The branch begins at Valley Interlocking, just east of Valley Stream station, and runs northeast to West Hempstead. The line is single-track between Westwood station and Hempstead Gardens and double tracked beyond there to the end of the line in West Hempstead, the south bound or east track being a siding.
LIRR maps and schedules indicate that the West Hempstead Branch service continues west along the Montauk Branch from Valley Interlocking to Jamaica. St. Albans, the one station between Valley Stream and Jamaica, is, however, served by more Montauk Branch (Babylon Branch service) trains than West Hempstead Branch trains. Since Valley Stream only has platforms on the Atlantic Branch, which parallels the Montauk Branch to the south, most West Hempstead Branch trains that serve Valley Stream are shuttles that terminate there.
The branch has had the distinction of being one of the last branches in the LIRR system to modernize. The branch was the last of the electrified LIRR branches to receive high level platforms, which it received in the early 1970's, and the last of the electrified branches in the railroad to be fitted with Automatic Train Control (known as Automatic Speed Control by the LIRR), which it received in October 2009 during the a system overhaul and upgrade at Valley Interlocking. Nevertheless the branch is often one of the most vulnerable lines that has been threatened with abandonment several times throughout the past few years.
The West Hempstead Branch was the indirect successor to the old South Side Railroad’s Southern Hempstead Branch, which ran a similar route north from Valley Stream to Hempstead, before being torn up in the 1880’s. Built in 1893 the West Hempstead Branch originally extended beyond it current terminus all the way through to Hempstead were it connected with the current day Hempstead Branch at the location of Country Life Press. From there the line had several routings it could take. It could loop west and continue down the Hempstead Branch to Jamaica. Through an elaborate wye system trains could also loop east and continue down the Central Branch to Babylon (the split between the Hempstead and Central Branches occur just west of Country Life Press). Trains could also head north on the wye and continue all the way north to Mineola and connect with either the Main Line and Oyster Bay Branches.
The connection to the Oyster Bay Branch was severed in 1928, while the portions of the line between Mineola and Country Life Press and between Country Life Press and West Hempstead were taken out of revenue passenger service in the late 1930’s due to the costly grade elimination improvements imposed upon the LIRR by the Interstate Commerce Commission. Freight trains and non-revenue rerouting trains continued down these portions until the late 1960’s when they were finally torn up. The rights of ways, however, still remain intact and in place. .
to Penn Station
|For continuing service to points west, see City Terminal Zone|
Sutphin Boulevard between Archer Avenue & 94th Avenue, Jamaica
|10.8||Subway: E J Z trains at Sutphin Boulevard – Archer Avenue – JFK Airport|
Linden Boulevard and Montauk Street, Saint Albans
|||13.6||Bus (New York City Bus): Q4|
|Valley Stream 
Franklin Avenue and Sunrise Highway, Valley Stream
|||17.9||Transfer to Far Rockaway and Long Beach Branch trains
Bus (MTA Long Island Bus): N1, N2, N3
|Westwood ||||19.3||Built in 1929, converted into an open covered shelter in 1955.|
Hempstead Avenue and Utterby Road, Malverne
|||20.1||Bus (MTA Long Island Bus): N31, N32|
Woodfield Road and Eagle Avenue, Lakeview
|||21.2||Bus (MTA Long Island Bus): N15|
|Hempstead Gardens 
Hempstead Gardens Drive and Chestnut Street, West Hempstead
|||21.9||Bus (MTA Long Island Bus): N15|
|West Hempstead 
Hempstead Avenue and Hempstead Gardens Drive, West Hempstead
|||22.5||Bus (MTA Long Island Bus): N15, N31, N32|
|The following stations were on the former connection between West Hempstead and Oyster Bay Branch which was abaondoned in 1966|
|Country Life Press
St. James Street South, Garden City
|Currently served by the Hempstead Branch|
Between eastbound and westbound Stewart Avenue, Garden City
|Replaced Hempstead Crossing; 1923, closed May 19, 1926|
North side of westbound Stewart Avenue, Garden City
|opened 1894, closed 1923|
Front Street & Mineola Boulevard, Mineola
|Connected through a wye until 1928. Currently serves Main Line and Oyster Bay Branch trains|