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South Brooklyn Railway

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Subject: Sunset Park, Brooklyn, List of reporting marks: S, Heights of Guan, Railroads on Long Island, Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company
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South Brooklyn Railway

South Brooklyn Railway
South Brooklyn Railway junction, under Exit 23 of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway
Type Freight rail
System None, although connected to New York City Subway and 36th–38th Street Yard
Status Operating
Locale Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York City
Termini 36th–38th Street Yard, Upper New York Bay (west)
Ninth Avenue (east)
Opened 1887
Owner City of New York
Operator(s) New York City Transit Authority
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

The South Brooklyn Railway is a railroad in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. It is owned by the City of New York and is operated by the New York City Transit Authority. Its original main line ran parallel to 38th Street from the Upper New York Bay to McDonald Avenue, and south on McDonald Avenue to the Coney Island Yards, mostly underneath the ex-Culver Shuttle and IND Culver Line of the New York City Subway.

The line still exists in parts. The section between the BMT West End Line's Ninth Avenue station and its interchange yard at Second Avenue and 39th Street is still open. The section under the Culver El has been paved over. Today, it runs only from the 36th–38th Street Yard in the east to the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in the west.


  • Private operation 1
  • City operation 2
  • Current status 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Private operation

Another view of SBK merge with BMT West End Line

The South Brooklyn Railroad and Terminal Company was incorporated September 30, 1887 to build from the end of the Brooklyn, Bath and West End Railroad (West End Line) at 38th Street and 9th Avenue northwest to the foot of 38th Street, and was leased to the BB&WE, allowing BB&WE trains to run to the 39th Street Ferry.[1] The company was not a true "railroad", as it did not own any rail vehicles, but owned a few city blocks that it wanted to lease to another operating railroad that wished to connect to the Ferry Terminal at 39th Street.[2] The Prospect Park and South Brooklyn Railroad connected the Prospect Park and Coney Island Railroad (Culver Line) to the South Brooklyn Railroad in 1890. The Prospect Park and Coney Island Prospect Park and Coney Island Railroad was bought by the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) in 1893.[2]

In 1892, the South Brooklyn Railway & Terminal Company purchased the land and extend the route to the new Ferry Terminal, and a terminal station and freighthouse was built at Third Avenue.[2] In 1897, the LIRR leased the South Brooklyn Railway & Terminal Company using steam powered locomotives. As these locomotives could not be used for freight operations, the line was electrified in 1899; however, the LIRR occasionally ran steam-powered special trains to the Brooklyn Jockey Club Racetrack at

  • Cross Harbor
  • Brooklyn’s waterfront railroads at Forgotten NY
  • Arrt's Arrchives: South Brooklyn Railway

External links

  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r
  3. ^ a b c
  4. ^ PRR Chronology, 1940 PDF (35.3 KiB), August 2004 Edition
  5. ^ PRR Chronology, 1953 PDF (48.7 KiB), December 2004 Edition
  6. ^ Cross Harbor
  7. ^


As of May 2012, the interchange with New York New Jersey Rail, LLC at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal Second Avenue Yard has been refurbished. A new ramp was installed at the 38th Street Yard at Fourth Avenue to allow receipt of new R156 locomotives and other subway rolling stock that are delivered on flat cars.[7]

The South Brooklyn Railway has two locomotives, N1 and N2, a pair of GE 47T Diesels. They can also be used on the subway when not needed for the SBK.[2]

The South Brooklyn Railway provides one of only two track connections between the New York City Subway and the rest of the American rail network. During the 1988 and 1999 reconstruction of the subway tracks on the Williamsburg Bridge, this connection allowed trains from the , L and M services, which were isolated during that period, to travel to Coney Island Yard for major work. At the other mainline rail connection at the Linden Shops, subway trains traveled via the Bay Ridge Branch of the Long Island Rail Road, to the Brooklyn Army Terminal. From there, the at-grade New York Cross Harbor Railroad brought the cars up to the interchange yard at Second Avenue, where the South Brooklyn Railway took them to Coney Island Yard via the BMT West End Line.[3][6]

The primary function of the South Brooklyn Railway is the occasional delivery of new rolling stock for the NYC subway, such as this R156 work locomotive.

Current status

The switches at Kensington Junction were locked so that the branch was completely separated up to the Ninth Avenue & 20th Street Depot, which was now redundant because passenger streetcar operation had ended. At the same time, freight usage of the South Brooklyn Railway declined because of the increasing use of semi-trailer trucks. The McDonald Avenue trackage was disused by 1978 and paved over by 1991.[2] After the closure of the McDonald Avenue tracks in 1978, the South Brooklyn Railway's freight operations were moved from the Second Avenue yard to the 36th–38th Street Yard, where it still operates.[3] In 1994, the last non-NYCTA customer on the line closed; the South Brooklyn Railway was now used almost exclusively for subway connections to the LIRR Bay Ridge Branch via the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal and Bush Terminal.[2]

Operations were transferred to the New York City Transit Authority on June 15, 1953.[5] On October 31, 1958, passenger service on McDonald Avenue was discontinued, and the South Brooklyn Railway started using the surface trackage solely for freight movements.[2] In 1960, two more diesel electric locomotives were bought. On December 27, 1961, the line was de-electrified when the overhead trolley wire was de-energized, due to the high cost of refurbishing the wire. Electric locomotives #4, 5, 6, and 7, which had third rail conduction shoes, were given to the NYCTA for subway and elevated operation.[2]

The South Brooklyn Railway, along with the other non-rapid transit properties of the BMT, was transferred to the New York City Board of Transportation on June 1, 1940.[4] That year, freight traffic went up significantly due to the start of World War II. The South Brooklyn Railway also got some trucks to deliver incoming freight directly to customers. In 1946, after the war, South Brooklyn Railway purchased two Whitcomb ex-U.S. Army diesel locomotives.[2]

Second Avenue interchange yard

City operation

The location of the South Brooklyn Railway helped in the construction of new BRT subway and elevated lines in Brooklyn, as materials could be brought in using the South Brooklyn Railway. A temporary connection at 38th Street and Fourth Avenue allowed South Brooklyn Railway equipment to enter the Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT), which still operated the South Brooklyn Railway.[2]

[2] On February 28, 1907, the South Brooklyn Railway and the Brooklyn Heights Railroad were split from each other, but both were still owned by the BRT. The South Brooklyn Railway would be separate subsidiary company that carried both passengers and freight, to avoid the BRT from being operated under

At its greatest extent, the line ran along Second Avenue, then merged with the BMT West End Line from Fourth Avenue to the Ninth Avenue station. Then, it ran at street level under the BMT Culver Line to the Coney Island Yard, where the BMT Culver Line split and the South Brooklyn Railway continued down McDonald Avenue to Avenue X.[3]

[2], as well as lumber, cement, sand, stone, ashes, pipe, marble for headstones, and granite for curbstones.United States Postal Service, which provided freight service with three locomotives, with a fourth to be delivered in 1907. It carried mail for the Brooklyn Heights Railroad After the cessation of LIRR operations, the BRT started passenger service and transferred freight service to a subsidiary, [2] (BRT) took over ownership, but the LIRR still ran the trains until 1903 or 1905.Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company The [2]

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