Rockaway Beach Branch - Historical Operations

Discussion of the past and present operations of the Long Island Rail Road.

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jayrmli
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Re: End of Service on the Rockaway Park Line

Post by jayrmli » Sat Oct 31, 2009 10:11 pm

There was a book done on this territory some years ago titled "Change at Ozone Park" by Herbert George. I do not know if it
is still in print or not but it is well done and will give you all the information that you want and more.
The book is out of print but well worth its price if you can find it.

Jay
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matawok

Re: End of Service on the Rockaway Park Line

Post by matawok » Sun Nov 01, 2009 2:34 pm

The final train on the old Rockaway Line was the afternoon train from Penn Station to Ozone Park on June 8, 1962. I was aboard that train with two buddies. We had intended to get off at Parkside near our homes, but we continued on to the end of the line. There is a picture in "Change at Ozone Park" of passengers standing on the platform at Ozone Park, we were in a picture shot from a different angle and published in an edition of the Pennsylvania RR Magazine. In earlier years we occasionally boarded the train at Rego Park and rode to Parkside for fun. The conductor rarely collected a fare for the short ride.

workextra
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Re: End of Service on the Rockaway Park Line

Post by workextra » Sun Nov 01, 2009 5:32 pm

http://oldnyc.com/rockaway/contents/rockaway.html
This website has an interesting writeup & photos about the branch.

Was the old Parkside station East "South" or West "North" of Metropolitan Avenue?
And was Rego Park located On the curve just east of the under jump or west of Woodhaven Blvd. under grade bridge on the Main Line, with Platform access to both the Main Line 3 and 4 as well as Rock 1 and 2?

matawok

Re: End of Service on the Rockaway Park Line

Post by matawok » Sun Nov 01, 2009 6:14 pm

Workextra,
Parkside was west (north of Metropolitan). Rego Park was located west of the Whitepot Underjump, just west of 63rd Drive. Before Rego Park (named for the Real Good Homes Corp.) there was a station called Matawok that spanned the main line and Rockaway division at the underjump. It was taken out of service circa 1924. Rego Park and Parkside had high level wooden platforms and wood, stucco shelters. About 1960 the eastbound platform at Parkside was removed along with track 2. A low level, cinder platform was built over track 2. All trains (there were only 2 a day in the later years) ran on track 1. The virtual tour of the right of way on an old or forgotten NYC website is fascinating.

workextra
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Re: End of Service on the Rockaway Park Line

Post by workextra » Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:05 pm

Matawok,
Thanks for the information.
Your location of Parkside evokes a memory of walking the now wooded line in that same area, I believe it or not found the lamp fixture or what look to be a fixture of a station platform lamp Just West of (North)Metropolitan Ave.
What was the MAS on the branch. On the map it looks like mostly straight running from Whitepot East (South).

timz
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Re: Rego Park

Post by timz » Mon Nov 02, 2009 4:28 pm

workextra wrote:...with Platform access to both the Main Line 3 and 4 as well as Rock 1 and 2?
Rego Park platforms were all the way outside-- so Rockaway only.

matawok

Re: End of Service on the Rockaway Park Line

Post by matawok » Tue Nov 03, 2009 1:50 pm

Workextra,
I don't know what MAS was in the days before the tressle fire when trains were still crossing Jamaica Bay. But traffic could be heavy, especially on summer weekends. When the line had been cut back to Ozone Park the tracks were not in the greatest condition. Also an old wooden tressle carried the Rockaway Branch across the lower Montauk. So speed was certainly restricted.

workextra
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Re: End of Service on the Rockaway Park Line

Post by workextra » Tue Nov 03, 2009 5:18 pm

Thanks for the info.
That branch in the summer during the 1940's before the fire must have been a sight to see.
On that last train, what was the ridership/consist?
If the LIRR still operated the line north of OZONE did they "own" it at that time or was it and is it now owned by NYCT for the entire length?
I was suprised to find out Rego Park was only on the Rockaway line and not an island platform between the Main and Rockaway servicing both lines.
Had the Rockaways become like Atlantic City instead of the projects/the fire never happened, Do you think the LIRR would have still been operating the line?
Compared to the Far Rockaway branch. This line sure seems like a quick scoot to the beaches of the Rockaways. Probably faster then the Long Beach run.

keyboardkat
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Re: End of Service on the Rockaway Park Line

Post by keyboardkat » Tue Nov 03, 2009 8:31 pm

Herbert George's book "Change at Ozone Park" gives an excellent and detailed history of the Rockaway branches and the early history of the LIRR in general, including the beginnings of electrification.

The last train to Ozone Park, which is pictured on the rear cover of the book, consisted of five cars of the MP54 type, both arch roofed and monitor roofed, including one T54 trailer. The photo, taken from the roadbed facing the Northbound platform (which had become the only platform in service), shows a couple of passengers (apparendly a woman and a child) detraining from the rear vestibule, and the caption says the equipment and crew are preparing to deadhead back to Penn Station. After this, the third rail power was shut off and LIRR service on the Rockaway Beach Branch ended forever.

Had the fire not occured, LIRR service would probably have continued, at least for a while. The railroad had dickered with the City before about selling the Rockaway lines for subway service, and maybe this would have eventually come about. If not, remember that the LIRR and the City subway are now owned and operated by the same MTA, and so had the Rockaway branches continued as LIRR lines up through 1966, they would today still be operated as LIRR lines under the MTA. But as things developed, what evolved were three stub-end branches under (at that time) two railroad managements. The three branches became two, with the demise of the Rego Park-Ozone Park segment.

Herbert George's book ends with an angry epilogue. He says that in 1950, the tracks and right of way were still there, as were the personnel with the knowhow to move the multitudes of passengers. A way should have been worked out to publicly finance the rebuilding of the trestle and the resumption of LIRR loop service. But the bureaucrats in charge could only see incorporating the Rockaway branches into the subway. Passenger rail service to the Rockaways was saved, but at the expense of inefficient operation, much longer travel times, and inconvenience to the travelling public.
Fairbanks-Morse forever!

timz
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Re: Rockaway Park Line

Post by timz » Thu Nov 05, 2009 1:19 pm

9/49 timetable shows 60 mph in Queens and 40 mph across the Bay.

LongIslandTool
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Re: End of Service on the Rockaway Park Line

Post by LongIslandTool » Thu Nov 05, 2009 1:49 pm

Interesting post, kat.

You're quite right about the LI and the Subway "dickering" for a long time about the Rockaway operations. In fact, the dickering went back to the 'twenties when the Rockaway communities believed rapid transit would bring a building and excursion boom. The local Chamber of Commerce rallied for the subway for decades. Even when the grade elimination was done in 1941, the stations were designed with rapid transit in mind, for easy transformation to paid and unpaid areas for turnstiles. Far Rockaway station's elevation was built without a concrete encasing on its steel, with the though that it would be temporary... as it turned out to be.

As history would have it, many today feel it was the arrival of rapid transit that sparked the urban decline of the Rockaways, and many in the community now view the subway as a scourge -- bringing blight into their neighborhood at ten cents a head -- and wish the LIRR was still operating there.
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...a "tool" of the administration"

keyboardkat
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Re: End of Service on the Rockaway Park Line

Post by keyboardkat » Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:13 pm

Actually, the original plan to convert the Rockaway Beach Branch for subway use involved connecting the LIRR at Rego Park with then then-new IND subway line along Queens Boulevard, as the two lines at that point are only about a block apart. This would have preserved service to the upper Rockaway Beach Branch serving Parkside, Brooklyn Manor, Woodhaven and Ozone Park. According to Herbert George's book the 63rd Drive station on the IND still has tiles cemented in the walls reading "Far Rockaway," although there is no subway connection from there to the Rockaways.
It is just possible that, had the connection been made from the Queens Boulevard IND line, the Rockaways would not have deteriorated the way they have, because the IND line served wealthier neighborhoods with a different type of passenger.

But in the 1950s, allegedly because of increased traffic on the IND Queensborough line (an excuse which I don't buy for a minute), the decision was made to connect the Rockaway Beach Branch below Ozone Park to the ancient (1888) Fulton Street elevated line, which today carries the A train, leaving the stations north of there without any service. This subway line spends a lot of its mileage meandering through parts of Brooklyn which I wouldn't dare walk through in broad daylight, although it offers connections to the L Canarsie line, the F line and the G line. This may have something to do with the condition of the Rockaways today.

Just imagine if LIRR service to the Rockaways had been maintained. Today we'd see M3s and M7s stopping at Ozone Park, crossing the bay, and running along the elevated line along the Peninsula,
Fairbanks-Morse forever!

LongIslandTool
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Re: End of Service on the Rockaway Park Line

Post by LongIslandTool » Thu Nov 05, 2009 7:10 pm

Ahh what Rockaway could have been.. Imagine M7's at The Raunt?
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The Long Island Tool
"... overzealously discharges his duties;
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R36 Combine Coach
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Re: End of Service on the Rockaway Park Line

Post by R36 Combine Coach » Thu Nov 05, 2009 8:32 pm

keyboardkat wrote:Just imagine if LIRR service to the Rockaways had been maintained. Today we'd see M3s and M7s stopping at Ozone Park, crossing the bay, and running along the elevated line along the Peninsula,
The A Train provides reliable, frequent service with R44 cars and also serves JFK. Some proposed using the abandoned Rockaway Branch as a LIRR express route between JFK and Penn Station.
Since my friend continues to chain smoke nonstop, she is probably an Alco.

keyboardkat
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Re: End of Service on the Rockaway Park Line

Post by keyboardkat » Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:07 pm

I'd rather see the Rockaway Beach Branch restored to what it was, rather than a route to the airport. The A train takes much longer than the LIRR did to get to the Rockaways, and the upper Rockaway Beach Branch hasn't had any service since June 1962. Anyway, now with the Airtrain, any hopes for a restoration of any kind are, "ka-poof."
Fairbanks-Morse forever!

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