Jamaica station

Coordinates: 40°41′59″N 73°48′28″W / 40.69972°N 73.80778°W / 40.69972; -73.80778
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Track 3, Platform B at Jamaica station, looking west.
General information
Location93-02 Sutphin Boulevard
Jamaica, Queens, New York
Coordinates40°41′59″N 73°48′28″W / 40.69972°N 73.80778°W / 40.69972; -73.80778
Platforms6 island platforms (cross-platform interchange)
Bus operatorsMTA New York City Transit, Nassau Inter County Express
Other information
Fare zone3
Opened1836; 188 years ago (1836)
Rebuilt1912–1913; 111 years ago (1913),
2001–2006; 18 years ago (2006)
2017over 200,000 on weekdays[2]
Rank2 of 125[3]
Preceding station Long Island Rail Road Following station
East New York City Terminal Zone
Atlantic shuttle
Kew Gardens Hempstead Branch Hollis
toward Hempstead
East New York
through to City Terminal Zone Belmont Park Branch
special events
Belmont Park
Kew Gardens Long Beach Branch Locust Manor
toward Long Beach
East New York
AM Peak Service begins 9/05
Penn Station
Oyster Bay Branch Mineola
toward Oyster Bay
Hunterspoint Avenue
limited service
Kew Gardens Ronkonkoma Branch Mineola
toward Greenport
limited service
toward Greenport
Penn Station
Montauk Branch Babylon
toward Montauk
Hunterspoint Avenue
limited service
limited service
toward Montauk
Kew Gardens Far Rockaway Branch Locust Manor
East New York
AM Peak Service begins 9/05
Woodside Babylon Branch Lynbrook
toward Babylon
East New York
AM Peak Service Ends 9/05
Kew Gardens West Hempstead Branch St. Albans
East New York
Kew Gardens Port Jefferson Branch Floral Park
Hunterspoint Avenue
limited service
limited service
East New York
AM Peak Service begins 9/05
Former services
Preceding station Long Island
Rail Road
Following station
Dunton Main Line Union Hall Street
toward Greenport
Dunton Montauk Division Union Hall Street
toward Montauk
Dunton Atlantic Division Cedar Manor
Proposed services
Preceding station Amtrak Following station
New York Northeast Regional Mineola
toward Ronkonkoma

The Jamaica station is a major train station of the Long Island Rail Road located in Jamaica, Queens, New York City. With weekday ridership exceeding 200,000 passengers,[4] it is the largest transit hub on Long Island, the fourth-busiest rail station in North America, and the second-busiest station that exclusively serves commuter traffic. It is the third-busiest rail hub in the New York area, behind Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal. Over 1,000 trains pass through each day, the fourth-most in the New York area behind Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal, and Secaucus Junction.

The Jamaica station is located on an embankment above street level and contains six platforms and ten tracks for LIRR trains. A concourse above the LIRR platforms connects to a station on the AirTrain JFK elevated people mover to John F. Kennedy International Airport, which contains two tracks and one platform. There are also connections to the Archer Avenue lines of the New York City Subway at a separate station directly below. The area just outside is served by several local bus routes, and others terminate within a few blocks of the station.

The station is located at the junction between the between the LIRR's three main trunk routes, its Main Line, Atlantic Branch, and Montauk Branch. Due to this, all LIRR passenger service barring the Port Washington Branch operates through here, with it being common for commuters to "Change at Jamaica" between trains to travel between points on Long Island and the four New York City terminals.


Original stations[edit]

Two former stations existed in Jamaica prior to the current one, serving two different railroads. The first was the LIRR's original Jamaica Station ("Old Jamaica"), built c. 1836 as the terminus of the LIRR. It was remodeled in 1869 and again in 1872, only to be completely rebuilt between 1882–83 adjacent to and in use concurrently with the original depot. Covered platforms were later installed. "Old Jamaica" station at what is now 153rd Street (0.4 mile east of the present station) was razed in 1912 with the grade elimination project, the "Jamaica Improvements".

A map of the station in 1891

The other station known as Jamaica–Beaver Street was built by the South Side Railroad of Long Island on the Atlantic Branch. It opened on October 28, 1867. It was razed in 1871 and replaced on Christmas Day of the same year. When the LIRR acquired the SSRRLI in 1867, the depot was moved to the south side of Beaver Street crossing on a stub track. Low platforms for this station stop were located on the north side of Beaver Street crossing.[5] Timetables of the period show station stop as "Jamaica" for Atlantic Branch trains bound for Locust Avenue, Springfield, and Valley Stream, as "Old Southern Road" station. From 1908–1913, the station stop was listed as "Jamaica (Beaver Street)." Jamaica–Beaver Street station was razed with the grade elimination in 1913. No trace of the Jamaica–Beaver Street station exists today.

Construction of current station[edit]

The present Jamaica station was designed by Kenneth M. Murchison[6] and built between 1912 and 1913 as a replacement for the two former stations in Jamaica. Both former stations were discontinued as station stops. The 1912–13 "Jamaica Improvement" was the final step in consolidating the branch lines of the LIRR. To the west of the station, Jay Interlocking was built, and to the east, Hall Interlocking was constructed. These interlockings allowed any line to reach any other line, allowing easy transfers between lines at Jamaica station.

When the new Jamaica station opened, residents of Jamaica were dissatisfied with its location; downtown Jamaica was centered around Union Hall Street, 0.6 miles (0.97 km) east of the new station at Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue. The LIRR thus decided to add a new Union Hall Street station in 1913. (The Union Hall Street station closed on May 20, 1977.)[7]

After the merging of Beaver Street station with the new Jamaica Station, the LIRR built a replacement along the Atlantic/Far Rockaway Branch southeast of the former SSRRLI depot. It was named "South Street station" and was located on what is today South Road between 157th and 159th Streets. Originally the site of the "SJ Tower," which was used to keep trolleys and trains from colliding with one another until the grade crossing was eliminated in 1913, it was built on November 15, 1917. Due to the close proximity to Jamaica Station, the New York Public Service Commission granted them permission to close the station on March 28, 1922. It was finally closed in June of that year.[8]

On August 15, 1955, LIRR officials announced that it would install a complicated arrangement of signals and switches to the east of the station within two weeks for nearly $100,000 to allow eastbound express trains in the evening rush hour to bypass the station via the station's westbound tracks. The LIRR was in the process of planning improvements to the station's west to allow westbound express trains in the morning rush hour to run via the station's eastbound tracks.[9]

1994 renovation[edit]

In September 1983, the LIRR announced that De Leuw, Cather & Company would complete a conceptual design for the construction of express bypass tracks through the station. As part of the $2.1 million contract, De Leuw would complete a conceptional design by September 1984, with final design and engineering to be completed by September 1985. The project, which would also study the consolidation of towers into a master tower, was intended to increase capacity and reduce train congestion.[10]

In 1986, the LIRR announced a $209 million renovation to the station complex to alleviate the bottleneck. As part of the plan, which would be funded in the proposed $8.3 billion 1987-1991 Capital Program, the station approaches would be modified to allow trains to use a greater number of tracks at increased speeds, platforms would be extended, an additional platform would be added. In addition, a new master tower would be constructed, replacing three older towers, and an express track would be installed through the middle of the station to allow trains bypassing the station to pass through at 45 miles per hour, instead of passing through at 15 miles per hour. In addition, a passenger overpass would be constructed. The project was expected to reduce travel times by two to seven minutes, increase capacity, allowing for increased rush hour service, and increase operating flexibility. The implementation of the plan was scheduled in eleven separate phases.[11][12] The plan would have rebuilt six miles of tracks on the Main Line between the Van Wyck Expressway and Bellerose, and construct a new southern platform.[13]

On July 13, 1987, LIRR officials announced that the station renovation would take two years longer than the initial plan, with completion now scheduled for 1993, and that the project's budget was increased from $213 million to $320 million. A third of the increased cost came from the addition of two years to the project, with some of the rest of the cost coming from underestimated labor and material costs. LIRR President Bruce McIver said that the initial timetable would have had too great of an impact on service performance. The project had been scheduled to start in 1988, but MTA President Robert Kiley said that he did not anticipate that the modified plans would be completed in time to start work then.[12] On September 14, 1987, it was announced that the cost of the project was increased further to $342.5 million. The plan for the project was split in two sections, with one in the 1987-1991 Capital Program, and the other in the 1992-1996 Capital Program. The first phase, which was slated to begin in 1988 and be completed by 1994 and would cost $192.5 million, would construct a new master control tower and a rider overpass, and install new signals and switches. The second phase, which would cost $150 million, would move platforms to provide space for the construction of westbound and eastbound express tracks through the station and build some elevated trackage. Work would begin after 1991 and be completed by 1999.[14]

In 1988, plans were announced for a $209 million station renovation that was expected to be completed in 1994. The project would add elevators, new staircases, overhauled platforms, new tracks, a second pedestrian overpass, and a second pedestrian bridge to be located at the eastern end of the station, connecting all the platforms. A lower-level concourse would be added to provide additional route for riders. Two connections were added to the new Archer Avenue Line.[15]

In April 1988, construction began on an $11.3 million overpass, which would be between the east end concourse and the west end of the platforms. The project would add elevators to the five platforms to make the station accessible, and an elevator between street level near the waiting room to the overpass.[16]

On September 11, 1989, the LIRR announced that it had dropped most of its planned reconstruction of Jamaica due to changes in commuting patterns and technology. $84 million would still be allocated for the construction of a pedestrian overpass and elevators, and for design and engineering work. Work on the elevators and overpass began in April 1988, and was expected to be completed in January 1990. The money saved from deferring most of the project would be used to offset overruns in the cost of improvements at Penn Station, and for other projects.[13]

2001–2006 expansion[edit]

The new steel and glass canopy

A $387 million renovation project began in 2001 and was completed in 2006. It was carried out in conjunction with the construction of AirTrain JFK's terminal (the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey contributed $100 million toward the project).[17]

The project had two goals. Passenger-oriented renovations included new platforms and a pedestrian bridge, a central elevator bank linking the LIRR to the street and to the Sutphin Boulevard subway station, a new mezzanine connecting to AirTrain and a new steel and glass canopy over the elevated tracks.[18] The focal point of the project was the Jamaica Control Center, built by Tishman Construction Corporation and Bechtel. The JCC houses the LIRR offices, railroad control center and MTA Police.[19] Overall, the renovations enlarged the station and have made it more modern and efficient, providing easier access to all eight LIRR tracks. The entire station complex, including AirTrain and the subway, is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The project was named "2006 Project of the Year" by the Long Island branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers.[20]

2015–2021 capacity improvements[edit]

Platform F construction in August 2019

As part of a series of LIRR readiness projects in preparation for the East Side Access extension to Grand Central Terminal, the MTA had adjusted track layouts at Jamaica station to straighten train paths and install high-speed switches. As part of the project, additional ladder tracks have been created, the E Yard track was extended over 150th Street, the East Layup Track was converted to be a through route. In addition, in February 2023, most Brooklyn service was converted into a shuttle service. This shuttle operates between Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn and Jamaica via the Atlantic Branch. A new Platform F and dedicated tracks were constructed south of the existing LIRR platforms at Jamaica station to serve the shuttles; most passengers traveling between Brooklyn and Long Island are required to make a walking transfer between this new platform and the existing platforms.[21]

This reconfiguration was designed to allow for increased service between Brooklyn and Jamaica and between Jamaica and Manhattan (up to a 40% increase in the latter case)[22] and reduce switching maneuvers, while raising average train speeds around Jamaica station from 15 to 30 miles per hour (24 to 48 km/h).[23] Service frequency was also increased for trains on the Atlantic Branch; trains run about every 8–9 minutes during rush hours[24] and every 20 minutes during off-peak hours.[25] However, the project has been criticized (both during construction and following the implementation of service changes)[24] because it eliminated most direct service from Long Island to Brooklyn, thereby increasing commute time between the two destinations.[23]

Entrance to tracks 11 and 12 on the new platform
Transfer to a Brooklyn-bound shuttle train on platform F, not built into the schedule

Completion of Phase I, which includes the new platform, was originally projected for January 2018.[22] The completion date was later pushed back to July 2019,[26] but as of March 2019, is planned to be finished in 2021 at a cost of $380 million.[23] The platform itself was to be completed at the end of 2019, while the track and surrounding infrastructure would be completed in late 2020, and track interlockings would be completed by late 2021.[27]: 37  The platform ultimately opened in February 2020 after several delays.[28][better source needed] Additional improvements, to cost over $1 billion, were to be constructed starting as early as 2022;[23] designs for these improvements started in June 2017 and were scheduled to be completed in 2021.[27]: 41 

Station layout[edit]

Layup tracks north of Jamaica station

Jamaica is the Long Island Rail Road's hub station. There are six high-level island platforms. Five of them, Platforms A–E, serve tracks 1–8 and are each 1,000 feet (300 m) long, fitting almost 12 cars. Tracks 1, 2, and 3 are primarily used by westbound trains; tracks 6, 7, and 8 are primarily used by eastbound trains; and tracks 4 and 5 generally provide additional capacity in the peak direction. Trains on tracks 2 and 7 utilize a Spanish solution boarding layout, as these trains can be entered from platforms on either side. The sixth platform, Platform F, serves tracks 11–12 and is shorter than the other platforms. It is located to the south of platforms A–E and is used by shuttles to and from Atlantic Terminal. Tracks 9–10 are not adjacent to any platforms and can be used by non-revenue passenger trains or by freight trains.[28] There are two overpasses connecting the platforms.

Until the completion of East Side Access in 2023, multiple trains bound for different terminals were scheduled to arrive at Jamaica simultaneously (westbound on tracks 1, 2, and 3; eastbound on tracks 6, 7, and 8) and accommodate quick cross-platform transfers. Connections are no longer built into the schedule as of February 27, 2023, resulting in varying transfer times, and most Brooklyn trains require an up-and-over connection via one of the station's overpasses (having been guaranteed and cross-platform prior to the schedule change).[29]

The main entrance to the station, where tickets may be purchased and where waiting areas are located, is a 100-year-old building that also serves as the offices and headquarters of the Long Island Rail Road Company.

AirTrain station[edit]

AirTrain JFK Jamaica platform

The AirTrain station, located in an enclosed glass structure to the south of the LIRR platforms, has 2 tracks and 1 island platform. It is accessed by escalator or elevator from street level as well as via an enclosed bridge connecting it to the LIRR station. Unlike the LIRR platforms, the AirTrain JFK platforms are entirely enclosed and feature platform screen doors, which help the station maintain a constant temperature and prevent passengers from falling onto the tracks. An array of sensors detect a train's position on the track, and only when it is properly aligned will the train's doors open. This enables the AirTrain to use automatic train operation.[30][31]

The platform measures approximately 240 feet (73 m).[30][31] The next stop to the south is Federal Circle, followed by the six JFK airline terminal stops. West of the station the track curves to the left and runs south, above the Van Wyck Expressway.[31] Since it is owned by the Port Authority, it uses a separate fare control from the LIRR. Passengers must pay their fare when either entering or leaving the station, as this station and Howard Beach are the only stations where fares are collected. MetroCard vending machines are located on both sides of fare control.[32][33]

Station layout[edit]

2F Track 1 Jamaica Station Train toward Terminal 8 (Federal Circle)
Island platform with PSDs, doors will open on the left, right Disabled access
Track 2 Jamaica Station Train toward Terminal 8 (Federal Circle)
1F Lobby Fare control, connection to LIRR platforms
G Street level Exit/entrance

Bus and rail connections[edit]

Subway connections[edit]

New York City Subway:

Bus connections[edit]

Bus connections at Jamaica Station:
Route Western/southern terminal Eastern/northern terminal Via.
Q6 North Cargo Road, John F. Kennedy International Airport 165th Street Bus Terminal Sutphin Boulevard
Q8 Gateway Center Mall, Spring Creek, Brooklyn 101st Avenue
Q9 South Ozone Park Sutphin Boulevard, Van Wyck Expressway, and Lincoln Street
Q25 Sutphin Boulevard/Archer Avenue College Point Kissena Boulevard, Parsons Boulevard
Q34 Whitestone Kissena Boulevard, Parsons Boulevard
Q40 South Jamaica Sutphin Boulevard/Hillside Avenue Sutphin Boulevard, Lakewood Avenue, and 142nd Street
Q41 Lindenwood 165th Street Bus Terminal 127th Street, Cross Bay Boulevard
Q60 Midtown Manhattan South Jamaica Queens Boulevard
Q65 Sutphin Boulevard/Archer Avenue College Point 164th Street, College Point Boulevard
Q20A Archer Avenue/Merrick Boulevard College Point Main Street, 20th Avenue
Q20B Main Street, 14th Avenue
Q24 East New York, Brooklyn Archer Avenue/168th Street Atlantic Avenue
Q30 Archer Avenue/146th Street Little Neck Utopia Parkway
Q31 Bayside
Q43 Floral Park Hillside Avenue
Q44 SBS Archer Avenue/Merrick Boulevard Bronx Zoo Main Street, Cross Bronx Expressway
Q54 Williamsburg, Brooklyn Jamaica Avenue/171st Street Metropolitan Avenue
Q56 East New York, Brooklyn Jamaica Avenue

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Long Island Rail Road (May 14, 2012). "TIMETABLE No. 4" (PDF). p. VI. Retrieved August 4, 2022.
  2. ^ "2017 RIDERSHIP BOOK" (PDF). Service Planning MTA Long Island Rail Road. 2018. p. 4. LIRR Weekday Peak/Off-Peak/Daily Customers 2008 - 2017 - East of Jamaica
  3. ^ "2012-2014 LIRR Origin and Destination Report : Volume I: Travel Behavior Among All LIRR Passengers" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. August 23, 2016. PDF pp. 15, 199. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 17, 2019. Retrieved March 29, 2020. Data collection took place after the pretest determinations, starting in September 2012 and concluding in May 2014. ... 2012-2014 LIRR O[rigin and ]D[estination] COUNTS: WEEKDAY East/West Total By Station in Numerical Order [includes Hillside Facility, Boland's Landing, Pinelawn, Mets-Willets Point, but excludes Belmont Park]
  4. ^ "State-of-the-Art Computerized Centralized Signal and Switch Control System installed at busy Jamaica Station Complex". mta.info. MTA. November 7, 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  5. ^ "1874 view of Beaver Street (SSRLI station) from Beaver Street Overpass". TrainsAreFun.
  6. ^ Morrison, David D. (2011). Images of Rail: Jamaica Station. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9780738576411.
  7. ^ Collins, T.J. (May 21, 1977). "Station Closing Not Sad Event". Newsday. p. 6. Retrieved January 20, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "WESTBRIDGE". Arrt's Archives.
  9. ^ "New Aid for L. I. R. R.; Switches, Signals at Jamaica to Ease Rush-Hour Service". The New York Times. August 16, 1955. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 12, 2022.
  10. ^ McMorrow, Tom (September 12, 1983). "LIRR bypass plan in works". Newsday. Retrieved June 12, 2022.
  11. ^ Levine, Richard (October 11, 1986). "Bid Planned to End Jams at Jamaica Station". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 12, 2022.
  12. ^ a b Bodovitz, Sandra (July 14, 1987). "Jamaica Station Rebuilding Is Delayed Two Years, to '93". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 12, 2022.
  13. ^ a b Bleyer, Bill (September 12, 1989). "Jamaica Station Plan Trimmed". Newsday. Retrieved June 12, 2022.
  14. ^ "Costs Rise for Queens Station". The New York Times. September 15, 1987. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 12, 2022.
  15. ^ Davila, Albert (July 18, 1988). "Face lift is the ticket". New York Daily News. Retrieved January 3, 2019 – via newspapers.com. Open access icon
  16. ^ Bleyer, Bill (April 27, 1988). "Construction Begins At Jamaica Station". Newsday. Retrieved June 12, 2022.
  17. ^ Ain, Stewart (September 9, 2006). "Jamaica Station, $300 Million Later". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  18. ^ "MTA Long Island Rail Road President James J. Dermody to Retire September 1st" (Press release). Long Island Rail Road. August 9, 2006. Retrieved October 16, 2009.
  19. ^ "A Transportation Hub for the 21st Century". Buildings. September 2006. Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved October 15, 2009.
  20. ^ "Project of the Year Award". ASCE Metropolitan Section. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  21. ^ Kulick, Beth (2014). "Jamaica Interlocking Reconfiguration Operations Simulation" (PDF). apta.com. TranSystems Corporation. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 5, 2016. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  22. ^ a b "MTA Capital Program Oversight Meeting" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. January 28, 2013. p. 8. Retrieved May 24, 2018.
  23. ^ a b c d Castillo, Alfonso (March 25, 2019). "New amenities coming to Jamaica station, but it might be bad marriage for Brooklyn". Newsday. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  24. ^ a b "Governor Hochul Directs Long Island Rail Road Service Modifications to Improve Commuter Experience". governor.ny.gov. March 5, 2023. Retrieved April 24, 2023.
  25. ^ "LIRR service to Grand Central: City Terminal Zone". mta.info. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved April 24, 2023.
  26. ^ "MTA Capital Program Oversight Committee Meeting: Jamaica Capacity Improvements" (PDF). mta.info. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. June 2014. p. 52. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  27. ^ a b "Capital Program Oversight Committee Meeting" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. May 20, 2019. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  28. ^ a b "Jamaica Platform F opens for passenger service". The LIRR Today. February 21, 2020. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  29. ^ Ley, Ana (March 3, 2023). "A Mad Dash as Commuters Deal With New L.I.R.R. Service". The New York Times.
  30. ^ a b "AirTrain JFK opens for service". Railway Gazette International. March 1, 2004. Retrieved July 23, 2016.
  31. ^ a b c Berger, Raymond R. (December 2002). "A Tour of the JFK Airtrain". New York Division Bulletin. 45 (12). Electric Railroaders Association: 4, 16. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  32. ^ Berger, Raymond R.; Mercado, Raymond J. (January 2004). "JFK Airtrain Update – Revenue Passenger Service Begins". New York Division Bulletin. 47 (1). Electric Railroaders Association: 17–18. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  33. ^ "Cost and Tickets – AirTrain – Ground Transportation – John F. Kennedy International Airport – Port Authority of New York & New Jersey". panynj.org. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Retrieved May 19, 2014.

External links[edit]