Return Of The H Train

Subway enthusiasts recall the days of when the MTA publicly referred to the Rockaway Shuttle as the H train. Although it still referred to such within the agency, the public saw it as the S. Well brace yourself, the H is coming back out to the public!

Truth be told it is just a free shuttle service the agency has provided for residents on the Rockaway Peninsula. Here is more via the press release I received:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that residents of the Rockaway Peninsula will be able to use a free rail shuttle service starting at 4 a.m. Tuesday, November 20. The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) will operate the service using subway cars that were trucked to the Rockaways after tracks connecting them to the rest of Queens were damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

The newly-named H train will operate every 15 minutes between the Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue station and the Beach 90-Holland station, making all intermediate stops using a connection known as the Hammels Wye that is not normally used for service. Stations west of Beach 90-Holland suffered extensive damage to signal systems and cannot yet accommodate passenger service.

The H train will run between 4 a.m. and 1 a.m. daily, leaving time for overnight maintenance and inspection of the line. Rockaways customers who take the H to the Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue station can use the free shuttle bus from there to the Howard Beach station on the A train, connecting them to the rest of the MTA New York City Transit subway system.

“The A train tracks from Howard Beach to the Rockaways were almost completely destroyed by the storm, and replacing them is a tremendous undertaking,” Governor Cuomo said. “While that work continues, this new shuttle service will help improve travel for people in the Rockaways who are still recovering from Sandy’s effects.”

MTA New York City Transit created the new H shuttle service by loading 20 R-32 subway cars onto flatbed trucks in Ozone Park, Queens, driving them over the MTA Bridges and Tunnels Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, and placing them back on the rails at the Rockaway Park-Beach 116 station.

Each car is 60 feet long and weighs 80,000 pounds. The transfer operation took place over four nights. Photographs of the transfer operation are available at and raw video suitable for broadcast is available at

“MTA New York City Transit has responded with unprecedented creativity to restore subway service to Rockaway customers,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph J. Lhota. “This partial restoration of service is an important step for the Rockaways, but our work won’t be done until the A train is fully restored.”

Honestly this service is basically a PR branch to help provide some sort of good news for an area that will probably be without regular subway service until sometime in 2013. I can’t blame the agency for providing it even though it will probably not be used often.

Hopefully the agency will be able to restore service as soon as possible. I know they are working extremely hard to do so. A return of regular service is something the area could really use. I will say this though, from those who I have spoken with, the shuttle bus service has not been as bad as expected.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Another interesting feature about the shuttle is that it’s a rare opportunity for passengers to access the Hammels Wye…the single track connecting the line going to Rockaway Park to the line branching to Far Rockaway.

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