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The Jamaica Station has seen extensive modernization due to the addition of AirTrain JFK to the south of the station. Most AirTrain JFK passengers even walk through the upper mezzanine when coming to/from the subway. The station is an old fashioned rail junction where numerous passengers hop across a single platform (or maybe two walking through a train that is stopped on one of the tracks that has two platforms) many times daily to switch between the LIRR's two main western terminals (Penn Station and Flatbush Avenue-now renamed Atlantic Terminal, Brooklyn) with their five intermediate stations before Jamaica, two rush hour only diesel service terminals in Queens (Long Island City and Hunterspoint Avenue), and nine LIRR branches, all except the Port Washington Branch Passes through the station. Almost every single main line (diesel shuttle trains running only as far as the end of electrification also serve the Montaulk, Greenpoint, and Port Jefferson Branches, electric shuttles also serve the West Hempstead Branch) stops at the station, although there are some rush hour trains to and from Penn Station that bypass it. Since so many passengers are transferring tickets are even punched and collected on all trains that stop at Jamaica both west and east of the station, to avoid confusion with seat checks. For example as of the December 13, 2010 to March 6, 2011 schedule there are 171 trains running every weekday eastbound between Penn Station and Jamaica, and only 20 of these PM Peak trains from Penn Station total skip the station. There are also 64 eastbound trains every weekday from Flatbush Avenue, now Atlantic Terminal, with just 1 PM peak train bypassing the station, 9 trains arrive from Hunterspoint Avenue (with 5 of these extended to Long Island City), 23 diesel trains and 8 electric trains originate their eastbound runs. This means that on a regular weekday 275 trains pass through the station with 254 of them stopping. That's a lot a trains for a conventional railroad, and not a rapid transit line.

To handle all of these trains the Jamaica Station has 9 tracks (8 of these platform), along 5 platforms, two tracks have platforms on two of there sides for easier connections. The layout of the stations platforms is, numbers represent tracks: 1-P-2-P-3-4-P-5-6-P-7-P-8-9. New York bound trains use tracks 1, 2, and 3. Eastbound trains use 6,7,8. 4,5 are used by trains in both directions during peak periods as supplemental connecting platforms. There are also 6 D yard tracks to the north of the platforming tracks and between 3 and 7 tracks of the Johnson Yard to the south of the platforming tracks. For a through station built entirely on an elevated embankment in the middle of one of Queen's main shopping districts that is a lot of tracks, a width of 20 at its height.

The layout of access to the platforms is surprisingly simple and exits to the street are just one from each platform. All platforms are canopied for their entire lengths. Coming from the western end of the platforms, towards this end is a very simple canopied elevated structure with two staircases down to either platform designed specifically for connecting passengers. The platforms continue each with a small enclosed waiting room along it in its midsection before coming to the main connecting overpass that is extremely wide with a modern opaque glass roof. Access to this overpass is via two combined up escalator/stairwells. As well as an elevator that make every platform ADA compliant accessible. To the south end of this overpass doors lead into the AirTrain JFK station, which is south of the LIRR platforms, the northern end of this overpass have a bank of three elevators that lead to an intermediate landing at street level where the small main station house, located in the ground floor ticket windows and waiting area is in a landmark building that also serves as the LIRR headquarters, and directly to their lower landing within the Sutphin Blvd Subway station. Each platform has a staircase down directly to street level along the area of the main overpass to the very wide western sidewalk of Sutphin Blvd.

Along both the sidewalk and the main overpass at the entrance to each platform, along the respective side for each track are information signs (identical to the track information signs in Penn Station) that say the next train along each track, the destination is backlit with the respective color of the branch of service, and the orange LED station list (that will flash onto a new page if the number of stations exceed the 11 provided) beneath. Trains for the western terminals have red for Penn Station, green for Atlantic Terminal ?? for Hunterspoint Avenue/Long Island City. There are also LCD TV monitors that inform passengers of multiple upcoming departures and their track along the sidewalk, on the mezzanine level and inside the station house. All the platforms also have the standard next train orange LED signs above every track. There is even a human being based at the station that announces the tracks and station stops for all trains.

The main station house is inside the five story landmark building that serves as the LIRR Headquarters to the north of the stations platforms with no direct connections to any of the platforms. The building has a small public section with ticket windows and TVMs at street level in the ground floor with the entrance across from the elevators up to the overpass level. It seems like a quite meager public area for such an important station. Outside this area is a small outdoor glassed in area that leads out to the south sidewalk of Sutphin Blvd for those platform entrances as well as a set of two escalators down into the subway station.
All photos in this section taken on 4 January, 2011 unless otherwise noted

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C-3 #5006 bound for Long Island City enters Jamaica 5 minutes late, although the digital sign says it's on time. This is the only 'Express' to Long Island City, all other trains go via Hunterspoint Avenue (This one goes via Lower Montalk)
17 January, 2005
The Airtrain station at Jamaica viewed from a LIRR platform
22 May, 2004
M3 #9894
22 May, 2004
The 6:16 Off Peak On Time train for Penn Station enters Jamaica led by M7 #7539
9 June, 2006
M7 #7498 leaves Jamaica.
9 June, 2006
M3 #9937 runs through Jamaica for NO Passengers
9 June, 2006
The sidewalk of Sutphin BLvd with the staircases up to the LIRR tracks
4 January, 2010
The historic exterior of the LIRR Headquarters where the ticket office is
Ticket office interior
Main entrance to ticket lobby next to escalators to the subway and elevators up to the overpass to the platforms
A plaque recently given to the LIRR in honor of their friendship with the railroad historical community, on their 175th anniversary
The three elevators up to the main overpass over the tracks
Staircase up from Sutphin Blvd to a platform
Escalator stair combinations lead up to the main overpass from every platform
Notice how the train has doors on both sides open and how the station can be seen beyond
Every platform has its own waiting room
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Last Updated:18 January, 2011
All photos are by Jeremiah Cox
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