Jamaica Station (often referred to simply as Jamaica) is the major hub and headquarters of the Long Island Rail Road, and is located in Jamaica, Queens, New York City. It is the largest transit hub on Long Island and is one of the busiest railroad stations in the country with over 200,000 daily passengers. In the New York City area it ranks only behind Pennsylvania Station, Grand Central Terminal, and Secaucus Junction, with over 1,000 trains passing through it every day. It has a direct rail connection to John F. Kennedy International Airport via AirTrain JFK. There are also elevator connections to the Archer Avenue Line of the New York City Subway at Sutphin Boulevard–Archer Avenue directly below. The area just outside is served by the Q24, Q30, Q31, Q43, Q44, Q54, Q56, and N4 bus routes, with more available within a few blocks of the station.
All LIRR services except the Port Washington Branch pass through Jamaica Station. The Main Line westwards leads to Long Island City and Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan, while the Atlantic Branch diverges along Atlantic Avenue to Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. The Montauk Branch also serves one daily train to/from Long Island City. East of Jamaica, these three lines diverge, with some branch services using the Main Line, some using the Atlantic Branch, and some using the Montauk Branch.
Because of its central location on all but one of the services, it is common for commuters to have to "change at Jamaica", meaning switch from one train to another heading for his or her final destination. "Change at Jamaica" is common lingo among LIRR riders.
The main entrance to the station, where tickets may be purchased and where waiting areas are located, is a 100-year old building that also serves as the offices and headquarters of the Long Island Rail Road Company.
When the LIRR acquired the SSRRLI, the depot was moved to the south side of Beaver Street crossing on a stub track. Low platforms for this station stop were located on the north side of Beaver Street crossing. Timetables of the period show station stop as “Jamaica” for Atlantic Branch trains bound for Locust Avenue, Springfield, and Valley Stream, as “Old Southern Road" Station. From 1908-1913, the station stop was listed as “Jamaica(Beaver Street).”
Both stations were discontinued as station stops. "Old" Jamaica station was razed in 1912 with the grade elimination project, while Jamaica-Beaver Street Station was razed with the grade elimination in 1913, and relocation into the current Jamaica Railroad complex.
In 2006, the MTA completed a $387 million renovation project, begun in 2001 and carried out in conjunction with the construction of AirTrain JFK's terminal (the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey contributed $100 million toward the project).
The project had two goals: Passenger-oriented renovations included new platforms and pedestrian bridge, a central elevator bank linking the LIRR to the street and to the Sutphin Blvd subway station, a new mezzanine connecting to AirTrain and a new steel and glass canopy over the elevated tracks. The focal point of the project was the Jamaica Control Center, built by Tishman Construction Corporation and Bechtel. The JCC houses the LIRR offices, railroad control center and MTA Police. Overall, the renovations enlarged the station and have made it more modern and efficient, providing easier access to all eight LIRR tracks. The entire station complex, including AirTrain and the subway, is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The project was named "2006 Project of the Year" by the Long Island branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers.