QUEENS — A defunct subway shuttle that once served the Rockaways is rising from the wreckage wrought by Hurricane Sandy, replacing a section of the A and S lines that remain too damaged to reopen, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.
Starting Tuesday, the H train, which last ran in the Rockaways from 1988 to 1992, will run fare-free every 15 minutes between the Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue Station and the Beach 90-Holland Station, making all local stops by using a connection not normally used for service.
Trains will run between 4 a.m. and 1 a.m. every day, leaving time for overnight inspection and repairs. Free shuttle buses will still connect Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue with Howard Beach-JFK Airport.
The creation of the H line marks the first time in MTA history that the agency is introducing temporary train shuttle service, spokesman Kevin Ortiz said. Many of the train cars, however, still had H line labels in roll signs mounted on their side windows.
"The A train tracks from Howard Beach to the Rockaways were almost completely destroyed by the storm, and replacing them is a tremendous undertaking," Cuomo said in a statement. "While that work continues, this new shuttle services will help improve travel for people in the Rockaways who are still recovering from Sandy's effects."
Tracks connecting the Rockaways were too damaged to transport cars for the H train. Instead, 20 R-32 subway cars — each 60 feet long and weighing 80,000 pounds — were carried by flatbed truck from Ozone Park to Rockaway Park-Beach 166 Station.
The H line will operate until the North Channel Bridge at Broad Channel, which connects the Rockaways to the rest of the city's transit system, is repaired — a project expected to take several months.