The IND Rockaway Line is a rapid transit line of the IND Division of the New York City Subway, operating in Queens. It branches from the IND Fulton Street Line at Rockaway Boulevard, extending over the Jamaica Bay, into the Rockaways. The A train serves the line on the Far Rockaway – Mott Avenue branch and north of Hammels Wye. The T runs the same route as the A, but goes to Rockaway Park - Beach 116 Street instead. Select rush hour A trains also provide service to Rockaway Park in the peak direction.
Extent and serviceEdit
|Route||Time period||Aqueduct Racetrack|
|A||All times||service||Service||Rush peak|
The north end of the Rockaway Line is a junction with the IND Fulton Street Line at Rockaway Boulevard. The line starts out as tracks F3 and F4 and descend from an elevated structure to the surface. Then the right-of-way widens to be four tracks wide. Trains in service going south then diverge from F3, and go onto F1. Trains coming from the Rockaways merge from track F2 onto track F4. South of this point, track F4 is out of service, and track F3 can only be used by work trains as it is de-energized. The line then continues as a four track line, and south of Howard Beach, the tracks merge into two tracks. The line then passes over Jamaica Bay just to the east of Cross Bay Boulevard, on its own private right-of-way. Then the line passes over the North Channel Swing Bridge, which is no longer able to be moved. The crossing across Jamaica Bay between Howard Beach and Broad Channel is the longest distance between any two stations in the system.
In 1997 to 1999, outer tracks were installed to the north of Broad Channel for between $5 million and $10 million. The track to the west of the original tracks, track F5, extends slightly less than two miles, or 10,300 feet (3,100 m), and is used for testing of equipment. The track to the east of the original tracks, track F6, is also used for testing at times. This track also allows trains to turn around significantly faster than it had been able to do before, when service cannot continue to Howard Beach–JFK Airport or Manhattan. South of the Broad Channel station is the Beach Channel Drawbridge, which does open regularly and can cause delays to service when it is open for marine traffic.
South of the drawbridge is Hammels Wye, a three-legged junction with the Rockaway Park branch, and the Far Rockaway branch. The tracks from each branch connect to the tracks north of the wye with flying junctions. The Rockaway Park Branch turns to the west, and the Far Rockaway Branch turns to the east. The third leg of the wye is a single track that connects the two branches together. This single track, track F6, is not currently used in revenue service. However, it was used as part of the Round Robin service that the A operated during late nights in the 1990s. It was also used for temporary H service after Hurricane Sandy.
The Rockaway Park Branch, tracks F3 and F4, goes west via an elevated structure over the Rockaway Freeway before terminating at Rockaway Park–Beach 116th Street. Directly to the north of the station is a seven-track storage yard named Rockaway Park Yard. This yard stores the trains for the T. To the south of the station is a single storage track.
The Far Rockaway Branch, tracks F3A and F4A, goes east over the Rockaway Freeway as an elevated and terminates at a two track terminal at Far Rockaway Mott Avenue.
Most of the Rockaway Line dates back to the 1880s when it was operated as the New York, Woodhaven and Rockaway Railroad; the Far Rockaway station had been in operation since 1869 as part of the South Side Railroad of Long Island. In 1892, the line first saw service by the Long Island Rail Road from its Atlantic Branch. In the late 1890s, the Brooklyn Elevated Railway (later the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company) received permission to operate elevated trains from Brooklyn on the line for beach access. The city soon began eyeing the line as popularity soared. Additionally, the Ocean Electric Railway used part of the line as a connection between the Far Rockaway and Rockaway Beach Branches.
In 1950, a serious track fire between The Raunt and Broad Channel stations destroyed the trestle across Jamaica Bay, and as a result, the line was deemed useless. Instead of repairing it, the LIRR decided to abandon the line in favor of their "land route" to Far Rockaway via Nassau County. The city bought the line in 1955 for $8.5 million and spent an additional $47.5 million to convert it for subway use, something they were planning to do as far back as the late 1920s. As part of the construction to convert the line to subway use, two new steel bridges were built to cross the North and South Channels, and two artificial islands were built to provide a roadbed for the subway trestle.
The line was incorporated into the Independent Subway System (IND) and connected to the IND Fulton Street Line. All of the stations opened on June 28, 1956 except Far Rockaway – Mott Avenue, which opened on January 16, 1958. The crossing across Jamaica Bay between Howard Beach – JFK Airport and Broad Channel is the longest distance between any two stations in the system.
The line charged a double fare south of Howard Beach which entailed the deposit of two tokens for those entering along the line or one token on exit for those arriving from other parts of the system. The unpopular double fare was abolished in 1975.
A significant service improvement on the Rockaway Line took effect in 1993, when direct late-night service between the Rockaways and Brooklyn and Manhattan began; previously, only shuttle service was provided during these hours, with a transfer at Euclid Avenue.
In the late 1990s, outer tracks were installed to the north of Broad Channel. The tracks are used for testing of equipment. The tracks are approximately as long as a standard IND full length train.
The segment of the line between Howard Beach and the Rockaway Peninsula suffered serious damage during Hurricane Sandy and was out of service for several months. On November 20, 2012, a free H shuttle train began service between Far Rockaway and Beach 90th Street. On May 30, 2013, full service was restored.
In late May 2016, the MTA announced that it would reroute the T onto a new section of the IND Fulton Street Line. This reroute would allow reconstruction of the Rockaway line north of Liberty Avenue. and for more frequent A train service. When the entire line is completed, a new line from the IND Queens Blvd Line would run onto the rehabilitated line from 63rd Drive - Rego Park. New stations would include Metropolitan Avenue, Union Turnpike, Jamaica Avenue, Atlantic Avenue, and 101st Avenue. It is unknown what service would run on it at this time.
- Aqueduct Racetrack (uptown only)
- Aqueduct-North Conduit Avenue
- Howard Beach-JFK Airport
- Broad Channel
Rockaway Park Branch:
Far Rockaway Branch: