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LIRR Belmont Park Service Trip Report

We took a ride on the LIRR to Belmont Park on 12 October 2009, a busy day for train riding. We began the day by taking Metro-North to Grand Central Terminal and then walking to Penn Station. From Penn Station we took the special Belmont Park train to Belmont Park. This was a huge train that was nearly empty. We then had some lunch at Belmont and watched a couple of races before catching a bus back to Jamaica. While the bus was a lot cheaper than the train it was a lot more crowded and seemed to take forever. We took the bus to Jamaica Center and the end of the E subway line, then took the E train to Court Square - 23rd Street. The subway wasn’t very crowded so we had no trouble finding seats. As we were discussing that we were getting off at 23rd Street, another passenger, figuring we were tourists, pointed out that we probably wanted the second 23rd Street stop (in Manhattan). I said that no, we actually wanted the one in Queens. I can see how people, particularly if they were coming from JFK, could make that mistake and appreciated her trying to help us out. From the E station we made our way above ground to the 7 train, took that a few stops to Vernon Boulevard – Jackson Avenue (with some great views of the LIRR and Sunnyside Yard along the way), and then took the short walk to the LIRR Long Island City station.

Once at Long Island City we quickly found the ticket machine and platform, and our train waiting to leave. Seeing us looking at the trains, the conductor was very friendly and told us that if we wanted to get on the train for a few minutes and look around we could and he’d make sure we got off before they left the station. I told him that we were going to ride that train which surprised him but he welcomed us on. I thought we still had about another 20 minutes before the train would leave, but soon after we were on we pulled out of Long Island City. We then rode the few feet to the Hunterspoint Avenue station where we waited for at least 15 minutes. Apparently the train was scheduled to spend an extended period here, which is unusual for commuter trains, and may be the reason why I misread the schedule initially. We then continued our ride to Jamaica, completing our journey from Long Island City to Jamaica via the Main Line.

On our next ride we would finish our City Terminal Zone journey, once again travelling from Long Island City to Jamaica, but this time via the Lower Montauk Branch. We didn’t have much time to get back to Long Island City to catch the only afternoon Lower Montauk Branch train, so as soon as we arrived in Jamaica we dashed to the east end of the platform, down the stairs, and down into the subway station. Once again we took the E to the 7, both trains a bit more crowded now that rush hour was well under way, and worrying as we waited for each train that we wouldn’t make it to Long Island City in time. We got back to Vernon Boulevard and moved briskly back to the Long Island City station finally arriving at the platform with about 15 minutes to spare. Another train sat on the track from which we departed earlier, but this time the doors were still closed, so we stood on the platform and waited. Ten minutes passed, and still the train was closed up and we were the only ones on the platform. I started to wonder if there were other platforms, but signs near the ticket machine said passengers weren’t allowed in the yard area, so I didn’t know how to get to them. I guessed that they were just running late. Then about 2 minutes before our train was scheduled to depart, one of the workers coming out of the railroad building in the yard started calling to us. Unfortunately we couldn’t hear him over the drone of the locomotives, but finally we figured out from his hand gestures that our train was leaving from the opposite side of the yard. We ran off the platform, back out to the street, and along the fence to the back of the yard. As we reached the back entrance to the yard, although it still didn’t look like a public area, we decided to cut through the paved area behind the tracks and sure enough at the far end we saw a wooden platform with a train about to leave. We gave a yell and made a mad dash to the platform and onto the train just before they closed the doors and pulled out. I still have no idea where we were supposed to enter to reach this platform, but we had made it. This train was more crowded than the earlier one, but we still had no problem finding seats and settled in for our second ride to Jamaica, this time on a route that has been nearly abandoned. Once in Jamaica we caught the subway once again, this time taking it all of the way back to Manhattan. We then transferred to the 6 train, arrived in Grand Central Terminal, and took Metro-North back home.

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