Railroads on Long Island Today
The Long Island Rail Road
Chartered on April 24, 1834, the Long Island Rail Roads' original purpose was to carry passengers from New York City to Boston, Ma. via ferryboats that were to leave from Greenport, NY. Before the trackwork was completed to Greenport, a new faster more direct route to Boston was found by way of the Connecticuit shoreline and the LIRR had to find a new plan to make money. The problem was solved when the railroad was able to tap directly into Manhatten by an agreement with the Pennsylvania Railroad who gave them access via east river tunnels into their Pennsylvania Station. The railroad became an instant hit with the public as people could now travel to rural Long Island from the city via rail. As time went on and Long Island became the suburbia that it is today the LIRR took on the proud distinction of becoming the largest commuter operation in the country, a distinction that they only recently relinquished to Metra!
The Pennsy took over operations of the LIRR in May, 1900 and owned the railroad until the mid 1960's. Bankrupt, the railroad was bailed out by New York State on January 20th, 1966 and was taken over by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority who holds ownership to this day.
The LIRR carries roughly 290,000 passengers each weekday on over 700 trains. The system has nine branches, spanning the north and south shores and running from Montauk on the eastern most tip of Long Island to Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan, a distance of around 120 miles. The railroad owns EMD DE30 and DM30 Dual mode diesel locomotives and also houses a fleet of aging MP-15AC's and SW-1001's for work train service. The railroad also owns M-3, M-7 and now the brand new M-9 Multiple-Unit cars. Some facts and figures about the railroad courtesy of the MTA:
There are 124 LIRR stations.
The LIRR owns 1,060 rail cars.
The LIRR has 701 miles of track.
6,000 people are employed by the LIRR.
The New York & Atlantic Railway
In 1997 the MTA ended 163 years of freight railroading on the Long Island Rail Road when they leased the LIRR's freight operation to the Anacostia & Pacific Company, which specializes in the development of shortline railroads. The New York & Atlantic Railway was formed and began operations in May 1997. The railroad operates over Long Island Rail Road owned trackage and shares the rails with one of the busiest commuter operations in the country.
The New York & Atlantic (or NYA for short) took over an operation that had seen dwindling freight traffic over the years leading up to 1997. Since they have taken over, Freight movement by rail has more than doubled.
Their headquarters are based in Glendale, Queens, NY. This is also where their base of operations is located and where they operate Fresh Pond Yard and interchange with CSX and the Providence & Worcester Railroad. They also interchange with the New York-New Jersey Railroad in Bayridge, Brooklyn.
The New York and Atlantic leases several Locomtoives from the Long Island Rail road. The four GP38-2s, one SW1001, and the two PR20Bs that they are using are leased from the Long Island. The four MP15AC units that the NYA uses have been purchased from the Long Island and have been rebuilt.
The New York & Atlantic Railway has become an integral part of the Long Island community and is a welcome addition to it's economy. Serving over 70 customers and ever growing the NYA has overcome the tough odds of succeeding and excelling in freight operations on Long Island.
The New York-New Jersey
New York-New Jersey Rail is a Terminal Railroad operating in Brooklyn, NY and Greenvillle, NJ via car float ferry operations between the two terminals.
The NYNJ Rail is a short cut to the New York New Jersey area by floating rail cars across NY Harbor, and avoiding a long route up to Albany NY to move rail cars to the NY area from points south of NY.
From 1983 to 2006 this operation was known as NY Cross Harbor Railroad, which had a history of predecessor railways such as the NY Dock Railway and the Eastern District Terminal among other Incarcerations of other rail operations in the area. Recent history shows that the NYCHRR ceased operations in 2006, when a company from West Seneca NY called Mid-Atlantic New England Railroad took over rail operations of the Cross Harbor and renamed the railroad New York New Jersey Rail LLC. After just two years, the railroad was acquired by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for $16 million dollars.
The new NYNJ Rail has put a lot of money into the infrastructure of the railroad, such as rebuilding and modernizing the float bridge operations, improving track conditions, acquiring new float barges and investing in low emissions locomotives.
In 2017, the railroad acquired two new rail barges. Barge NYNJR100 and NYNJR 200, both are two four track barges that can handle 18 rail cars with a load limit 2335 tons. The railroad also uses an older 14 car barge for a total of three barges in service. A tug boat is used to ferry the barges back and forth from Brooklyn and New Jersey,
NYNJ Rail can interchange with CSX and Norfolk Southern via Conrail, in New Jersey and the New York and Atlantic and the South Brooklyn Railroad in Brooklyn.
The NYNJ Rail also operates the former Port Jersey Railroad a small switching operation in the Port Elizabeth area of New Jersey. The railroad moves over 5000 car loads per year and car growth increases each year.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is a two-state government entity involved with many areas around Northern New Jersey and New York City. The Port Authority is pushing a plan and funding a multi million dollar study to build a freight tunnel between NY and NJ. If such a tunnel is built the float operations would cease and all freight operations would move through the proposed tunnel.
Image by Greg Grice, used with permission
Amtrak runs on Long Island as well. The North East Corridor runs through Queens, NY. Amtrak runs from Penn Station in Manhattan through the East River tunnels. The corridor turns north and heads up to New England via the Hellgate Bridge. Amtrak also runs the Sunnyside yard and engine facility that is located on Long Island just outside the east river tunnels in Long Island City. Sunnyside is home to Amtrak's New York operations. The North East Corridor and Sunnyside yard is often home to P42-DC, as well as ACS64s and P32B "Acela" locomotives just to name a few.
CSX-Providence and Worcester
Image by Greg Grice, used with permission
CSX and the Providence & Worcester Railroad run on Long Island, although none of them have facilities or yards on Long Island. Both railroads interchange with the New York & Atlantic at Fresh Pond yard in Glendale, Queens. The line they use is the former New York Connecting Railroads line, which runs down from the Bronx across the Hellgate bridge and onto Long Island. The line runs "over" the Fresh Pond yard and trains must run the line south of Fresh Pond (which is actually the beginning of the Bayridge branch of the NYA) to interchange traffic with the NYA. CSX has continuous year round traffic and make up the bulk of the interchange traffic with the New York & Atlantic Ry. The Providence & Worcester comes to Long Island through trackage rights and is a seasonal operation. The P&W "stone train" operates in the summer months bringing crushed stone to Long Island for asphalt plants in Suffolk County and also for track work on the Long Island Rail Road. The P&W is only permitted at this time through their agreement to run aggregates. All other types of freight including aggregates is handled by CSX.