Port Washington Branch. The sixth platform opened in February 2020, and exclusively serves Atlantic Branch shuttle trains to Brooklyn. Transfer is also made to separate facilities for three subway services at the Sutphin Boulevard–Archer Avenue–JFK Airport station (E​, ​J, and ​Z trains), a number of bus routes, and the AirTrain automated people mover to JFK Airport. The railroad's headquarters are next to the station.


A schematic of the LIRR's routes, as well as the fare zones. This schematic is not to scale.

(Original map by User:NE2 with later modifications by users listed below, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Passenger lines and services

The Long Island Rail Road system has eleven passenger branches, three of which are main trunk lines:

  • Main Line, running along the middle of the island, between Long Island City and Greenport, via Jamaica.
  • Montauk Branch, running along the southern edge of the island, between Long Island City and Montauk, via Jamaica.
  • Atlantic Branch, running mostly in New York City to the south of both the Main Line and Montauk Branch, between Atlantic Terminal and Valley Stream, via Jamaica.

There are eight minor branches. For scheduling and advertising purposes some of these branches are divided into sections; this is the case with the Montauk Branch, which is known as the Babylon Branch service in the electrified portion of the line between Jamaica and Babylon, while the diesel service beyond Babylon to Montauk is referred to as Montauk Branch service. All branches except the Port Washington Branch pass through Jamaica; the trackage west of Jamaica (except the Port Washington Branch) is known as the City Terminal Zone. The City Terminal Zone includes portions of the Main Line, Atlantic, and Montauk Branches, as well as the Amtrak-owned East River Tunnels to Penn Station.


A map of diesel territory on the Long Island Rail Road.

(Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Current branches

  • The Main Line runs from Long Island City east to Greenport. It is electrified west of the Ronkonkoma station; limited diesel train service runs from this point to the Yaphank, Riverhead, or Greenport stations. Trains using the East River Tunnels from Penn Station join the line at Sunnyside Yard. The services that run along this line are named after the branches they use; trains beyond Hicksville, where the Port Jefferson Branch diverges, are known as Ronkonkoma Branch and Greenport Branch trains.
    The Montauk Branch runs from Long Island City east to the Montauk station, with junctions with the Main Line at Long Island City and Jamaica. It is electrified from Jamaica east to Babylon. Trains operating east of Babylon are listed as Montauk Branch service and are hauled by diesel locomotives, while trains using the line from Jamaica to Babylon are labeled as Babylon Branch trains. The portion of the line between Long Island City and Jamaica, known as the Lower Montauk Branch, no longer carries passenger trains and is used only for freight service.
  • The electrified Atlantic Branch runs from Atlantic Terminal in Downtown Brooklyn east to Jamaica, where it meets the Main Line and the Montauk Branch, and then heads southeast to become the Long Beach Branch east of Valley Stream. East of Valley Stream, the Far Rockaway Branch turns south, while the West Hempstead Branch turns northward.
  • The electrified Port Washington Branch, the only one that does not serve Jamaica, branches from the Main Line west of Woodside (running parallel to the Main Line until Winfield Junction, which is east of that station) and runs east to Port Washington. It only serves four stations in Nassau County. It contains the Manhasset Viaduct, which is the highest bridge on the LIRR network.
  • The Port Jefferson Branch splits from the Main Line east of Hicksville, with electric service to Huntington and diesel service to Port Jefferson. Until 1938, it continued east to Wading River.
  • The electrified Hempstead Branch splits from the Main Line east of Elmont (running parallel to the Main Line until just after Floral Park) and runs east to Hempstead. At Garden City, the Garden City-Mitchel Field Secondary curves off and goes to Mitchel Field.
    The electrified West Hempstead Branch splits from the Montauk Branch east of the Valley Stream station and runs northeast to West Hempstead, originally continuing to junctions with the Hempstead Branch and the Oyster Bay Branch at the Main Line.
    The Oyster Bay Branch splits from the Main Line east of Mineola and heads north and east to Oyster Bay. The first section to East Williston is electrified; only diesel trains run along the majority of the line to Oyster Bay.
  • The diesel-only Central Branch runs southeast from the Main Line east of Bethpage to the Montauk Branch west of the Babylon station, giving an alternate route to the Montauk Branch east of Babylon. The Central Branch used to continue west from Bethpage to include what is now the Garden City–Mitchel Field Secondary. It is to be electrified as part of the 2020-2024 MTA Capital Program.
  • The electrified Far Rockaway Branch splits from the Atlantic Branch east of the Valley Stream station and runs south and southwest to Far Rockaway. It used to connect westward to what is now the New York City Subway's IND Rockaway Line to the Hammels and Rockaway Park neighborhoods of Queens.
  • The electrified Long Beach Branch begins where the Atlantic Branch ends east of the Valley Stream station (running parallel to the Montauk Branch until just after Lynbrook) where it turns south to end at Long Beach.


Former branches

The railroad has dropped a number of branches due to lack of ridership over the years. Part of the Rockaway Beach Branch became part of the IND Rockaway Line of the New York City Subway, while others were downgraded to freight branches, and the rest abandoned entirely. Additionally, the Long Island Rail Road operated trains over portions of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit (BRT) elevated and subway lines until 1917.

  • The Bethpage Branch ran north from the Main Line and Central Branch at Bethpage.
  • The Bushwick Branch, also called the Bushwick Lead Track, is a freight railroad branch that runs from Bushwick, Brooklyn, to Fresh Pond Junction in Queens, where it connects with the Montauk Branch.
  • The Camp Upton Branch was a short branch north from the Main Line to Camp Upton.
  • The Cedarhurst Cut-off, officially known as the New York and Rockaway Railroad, was an extension of the Montauk Branch from its merger with the Atlantic Branch at Springfield Junction to Cedarhurst, where it would turn west and run parallel to the Far Rockaway Branch until reaching Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway.
  • The Central Extension ran from Garden City eastward to Central Park (¾ mile south of current Bethpage station) and as far east as Bethpage Junction. The line was cut back to the point where it stopped at Island Trees. Today the western part of track still in use for freight and storage, and is officially known today as the Garden City Secondary.
  • The Chestnut Street Incline (Brooklyn) between Atlantic Avenue and Fulton Street was opened in 1898 to allow for thru-operation over the Jamaica/Broadway Elevated Line to the East River ferry terminal. In 1909 thru passenger service to Manhattan via the Williamsburg Bridge was established in coordination with the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT). LIRR Passenger service operated to Chambers Street between May 1909 and September 1917.
  • The Creedmoor Branch, a remnant of the Central Railroad of Long Island (CRRLI) of Alexander Turney Stewart, was a short branch from the Main Line at Floral Park northwest through Creedmoor. It once went as far northwest as Flushing.
  • The Evergreen Branch connected the Bushwick Branch east of Bushwick Terminal with the Bay Ridge Branch north of East New York.
  • The Flushing Bay Freight Spur extended north from the Whitestone Branch, then across the Woodside Branch and then the connecting line between both branches before terminating along the south coast of Flushing Bay.
  • The Glendale Cut-off ran south from the Main Line at Rego Park to the Montauk Branch at Glendale. There it became the Rockaway Beach Branch, running south across Jamaica Bay to Hammels and west to Rockaway Park. The Rockaway Beach Branch south of Ozone Park is now the IND Rockaway Line of the New York City Subway.
  • The Manhattan Beach Branch ran south from the Bay Ridge Branch at Flatbush to Manhattan Beach.
  • The Manorville Branch or Manor Branch ran from the Main Line at Manorville southeast to the Montauk Branch at Eastport. It was originally part of the Sag Harbor Branch.
  • The Mineola-West Hempstead Branch ran north of the terminus of the West Hempstead Branch across NY 24 to Country Life Press Station where it briefly joined the Hempstead Branch then ran north of the Garden City Secondary towards a wye at Mineola Station with one branch that terminated at the station and another that crossed the main line and ended near the southern terminus of the Oyster Bay Branch.
  • The Montauk Cut-off was a short connecting track between the Lower Montauk Branch and the Main Line in Long Island City that allowed trains to change direction without entering the Long Island City station.
  • The Northport Branch ran northeast of the current Port Jefferson Branch between Greenlawn and Northport Village.
  • The North Shore Freight Branch ran from the Main Line at Sunnyside Yard west to the East River where Gantry Plaza State Park is now. Originally built by the Flushing and North Side Railroad, some of the surviving right-of-way can be found at the Arch Street Shops within the Sunnyside Yard.
  • The Roosevelt Field Spur branched off northward from the current Garden City Secondary just north of Commercial Avenue. From there, it crossed Stewart Avenue just west of present-day South Street before turning slightly northeast, crossing over the Meadowbrook Parkway. The overpass, as well as sections along the sidewalk on South Street, can still be seen today. From there, it continued north before curving east and coming to an end near Zeckendorf Boulevard. The line was used for freight only.
  • The Sag Harbor Branch ran north from the Montauk Branch at Bridgehampton to Sag Harbor.
  • The Wading River Branch ran east from Port Jefferson to Wading River, serving the towns of Mount Sinai, Miller Place, Rocky Point, and Shoreham.
  • The White Line, which was built by the LIRR subsidiary Newtown and Flushing Railroad ran south of the Port Washington Branch between Winfield Junction and Flushing between 1873 and 1876.
  • The Whitestone Branch, which was originally built by the Flushing and North Side Railroad (F&NS), split from the Port Washington Branch near Mets–Willets Point station and ran north and east to Whitestone.
  • The Woodside Branch ran north of the current Port Washington Branch between Woodside and east of the present Corona Yard west of the Flushing River. It also had a connecting spur to the Whitestone Branch.


The Mets-Willets Point station, located on the Port Washington Branch.

(Pacific Coast Highway, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Additional services

In addition to its daily commuter patronage, the LIRR also offers the following services:

  • From April to October, the railroad adds stops at Mets–Willets Point station to trains on the Port Washington Branch to serve passengers traveling to see New York Mets home games at Citi Field and the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. When the number of passengers requires it, additional trains may be added.
  • The railroad operates extra trains during the summer season that cater to the Long Island beach trade. Special package ticket deals are offered to places like Long Beach, Jones Beach, the Hamptons, Montauk, and Greenport. Some of these packages require bus and ferry connections.
  • The railroad operates extra trains to and from Atlantic Terminal for Brooklyn Nets home games at Barclays Center.
  • From May through October, the railroad runs four daily trains to Belmont Park (two in each direction) during the racetrack's summer meets. Additionally, on the day of the Belmont Stakes horse race the railroad runs extra trains to accommodate the large number of spectators attending the event.
  • One special non-passenger service offered by the railroad was the yearly operation of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus train between Long Island City and Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale. Highly publicized by the LIRR, this event drew large crowds of spectators. With Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey's closure, this was discontinued in May 2017.


The Mineola Intermodal Center (bottom left), as seen prior to the commencement of the construction of the Main Line's third track.

(Tdorante10, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Intermodal connections

The Mineola Intermodal Center (bottom left), as seen prior to the commencement of the construction on the Main Line's third track.
Penn Station offers connections with Amtrak intercity trains and NJ Transit commuter trains, as well as the PATH, New York City Subway, and New York City Bus systems. Grand Central offers connections with Metro-North Railroad, as well as the subway and bus systems. Additionally, almost all stations in Brooklyn and Queens offer connections with the New York City Bus system, and several stations also have transfers to New York City Subway stations. Transfers to Nassau Inter-County Express and Suffolk County Transit buses are available at many stations in Nassau and Suffolk counties, respectively.


The interior of an M7 car.

(Dinker022089, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Train operations

The LIRR is relatively isolated from the rest of the national rail system despite operating out of Penn Station, the nation's busiest rail terminal. It connects with other railroads in just two locations:

West of Harold Interlocking in Sunnyside, Queens, LIRR trains enter the Amtrak-operated Northeast Corridor leading to the East River Tunnels. When this track was owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad, trains of the PRR connected to the LIRR at Penn Station. During the 1920s and 1930s a through sleeper was carried by PRR and LIRR trains from Pittsburgh to Montauk, called the 'Sunrise Special'.

In Glendale, Queens, the LIRR connects with CSX's Fremont Secondary, which leads to the Hell Gate Bridge and New England; however, once trains leave the secondary, they enter LIRR trackage.

All LIRR trains have an engineer who operates the train, and a conductor who is responsible for the safe movement of the train, fare collection and on-board customer service. In addition, trains may have one or more assistant conductors to assist with fare collection and other duties. The LIRR is one of the last railroads in the United States to use mechanical interlocking control towers to regulate rail traffic.

As of 2016, the LIRR has 8 active control towers. All movements on the LIRR are under the control of the Movement Bureau in Jamaica, which gives orders to the towers that control a specific portion of the railroad. Movements in Amtrak territory are controlled by Penn Station Control Center or PSCC, run jointly by the LIRR and Amtrak. The PSCC controls as far east as Harold Interlocking, in Sunnyside, Queens. The PSCC replaced several towers.

The Jamaica Control Center, operational since the third quarter of 2010, controls the area around Jamaica terminal by direct control of interlockings. This replaced several towers in Jamaica including Jay and Hall towers at the west and east ends of Jamaica station respectively. At additional locations, line side towers control the various switches and signals in accordance with the timetable and under the direction of the Movement Bureau in Jamaica.


C3 Bi-level coaches at grade crossing in Bethpage.

(Sullynyflhi, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Signal and safety systems

Today's LIRR signal system has evolved from its legacy Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR)-based system, and the railroad utilizes a variety of wayside railroad signals including position light, color light and dwarf signals. In addition, much of the LIRR is equipped with a bi-directional Pulse code cab signaling called automatic speed control (ASC), though portions of the railway still retain single direction, wayside-only signaling. Unlike other railroads, which began using color-light signals in the 20th century, the LIRR did not begin using signals with color lights on its above ground sections until 2006.

Some portions of the railway lack automatic signals and cab signals completely, instead train and track car movements are governed only by timetable and verbal/written train orders, although these areas are gradually receiving modern signals. Many other signals and switching systems on the LIRR are being modernized and upgraded as part of the Main Line's Third Track Project, most notably at Mineola, where the system is being completely redone and modernized.

On portions of the railroad equipped with ASC, Engineers consult the speed display unit, which is capable of displaying 7 speed indications. As a result of a December 1, 2013, train derailment in the Bronx on the Metro-North Railroad, railroads with similar cab signal systems to Metro-North, such as the LIRR, were ordered to modify the systems to enforce certain speed limit changes, which has resulted in lower average speeds and actual speed limits across the LIRR.


Power transmission

The LIRR's electrified lines are powered via a third rail at 750 volts DC with the contact shoe running along the top of the rail, similar to on the New York City Subway and PATH systems. This system is incompatible with Metro-North's third rail, which is under-running, though the M8 and M9 fleets are capable of using both types of third rails, as they are equipped with both types of contact shoes.


Named trains

For most of its history LIRR has served commuters, but it had many named trains, some with all-first class seating, parlor cars, and full bar service. Few of them lasted past World War II, but some names were revived during the 1950s and 1960s as the railroad expanded its east end parlor car service with luxury coaches and Pullman cars from railroads that were discontinuing their passenger trains.



  • Cannonball, a Friday-only 12-car train to Montauk running May through October, with two all-reserved parlor cars with full bar service. Since May 24, 2013, it has originated at Penn Station with a Sunday evening return from Montauk; only the westward train stops at Jamaica. The two rear cars ("Hamptons Reserve Service") have reserved seating and exclusive bar service. The name is a nod to the Cannon Ball, the all-year train to Montauk from the 1890s until the 1970s. It carried parlor cars and standard-fare coaches and ran weekday afternoons from Long Island City, then from Penn Station until 1951, when DD1 operation, and changing engines at Jamaica, ceased.


  • Fisherman's Special (1932–1950s) from Long Island City to Canoe Place Station and Montauk via Jamaica, April through October, terminating at Canoe Place in April, extended to Montauk in May. Served Long Island fishing trade.
  • Peconic Bay Express / Shinnecock Bay Express (1926–1950) from Long Island City to Greenport and Montauk, Saturday only, express to Greenport and Montauk. Discontinued during World War II though revived for a few seasons afterwards.
  • Shelter Island Express (1901–1903, 1923–1942) from Long Island City to Greenport, Friday-only summer express that connected to Shelter Island ferries.
  • Sunrise Special (1922–1942) ran during the summer, NY Penn to Montauk on Fridays and westbound Mondays. In summer 1926 it ran daily. All parlor car (no coaches) from 1932 to 1937.


A New York and Atlantic freight train at Jamaica station.

(Bonnachoven, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)


Freight service

The LIRR and other railroads that became part of the system have always had freight service, though this has diminished. The process of shedding freight service accelerated with the acquisition of the railroad by New York State. In the 21st century, there has been some appreciation of the need for better railroad freight service in New York City and 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 Tunnel for freight have existed for years to alleviate these issues, and, in recent years, there have been many new pushes for its construction by officials. However, financial issues, as well as bureaucracy, remain major hurdles in constructing it. In May 1997, freight service was franchised on a 20-year term to the New York and Atlantic Railway (NYAR), 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 end of the West Hempstead Branch, to Huntington on the Port Jefferson Branch, to Bridgehampton on the Montauk Branch, and to Riverhead on the Main Line. On the western end it provides service on the surviving freight-only tracks of the LIRR: the Bay Ridge and Bushwick branches; the "Lower Montauk" between Jamaica and Long Island City; and to an interchange connection at Fresh Pond Junction in Queens with the CSX, Canadian Pacific, and Providence and Worcester railroads.


The freight-only Bay Ridge Branch through Brooklyn.

(GK tramrunner229, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Freight branches

Some non-electrified lines are used only for freight:

The Garden City-Mitchel Field Secondary is a short remnant of the Central Branch that splits from the Hempstead Branch at Garden City, running to Uniondale near Hofstra University and Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. This branch does not host any NYAR service. This branch was used by the Ringling Bros. Circus to transport animals, staff and equipment to the Nassau Coliseum until their final shows there in May 2017.
The Bushwick Branch runs west from the Montauk Branch at Maspeth to Bushwick Terminal. This was a passenger branch until 1924.
The Bay Ridge Branch runs south and west from the Montauk Branch at Fresh Pond to Bay Ridge. At Fresh Pond, it meets CSX's Fremont Secondary, which goes over the Hell Gate Bridge towards Upstate New York and New England. At its southern end it interchanges with the New York New Jersey Rail, LLC cross harbor rail barge service to New Jersey. This branch had a passenger service until 1924. The entire line was electrified with overhead wire in 1927, and the overhead wires were dismantled in 1969.


The NRHP plaque for the Sea Cliff station house.

(DanTD, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Historical preservation of stations

Five LIRR stations are listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Sea Cliff, Oyster Bay, Farmingdale, Greenport and East Hampton. The St. James and Southampton stations are contributing properties to NRHP districts. Other stations that are not on the list are often cherished by local communities and treated as landmarks, such as Islip, Northport, Glen Street, and Great Neck. Roslyn, Glen Cove, and Locust Valley are other stations on the Oyster Bay Branch that are historic. Efforts to save the original East Williston station house in 2004 were unsuccessful when the structure was found to be too unstable, while the demolition of Amagansett's in 1965 brought public outcry throughout the Hamptons as well as among local railfans that has lasted for decades.

The St. James station house, built in 1873, is the oldest such building constructed by the LIRR that remains standing. Hewlett's station house is older, but it was originally built by the South Side Railroad of Long Island in 1870. On the West Hempstead Branch, Malverne's station house is the only one originally built during the first two decades of the 20th century, although it is not recognized as a historic landmark. The elaborate Forest Hills station house was one of the few to avoid modernization during the mid-to-late 20th century and has retained the original grand decorative construction. When the Babylon Branch was elevated in the post-WWII era, former station houses in Wantagh and Lindenhurst were moved away from the tracks. The former Wantagh station was transformed into a museum, and also listed on the NRHP.


Long Island Rail Road rolling stock

The Long Island Rail Road owns an electric fleet of 132 M9, 836 M7, and 170 M3 electric multiple unit cars, and a diesel and diesel-electric fleet consisting of 134 C3 bilevel rail cars powered by 24 DE30AC diesel-electric locomotives and 20 DM30AC dual-mode locomotives.


When the LIRR began operations in 1836, it leased the newly opened Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad, including its two duplicate steam locomotives, Ariel and Post Boy, both built by Matthias W. Baldwin. (Ariel was Baldwin's 19th engine, built in 1835.) The LIRR soon acquired, through the B&J, Hicksville in 1836 and John A. King (the only engine built by the Poughkeepsie Locomotive Company) in 1838. Post Boy was sold off after an 1852 accident. Both the "Hicksville" and the "John A. King" were likely acquired second hand by the B & J in 1836 and 1838, respectively.

The "Hicksville" was acquired by the B & J in 1836 from a canal building concern "Proprietors of Locks and Canals", based in Lowell, Massachusetts. This company is still in existence. According to Robert Stephenson and Company records, in the year 1831, the firm of "Locks And Canals" purchased two locomotives new from the Robert Stephenson Company (order No. 8 and 17) in England. It is likely the B & J purchased one of those two engines, second hand, from Locks And Canals in 1836, and renamed it the "Hicksville" (after Valentine Hicks, second President of the LIRR, and founder of Hicksville, NY). It is also likely, that at some point prior to its re- sale to the B & J, the engine in question was modified to Stephenson's famous 2-2-2 wheel arrangement.

According to "The History Of Brooklyn", by Hazelton, ca. 1920s, the LIRR acquired a second hand locomotive originally named the "Taglioni" from "the Dutchess County (NY) Railway, of British origin, with a large funnel smokestack". This is likely to be the "John A. King". The "Poughkeepsie Locomotive Works" may have only performed a wheel arrangement modification on a pre existing British built locomotive. Poughkeepsie is also located in Dutchess County New York, hence the possible entity name confusion in the Hazelton book.

Long before modern piggyback services, the LIRR began carrying farm wagons aboard flatcars in 1885.

In the early 20th century, the LIRR was a testing ground for the Pennsylvania Railroad's electrification, including Phoebe, its first electric (AA1), and was the first company to extensively electrify its primary lines. The DD1 electric locomotives were developed from the prototypes that were tested on LIRR trackage. Later it saw power such as the B3.

The LIRR's steam passenger locomotives were modernized from 1901 to 1906, and by 1927, it was the first Class I railroad to replace all its wood passenger cars with steel.

In 1926, the LIRR was the first U.S. railroad to begin using diesel locomotives. The last steam locomotive was a G5s operated until 1955.

Electric storage battery cars were used on the West Hempstead Branch (Valley Stream to Mineola) from 1913 until it was electrified in 1926, and on the Bushwick Branch prior to the end of its passenger operations in 1924. The Central Branch from Garden City east to Mitchel Field was electrified with third rail in 1915, but used ex-Ocean Electric Railway trolley cars until 1933. Normal electric trains, such as the MP41 were then used until 1950, when they were replaced by MP54's until the line's abandonment in 1953.

One of the most popular decisions by Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller after the 1966 takeover was replacing the entire electric passenger fleet with M1 cars. It acquired 770 M1 cars built by Budd and General Electric from 1968 to 1974, and 174 M3 cars, built in 1985 and 1986, also by the Budd Company.

Diesel-hauled trains through the late 1990s were operated using 1950s-era P72/PT75 series coaches built by Pullman-Standard. One end of the train was often powered by 28 EMD GP38-2 and 23 MP15AC diesel-electric locomotives, pulling a total of about 223 passenger cars, mostly former electric multiple units. For the other end of the train, the LIRR used a number of older locomotives converted to "power packs", in which the original prime movers were replaced with 600 horsepower (450 kW) engines/generators solely for supplying HEP (head-end power for the lights and heating) with the engineer's control stand left intact. Locomotives converted included Alco FA-1s and FA-2s, EMD F7s, and one F9. One individual power pack was further converted into a power car for the C1 bilevel cars in the 1990s. The power packs were later sold to other operators, preserved in museums, or scrapped.

In 1997 and 1998, the LIRR received 134 double-decker C3 passenger cars from Kawasaki, including 23 cab control cars, and 46 General Motors Electro-Motive Division diesel-electric locomotives (23 diesel DE30ACs and 23 dual-mode DM30ACs) to pull them, allowing trains from non-electric territory to access Penn Station for the first time in many years, due to the prohibition on diesel operation in the East River Tunnels leading to Penn Station. They were also the first trains with computerized voices (complete with LED sign displays) announcing stations along the routes. However, the automated announcements and LED displays often fell into disrepair, consequently requiring the conductors to make announcements.

Starting in 1999, the LIRR bought 836 electric M7 electric multiple units from Bombardier, replacing its M1 cars. These cars have an automatic station announcement and LED sign display system. Delivery started in the early 2000s, with the first ones beginning revenue service in October 2002.

On September 19, 2013, it was announced that the LIRR would procure new M9/M9A cars from Kawasaki. This procurement included a firm initial order of 92 cars. Given sufficient funding, an option for an additional 324 cars was available. The cars were to replace the M3s and expand the fleet in preparation for service to Grand Central Madison via East Side Access. The first M9s entered revenue service on September 11, 2019. As of June 2022, 132 M9s have been delivered to the LIRR, and their procurement was nearly three years behind schedule.

In summer 2017, the LIRR leased 8 single-level coaches from MARC in order to free up their C3 coaches for the Montauk Branch.

The automated announcements provided on the C3 and M7 railcars are voiced by WALL radio host Van Ritshie.


EMD DE30AC. (Pi.1415926535, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


EMD DM30AC. (AEMoreira042281, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Kawasaki C3. (AEMoreira042281, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Active rolling stock


Builder and model Build year Fleet numbers Power Notes
EMD DE30AC 1997-1999 400-423 (24 units) 3,000 horsepower (2,200 kW) 423 converted from DM30AC 507
EMD DM30AC 1997-1999 500–502, 504–506, 508–510, 512–522 (20 units) 3,000 horsepower (2,200 kW) Dual mode for operation into New York Penn Station. 503 and 511 are retired. 507 converted into DE30AC and renumbered 423.

Push-pull coaches

Builder and model Build year Fleet numbers Notes
Kawasaki C3 1997-1999 C car, 5001–5023. T car, 4002–4134 (even numbers). TT car, 4001–4087 (odd numbers). Replacements for C1, P72 and P75. Not permitted into Grand Central Madison due to tunnel clearances.

Budd M3. (AEMoreira042281, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Bombardier M7. (Adam E. Moreira, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Kawasaki C3. (Mtattrain, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Electric Multiple Units

Builder and model Build year Fleet numbers Notes
Budd M3 1984–1986 9771-9890, 9893-9946 To be replaced by M9s
Bombardier M7 1999–2006 7001–7836
Kawasaki M9 2019-present 9001–9202 Additional 16 cars under construction with options of up to 318 more.


Owner: Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)
Area served: Long Island
Locale: Long Island, New York
Transit type: Commuter rail
Number of lines: 11
Number of stations: 126
Daily ridership: 253,800 (weekdays, Q1 2023)
Annual ridership: 70,342,700 (2022)
Chief executive: Catherine Rinaldi
Headquarters: Jamaica station, Jamaica, New York, United States
Began operation: 1834
Operator: Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Reporting marks: LI
System length: 319 mi (513 km) (route); 700 mi (1,100 km) (total track length)
Track gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification: Third rail, 750 V DC
Top speed: 80 mph (130 km/h)