Home View from Underground When it was a train: the H

When it was a train: the H

by Benjamin Kabak


Yesterday, as part of my ongoing series focusing on improperly rolled roll signs, we looked at the now-defunct Grand St. shuttle. Today, we look at another shuttle with an odd designation.

Tucked away in a relatively quiet corner of Queens, past Howard Beach and the JFK Airport stop, are the Rockaways. Made famous by the Ramones, the Rockaways feature some beaches, some great surfing and a long ride back to Manhattan. The strait also features an odd subway configuration. Some A trains hit Broad Channel and then go north to Far Rockaway while other A trains and a shuttle train head south to Rockaway Park.

On the map, that Rockaway Park shuttle is gray, similar to the Franklin St. and 42nd St. shuttles. But out there in the far reaches of Queens, the shuttle is known as the H train. A few weeks ago, Mike Kocurek was waiting at Jay St. when an escaped H train rolled by. He snapped the above picture, and we were reminded of a train that runs but not far in a place most New Yorkers never visit.

On another note, this is my last post on Second Ave. Sagas for about a week and a half. I’m traveling out of the country with limited access to the Internet. I have a great slate of guest columnists lined up. Be sure to stop by and give them your support. I’ll be back at the end of next week.

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Jerrold July 28, 2009 - 4:12 pm

Is it possible that the H sign on that train was up there by mistake?
I seem to remember that it was called the H a long time ago, and before that it was the HH.

According to THIS page:


all shuttles are now S.

Adam July 28, 2009 - 10:28 pm

Back when they had the H train, all the As went to Far Rockaway and the C went to Lefferts. Why didn’t they at least keep that arrangement?

Andrew July 28, 2009 - 11:01 pm

The C never went to Lefferts (at least not on a regular basis).

Until the mid-90’s, the A served Lefferts and Far Rockaway and alternate C’s served Rockaway Park. But the C only ran in Brooklyn on weekdays (and, until 1988, only rush hours); when it didn’t run, the H ran as a shuttle to Rockaway Park (from either Broad Channel or Euclid, I think, depending on the time of the day and day of the week). At nights, all A’s went to Lefferts and the H ran as a “round-robin” shuttle – Euclid to Rockway Park to Far Rockaway to Euclid.

Not too many people took advantage of the through C service, so the Rockaway Park end was cut back to a full-time shuttle, with supplemental rush hour A service as a new perk. And the round-robin shuttle was inconvenient for people going to the busier Far Rockaway end, so the late night pattern was changed to what it is now – through service to Far Rockaway and separate shuttles to the other two branches.

Behind Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte… - City Room Blog - NYTimes.com July 29, 2009 - 11:32 am

[…] glimpse of the elusive H train, as a shuttle that serves the Rockaways was once known. [2nd Avenue […]

Second Ave. Sagas top ten of 2009 :: Second Ave. Sagas | A New York City Subway Blog January 1, 2010 - 4:05 pm

[…] When it was a train: the H Every now and then, some train’s rollsign is set to the wrong line, and New Yorkers wonder […]

In the company of retired and forgotten train lines :: Second Ave. Sagas June 18, 2010 - 12:01 pm

[…] a pesky habit of cropping up on subway roll signs when they shouldn’t. We’ve explored the H train, the Grand St. shuttle, the unlucky 13 train, the brown diamond R train and […]

Willy January 1, 2012 - 11:37 am

Andrew, In last summer, I saw C line was going to leffert blvd and S line had 8 cars in rockaway park and H Line was in Rockaway park too.

Someone October 24, 2012 - 5:15 pm

Before, didn’t the H go all the way to Euclid Avenue?

Alex C November 19, 2012 - 3:37 pm

As a train nerd, I find this awesome.

The H Train lives: Free Rockaway shuttle to debut tomorrow :: Second Ave. Sagas November 19, 2012 - 3:44 pm

[…] the MTA referred to the Rockaway shuttle which operates between Broad Channel and Rockaway Park as the H train. Although the train still carries this designation internally, to the world, that shuttle appears […]

Fabrice June 25, 2015 - 10:50 am

the H train was probably used befor known by the fact that still have the roll sign or could been a emergency train planned by the mta


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