Staten Island Railway

Staten Island Railway

SIR train terminating at Great Kills station
Type Rapid transit
Status Operational
Locale Staten Island, New York City
Termini Tottenville (south)
St. George (north)
Stations 22 (current)
21 (by January 2017)[1]
Services 1
Daily ridership 28,200 weekday (Third Quarter 2015)[2]
Opened February 1, 1860
Owner Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Operator(s) Staten Island Rapid Transit Operating Authority (SIRTOA), a division of the NYCTA
Rolling stock 63 modified R44 cars
Line length 14 mi (22.5 km)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Minimum radius (?)
Electrification 600 V DC Third rail
Route map

North Shore Branch
Raritan Valley Line
11.7 Lehigh Line
G.S. Parkway
NE Corridor/Coast Line
US 1/9
9.2 Linden Yard
Chemical Coast Line
6.8 Arthur Kill Bridge
New Jersey
New York
Howland Hook
6.1 Port Ivory
Travis Branch
National Grid
Fresh Kills
Arlington Yard (freight)
5.2 Arlington
4.9 Harbor Road
Union Avenue
4.6 Mariners' Harbor
4.3 Lake Avenue
3.9 Elm Park
NY 440
Bayonne Bridge
over Kill Van Kull
3.4 Tower Hill
3.0 Port Richmond
2.4 West New Brighton
1.8 Livingston
1.2 Sailors' Snug Harbor
0.7 New Brighton
RCB Ballpark
0.0 Saint George Staten Island Ferry Staten Island Ferry
Post office
South Beach Branch
2.0 Bachmann
2.1 Rosebank
2.5 Belair Road
2.7 Fort Wadsworth
3.2 Arrochar
3.5 Cedar Avenue
3.9 South Beach
4.1 Wentworth Avenue
Hylan Boulevard
I-278 (Staten Island Expressway)
Old Town
Dongan Hills
Jefferson Avenue
Grant City
New Dorp
Oakwood Heights
Bay Terrace
Great Kills
Prince's Bay
Mount Loretto Spur
Pleasant Plains
Richmond Valley
West Shore Line
Page Avenue
Arthur Kill (under construction)
Bold denotes terminus stations; italic denotes disused lines.

The Staten Island Railway (SIR) is the only rapid transit line in the New York City borough of Staten Island. Legally called the Staten Island Rapid Transit Operating Authority (SIRTOA),[3] a unit of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, it is considered a standard railroad line, but only freight service which runs along the western portion of the North Shore Branch is connected to the national railway system.

SIR operates 24/7 with modified R44 New York City Subway cars,[4] and is run by the New York City Transit Authority, an agency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and operator of the New York City Subway. However, there is no direct rail link between the SIR and the subway system proper. SIR riders do get a free transfer to New York City Subway lines, and the line is included on official New York City Subway maps.[5] Commuters who use the railway typically use the Staten Island Ferry to reach Manhattan; the line is accessible from within the Ferry Terminal and most of its trains connect with the ferry.

The Staten Island Railway provides full-time local service between Saint George and Tottenville along the east side of the borough. There is currently no subway service offered for those residents living on the western or northern sides of the borough, but Staten Island light rail has been proposed for these corridors, though not endorsed by the MTA. The line has a route bullet similar to other subway routes: the letters SIR in a blue circle. It is used only on timetables and on the MTA's site, not on trains. The line runs 24 hours a day every day of the year[6] (since May 10, 2015, the overnight service is on a 30-minute headway[7][8]) and is one of only six mass-transit rail lines in the United States to do so (the others being the PATCO Speedline, the Red and Blue Lines of the Chicago 'L', the Green Line of the Minneapolis-St. Paul METRO, the PATH lines, and the New York City Subway).

On weekdays, express service to St. George is provided between 6:15 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. and to Tottenville from 7:01 a.m. to 8:01 a.m. and 4:01 p.m. to 7:51 p.m. Morning express trains run non-stop between St. George and New Dorp; afternoon express trains run non-stop from St. George to Great Kills southbound only.[7] Express service is noted on trains by the presence of a red marker with the terminal and 'express' directly underneath it.[lower-alpha 1]


19th century

A Map of the Staten Island Rapid Transit Company from 1885
Baltimore & Ohio Viaduct Under Construction Over the Arthur Kill Connecting Staten Island and New Jersey

The Staten Island Railway was incorporated on August 2, 1851, after Perth Amboy and Staten Island residents petitioned for a Tottenville-to-Stapleton rail line.[9][10] The railroad was financed through a loan from Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt, the sole Staten Island-to-Manhattan ferry operator on the east shore, which was his first involvement in a railroad.[10] The line was completed to Tottenville on June 2, 1860.[9][11] Many stations were named after nearby large farms, such as Garretson's or Gifford's. There were more elaborate structures put in place at Eltingville and Annadale, as their namesakes, the Eltings and Anna Seguine, were influential in financing the construction of the Staten Island Railway.[12] Under the leadership of Commodore Vanderbilt's brother Jacob H. Vanderbilt, the Staten Island Rail Road took over several independent ferries, and train service was increased.[9][11][12] The Staten Island Railway and ferry line were making a modest profit until the explosion of the ferry ship "Westfield" at Whitehall Street Terminal on July 30, 1871.[9][11][13] By July 1872, the railroad and the ferry were in receivership.[11] On September 7, 1872, the property of the company was sold to George Law[11] and Horace Theall.[10][14]

Erastus Wiman, dubbed the "Duke of Staten Island," became one of the most prominent residents of Staten Island after locating his residence in a mansion on the island.[11] Because the Staten Island Railroad Company was barely operational by the late 1870s, New York State sued to have the company dissolved in May 1880.[11][15] Wiman organized the Staten Island Rapid Transit Company (SIRT) on March 25, 1880, and partnered with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad to build a large rail terminal on the island and centralize the six-to-eight ferry landings.[9][11][13] At one point, Wiman secured an extension on a land purchase option from George Law by naming the place "St. George" in order to flatter him.[16]

Construction on the Vanderbilt's Landing to Tompkinsville portion of the North Shore Branch began on March 17, 1884,[11][13][17] and the line opened for passenger service on August 1, 1884.[18] The lighthouse department just above Tompkinsville impeded the line's extension to St. George, but after the SIRT lobbied for an Act of Congress, construction of a two-tracked, 580-foot (180 m) tunnel under the lighthouse began in 1885, for about $190,000.[9][19] The SIR was leased to the B&O for 99 years in 1885.[9][11][13][20] The proceeds of the sale were used to complete the terminal facilities at Saint George, pay for two miles of waterfront property, complete the Rapid Transit Railroad, build a bridge over the Kill Van Kull at Elizabethport, and build other terminal facilities.[21] The North Shore Branch opened for service on February 23, 1886, up to Elm Park.[19] The Saint George Terminal opened on March 7, 1886, and all SIR lines were extended to this station.[11][13][16] On March 8, 1886, the South Beach Branch opened for passenger service to Arrochar.[10][11][14][22] The remainder of the North Shore Branch to its terminus at Erastina was opened in the summer of 1886.[9] The new lines opened by the B&O railroad were called the Staten Island Rapid Transit Railway, while the original line from Clifton to Tottenville was called the Staten Island Railway.[23][24]

Various proposals were made by the B&O for a railroad between Staten Island and New Jersey. The accepted proposal consisted of a five and one quarter line from the Arthur Kill to meet the Jersey Central at Cranford, through Union County and the communities of Roselle Park and Linden.[25] Construction on this road started in 1889,[25] and the line was finished in the latter part of that year.[9] Congress passed a law on June 16, 1886 authorizing the construction of a 500-foot (150 m) swing bridge over the Arthur Kill, after three years of effort by Erastus Wiman.[13][26] The start of construction was delayed for nine months by the need for approval of the Secretary of War,[9][26] and another six months due to an injunction from the State of New Jersey.[26] This required construction to continue through the brutal winter of 1888[13][26] because Congress had set a completion deadline of June 16, 1888, two years after signing the bill.[26] The bridge was completed three days early on June 13, 1888, at 3 p.m.[10][14][22][26] At the time of its opening, the Arthur Kill Bridge was the largest drawbridge ever constructed in the world. There were no fatalities in the construction of the bridge.[26] On January 1, 1890,[9] the first train operated from Saint George Terminal to Cranford Junction.[27] Once the Arthur Kill Bridge was completed, pressure was brought upon the United States War Department by the Lehigh Valley Railroad and the Pennsylvania Railroad to have the newly built bridge torn down and replaced with a bridge with a different design, claiming that it was an obstruction for the navigation of the large numbers of coal barges past Holland Hook on the Arthur Kill. They were however not successful in these efforts.[13][25]

In 1889, the South Beach Branch was extended from Arrochar to a new terminal at South Beach. In 1889, the Southfield Beach Electric Railway, a non-Staten Island Rapid Transit service was built for one mile from the SIRT's South Beach to Midland Beach, which during this time was a popular resort, with hotels and a gambling casino.[12] In 1897, the terminal at Saint George, which served the railroad and the ferry to Manhattan, was completed.[11]

20th century

Revenue passenger traffic, in millions of passenger-miles
Year Traffic
1925 67
1944 81
1960 37
1967 38
Source: ICC annual reports
Staten Island Rapid Transit, 1952

Improvements were made to the SIRT after the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) took control of the B&O in 1900.[25] After PRR control, the B&O was profitable again and became a stronger railroad.[25] On October 25, 1905, the city took ownership of the ferry and terminals, and ejected the B&O from Whitehall Street terminal. A new Saint George Terminal was then built by the city for $2,318,720.[16]

In anticipation of a tunnel under the Narrows to Brooklyn and a connection there with the New York subway system at the Bay Ridge – 95th Street station, the SIRT electrified its lines using third rail power distribution and cars similar to those of the Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT).[28][29][30] The first electric train was operated on the South Beach Branch between South Beach and Fort Wadsworth on May 30, 1925,[28][31] and the other branches were electrified by November 1925.[30][32] The electrification brought no big increase in traffic, and the tunnel was never built.[33] In the 1920s, a branch along the West Shore of Staten Island was built to haul materials to construct the Outerbridge Crossing. The branch was cut back to a point south of the bridge after the bridge was built.[34] The Gulf Oil Corporation opened a dock and tank farm along the Arthur Kill in 1928 and in order to serve it, the Travis Branch was built south from Arlington Yard into the marshes of the island's western shore to Gulfport.[9][12][34]

On February 25, 1937, the Port Richmond–Tower Hill viaduct was completed, becoming the largest grade crossing elimination project in the United States. The viaduct was more than a mile long, and spanned eight grade crossings on the North Shore Branch of the SIRT. The opening of the viaduct marked the final part of a $6,000,000 grade crossing elimination project on Staten Island, which eliminated thirty-four grade crossings on the north and south shores of Staten Island.[35] Staten Island Borough President Joseph A. Palma proposed in 1936 to extend the Staten Island Rapid Transit to Manhattan across the Bayonne Bridge.[36][37] The Port of New York Authority endorsed the same plan in 1937, with a terminal at 51st Street in Manhattan near Rockefeller Center to serve the trains of Erie, West Shore, Lackawanna, Jersey Central, and trains from Staten Island.[38] This original proposal would be brought back in 1950, by Edward Corsi, a Republican candidate for mayor.[39]

In the 1940s, freight and World War II traffic helped pay off some of the debt the SIRT had accumulated, and briefly made the SIRT profitable. During the second World War, all of the east coast military hospital trains were handled by the SIRT, with some trains stopping at Arlington on Staten Island to transfer wounded soldiers to a large military hospital. The need to transport war material, POW trains, and troops, made the stretch of the Baltimore & New York Railway between Cranford Junction and the Arthur Kill extremely busy. The B&O also operated special trains for important officials such as Winston Churchill.[25] On June 25, 1946, a fire wrecked the terminal at Saint George killing three people and causing damage worth $22,000,000.[13] The fire destroyed the ferry terminal and the four slips used for Manhattan service, the terminal for Staten Island Rapid Transit trains.[40] The replacement terminal would be opened in 1948.[41]

The number of passengers decreased from 12.3 million passengers in 1947 to 4.4 million in 1949, due to passengers switching from SIRT to city-operated buses due to a bus fare cut.[42] On September 5, 1948, 237 of the previous 492 weekday trains were cut; the express service would be reduced during rush hours, and all night trains after 1:29 A. M. would be cancelled. Thirty percent of the company's personnel were laid off.[43][44] On September 7, 1948, Borough President Hall of Richmond continued to rally against the cuts made by the SIRT at a Public Service Commission hearing in Manhattan. Commuters testified that trains were missing connections to ferry boats and that some trains were being held at the Saint George Terminal in the rush hour to wait for two boatloads of passengers. Previously, they said, the trains pulled out with only one boatload of passengers.[45] On September 13, 1948, the SIRT agreed to add four trains, and to extend the schedule of four others.[46] On September 22, 1948, the Interstate Commerce Commission allowed the SIRT to abandon the ferry it had operated for 88 years between Tottenville and Perth Amboy, New Jersey; the ferry operation was transferred to Sunrise Ferries, Inc of Elizabeth, New Jersey on October 16.[47][48]

On June 8, 1951, a modern replacement terminal for Saint George opened, although portions of the terminal were phased into service at earlier dates.[49] The SIRT discontinued passenger service on the North Shore Branch to Arlington and the South Beach Branch to Wentworth Avenue at midnight on March 31, 1953 because of city-operated bus competition; the South Beach Branch was abandoned shortly thereafter, while the North Shore Branch continued to carry freight.[9][50][51] By 1955, the third rail on both of the lines were removed.[9] On September 7, 1954, SIRT made an application to discontinue all passenger service on the Tottenville Branch on October 7, 1954.[10][52] A large city subsidy allowed passenger service on the Tottenville Branch to continue.[10]

In November 1957, the Arthur Kill swing bridge was damaged by an Esso oil tanker, and was replaced by a state-of-the-art, single track, 558 foot vertical lift bridge in 1959.[9][25] The 2,000 ton lift span was prefabricated, then floated into place.[9] The new bridge was raised 135 feet and since the new bridge aided navigation on the Arthur Kill, the United States government assumed 90 percent of the $11 million cost of the project.[53] Freight trains started crossing the bridge when it opened on August 25, 1959.[54] In 1958, the Travis Branch was extended to serve a new Consolidated Edison power plant in Travis, along Staten Island's west shore, allowing long-unit coal trains from West Virginia to serve the plant.[9] The B&O continued to invest in its properties in New Jersey and Staten Island into the late 1950s.[25]

R44 in July 1973

The SIRT continued to lose money even as they rebuilt stations between Jefferson Avenue and New Dorp almost into the 1970s. Rail traffic via the Arthur Kill Bridge dropped dramatically with the closing of Bethlehem Steel in 1960, and of U.S. Gypsum in 1972.[54] On July 1, 1971, operation of the Tottenville line was turned over to the Staten Island Rapid Transit Operating Authority, a division of the state's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the line itself was purchased by the city of New York.[25] As part of the agreement, freight along the line was to be continued to be handled by the B&O.[25] On February 28, 1973,[55][56] the first six new R44 cars the same as the newest cars then in use on the subway lines in the other boroughs were put into service on the Staten Island Rapid Transit, replacing the PS Standard rolling stock that had been inherited from the B&O and had remained in continuous service since 1925.[4][57][58]

The B&O became part of the larger C&O system through a merger with the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. The freight operation on the island was renamed the Staten Island Railroad Corporation in 1971. The B&O and C&O became isolated from their other properties in New Jersey and Staten Island, with the creation of Conrail on April 1, 1976, by merger of bankrupt lines in the northeast United States.[9][25] As a result, their freight service was truncated to Philadelphia, however, for several years afterward, one B&O freight train a day ran to Cranford Junction, with B&O locomotives running through as well. By the year 1973, the Jersey Central's car float yard at Jersey Central was closed. Afterwards, the car float operation of the B&O was brought back to Staten Island at Saint George Yard. This car float operation was taken over by the New York Dock Railway in September 1979, and was ended the following year.[25] Only a few isolated industries on Staten Island were using rail service for freight, meaning that the yard at Saint George was essentially abandoned.[9][25] The C&O system was forced to sell the Staten Island Railroad to the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railroad, which was owned by the Delaware Otsego Corporation in April 1985, due to a lack of business.[9][50] The Susquehanna then embargoed the track east of Elm Park on the North Shore Branch, ending rail freight traffic to Saint George.[9] In 1990, Procter & Gamble, the line's largest customer closed,[9] leading to a large drop in freight traffic. The last freight train over the bridge came in 1990,[54] and the operation ended on July 25, 1991, when the Arthur Kill bridge was taken out of service.[9][59] Afterwards, the North Shore Branch and the Arthur Kill Bridge were taken over by CSX. The line as well as the bridge were purchased again in 1994, this time by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), whose purchase was followed by a decade of false starts.[54]

In 1994, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority reinstituted the line's original name; the passenger portion of the line is called MTA Staten Island Railway.[9]

Current use

The map of the Staten Island Railway (Note: Ballpark station no longer served).


Only the north-south Main Line is in passenger service. The terminal station at St. George provides a direct connection to the Staten Island Ferry.[8] At St. George there are twelve tracks, only ten of which are presently used for service.[60] At Tottenville, there is a three track yard, with two tracks on either side of a concrete station platform.

In general appearance, the current operating line of SIR looks somewhat like an outdoor line of the New York City Subway. Since the 1960s it has been grade separated from all roads, but it runs more or less at street level for a brief stretch north of Clifton, between the Grasmere and Old Town stations, and from south of the Pleasant Plains station to Tottenville, the end of the line. It uses NYC Transit-standard 600 V DC third rail power.[61] Its equipment are R44 subway type cars specially modified with headlight dimmers, electric windshield defrosters, FRA Compliant cab signals and horns, and FRA regulation 223 required shatterproof glazing, and exterior mounted grab rails near the side doors, purchased at the same time and built in early 1973, at the tail end of the R44 order of subway cars for New York City Transit (the Staten Island R44s being the last cars built by the St. Louis Car Company). Heavy maintenance of the equipment is performed at NYCT's Clifton Shops. Any work that cannot be performed at Clifton requires the cars to be trucked over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to the subway's Coney Island Complex shops in Brooklyn.[62] The right-of-way also includes elevated, embankment and open-cut portions, and a tunnel near St. George.

The last passenger trains on both the North Shore Branch and the South Beach Branch ran on March 31, 1953.[9][50][51] The right-of-way of the South Beach Branch was eventually de-mapped and the tracks have been removed. On June 24, 2001, a small section of the easternmost portion of the North Shore Branch (a few hundred feet) was reopened to provide passenger service to the new Richmond County Bank Ballpark, home of the Staten Island Yankees minor-league baseball team; however, this service was discontinued on June 18, 2010.[63] Plans to reopen the remainder of the North Shore Branch, to both freight and passenger service, are being studied, with one plan calling for the line to resume full operations between St. George and Arlington or Port Ivory,[64] with even the possibility of through service between Arlington/Port Ivory and Tottenville, which the aforementioned Ballpark wye makes feasible.[65]

Prior to 2007, the Staten Island Railway used Baltimore & Ohio Railroad style color position light signals, that dated back to when it was a B&O-operated line. In 2007, a $72 million project to replace the old signal system was completed.[66] The system was replaced with an FRA-compliant 100 Hz, track circuit based, Automatic Train Control (ATC) signal system.[66] As part of the project, 40 R44 subway cars and 4 locomotives were modified with on board cab signaling equipment for ATC bi-directional movement.[66] A new rail control center and back-up control center was constructed as part of this contract.[66]

Only the Dongan Hills, Saint George, Great Kills and Tottenville stations of the Staten Island Railway are currently in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, with elevators and or ramps.[6][67] However, the new nearly completed Arthur Kill Road station, which will replace the Atlantic and Nassau stations, will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ADA, when it opens in January 2017.[1] With the opening of Arthur Kill, the Atlantic and Nassau stations will be demolished.[68] There are Park and Ride facilities at the Prince's Bay, Huguenot, Annadale, Great Kills, and Dongan Hills stations.[7] Once the new Arthur Kill Road station opens, there will be Park and Ride facilities there as well.[69]

New Dorp station

Over the years there have been several proposals for connecting the SIR with the subway system (including the incomplete Staten Island Tunnel and a possible line along the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge), as it uses B Division-sized cars and loading gauge, but various economic, political, and engineering difficulties have prevented this from happening.[70][71] The Main Line used to provide freight for Nassau Smelting, the Staten Island Advance,[72] and Pouch Terminal.[73]

The current head of Staten Island Railway is Douglas Connett, who holds the position Vice President and Chief Officer since his appointment in June 2015.[74] The hourly employee workforce of around 200 employees is represented by United Transportation Union Local 1440.[75]

Railroad Police

Until June 2005, the Staten Island Railway had a 25-officer armed Railroad Police force known as the "Staten Island Rapid Transit Police".

On June 1, 2005, the Staten Island Rapid Transit Police Department was disbanded and the 25 Staten Island railroad Police Officers merged into the much larger Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police department was created in 1998 when the Long Island Rail Road Police and the Metro-North Railroad Police Departments merged. In 2005 the MTA Police Department then opened their newest patrol district, Police District #9 which began covering the Staten Island Railway.[76]


The cash fare is $2.75, the same fare as on the New York City Subway and MTA Regional Bus Operations. Fares are paid on entry and exit only at St. George and Tompkinsville. Rides not originating or terminating at St. George or Tompkinsville are free.[77] Prior to the 1997 introduction of "one-fare zone"[78] that came along with free transfers from the SIR to the subway system and MTA buses by using the MetroCard, fares were collected by the conductors on the trains for passengers boarding at stops other than St. George.[58] In the past, passengers often avoided paying the fare by exiting at Tompkinsville, and taking a short walk to the St. George ferry terminal. Because of this, the MTA installed turnstiles at Tompkinsville, along with a new stationhouse which opened on January 20, 2010.[79][80][81]

Fare is payable by MetroCard. Since this card enables free transfers for a continuing ride on the subway and bus systems, for many more riders there is effectively no fare at all for riding SIR. Riders are also allowed to transfer between a Staten Island bus, SIR, and a Manhattan bus or subway near South Ferry.[77] Because of this, the SIR's farebox recovery ratio in 2001 was 0.16that is, for every dollar of expense, 16 cents was recovered in fares, the lowest ratio of MTA agencies. The low farebox recovery ratio is part of the reason the MTA wishes to merge the SIR with the subway proper is to simplify the accounting and subsidization of what is essentially a single line.[82]


See also: Linden Yard

During the early 2000s, plans for reopening the Staten Island Rapid Transit line in New Jersey were announced by the New York Port Authority. Since the Central Railroad of New Jersey became a New Jersey Transit line, a new junction would be built to the former Lehigh Valley Railroad. In order for all New England and southern freight to pass through the New York metropolitan area, a rail tunnel from Brooklyn to Staten Island, and a rail tunnel from Brooklyn to Greenville, New Jersey were planned.[25] On December 15, 2004, a $72 million project to reactivate freight service on Staten Island and to repair the Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge was announced by the NYCEDC and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.[54] Specific projects on the Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge included repainting the steel superstructure and rehabilitating the lift mechanism.[54] In June 2006, the freight line connection from New Jersey to the Staten Island Railway was completed, and became operated in part by the Morristown and Erie Railway under contract with the State of New Jersey and other companies.[83]

The Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge was renovated in 2006 and began regular service on April 2, 2007, sixteen years after the bridge closed.[84] As part of the project, a portion of the North Shore Branch was rehabilitated, the Arlington Yard was expanded, and 6,500 feet (1,981 m) of new track was laid along the Travis Branch to Fresh Kills.[85] Soon after service restarted on the line, Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially commemorated the reactivation on April 17, 2007.[86] Service was provided by CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern Railway, and Conrail over the Travis Branch to haul waste from the Staten Island Transfer Station at Fresh Kills and ship container freight from the Howland Hook Marine Terminal and other industrial businesses. Along the remainder of the North Shore Branch, there are still tracks and rail overpasses in some places.[87][88][89][90][91]


A new, ADA compliant station named Arthur Kill, near the southern terminus of the present line, will open in January 2017 after numerous delays. The station is sited between, and will replace both the Atlantic and Nassau stations, which are in the poorest condition of all the stations on the line.[92] The new station will be able to platform a four-car train.[1] MTA will also provide parking for 150 automobiles across the street.[69] Ground was broken for the $15.3 million station on October 18, 2013.[69] The constructor is John P. Picone, Inc., which was awarded the contract on July 31, 2013.[93] There is also discussion of rebuilding a Rosebank station, which would bridge the longest gap between two stations (Grasmere and Clifton). A Rosebank station once existed on the now-defunct South Beach Branch of the railway.[94]

Elected officials on Staten Island, such as Diane Savino, have been demanding replacement of the Staten Island Railway's aging R44 train cars.[95] Initially, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority planned to order R179s for the Staten Island Railway, but the later decided to overhaul some R46s to replace the existing R44s there.[96] However, the plan to overhaul the R46s for the Staten Island Railway was also dropped, and 75 future R211S cars are planned to replace the Staten Island Railway's fleet of R44s instead.[97][98][99][100] Until then, the R44s are undergoing another round of scheduled maintenance to extend their usefulness until at least 2023.[99][101]

Restoration of the North Shore Branch

In an 2006 report, Staten Island Advance explored the restoration of passenger services on 5.1-mile (8.2 km) of the North Shore Branch between St. George Ferry Terminal and Arlington station. Completion of the study is necessary to qualify the project for the estimated $360 million it will require. A preliminary study found that ridership could hit 15,000 daily.[64] $4 million of federal funding was requested for a detailed feasibility study by senator Chuck Schumer from New York.[102]

In 2012, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority released an analysis of transportation solutions for the North Shore, which included proposals for the reintroduction of heavy rail, light rail, or bus rapid transit using the North Shore line's right-of-way. Other options included transportation systems management which would improve existing bus service, and the possibility of future ferry and water taxi services. Bus rapid transit was the preferred for its cost and relative ease of implementation, which would require $352 million in capital investment. The analysis evaluated the alternatives according to their ability to "Improve Mobility", "Preserve and Enhance the Environment, Natural Resources and Open Space", and "Maximize Limited Financial Resources for the Greater Public Benefit".[99] Currently, the MTA is planning to utilize the old right-of-way for bus rapid transit.[100]

Branches and stations

Network map showing all branches and stations

Main Line stations

Station service legend
Stops all times
Future station
Time period details
Station Minutes from St. George[7] Date
Connections / notes
St. George Terminal 0 March 7, 1886[103] Staten Island Ferry to Whitehall Terminal
NYCT Bus: S40, S42, S44, S46, S48, S51, S52, S61, S62, S66, S74, S76, S78, S81, S84, S86, S90, S91, S92, S94, S96, S98
Tompkinsville 3 July 31, 1884[10] NYCT Bus: S51, S52, S46, S48, S61, S62, S66, S78, S91, S92, S96, S98
Stapleton 5 July 31, 1884[10] NYCT Bus: S51, S52, S74, S76, S81, S84
Clifton 7 April 23, 1860[10] NYCT Bus: S51
Originally Vanderbilt's Landing; access via first three cars northbound[7]
Grasmere 10 1886 NYCT Bus: S53
Old Town 12 1937 – 1939 Originally Old Town Road
Dongan Hills 14 April 23, 1860[10] Originally Garretson's
Jefferson Avenue 16 1937 – 1939
Grant City 17 April 23, 1860[10] NYCT Bus: S51
New Dorp 19 April 23, 1860[10] NYCT Bus: S57, S76, S86
Oakwood Heights 21 April 23, 1860[10] NYCT Bus: S57
Originally Richmond,[105] then Court House,[106] then Oakwood
Bay Terrace 23 Early 1900s Originally Whitlock
Great Kills 25 April 23, 1860[10] NYCT Bus: S54, X7, X8
Southern terminus for select trains
Originally Gifford's
Eltingville 27 April 23, 1860[10] NYCT Bus: S59, S79 SBS, S89 LTD, X1, X4, X5
Woods of Arden 1886 Closed
Annadale 29 May 14, 1860[10] NYCT Bus: S55
Huguenot 31 June 2, 1860[10] NYCT Bus: S55, X17, X17
Academy Bus: X23
Southern terminus for select northbound trains
Originally Bloomingview, then Huguenot Park
Prince's Bay 33 June 2, 1860[10] NYCT Bus: S55, S56
Academy Bus: X23
Originally Lemon Creek, then Princes Bay
Pleasant Plains 35 June 2, 1860[10] NYCT Bus: S55, X17, X22
Richmond Valley 37 June 2, 1860[10] NYCT Bus: X17
Access via first three cars[104]
Nassau 39 c. 1922[10][24] NYCT Bus: S78
Access via last car only;[92][107] will close upon opening of Arthur Kill[1]
Arthur Kill January 2017[1] Under construction[1]
Atlantic 40 c.1909–1921[24][108] NYCT Bus: S78
Access via last car only;[92][107] will close upon opening of Arthur Kill[1]
Tottenville 42 June 2, 1860[10] NYCT Bus: S78

Former passenger stations

North Shore Branch

Main article: North Shore Branch

The North Shore Branch closed to passenger service at midnight on Tuesday, March 31, 1953.[10][109][110] A small portion of the western end is used for freight service as part of the Howland Hook Marine Terminal transloading system called ExpressRail, which opened in 2007 and connects to the Chemical Coast after crossing over the Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge. A smaller eastern portion provided seasonal service to the passenger station for RCB Ballpark, where the Staten Island Yankees play. This service operated from June 24, 2001 to June 18, 2010.[111] As of 2008, restoration was being discussed along this mostly abandoned 6.1-mile (9.8 km) line as part of the Staten Island light rail plan.[112] The North Shore Branch served Procter & Gamble,[24] United States Gypsum,[24] the Staten Island Ship Building, and a Car float at Saint George Yard.[24]

The abandoned North Shore Branch. The Bayonne Bridge can be seen in the background
Miles Name Opened Closed Notes
0 St. George July 31, 1884
0.1 RCB Ballpark June 24, 2001 June 18, 2010[111]
0.7 New Brighton February 23, 1886 March 31, 1953[110]
1.2 Sailors' Snug Harbor February 23, 1886 March 31, 1953[110]
1.8 Livingston February 23, 1886 March 31, 1953[110]
2.4 West Brighton February 23, 1886 March 31, 1953[110]
3.0 Port Richmond February 23, 1886 March 31, 1953
3.4 Tower Hill February 23, 1886 March 31, 1953[110]
3.9 Elm Park February 23, 1886 March 31, 1953[110]
4.3 Lake Avenue 1937 March 31, 1953[110]
4.6 Mariners Harbor Summer 1886 March 31, 1953[110] Originally named Erastina
4.9 Harbor Road 1935 – 1937 March 31, 1953[110]
5.2 Arlington 1889–1890 March 31, 1953[110]
6.1 Port Ivory 1906 1948

South Beach Branch

Main article: South Beach Branch

The South Beach Branch opened on March 8, 1886 to Arrochar, and was extended to South Beach in 1889.[12][22] The branch closed at midnight on Tuesday, March 31, 1953.[109][110] It was abandoned and demolished except for three segments: a concrete embankment on Saint John's Avenue, a trestle spanning Robin Road in Arrochar, and a filled-in bridge which McClean Avenue crosses over.[113][114] This 4.1-mile (6.6 km) line left the Main Line at 40°37′08″N 74°04′18″W / 40.61889°N 74.07167°W / 40.61889; -74.07167, south of the Clifton station, and lay to the east of the Main Line. While the entire right of way has been redeveloped, most of the former right of way is still traceable on maps today.[115] The Verrazano Narrows Bridge toll plaza sits on the former ROW.[115] The South Beach Branch served Bachmann's Brewery.

The Robin Road Trestle is the only remaining intact trestle along the former line. In the early 2000s developers purchased the property on either side of the trestle's abutments, but the developers, the New York City Department of Transportation, and the New York City Transit Authority all claimed ownership of it. Consequently, townhouses have built up against both sides of it.[116][117][118][119]

Bridge over Robin Road
Miles Name Opened Closed Notes
2.0 Bachmann March 8, 1886 1937
2.1 Rosebank March 8, 1886 March 31, 1953[110]
2.5 Belair Road March 8, 1886 March 31, 1953[110]
2.7 Fort Wadsworth March 8, 1886 March 31, 1953[110]
3.2 Arrochar March 8, 1886 March 31, 1953[110]
3.5 Cedar Avenue 1934[120] March 31, 1953[110]
3.9 South Beach 1889[12] March 31, 1953[110]
4.1 Wentworth Avenue 1925 March 31, 1953[110]

Freight Lines

Mount Loretto Spur

Main article: Mount Loretto Spur

The Mount Loretto Spur is an abandoned branch of the Staten Island Railway whose purpose was to serve the Mount Loretto Children's Home. The spur diverged off of the Main Line south of Pleasant Plains.[121] The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad served the Mount Loretto non-electrified branch until 1950, which had some industry and a passenger station.[10][115] The Mount Loretto branch track was removed in the 1960s and 1970s but some ties were visible until the 1980s. A coal dump trestle is all that remains, located behind the powerhouse.

West Shore Line

In the 1920s, a non-electrified branch along the West Shore of Staten Island was built to haul materials to construct the Outerbridge Crossing, branching off of the main line south of Richmond Valley. The branch was cut back to a point south of the bridge after the bridge was built.[34] Afterwards, the branch served a scrapyard owned by the Roselli brothers. The branch still exists to Page Avenue, and the switch is kept working.[122][123]

Travis Branch

Main article: Travis Branch

The Travis Branch is a branch of the Staten Island Railway in New York City, that operates from Arlington Yard to Fresh Kills, which is used for freight transportation along the West Shore, Staten Island. The branch was built in 1928, in order to serve Gulf Oil along the Arthur Kill, and was built south from Arlington Yard into the marshes of the island's western shore to Gulfport. In 1958, the line was extended to Travis in order to serve the newly built Consolidated Edison power plant.[9][34] In 2005, the Travis Branch was being renovated and was extended from the old Consolidated Edison plant to the New York Sanitation dump at Fresh Kills. Regular service to the facility began in April 2007. A proposed route alignment for light rail on the west shore of Staten Island would have the light rail go on the North Shore rail right-of-way to the Travis Branch of the line, and from there, onto the median of the West Shore Expressway.

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