The R160 is a class of 1,834 new technology (NTT) New York City Subway cars built by two different companies: Alstom Transportation—which built the first 1,154 cars—and Kawasaki—which built the last 680 cars. The class was built by two manufacturers, so they are designated as "R160A" (Alstom) and "R160B" (Kawasaki). The two car types are nearly identical to each other.
The R160s are designed to operate on the New York City Transit Authority's lettered routes (B Division), intending to replace older subway cars built in the 1960s era and to expand the overall rolling stock fleet for the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway as well as to provide additional service necessitated by increased overall subway ridership. Part of a 3.9 billion contract funded in part by the Federal Transit Administration, the R160 fleet was purchased at an average cost of $1.90 million USD per car. The contract included 1,599 replacement cars (384 in four-car sets and 1,215 in five-car sets) in addition to 60 extension cars (all in five-car sets) as well as 175 growth cars (all in five-car sets too).
R160 cars are configured in either four- or five-car sets. Three hundred and eighty-four R160A cars (#8317-8700) are configured as four-car sets and maintained at the East New York shop facility in Brooklyn for the BMT Eastern Division (the J / Z, L and M). The remaining 770 R160A cars (#8701-9470) and all R160Bs are configured as five-car sets for use on the IND/BMT mainline routes. The five-car R160A sets are maintained at the Jamaica shop facility in Queens, operating on the E and F; the R160Bs are maintained at the Coney Island shop facility in Brooklyn, operating on the N, Q, and W. The R160s have replaced all R38s, R40s, and New York City Subway-operated R44s, as well as the majority of R32s and R42s in the late 2000s.
The R160 cars are equipped with the latest control system, HVAC and public address system to guarantee the utmost safety and passenger comfort. The R160s are very similar to the R143s; however, the two car types can not be interchanged with each other.
One of the major changes and highlights of the new cars is the addition of an electronic "FIND" (Flexible Information and Notice Display) system, which includes an LCD screen displaying the route, route information and advertisements, and a tri-color (red, yellow, green) LED strip map which displays the next ten stations, plus five consecutive "further stops" to riders. There are three of these in every car. The display updates the stations at every stop, also giving the number of stops to each station listed, and replaces a plastic card which had a set route and stations printed on, which was used on the R142, R142A, and R143, each of which has 63 (001 thru 063) amber LED dots type station indicators. This allows for instant route or line changes with the correct information, which includes, but is not limited to, omitting of certain stops.
Both the R160As and R160Bs come with provisions for the future installation for CBTC. However, only 64 R160As (#8317-8380) have been retrofitted with CBTC equipment for operation on the L route alongside trains of CBTC-equipped R143 cars.
Kawasaki and Alstom organized a joint venture called Alskaw Inc. for project management, engineering and equipment purchasing to pursue the contract. The two companies built and delivered the rolling stock through the joint venture. Kawasaki not only manufactured 260 cars for the base contract, but was also the engineering leader for the whole project and provided the trucks for all cars. Alstom assembled 1,154 R160A cars at its manufacturing plant in Hornell, New York, while Kawasaki assembled 680 R160B cars at its plant in Yonkers, New York. Shells for the Alstom-built cars were built in their Lapa plant, in São Paulo, Brazil, and shells for the Kawasaki-built cars were assembled at their Lincoln, Nebraska, plant.
Early on in the order, Alstom encountered significant start-up production problems since being awarded the contract. In July 2005, Alstom missed its contractual deadline to deliver the 10-car test train, which arrived five months late with Alstom requesting three additional months to deliver the test train. In addition, the Transit Authority rejected several car shells made earlier at their plant in Lapa, Brazil, near São Paulo, after discovering welding defects.
The first 5-car set of R160As (8653-8657) was delivered on November 29, 2005, and the next remaining five cars (8658-8662) were delivered on December 6, 2005 to the New York City Transit Authority, forming a complete 10-car train for acceptance testing and evaluation. The R160As entered revenue service on the A on October 17, 2006 for their 30-day acceptance test, after several months of exhaustive non-revenue service tests. The R160A train passed on November 16, 2006, concluding all testing for the R160As.
The first train of R160Bs (8713-8722) was delivered on July 22, 2005. The R160Bs entered revenue service on the N on August 17, 2006 for their 30-day acceptance test, after slightly over a year of successful non-revenue service tests. This train was then transferred to the A on August 20 to continue with its 30-day performance test. The R160B train passed on September 30, 2006, concluding all testing for the R160Bs.