R44 (New York City Subway car)

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R44 (New York City Subway car)
SIR R44 SMS Saint George Terminal.JPG
Top: 2 SIR R44s at Saint George Terminal. Notice the repainted bulkheads signifying the SMS process.
SIR R44 SMS Interior Daylight.JPG
Interior of R44 car 431 on the Staten Island Railway.
In service 1971–2010 (NYCT cars)
1973-present (SIR cars)
Manufacturer St. Louis Car Company
Built at St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Replaced Many R1s-R9s, and all 1925 Standard Steel built SIRTOA ME-1 train cars.
Constructed 1971–1973
Refurbishment July 1991 – January 1993
Scrapped 2012-2013 (All NYCT cars except for 5240, and one damaged SI Railway car)
Number built 352
Number in service 63
Number preserved 1
Number scrapped 283 NYCT cars and 1 SIR car (4 NYCT cars stored on property)
Formation 4 car sets
Fleet numbers 5202–5479 (NYC Subway)
388–435, 436–466 (even) (SIRTOA)
(cars originally numbered 100–435, 436–466 (even))
Capacity A car: 72 (seated)
B car: 76 (seated)
Operator New York City Subway
Staten Island Railway
Depot(s) SIRT[1]
Service(s) assigned Staten Island Railway
Car body construction Stainless steel with carbon steel chassis and underbody, with fiberglass end bonnets
Train length 4 car train: 300 feet (91 m)
5 car train: 375 feet (114 m)
Car length 75 ft (22.86 m)
Width 10 ft (3,048 mm)
Height 12.08 ft (3,682 mm)
Platform height 3.76 ft (1.15 m)
Doors 8
Maximum speed Test: 87.75 mph (141.22 km/h)
Service: 55 mph (89 km/h) - 60 mph (97 km/h)
Weight A train car: 88,950 lb (40,347 kg)
B train car: 84,530 lb (38,342 kg)
Traction system NYC Subway: Westinghouse E-CAM XCA448F propulsion with Westinghouse 1447F motors 115 hp (85.8 kW) on all axles
Staten Island Railway: General Electric SCM-CAM 17KG192A1 propulsion with GE 1257E1 motors 115 hp (85.8 kW) on all axles
Prime mover(s) electric motor
Electric system(s) 600 V DC Third rail
Current collection method Contact shoe
Braking system(s) NYC Subway: Westcode (dynamic and friction), WABCO tread brake unit
Staten Island Railway: WABCO RT5C (dynamic and friction), WABCO tread brake unit
Headlight type halogen light bulbs
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

The R44 is a New York City Transit car model built from 1971 to 1973 by the St. Louis Car Company in St. Louis, Missouri, USA and currently operates only on the Staten Island Railway. Many of these cars used to operate on the B Division of the New York City Subway. The R44 was the first 75-foot (22.86 m) car for the New York City Subway, and are sometimes nicknamed "the hippos" due to their 75-foot length along with the R46, R68, and R68A. A total of 352 R44 cars were ordered: 300 cars for the New York City Subway (100–399) and 52 cars for the Staten Island Railway (400–435 and even-numbered 436–466). Cars 388–399 were originally subway cars, but were sent to the Staten Island Railway.

After many months of exhaustive testing on the A, D, E, and F trains (one week on each service commencing December 16, 1971), as well as on the LIRR's trackage since this was a new breed of transit cars electrically and mechanically, the first R44s saw passenger service on April 19, 1972. The Staten Island R44s were delivered between January and April 1973.[2] With the completion of the R44 order, the St. Louis Car Company (established 1887), shut down operations.

The R44 fleet replaced many R1s - R9s and all 1925 Standard Steel built SIRTOA ME-1 trains.



NYCT R44 car interior.

The first fleet of R44s was placed in service on the New York City Subway, on the F train on April 19, 1972 with a brief introductory ceremony attended by the Mayor of New York City John V. Lindsay, along with MTA Chairman William J. Ronan at the Jamaica – 179th Street station.

The R44s originally came in singles, which needed each other to run, much like the "married pairs" of the R26/27/28/30s. These were reassembled after overhaul into ABBA sets of four. A cars are evenly numbered with operator cabs while B cars have odd numbers and no cabs. The Staten Island Railway R44 cars are also known as R44 SI, ME-2, or MUE-2. They are numbered 388-466, all single units with couplers (no permanent sets), with 436-466 even numbers only. Cars 388-399 are transplanted from the New York City Subway.


The R44 was introduced for the B Division under the idea from New York City Transit that a fleet of eight 75-foot (22.86 m) cars would be more efficient than one of ten 60-foot (18.29 m) cars. Despite the increase in length, the R44s had eight pairs of doors per car (four on each side) like other B Division cars. As a result, eight 75-foot (22.86 m) cars have only 64 (32 per side) pairs whereas ten cars have 80 (40 per side). The reduced number of doors on a train of eight 75-foot cars increases boarding and dwelling time, so recent car orders have returned to ten 60-foot (18.29 m) cars starting with the R143. However, to ensure the subway could accommodate 75-foot (22.86 m) cars, two retired R1 cars (numbered 165 and 192; renumbered XC675 and XC575 respectively) were cut in half, and lengthened to 75 feet (22.86 m) and sent to various places around the subway and the Staten Island Railway.[3] It was determined that the BMT Eastern Division (the J/Z, L and M routes) would be too difficult to convert to allow 75-foot (22.86 m) length cars to operate safely, so this was not done.

The interior design was very different from previous models. The R44s had orange and yellow plastic bucket seats, a feature which would be incorporated into the other 75 footers and the IRT R62/R62As. The seats were protected from the doorways by faux wood and glass panels. The walls were tan with "wallpaper" featuring the seals of New York State and New York City. This design continued onto the subsequent R46 cars.

The R44 was the first car since the BMT Green Hornet to incorporate a two-note warning tone that sounds immediately before the doors begin to close as the car prepares to leave the station.[4] This has become the signature sound of the subway and is used with all subsequent cars.[5]

The R44 also set the world speed record for a car. On January 31, 1972, a consist reached a speed of 87.75 mph (141.22 km/h) on the Long Island Rail Road's main line between Woodside and Jamaica. With two motors per car disabled, the car still reached 77 mph (124 km/h). The cars were capable of attaining even higher speeds, but the length of the test track was insufficient to allow further acceleration.[2] The R44s were built to reach such high speeds because it was anticipated that the cars would run along the Second Avenue Subway.

General Overhaul Program and recent work[edit]

A Brooklyn-bound NYCT R44 train in NYCS-bull-trans-A.svg service entering Broad Channel.

Ten NYCT R44s, such as #109, and #248 and #120, were involved in accidents and fires that led to their premature retirements before the GOH program for the R44s, so they were not rebuilt during the GOH program. They were stored in the system until March 2001, when they were scrapped.[6][7]

During the General Overhaul Program (GOH) from 1991 to 1993, all remaining R44s were rebuilt by NYCTA either at the 207th Street Yard in Manhattan or the Coney Island Complex in Brooklyn (cars 5342-5479 and all SIR cars), or by Morrison-Knudsen off the NYCTA premises (cars 5202-5341). Some improvements included the repainting of the carbon steel blue stripes into silver gray stripes, although NYCT cars 5228 and 5229 and all SIR cars had their carbon steel sections replaced with stainless steel panels. The rollsigns on the sides were also replaced with electronic LCD signs on the NYCT cars, and were completely removed on the SIR cars. The SIR R44s, however, retained their original two-note warning tone unlike the NYCT R44s, which had their warning tones replaced with ones found in the R62/As and R68/As.

Even after the GOH, several NYCT R44s were retired due to various reasons. Car 5248 was taken out of service in 2004 due to severe frame deterioration, and cars 5319 and 5402 were involved in separate fire-related incidents that led to car 5319 being scrapped and car 5402 being stored out of service. Cars 5282-5285 were involved in a derailment that destroyed 5282 entirely, resulting in the rest of the set being placed out of service.[8] 5284 was later rebuilt using parts from 5248 and returned to service, leaving 5248, 5283, 5285, and 5402 all stored out of service until they were scrapped in 2013. SIR car 402 was involved in a derailment accident in 2008 that led to its retirement, and was stored out of service in the 207th Street Yard until 2013, when it was scrapped.[9]

All SIR cars were overhauled between 2007 and 2010 as a part of the SMS (Scheduled Maintenance System) program. Several improvements included the repainting of the bulkheads, rebuilt trucks, new dark floors and repainted periwinkle bucket seats, and updated logos (unlike the NYCT R44s, their original blue "M" MTA decals were not replaced in the mid-1990s).[2]

Retirement, scrapping, replacements, and preservation[edit]

NYCT R44 5240 at the NY Transit Museum.

The MTA was planning to replace all the R44s with R179s.[10] However, in light of structural integrity issues found on the NYCT R44s (due to much higher levels of wear and tear, along with heavier level of mileage, and vandalism than the SIR's R44s), surveys were conducted which resulted in the decision to retire them with the rest of the R160s in place of the remaining R32s and R42s that were retiring at the time. Retirement started in January 2010 after eight cars failed structural surveys, and the last train (cars 5378-5381 and 5426-5429) made its final trip on September 18, 2010 on the A and C trains. After retirement, all cars (excluding 5282 and 5319, which were previousy scrapped) were mothballed, and placed into storage in the 207th Street, Pitkin, Concourse and Coney Island yards.[11] Starting in May 2012, however, all the remaining NYCT R44s were scrapped at Sims Metal Management except for car 5240 until summer 2013.[12][13]

By May 2013, the R44 scrapping was completed.[14] Car 5240 (original car number 172) has been preserved by the New York Transit Museum.

The R179 fleet for the Staten Island Railway's R44 fleet had also been dropped. Thus, the SIR will operate the remaining R44s until at least 2021, as there is a possibility that it will receive some new R211s being delivered.[15]

Differences between the R44s and R46s[edit]

The R44s are almost identical to the R46s. However, there are some small differences between the two car models:

  • The New York City Subway R44s featured Westinghouse propulsion systems while the Staten Island Railway R44s, (including the 12 cars (#388 – 399) that were originally subway cars that were sent down), and the R46s feature General Electric propulsion systems.
  • The R44 has a glass panel in the upper frame of each door windscreen (excluding the R44SI, which got rid during SMS), while the R46 does not have any barrier above waist-height.
  • The door for the motorman's cab on the R44 is narrower than on the R46 and pivots open rather than sliding (on the R46, it is almost identical to the storm door at the blind end)
  • The lower band of the R44 exterior is made of low-alloy high-tensile steel, forming a large gray bar, whereas this area is stainless steel like the rest of the car body on the R46.
  • The R44 features WABCO tread brake units while the R46 features New York Air Brake "SMEE" braking system.
  • The R44 door indicator lights adjacent to the doors are smaller than those found on the R46.
  • The armrests on the R44 models adjacent to the transverse seats features more abrupt edges than the armrests on the R46 models, which are comparatively smoother.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ New York Subway Barn Assignments. December 2014
  2. ^ a b c "R-44 (St. Louis, 1971-1973)". www.nycsubway.org. 1995–2012. Retrieved April 5, 2015. 
  3. ^ Car: XC675 (ex-165) Car: XC575 (ex-192)
  4. ^ Davis, Ed, Sr. (June 1985). "Chapter 10, The Space Age on Rails". They Moved the Millions. Livingston Enterprises. Section A: A New Breed; the R44. ISBN 978-9996650697. Retrieved April 8, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Audible Information Design in the New York City Subway System: A Case Study" (PDF). Retrieved January 30, 2015. 
  6. ^ spicker613 (March 19, 2001). Original Kodachrome Slide NYC Subway R-44 #120/109 207 Yard Scrap March 19, 2001. Flickr (Photograph). Retrieved April 8, 2015. 
  7. ^ spicker613 (March 19, 2001). Original Kodachrome Slide NYC Subway R-44 #248, R-62 1439 Barge March 19, 2001. Flickr (Photograph). Retrieved April 8, 2015. 
  8. ^ Barron, James (July 5, 1997). "Investigators Seek Clues to Explain Subway Train Derailment". The New York Times. Retrieved April 8, 2015. 
  9. ^ Castillo, Wilfredo (February 1, 2012). R-44 at 207th Street Yard. www.nycsubway.org (Photograph). Retrieved April 8, 2015. 
  10. ^ "MTA Capital Program 2008–2013" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. February 2008. p. 28. Retrieved April 8, 2015. 
  11. ^ Dooley, John (August 26, 2011). R-44 Car 5286 Pending Scrap. www.nycsubway.org (Photograph). Retrieved April 8, 2015. 
  12. ^ Noel, Nicholas (January 28, 2013). R-44 Car 5332 on Tractor Trailer. www.nycsubway.org (Photograph). Retrieved April 8, 2015. 
  13. ^ Logan, Trevor (August 6, 2012). Some Mo' Death to R-44 Shots... The NYC Transit Forums (Photograph). Retrieved April 8, 2015. 
  14. ^ "R-44 (St. Louis, 1971-1973): Detailed Roster (Renumbering/Disposition)". www.nycsubway.org. 1995–2012. Retrieved April 8, 2015. 
  15. ^ MTA CAPITAL PROGRAM MILESTONES - March 31, 2011[dead link]

Further reading[edit]

  • Sansone, Gene. Evolution of New York City subways: An illustrated history of New York City's transit cars, 1867-1997. New York Transit Museum Press, New York, 1997 ISBN 978-0-9637492-8-4

External links[edit]