Long Island Railroad

Long Island Railroad (reporting mark LI), often abbreviated as the L.I.R.R. It 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 run 24/7 year-round. It is publicly owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which refers to it as MTA Long Island Rail Road.


The Long Island Rail Road Company was chartered in 1834 to provide daily service. It’s between New York and Boston via a ferry connection between its Greenport, New York. The 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 This service was superseded in 1849 by the land route through Connecticut that became part of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad.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.

Long Island Railroad
Long Island Railroad


The Long Island Rail Road system has eleven passenger branches. Three of them are considered main trunk lines; however, the trunk lines are in general not used in public:

Main Line, running along the middle of the island, between Long Island City and Greenport, via Jamaica.
Montauk Branch, running along the island’s southern edge, 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. They spin off eight minor branches.


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

West of Harold Interlocking in Sunnyside, Queens, LIRR trains enters the Amtrak-operated Northeast Corridor leading to the East River Tunnels. When this track was owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad, 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. The LIRR is one of the last railroads in the United States to use mechanical interlocking control towers to regulate rail traffic.


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