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The New York City Subway is a large rapid transit system and has a large fleet of rolling stock.

Total fleetEdit

As of October 2014, the New York City Subway has 6,540 cars on the roster. The system maintains two separate fleets of cars: one for the IRT routes, the other for the BMT/IND routes. All BMT/IND equipment is about 10 feet (3.05 m) wide and either 60 feet 6 inches (18.44 m) or 75 feet 6 inches (23.01 m) long whereas IRT equipment is approximately 8 feet 9 inches (2.67 m) wide and 51 feet (15.54 m) long. The A Division and B Division trains operate only in their own division; operating in the other division is not allowed because the IRT sections have narrower tunnel segments, tighter curves, and tighter platform clearances than the BMT/IND sections. IRT Division trains would have an unacceptably large gap between the platform and train if they were allowed in the BMT/IND Division, and BMT/IND trains would not fit in the IRT tunnels and stations. The safety train stop (trip cock) mechanism between divisions is also incompatible, being located on opposite sides of the track and train in each division. Service and maintenance trains are composed of IRT sized cars, do not carry passengers, and can operate on either division as the safety train stop is built on both sides of the trucks. However, all rolling stock, in either A or B Division, runs on the same 4 foot 8.5 inches (1,435 mm) gauge.

There is also a special fleet of BMT/IND cars, used for operation in the BMT Eastern Division, which is the J/Z, L, and M trains. The BMT Eastern Division has sharper curves and shorter platforms, so these trains can only use eight 60-foot (18.29 m) long cars. R42 married pairs along with R143 and R160A four-car sets are assigned to the BMT Eastern Division. 75-foot (22.86 m) long cars, like the R44s, R46s, R68s, and R68As are not permitted on BMT Eastern Division trackage.

A typical revenue train consists of 8 to 10 cars, although shuttles can be as short as two. Train lengths range from about 150 to 600 feet (46 to 183 m) long. As a general rule, trains on A Division lines inherited from the IRT (designated with numbers, plus the 42nd Street Shuttle) are shorter and narrower than those that operate on B Division lines inherited from BMT/IND (designated with letters).

When the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company entered into agreements to operate some of the new subway lines, they decided to design a new type of car, 10 feet (3.05 m) wide and 67 feet (20.42 m) long. The subject of several patents, the car's larger profile was similar to that of steam railroad coaches, permitting greater passenger capacity, more comfortable seating, and other advantages. The BRT unveiled its design, designated BMT Standard, to the public in 1913 and received such wide acceptance that all future subway lines, whether built for the BRT, the IRT or eventually, the IND, were built to handle the wider cars.

The R44s and R46s are equipped with electronic LCD signs while the front service sign is as a rollsign. In sharp contrast, the R32s and R38s were equipped with rollsigns on the sides, but an LCD display in the front. The MTA has been incorporating newer subway cars into its stock in the past decade. Since 2000, the R142s, R142As, R143s, R160As, and R160Bs have been added into service. All cars built since 1999 are equipped with digital signs on the front, sides, and interior.

Old cars, some from the original companies (IRT and BMT), are preserved at the New York Transit Museum, while others have been sold to private individuals, rail and trolley museums. Between 1984 and 1989, some of the IRT trains were painted red, giving them the name Redbirds. Since then, all of these cars have been replaced by more modern subway trains (R142/R142As) between 2000 and 2004. As of June 2010, older BMT/IND cars (all R38s, R40s, and NYCS-operated R44s as well as the majority of the R32s and R42s) have been retired and replaced with the R160s.

"R"-prefixed ordersEdit

Cars purchased by the City of New York since the inception of the IND and for the other divisions beginning in 1948 are identified by the letter "R" followed by a number; e.g.: R32. This number is the contract number under which the cars were purchased. Cars with nearby contract numbers (e.g.: R1 through R9, or R21 through R36 WF, or R143 through R160B) may be virtually identical, simply being purchased under different contracts.

The New York City Board of Transportation settled on a system of documentation that is still in place under MTA New York City Transit. This included a prefix letter or letters that indicated the Department that the specific documentation, followed by a series of numbers of a length defined by the specific department concerned. For example, the Surface Department used the letter "S", while the Rapid Transit Department used the letter "R". A new R- number is assigned for any vehicle purchase involving a bidding process. Since the 1970s, the system has suffered from "R- inflation" going through only 46 R- numbers in its first 40 years, but over 114 in its subsequent 30. Possible reasons include an increased number of specialized maintenance vehicles that were previously made in house or a lower floor for requiring a formal bidding process in order to reduce waste and abuse.

Disposal at seaEdit

In 2001, the New York City Transit Authority started disposing of retired subway cars by dumping them at sea to create artificial reefs, which are intended to promote marine life. This option was chosen because it was less expensive than removing asbestos from the cars. The asbestos was determined to not be a hazard in the ocean. Further, the artificial reefs would provide environmental and economic benefits, such as providing shelter for marine animals and creating new fishing opportunities. The first reef constructed was Redbird Reef in Delaware. Eventually, multiple states received retired subway cars for reefs. The program was discontinued in 2010, after more than 2,500 cars were reefed because newer cars contained more plastic, which was too expensive to economically remove before reefing.

Current FleetEdit

Contract # Division Year built
and Builder
Car
Length
Car
Width
Fleet numbers
(Total ordered)
CBTC Assigned Services Shop facility
assignment
Notes
R32 B 1964–1965

Budd Company

60 ft or 18.29 m 10 feet (3.05 m) 3350-3949

(600 total, 240 left in revenue service)

No A
  • 207th Street
  • Married pairs; even numbered cars have motor generator and battery, odd numbered cars have air compressor.
  • Made out of stainless steel, as are all cars after it.
  • Most cars have been retired and replaced by the R160 car order.
  • Retirement of remaining cars postponed to facilitate retirement of the R44s.
R42 B 1969–1970

St. Louis Car Company

60 ft or 18.29 m 10 feet (3.05 m) 4550–4949

(400 total, 48 left in revenue service)

No J, Z
  • East New York
  • Married pairs; even numbered cars have motor generator and battery, odd numbered cars have air compressor.
  • Almost all cars have been retired and replaced by the R160 car order.
  • Retirement of remaining cars postponed to facilitate the combination of the M and V routes.
R44 B 1971–1973

St. Louis Car Company

75 ft or 22.86 m 10 feet (3.05 m) 5202–5479 (NYCS), 388-436 (SIR)

(352 total, 64 left in revenue service)

No Staten Island Railway
  • Clifton
  • Cars ending in 1, 4, 5, and 8 have single full-width cabs, and are known as "A" cars.
  • Cars ending in 2, 3, 6, and 7 have no cabs, and are known as "B" cars.
  • All New York City Subway cars retired by June 2010 due to structural integrity issues.
R46 B 1975–1978

Pullman Standard

75 ft or 22.86 m 10 feet (3.05 m) 5482–6258

(752 total)

No A, C, F, R, S
  • Pitkin Avenue
  • Jamaica
  • Cars ending in 1, 4, 5, and 8 have single full-width cabs, and are known as "A" cars.
  • Cars ending in 2, 3, 6, and 7 have no cabs, and are known as "B" cars.
R62 A 1983–1985

Kawasaki Heavy Industries

51.04 ft or 15.56 m 8 feet 9 inches (2.67 m) 1301–1625

(325 total)

No 3, S
  • Livonia Avenue
  • Originally single cars, now 5-car sets.
R62A A 1984–1987

Bombardier Transportation

51.04 ft or 15.56 m 8 feet 9 inches (2.67 m) 1651-2475

(825 total)

No 1, 7, S
  • 240th Street
  • Corona
  • Livonia Avenue
  • Originally single cars, now 5-car sets.
R68 B 1986–1988

Westinghouse Electric Corporation & AMRail

75 ft or 22.86 m 10 feet (3.05 m) 2500–2923

(424 total)

No B, D, S
  • Grand Concourse
  • Coney Island
  • Originally single cars, 2500–2915 are now in 4-car sets.
  • 2916–2923 are singles used for the Franklin Avenue Shuttle.
R68A B 1988–1989

Kawasaki Heavy Industries

75 ft or 22.86 m 10 feet (3.05 m) 5001-5200

(200 total)

No B, G
  • Coney Island
  • Originally single cars, now in 4-car sets.
  • Last 75 foot cars ordered for NYCT.
R142 A 1999–2003

Bombardier Transportation

51.04 ft or 15.56 m 8 feet 9 inches (2.67 m) 6301–7210, 1101–1210

(1,030 total)

No 2, 4, 5
  • 239th Street
  • East 180th Street
  • Jerome Avenue
  • Cars ending in 1, 5, 6 and 0 have single full-width cabs, and are known as "A" cars.
  • Cars ending in 2, 3, 4, 7, 8 and 9 have no cabs, and are known as "B" cars.
  • All cars are sequentially numbered in A-B-B-B-A configuration as 5-car sets.
R142A A 1999–2004

Kawasaki Heavy Industries

51.04 ft or 15.56 m 8 feet 9 inches (2.67 m) 7211-7810

(600 total)

No 4, 6
  • Jerome Avenue
  • Westchester
  • Cars ending in 1, 5, 6 and 0 have single full-width cabs, and are known as "A" cars.
  • Cars ending in 2, 3, 4, 7, 8 and 9 have no cabs, and are known as "B" cars.
  • All cars are sequentially numbered in A-B-B-B-A configuration as 5-car sets.
R143 B 2001–2003

Kawasaki Heavy Industries

60 ft or 18.29 m 10 feet (3.05 m) 8101-8316

(216 total)

Yes L
  • East New York
  • All cars are sequentially numbered in A-B-B-A configuration as 4-car sets.
  • The cars whose numbers, when divided by 4, give a remainder of 0 or 1, are "A" cars. Cars whose numbers give a remainder of 2 or 3 when divided by 4 are "B" cars.
  • "A" cars have single full-width cabs, "B" cars have no cabs.
R160 B 2005–2010

Alstom Transportation (R160A) or Kawasaki Heavy Industries (R160B)

60 ft or 18.29 m 10 feet (3.05 m) (R160A), (R160B)

(1,816 total)

some E, F, J, L, M, N, Q, W, Z
  • Jamaica
  • East New York
  • Coney Island
  • All car sets are sequentially numbered. "A" cars have single full-width cabs, "B" cars have no cabs.
  • East New York sets are in A-B-B-A configuration as 4-car sets.
  • Other sets are in A-B-B-B-A configuration as 5-car sets.
  • 64 cars; CBTC compatible
  • 5-car sets ending in 1, 5, 6. and 0 are "A" cars.
  • Cars ending in 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, and 9 are "B" cars.

Track geometry carEdit

The two-car track geometry car set of the New York City Subway helps to measure the system's track geometry. It measures:

  • Alignment - "Alignment is the projection of the track geometry of each rail or the track center line onto the horizontal plane," (FRA Definition). Also known as the "straightness" of the tracks.
  • Crosslevel - The variation in cant of the track over the length of a predetermined "chord" length (generally 62 feet or 18.90 meters). On straight or tangent track, ideally there should be no variation, while on curves, a cant is generally desired.
  • Curvature - The amount by which the rail deviates from being straight or tangent. The geometry car checks the actual curvature (in Degree of curvature) of a curve versus its design curvature.
  • Rail gauge - The distance between the rails. Over time, rail may become too wide or too narrow. In North America and most of the world, standard gauge is 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm).
  • Rail profile - Looks for rail wear and deviations from standard profile.
  • Warp - The maximum change in crosslevel over a predetermined chord length (generally sixty-two feet).
  • Corrugation of running rail surface
  • Tunnel and station platform clearances
  • Third rail height and gauge
  • Vertical gap between third rail and protective board

The track geometry car typically checks each stretch of track about 6 times a year; the car is manually operated, and there are no plans to automate inspection of the track geometry, which is done manually with the help of high-tech equipment aboard the car.

Future fleetEdit

Contract # Division Builder
Year To Be Built
Total Notes
R179 B Bombardier Transportation

2014–2018

440 cars (20 four-car sets and 72 five-car sets) To replace the remaining R32 and R42 fleets, and to expand the fleet for the subway.
R211 B TBA An amount roughly equivalent in capacity to 1,510 60-foot cars. To replace the entire 752-car fleet of R46s and the remaining 64 R44s, and to expand the fleet for the subway.

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