Belmont Park is a seasonal-use Long Island Rail Road station on the grounds of the Belmont Park racetrack in Queens, New York City, New York. The station is open and train service is operated only during the racing seasons of Belmont Park. The station is a terminus of a spur line that lies south of and between the Queens Village and Bellerose stations on the Main Line/Hempstead Branch. In consistency with the names of other lines and branches of the LIRR, the spur line is called the Belmont Park Branch.
Unlike the rest of the property on Belmont Park, the Belmont Park train station is part of a small sliver of Belmont property (including some parking) that is located in Queens County. The racing complex is located in Nassau County.
The station has two low-level island platforms and two high-level island platforms. Trains are accessed by entering wooden stairwells on the platforms. Tracks 1 and 8 are not usable due to the lack of stairwells on them, as the M3, M7, and C3 railcars do not have steps fixed to them.
On racing days, the Long Island Rail Road operates two trains to and from Belmont Park. One train originates and terminates at Pennsylvania Station with a stop at Woodside. Service for Belmont Park operates express to and from Jamaica, where connections are available to City Terminal Zone trains as well as service to other LIRR stations. The average daily ridership for the station was 100. However, budget cuts have eliminated regular service in 2010. Full service (two trains daily) was restored for the spring/summer racing season in 2011 when the NYRA joined in to restore service.
On the day of the Belmont Stakes, a total of 18 trains depart from Pennsylvania Station to Belmont Park between 10 am and 4 pm. Returning trains begin departing Belmont Park at 4 pm and service is increased to departures at a frequency of every 15 minutes between 6:30 pm and 9 pm.
The New York & Atlantic Railway serves the park twice a week, delivering boxcars loaded with feed for the park's horses, usually BNSF cars. The LIRR also stores its own gondolas, hoppers and flatcars used in work train service at the Belmont Park station.
When Belmont Park opened on May 4, 1905, about 19,000 passengers—nearly half of all attendees—took the railroad to the racetrack on opening day. The first electric trains to Belmont Park ran on October 2, 1905, the opening day of the fall meet. The original station was located south of Hempstead Turnpike; the present terminal north of Hempstead Turnpike was opened in 1957.
When the spring 2009 meet began on April 29, 2009, the MTA halted daily service to Belmont Park station due to insufficient funding in the MTA's budget. The New York Racing Association provided shuttle bus service from the Queens Village station to Belmont Park; the N6, Q2 and Q110 also offered alternate service. On May 28, 2009, Belmont Park service resumed per the MTA board's approval as the New York State legislature passed a funding plan for the MTA. This was the only service reduction enacted as part of the MTA's 2009 "doomsday" budget.
However, regular service to Belmont Park was suspended again in 2010 due to MTA budget cuts and trains only operated on June 4 and 5 during the weekend of the Belmont Stakes. On other racing days, the New York Racing Association provided shuttle bus service between the racetrack and the Queens Village station. On April 26, 2011 the NYRA announced that it would subsidize the cost of providing LIRR service to the racetrack for the entire spring/summer meet.
In 2014, the Belmont Park line became the subject of controversy when the LIRR found itself struggling to transport the larger-than-expected number of visitors to the Belmont Stakes. Due to this overcrowding the NYRA funded a fast-tracked improvement program to partially upgrade the station in time for the 2015 Belmont Stakes. Two of the four low-level platforms—which were the only ones in the LIRR system since the 1990s, when all other LIRR stations had full-height platforms installed—were replaced with newly built high-level platforms in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The other two platforms still have fixed steps attached to them, as all four platforms used to have. The renovated station opened on June 4, 2015, before the Belmont Stakes; as part of the new station changes, the LIRR was also planning to use the tracks from the Hempstead Branch to speed up service leaving the station.