I read Michael Gannon’s article “Assemblyman call for new rail service” (Feb. 16, multiple editions), dealing with plans for restoring the old LIRR line that went to Ozone Park, Howard Beach and the Rockaways. The concept is noble, and it would make a good alternate route to Manhattan from the above neighborhoods, but since the abandonment of the line, the areas adjacent to it make it a potential boondoggle.
As a railfan and train operator for New York City Transit, let me lay out why this concept is not feasible.
One, to reopen the line, the Forest View Crescent Building on Union Turnpike would need to lose its parking lot. If that’s not bad enough, vibrations from trains would cause cracks in its foundation.
Two, besides the Crescent, other buildings have been built near or under the roadbed, a situation similar to all the businesses in Willets Point in Flushing that are adjacent to Citi Field and are now fighting the city’s attempts to evict them.
Three, and last, the tracks that run between Liberty Avenue and Howard Beach are part of the A train’s line to the Rockaway Peninsula. What makes using them infeasible is that the tower that controls that interlocking is owned by NYC Transit, and the third rail that powers the subway is 600 volts, whereas the LIRR’s is 750 volts.
It should also be noted that subway cars run more frequently, i.e., every five minutes during rush hour, every 12 to 15 minutes outside of rush hour, and every 20 minutes on the midnight tour. With all of those A trains heading north and south, how are you going to run LIRR trains on the same track? The nearest LIRR tower is at Fresh Pond Junction in Glendale.
For all those reasons, plus the input of the local NIMBY crowd, this will never be done.
Thank you for allowing me to put in my two cents.