R46 (New York City Subway car)

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R46 (New York City Subway car)
R46 A Far Rockaway 1.JPG
An R46 NYCS A train at Far Rockaway.
R46 C Train Interior.JPG
Interior of an R46 car.
In service 1975-present
Manufacturer Pullman Standard Rail Company
Built at Chicago, Illinois
Replaced All remaining R1-R9s and R16s, and some R10s
Constructed 1975–1978
Refurbishment 1990–1992
Number built 754
Number in service 752 (584 in revenue service during rush hours)
Number scrapped 2
Formation 4 car sets
Fleet numbers 5482–6207, 6208–6258 (even)
(originally 500–1227, 1228–1278 (even))
Capacity 70 (seated-A car)
76 (seated-B car)
Operator New York City Subway
Depot(s) Jamaica Yard, Pitkin Yard
Service(s) assigned NYCS A NYCS F NYCS R Rockaway Park Shuttle
Car body construction Stainless steel with fiberglass end bonnets
Train length 4 car train: 300 feet (91 m)
8 car train: 600 feet (180 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 55 mph (89 km/h)
Weight 91,000 lb (41,277 kg) (A car)
86,670 lb (39,313 kg) (B car)
Traction system General Electric SCM 17KG192AH1 propulsion with GE 1257E1 motors
Power output 115 hp (85.8 kW) per axle
Electric system(s) 600 V DC Third rail
Current collection method Contact shoe
Braking system(s) New York Air Brake "SMEE" Braking System, Tread Brake unit model D7587719
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

The R46 is a model of New York City Subway cars built between 1975 and 1978, by Pullman Standard in Chicago, Illinois for use on the B Division (IND/BMT). They, along with the previous R44s, are 75 feet (22.86 m) long.

Currently, the fleet is maintained at Pitkin Yard and Jamaica Yard, running on the A, F, R, and Rockaway Park Shuttle trains.


The R44s had Westinghouse propulsion. In contrast, the R46 had General Electric propulsion. The R46 order consisted of 754 single cars that were numbered from 500-1278. Even cars with cabs are A cars; odd cars without cabs are B cars. The first two trains of R46s were placed in service on the F and N trains on July 14, 1975, with a brief ceremony at the 34th Street – Herald Square station, attended by Mayor Abraham D. Beame and MTA Chairman David Yunich.


Fleet problems[edit]

The earliest of issues with the R46 dated back to the time they were delivered, as a portion of the 754 car order was far behind schedule because there was a strike at the builder, Pullman Standard. Because of the strike and other problems, the final R46s entered service in December 1978, which was three years behind schedule.

Cracks and leaks[edit]

In March 1977, there was a crack found in the frame of one of the lightweight Rockwell trucks, which resulted in a motor breaking loose from the trucks transom arms, striking an axle. By 1978, cracks were found in 264 R46 trucks. Because of these problems, all R46s had to be checked three times per week for truck cracks. In February 1978, 889 cracks were found in 547 of the trucks. The cracking was such a bad problem, that on June 14, 1979, New York City Mayor Koch ordered R46s with trucks that had 2 or more cracks out of service. Then, more that 1,200 cracks had been found by that day, and they were classified into seven types. There was an account that called the R46s "the most troubled cars ever purchased". By this time, the number of cracks had almost doubled, from 889 cracks found in February 1979 to 1,700 in March 1980. In order to keep track of the R46s structural issues, they were inspected several times a week. In September 1980, two types of cracks that were not seen before were found on the trucks. As a result, the NYCTA tried to minimize usage of the R46 fleet, until their trucks were replaced with new R44 type standard trucks ordered from General Steel and Buckeye Industries.

Brake flaws and other flaws[edit]

In July 1979, Pullman Standard informed the MTA that the hand brake assemblies for the R46 were problematic. In late July 1979, inspections revealed that the steel where the car body was joined to the truck was wearing away, a severe safety issue.

At the end of 1979, there were many other flaws found in the R46 fleet, and the Transit Authority filed another US$80 million charge against Pullman Standard and a number of other subcontractors. This lawsuit invalidated an agreement made with Pullman by executive director John G. DeRoos for US$1.5 million in spare parts to remedy the defects.

1989-1992 overhaul[edit]

An R46 LCD sign on the NYCS F route
Plaque showing restoration of R46

From 1989 to 1992, Morrison-Knudsen of Hornell, New York rebuilt 752 of the R46s through the GOH (General Overhaul) program. The other two were scrapped after an accident at the Jamaica – 179th Street on June 4, 1987. During the GOH the fleet received the same LCD destination signs as the R44s replacing the older rollsigns and the blue stripes on the side of the cars were removed, resulting in the appearance of an entirely unpainted carbody (The fiberglass ends remain painted silver to match the stainless sides). Other improvements included the rebuilding of all mechanical systems, making the R46 more compatible with other car types, and were arranged into linked sets of four (except for the last 28 cars, which are in pairs). After the R46s were rebuilt, they were renumbered 5482-6258 in the early 1990s. As a result of the overhaul, the fleet's reliability has vastly improved and it is no longer considered to be the lemon that it once was.

Recent work[edit]

The R46s are currently undergoing SMS (Scheduled Maintenance System). In 1981, the New York Transit Authority's car replacement program estimated that the R46s would be replaced in 2011.[1] However, the MTA now estimates the cars to remain in service until at least 2019, when they will be replaced by the R211s.[2]

Differences between the R44s and R46s[edit]

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

  • The R44s that operated in the NYC Subways featured Westinghouse Propulsion Systems while all R46, as well as the R44 models that currently operate on Staten Island, features GE Propulsion Systems.
  • The R44 features WABCO tread brake units while the R46 features a 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]


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]