Jamaica Station (often referred to simply as Jamaica) is the major hub and headquarters of the Long Island Rail Road, and is located in Jamaica, Queens, New York City. It is the largest transit hub on Long Island and is one of the busiest railroad stations in the country with over 200,000 daily passengers. In the New York City area it ranks only behind Pennsylvania Station, Grand Central Terminal, and Secaucus Junction, with over 1,000 trains passing through it every day. It has a direct rail connection to John F. Kennedy International Airport via AirTrain JFK. There are also elevator connections to the Archer Avenue Line of the New York City Subway at Sutphin Boulevard – Archer Avenue (E J Z trains), directly below. The area just outside is served by several local bus routes, including the Q24, Q30, Q31, Q43, Q44, Q54 and Q56, with more available within a few blocks of the station.
All LIRR services except the Port Washington Branch pass through Jamaica Station. The Main Line westwards leads to Long Island City and Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan, while the Atlantic Branch diverges along Atlantic Avenue to Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn. The Montauk Branch also serves one daily round-trip to and from Long Island City. East of Jamaica, these three lines diverge, with some branch services using the Main Line, some using the Atlantic Branch, and some using the Montauk Branch.
Because of its central location on all but one of the services, it is common for commuters to have to "change at Jamaica" that is switch trains to reach the final destination.
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.
Jamaica Station was originally built between 1912 and 1913 as a replacement for two other former stations in Jamaica. The first was the LIRR's original Jamaica Station (“Old Jamaica”), 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. The other station was known as Jamaica-Beaver Street and built by the South Side Railroad of Long Island for the Atlantic Branch(see below).
Both stations were discontinued as station stops. "Old Jamaica" station was razed in 1912 with the grade elimination project, "Jamaica Improvement," while Jamaica-Beaver Street Station was razed with the grade elimination in 1913, and relocation into the current Jamaica Railroad complex. The 1912-13 "Jamaica Improvement" was important in that it was the final step in consolidating all the branch lines of the LIRR. To the west of the station "Jay Interlocking" was built, and to the east "Hall Interlocking." Both these interlockings allowed all the lines to interchange with one another allowing for easy transfer between lines at Jamaica Station, which is the hallmark of current day LIRR service.
At the time of the new station's opening the residents of Jamaica were unsatisfied with the relocated station, primarily due to the fact that downtown core of Jamaica was centered around Union Hall Street, the site of "Old Jamaica," as opposed to the station's new location at Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue. The LIRR thus decided to add a new stop on the site of "Old Jamaica", called Union Hall Street station in 1913. Further information: Union Hall Street (LIRR station)=== Beaver Street Station=== Jamaica-Beaver Street station was built by the South Side Railroad of Long Island for the what is today the Atlantic Branch on October 28, 1867. It was then 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. 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, and relocation into the current Jamaica Railroad complex. as part of the Jamaica Improvement Project. No trace of the station exists today.
The station has five high-level island platforms each 12 cars long. Jamaica functions as the operational hub for the system. The platforms at Jamaica are designed to facilitate the arrival of several trains at once. During the morning rush, westbound trains, originating from one of three lines and heading to one of the three New York terminals, are scheduled to arrive at Jamaica simultaneously on tracks 1, 2, and 3. Passengers can then cross over to the platform containing their train heading to their destination terminal by either utilizing stairs or passing through the train on track 2. In the evening commute, this process is reversed. Eastbound trains originate at one of the New York terminals destined for one of the branch lines. These trains arrive on tracks 6, 7, and 8 and allow commuters to cross over to the desired outbound train. The middle tracks – 4 and 5 – share a single platform which is utilized during both the morning and evening rush hours to provide passengers ability to transfer to their destination train on the other side of the platform.
Travel times tend to be about 20 minutes from the Jamaica station to either Penn Station in Midtown or Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn.
- Q20A: to Archer Avenue/Merrick Boulevard or College Point (via 20th Avenue), via Main Street.
- Q20B: to Archer Avenue/Merrick Boulevard or College Point (via 14th Avenue), via Main Street.
- Q24: to Archer Avenue/168th Street or Bushwick, Brooklyn, via Atlantic Avenue.
- Q30: to Little Neck via Utopia Parkway.
- Q31: to Bayside via Utopia Parkway.
- Q43: to Floral Park via Hillside Avenue.
- Q44: to Archer Avenue/Merrick Boulevard or Bronx Zoo via Main Street.
- Q54: to Jamaica Avenue/171st Street or Williamsburg, Brooklyn, via Metropolitan Avenue.
- Q56: to Jamaica Avenue/171st Street or Broadway Junction, East New York, Brooklyn, via Jamaica Avenue.
- Q6: to North Cargo Road, John F. Kennedy International Airport, or 165th Street Bus Terminal via Sutphin Boulevard.
- Q8: to Gateway Center Mall, Starrett City, Brooklyn, or 165th Street Bus Terminal via 101st Avenue.
- Q9: to South Ozone Park or 165th Street Bus Terminal via Sutphin Boulevard, Van Wyck Expressway, and Lincoln Street.
- Q25: to College Point via Parsons Boulevard.
- Q34: to Whitestone via Parsons Boulevard.
- Q40: to South Jamaica or 165th Street Bus Terminal via Sutphin Boulevard, Lakewood Avenue, and 142nd Street.
- Q41: to Lindenwood or 165th Street Bus Terminal via 127th Street and Cross Bay Boulevard.
- Q60: to South Jamaica or Midtown Manhattan via Queens Boulevard.
- Q65: to College Point via 164th Street and College Point Boulevard.
The new steel glass canopyIn 2006, the MTA completed a $387 million renovation project, begun in 2001 and 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).
The project had two goals: Passenger-oriented renovations included new platforms and pedestrian bridge, a central elevator bank linking the LIRR to the street and to the Sutphin Blvd subway station, a new mezzanine connecting to AirTrain and a new steel and glass canopy over the elevated tracks. 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. 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.
The AirTrain station has separate fare control. It has 2 tracks and 1 island platform. It is enclosed in a glass building on Sutphin Blvd and 94th Ave, you use an escalator or elevator to the upper level and fare control area. There is also an indoor bridge connecting fare control with the LIRR Jamaica station next door. As you swipe the card, you walk down the passageway to the station itself. There are self-service luggage carts you can rent to carry your luggage for a nominal fee. The stations have no benches and are completely glass enclosed. When the train enters the station, both the train doors and the platform edge doors must open. This prevents people from leaning over the edge or walking on the tracks. There are overhead sensors that detect when the train is properly inside the station and will allow the doors to open once proper contact with the train’s roof is made. LED signs indicate where to board the train and when the next train will be arriving. The tracks curve onto the Van Wyck Expressway as they leave the station.