New York Connecting Railroad

New York Connecting Railroad
New York Connecting Railroad
System map
Map showing electrification of NYCRR, circa 1927
Locale Queens, New York City
Dates of operation 1917–
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)
Electrification Y
Plaque on Hell Gate Bridge commemorating the opening of the NYCR in 1917
Viaduct arch over Astoria
Looking north from 37th Avenue
Looking south from Grand Avenue overpass

The New York Connecting Railroad (reporting mark NYCN) or NYCR is a rail line in the borough of Queens in New York City. It links New York City and Long Island by rail directly to the North American mainland. Amtrak, CSX, Canadian Pacific Railway, Providence and Worcester Railroad and New York and Atlantic Railway currently use the line. It runs from the Hell Gate Bridge over the East River to Fresh Pond Yard in Glendale. It was completed in 1917. Amtrak uses the northernmost section of the line from Sunnyside Junction (Bowery Bay) in the Woodside section of Queens to the Hell Gate Bridge into the Bronx from which it follows the line north to Boston.

Amtrak owns the line north of Sunnyside Junction, which forms part of the Northeast Corridor. South of this point, CSX is the owner, with the line being the Fremont Secondary.

The line begins at the Hell Gate Bridge over the East River. This is a massive span, a main span of 1,017 feet (310 m) and a total length of over 17,000 feet (3.2 mi; 5.2 km). Continuing south the line is on a high-level elevated viaduct, over Astoria and Interstate 278 (Grand Central Parkway). The line then is on an embankment and Sunnyside Junction, where Amtrak's Northeast Corridor line branches off, is here. The line heads south and parallels Interstate 278 (Brooklyn Queens Expressway) for a distance. This portion of the line was completely rebuilt in 2002. Now in the section of Elmhurst, the NYCR passes under several streets in a cut. An arched concrete viaduct over Queens Boulevard is followed by cuts and overpasses over streets in Maspeth, Queens. After crossing under the Long Island Expressway (Interstate 495) and passing a few cemeteries, the line reaches Fresh Pond Yard. This is the main facility for shipping freight by rail in and out of New York City and Long Island. New York and Atlantic Railway's main offices are here. CSX and CP also interchange freight with New York & Atlantic Railway here.

South of Fresh Pond, the line continues south as Long Island Rail Road's (LIRR) Bay Ridge Branch.

The line is 3 tracks north of Sunnyside Junction and 1 track south of this point (with 2-track sections in some areas).

CSX and Canadian Pacific serve the line with 1-2 daily round trips, the latter using the Oak Point Link. Providence and Worcester runs service in the summer.



The New York Connecting Railroad was incorporated in 1892, opening in 1917 as a connection between the New Haven's Harlem River and Port Chester Railroad and the Pennsylvania Railroad's Pennsylvania Tunnel and Terminal Railroad to Penn Station and the tunnels under the Hudson River. It was owned half-and-half by the New Haven and Pennsylvania.

The line was dedicated on March 9, 1917 by Samuel Rea and Gustav Lindenthal. A special train took the directors of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad over the line on March 25, 1917, and at that time it was turned over to the New Haven for operation, though the Southern Division (freight-only) was not completed yet. Passenger service began on April 1 of 1917, with the return of the Federal Express and the rerouting of two local trains. The Colonial began using it April 30, resulting in the first accident on the NYCR on August 20, 1917. Through freights to Bay Ridge began January 17, 1918, and the final work was completed August 7, 1918.[1]


The New York Connecting Railroad was electrified around 1927 as an extension of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad's system of electrification. The system encompassed 20 route miles of track, and was electrified, like the New Haven, using overhead catenary at 11 kV, 25 Hz. The system received power from the New Haven's Cos Cob power plant and Consolidated Edison 201st generating station via the West Farms substation. Additional power was supplied from a 5 MW, 7 kVA, 11 kV, three-phase to single-phase converter installed at East New York. This unit was also operated in synchronous condenser mode for reactive power support.

Schematic Diagram of the New Lots substation.

Like the New Haven, the NYCR traction power was distributed using the 2 x 11 kV autotransformer topology. Two wires, the feeder and the catenary (often called the trolley wire), carried voltage of 11 kV to ground, but of opposite phase such that the feeder and catenary were 22 kV phase-to-phase. Six autotransformer stations, spaced an average of 3.8 miles apart along the line, converted power. Each station contained oil circuit breakers for both feeder and trolley buses, bus sectioning switches, and one [2] 3 MVA outdoor autotransformer.

The Long Island Rail Road portion of the system (essentially everything to the south of Bowery Bay), along with the freight catenary from West Farms over Hell Gate to Bowery Bay, was removed in 1969-1970. By 1986 Amtrak, which had inherited the Connecting Railroad, changed the traction power system over to 60 Hz operation coincident with Metro North's re-powering of the New Haven Line at 60 Hz and de-activation of the Cos Cob Power Station. The autotransformer architecture was retained, but the source of power changed from the Metro North New Haven Line system to the ConEdison supplied Van Nest Substation 40°50′31″N 73°51′48″W / 40.8420°N 73.8633°W / 40.8420; -73.8633 (Van Nest Substation 46).

Autotransformer Stations along the New York Connecting Railroad[3]
Location Trolley Breakers Feeder Breakers Coordinates Comments
Bungay Street 5 6
Bowery Bay 9 6 40°45′51″N 73°54′19″W / 40.7643°N 73.9054°W / 40.7643; -73.9054 (Bowery Bay Substation 45) Catenary Bridge C68. Converted to 60 Hz operation circa 1986. Amtrak SS number 45.
Fresh Pond 9 6
New Lots 9 6
Manhattan Beach Jct 7 8
Fourth Ave., Bay Ridge 6 4


  1. ^ Netzlof, Robert. "Corporate Genealogy: New York Connecting Railroad." 2008-01-18.
  2. ^ All had one transformer but for Fourth Ave, which had two.
  3. ^ After Morton, 1928, p. 1299.
  • Morton, R.B. "Arrangements of Feeders and Equipment for Electrified Railways", American Institute of Electrical Engineers, Transactions of the, Vol 47, Issue 4, pp. 1297-1301, 1928. DOI: 10.1109/T-AIEE.1928.5055139 Discusses both original and 1930s vintage PRR electrification systems along with NY Connecting RR system.

See also

  • Hell Gate Bridge
  • New York Penn Station
  • Pennsylvania Tunnel and Terminal Railroad

External links


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