When I photographed the section for the LIRR’s West Hempstead Branch I got off at the first stop, Westwood and walked/took buses to the rest of the stations on the branch. I’ve kept meaning to actually ride the West Hempstead Branch (it, the Greenport Branch beyond Mattituck, and the Port Jefferson Branch between Port Jeff and Stony Brook, plus the line to Belmont Park are currently the only 3 stretches of non-tourist train lines that I haven’t ridden in New York State). I’ve also been wanting to get down to Long Beach and Island Park to finally give those stations photo essays up to my modern standards. I don’t take the subway enough these days to warrant an Unlimited Ride MetroCard but realized this would be the perfect trip Subway to Bus to West Hempstead for one subway ride, A $3.75 ticket from West Hempstead to Valley Stream is only 75¢ more than the minimum LIRR fare ($3.00s within one or two fare zones), better than many of the LIRR’s high fares so I’ll take it.
My trip begins at 11:55 when I get on the A Train, at 12:18 I Arrive at 59 Street for the B,D. I’ve decided on this route to 47th/50th Street where I’ll crossover for the F Train.
At 12:24 a B train arrives I assume the same train we made a cross platform transfer with at 125th, We get to Rockefeller Center–(1 Photo) at 12:28, I’m across the overpass, soon an M and D train arrive connecting with each other.
J get on the F at 12:31. We get holding lights and connect with the B leaving at 12:32. We go up via the 63 Street Tunnel and we pass an M train at 46th street, I assume the one I photographed. At 12:56 We connect with the E at Union Turpike. I assume I would have been on this E train had I done the 42 Street transfer. At 1:04 I arrive at Jamaica-179 st.
I go up to the surface and walk the length of the station at street level trying to find the N6 stop. Use the rear station exit for easiest access to the stop! Luckily one doesn’t pass and it arrives at 1:10. My transfer goes through and I get barely the last seat on the back of the bus. Cutting another connection close on the West Hempstead Branch, I have an hour, google claims the ride will take 40 minutes.
At 1:24 I Pass Belmont Park and enter Nassau County. The bus keeps getting more crowded quite standing room only. I read until the movement at the back of the bus starts giving me a headache and browse the Internet. At 1:48 I’m off the bus near the West Hempstead Train station, 20 minutes before my connection.
I walk the block over to the West Hempstead–(25 Photos added) station and buy my $3.75 ticket to Long Beach. In this case taking the train is both slower (layover at Valley Stream) and more expensive than just taking the N15 bus near the station. I don’t care, the first goal of the day is finally riding the one stretch of the West Hempstead Branch and LIRR except Belmont Park I haven’t ridden. I walk by the waiting room and its open, I get a few photos. I continue up to the platform and find a train sitting on track 2 with 6 cars, the length of the platform open. I get finally some decent photos of the station platform before boarding. The signs all say 1A meaning the train will leave from across the platform. There wrong. I notice a few other people sitting on the train.
- 2:06 – See an employee not in uniform but an ID tag around his neck walking the platform, I assume he is the engineer.
- 2:12 – No announcements but the doors close! We slowly leave passing a yard with tracks called “Long Siding” and “Fence Track”. There empty. Fence track has rust and no third rail. Long siding is clearly used there is an open car at the end of it where it ends at the Hempstead Gardens Platform
- 2:15 – Arrive Hempstead Gardens. The line continues between two streets, passing homes.
- 2:16 – Pass a construction site and into Lakeview with 6 passengers waiting nestled between its two grade crossings. We gain a bit of speed where it seems like there is space for a second track. This space seems to continue as we go under a road. We pass some more suburban houses. One has on open gate with lumber onto the railway line. and some greenhouses.
- 2:19 – Malverne, the speed decreases since their grade crossings again as we pass the fire department.
- 2:21 – A brief ride to Westwood with a construction project along the platform. The shelter is still at the end of the platform. We pass transformers, another abandoned track joins us as we slow down and rise up onto an embankment for Valley Stream. The conductor comes and punches everyone’s tickets. One person of the 4 in my car is a regular and the conductor says “Haven’t seen you in a long time.” He’s grey haired and senior looking. I assume this is a highly coveted route, a lot more sitting then going with the shuttle running every two hours and about an hour between runs.
- 2:25 – Slowly snake over the two Babylon tracks into Valley Stream. We pass a yard with an office that has its own grade crossing as the Far Rockaway branch joins us.
At 2:27 We arrive Valley Stream–(28 Photos). I see the engineer so walking the platform he’s also older looking. The train will layover in the station for ten minutes.
- 2:37 – The connecting train from Long Branch arrives and leaves from Long Beach I’m at the interlocking end of the Platform and get a good photo of it entering but not leaving switching onto the normal track. A couple Babylon Branch M7s pass but their no photos. My laying over Hempstead Branch train blocks them.
- 2:42 – The M3 connecting with the train I got off of that will go back to West Hempstead for Far Rockaway Stops, I get a nice photo of it leaving.
- 2:47 – Get the West Hempstead train leaving as I wish I had my zoom lens for an optimal photo of it switching from the Atlantic Branch and over the Montaulk Branch for West Hempstead.
- 2:56 – A Babylon Branch train passes as a Far Rockaway Branch Train from Atlantic Terminal enters. These are the last trains until mine a half-hour later. Much to my surprise the waiting room here still closes at 2:00pm and wasn’t part of the program to keep them open longer.
- 3:10 – A train of M3 passes, I assume dead heading, just a few more trains on the Babylon Branch. I guess I’m here just before rush hour.
- As I wait I notice that my 3:28 train to Long Beach connects with a 3:34 shuttle train to West Hempstead. But a 3:31 train to Penn Station stops on the same platform before it. This shuttle must deadhead from somewhere, the next train from Hempstead is a 4:12 train all the way to Jamaica.
The 3:31 train to Penn Station arrives before my 3:32 train to Long Beach with M3s I’m at the opposite end of the platform for a photo of I entering but don’t bother to walk up to the front for the Railfan window.
We leave at 3:33 and I see the 3:34 West Hempstead-bound train slowly deadheading back from West Hempstead over the Valley Interlocking to pick up passengers for another shuttle run. A conductor watches me board and walks up for my ticket although their no seat checks. There is something nice about the bells and sitting in an old M3.
- 3:36 – Stop at Lynbrook with the two platforms, one for 12 cars (Babylon Branch) and the other for 10 (Long Beach Branch). We immediately curve away from the Montauk Branch main line and slowly descend to a grade.
- 3:38 – First grade crossing and the second into Centre Avenue that station that needs entrances at the other end of the platform. It’s slow running as we go past homes and a transport warehouse
- 3:39 – The short trip and next grade crossing for East Rockaway where I can see water under the train. It’s well designed with the entrances from grade crossings at each end. We pass marshland and light commercial/industry
- It’s over another body of Water and into Oceanside at 3:41 where the rear two cars don’t platform.
- We slowly leave Oceanside passing new fencing before school buses along the tracks.
- We can now pick up speed, passing a yard cog tree remains, and a plant of some type with silos. It’s another grade crossing and I see signs for Island Park
- 3:46 – Arrive Island Park this is also on my list but I’m just going to walk the mile to and from it to fully arrive in Long Beach by train.
We slow down and lose power, the M3s don’t have MU power and third rail gaps are always felt. We go over a switch to enter the single track bridge. I should have walked the train for the front window as we slowly enter. I see a 5 sign I assume for the yard. We pass some substation equipment and a sewage treatment plant I assume flooded during Sandy. The line used diesel shuttles for a few weeks I never quite photographed.
I get my photo essay of the Long Beach Station including its parking garage before having a nice walk up over the bridge to Island Park, there I photograph the train I got off of heading back north and another Long Beach-bound train heading south, they cross north of the station (there scheduled for the same time at Island Park but the Long Beach-bound train is as expected a few minutes late). I walk back over the bridge.
At 5:19 I return to the crowded bus loop no sign of my 5:20 N33 Bus to Far Rockaway. So much for rushing back. There a bunch of other people waiting in the bus loop beneath the parking structure with an odd smell. I realize with so many people waiting I can watch for my bus to come in and walk around to get a few more exterior photos that I want.
The bus finally arrives at 5:32, An old Orien V and doesn’t layover, we all get on. The destination sign is broken (there is a small sign in the window) The bus is quite crowded some people standing and we leave at 5:35, 15 minutes late. The talking bus system is on.
We leave Long Beach (Nice buses run with a closed door policy with in the City of Long Beach since it has its own bus system). Just one person gets off in Atlantic Beach as we make stops primarily to pick up passengers. Eventually we go over the $2 Atlantic Beach Toll Bridge that only still has a toll to keep the community for insulated. All the locals have yearly decals so only visitors really pay for a Bridge Authority that is the highest example of bureaucracy and the tolls basically give people free jobs. They don’t want to join EZ-Pass because that would cause better accounting. We cross the bridge at 5:52 (getting waved through the toll plaza) into New York City at the Rockaways at Beach 6th street. Where we accept passengers because the NICE closed door policy in Queens applies everywhere except the Rockaways. Must be an old legacy policy because of a discontinued route. People start getting off in the Rockaways.
At 6:05 we arrive at Far Rockaway it feels strange getting off at the station’s empty bus loop that until a few months ago was full of the Free Shuttle Buses that were replacing the A train.
I’ve checked for the departure time of the next A train on the Far Rockaway branch were service is every 16 minutes and walk the platform getting a few of regular service there. I got so used to hopping on or off the H train on my couple of trips. Strangely the rear half of the train is open, the front have is keyed open for the AC.
We leave at 6:15, a minute before Google’s prediction. There is a cop in my car, looking through the drivers door and out the front window, clearly observing. I alway forget that the Rockaways is the one place in New York you can see vacant lots from the subway. At Beach 44th the cop gets off, abandoning his efforts. I can’t believe how ongoing the building of Arverne-by-the Sea is.
6:27-Broad Channel. There some work trains Plasser American use for ballast stomping on the track normally used to relay shuttle trains. There clearly trying to reopen it again to avoid the long relay runs to the Broad Cannel Station trains have to do. An A train and a shuttle behind it pass, the weekday shuttles are only four cars. Guess I need to come out on a summer weekend to get photos of the 8 car shuttle trains that are run for the beach crowds.
Crossing the north swing bridge I see the DreamLifter. We arrive in Howard Beach–(26 Photos) and I see a shuttle in the middle track at Howard Beach. Trains have to run all the way here to relay with the current track just north of Broad Channel still out of service. I decide I need photos of trains here before they fix the normal relay track. An OOS A train comes by and the Shuttle leaves from before my A train does.
At 6:49 the next A train arrives, after my successful photo stop. I grab my book to read the rest of the way home, I’m home at 8:00.