July 2014 Union Strike

A tentative deal between the MTA and LIRR Unions to avert a July Strike has been reached. See this post for more information.

Wednesday, October 16

Interlocking Walkthrough: SK

SK interlocking is the LIRR's "last frontier."  This interlocking has the distinction of being the easternmost interlocking on the whole railroad.  The interlocking, 71 miles away from Long Island City, is the very last interlocking on the Montauk Branch.  East of here, the Montauk Branch enters Manual Block territory (which is different from the ASC territory from Speonk-west).  Here's a bird's eye view of the location.

SK interlocking begins just to the west of the Speonk station platform.  The interlocking then continues over the Norht Phillips Avenue crossing and into Speonk Yard.  SK yard is one of the few yards on the LIRR that is remote-controlled.  Nonetheless, the yard is contains a small handful of tracks that store diesel sets used for Montauk Branch service.

For the most part, the yard is usually pretty full overnight, with two or three smaller sets parked on tracks 4, 5, or 6 that are used to make up trains in the morning.  If there are any longer sets (like the lone Speonk DM) they can be parked on track 1 or 2.

An eastbound Montauk Train gets ready to head to Speonk Yard after being canceled at Speonk due to trackwork.
You can see the newly installed signals in the image.  (Photo credit: YouTube user jkrspecnet)

Speonk is also home to one of the very few wyes on the LIRR.  The wye track isn't all that long, so it's not like a whole train could be turned on the wye, but it can certainly be used to turn a locomotive if need be.

The yard is also fitted out with a handful of small. one-door platforms that crews can use to get on or off the trains after they've been yarded easily.  The center of the wye/yard area also houses a collection of trailers and crew parking spots.  Quite a few crews report to here, as it is also the easternmost crew point on the RR (no crews report to Montauk or Greenport at any point).  Lots of times a couple of the summer Hamptons trains are started out of Speonk Yard with Speonk Crews, but for the most part, rush hour crews begin their runs here in the morning and end them here at night.

About halfway down track 1, the interlocking officially ends, and with it Automatic Speed Control on the Montauk Branch.  As part of the Speonk to Montauk Signalization Project, ATC will eventually be extended all the way to Montauk and new interlockings will be created at Hampton Bays (HB interlocking), Bridgehampton (BH interlockig), and Montauk (MON interlocking). 

On May 6, 2006, new signals went into service and SK interlocking was officially parted into two separate interlockings, SK 1 and SK 2.  SK 1 is the yard and switches leading into the yard, while SK 2 is south of the tracks and east of the station.

The interlocking here is currently remote-controlled from BABYLON tower.

The Speonk Freight Track, which runs south of the Montauk Branch as opposed to all of the other yard tracks, is not officially considered part of Speonk Yard and isn't usually used for train storage. 

There are no official "meets" that happen here, per-se.  One or two westbound trains will originate out of Speonk Yard after an eastbound Montauk Branch train passes, for instance, but there isn't really much use for any sort of passing siding at this location.

This wraps up this week's interlocking walkthrough.  The nearest interlocking to the west of here is JJD interlocking near Mastic-Shirley.  At the current moment, there are no other interlocking east of SK, but eventually HB interlocking will take over that role.  Next week we'll visit STONY interlocking.


  1. Quite elaborate a facility for a station that loads about 30-40 people per day.
    I remember when there was no Speonk yard, just several siding tracks and a wye for storage, like tracks 1 - 3. I think one of those tracks actually veered out an back to get around a telephone pole. Because of FRA"s PTC regs, speed limit to Montauk was recently cut from 65 to 59. If they ever install a signal and ASC system, perhaps they can get it back to 65.

  2. Actually, there are two morning Peak Speonk to Penn DMs: Train 2733 at 5:08 AM, and Train 2737 at 6:21 AM. I take 2733 about once every two to three weeks, and occasionally 2737. There is one PM Peak Penn to Speonk DM Train 2740 at 5:09 PM. I sometimes use that train, but prefer to take the 4:30 Hunterspoint Avenue to Montauk Train 2712.
    Over the years both 2733 and 2737 came out of the north side Speonk Yard (I have YouTube videos of both doing that). As of late, however, I have witnessed Train 2733 coming off the "Freight Track" on the south side (have a YouTube video of that from September 20). Train 2733

    1. And here is Train 2733 with 2 DMs and 8 C3s coming out of the Speonk North Side Yard on Friday May 17, 2013:Train 2733 on May 17

    2. Thanks for that reminder. You would think with me being a Montauk Branch rider myself I'd have my facts straight! The Speonk westbound DM's were always interesting. Up until the last schedule change the first Speonk DM 2733 would skip Jamaica, making it the only scheduled DM to skip Jamaica (that went away with the May schedule change for some reason. Also, the second DM out of Speonk, 2737, mysteriously stops at Kew Gardens, again making it the only scheduled DM that stops at Kew Gardens.

      Excellent videos, by the way!

      ~ Patrick @ The LIRR Today

    3. Thanks very much. Yes, it seems strange that 2733 all of a sudden began stopping at Jamaica. I still like the idea of the train whizzing along the so-called "Babylon Branch" though, rather than using the Central Branch and the Main Line.

      There's another interesting weekday event at Speonk: the midday encounter of Babylon to Speonk Train 2734 arriving at 12:26, followed by Montauk to Jamaica Train 2707 departing at 12:37. Although obviously not a passing situation, 2707 cannot proceed west until 2734 is in the Speonk Yard. Sometimes 2734 is late, so even with 2707 halted east of the station to perform the crew change, on those days it's a close call.

      Train 2734 on April 4

      Train 2707 on April 4


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