R30 (New York City Subway car)

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MTA NYC R30 8506.JPG
R30 car 8506 on display at the New York Transit Museum.
MTA NYC Subway R30 8506 interior.JPG
Interior view of R30 car 8506.
Manufacturer St. Louis Car Company
Replaced BMT Standard, and BMT ex-Staten Island ME-1 units, BMT Bluebirds, and BMT Multi's, and many older BMT elevated equipment
Constructed 1961–1962
Entered service 1961
Refurbishment 1985-1988
Scrapped 1991-1993, 2013
Number built 320
Number in service (2 in work service)
Number preserved 2 (2 stored out of service)
Number scrapped 314
Formation Married Pairs
Fleet numbers 8250-8351, 8412-8567 (R30)
8352-8411 (R30A)
Capacity 56 (seated)
Operator(s) New York City Subway
Car body construction LAHT Carbon steel
Car length 60 ft (18.29 m)
Width 10 ft (3.05 m)
Height 12.08 ft (3.68 m)
Platform height 3.76 ft (1.15 m)
Doors 8
Maximum speed 55 mph (89 km/h)
Weight 80,600 lb (36,560 kg)
Traction system General Electric (GE) 1257
Transmission Westinghouse XCA248 and General Electric MCM 17KG192A and SCM propulsion system
Auxiliaries WH 1447 JR; GE 1257F1
Electric system(s) 600 V DC Third rail
Current collection method Contact shoe
Braking system(s) WABCO ME42B SMEE
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

The R30 was a New York City Subway car built by St. Louis Car Company for the New York City Transit Authority in 1961 and 1962. The cars were a "follow-up" or supplemental stock for the B Division's R27s.


The R30s were coupled together as pairs.[1] These cars, along with their identical R27 sister cars, replaced the oldest BMT Standards (including all 50 of the trailer cars), the ME-1s transferred from the SIRT, the MS Multi-section cars, and the IRT Lo-Vs that were modified to be used on B-division shuttles.

There were three versions of the R30. The two R30 types were Westinghouse XCA248-powered equipped cars (8412–8569) and General Electric MCM-powered cars (8250-8351). Cars 8352–8411 were R30As and were equipped with GE SCM controllers. The R30As were the first New York City Subway cars to be equipped with this system.


Build plate of the R30 car on display at the New York Transit Museum.

The R30s were primarily BMT Eastern Division cars, although they would appear in the northern and southern divisions from time to time.

Like their R27 sister units, the R30s wore several paint schemes over the course of their career. The cars were delivered in a dark olive green paint scheme, and many were repainted bright red in the late 1960s before receiving the MTA corporate silver and blue scheme in 1970.

The rebuilt R30s were finished in a fox red color and were called the BMT Redbirds. The unrebuilt R30s, which were Westinghouse cars numbered 8412-8569, were also painted red in the mid-1980s.


From 1985 until 1989, all GE-powered R30s and R30As were rebuilt and painted in the fox red paint scheme, similar to the 27 R27s and other Redbird trains in the subway system, as part of the Clean Car Program.


The unrebuilt R30s were replaced by the R68As and the rebuilt R30s, which were transferred from the BMT Eastern Division. The last unrebuilt train ran on December 14, 1990.

The overhauled R30s and the R30As were planned to run for many years to come, but were prematurely phased out as the Transit Authority deemed them too difficult to upgrade with air-conditioning (which would have been costly and would have added too much weight to the cars). Additionally, at the time, ridership was declining on the subway, which created a surplus of subway cars. The last of the rebuilt R30s were retired from passenger service on June 25, 1993 on the C train. The Electric Railroaders Association then sponsored a Farewell to the R30 Fan Trip.

After retirement, the R30s and R30As were scrapped. The new parts used for the rebuilding of the cars (including cam control groups and braking systems) were salvaged and re-installed on GE-powered R36WFs 9558-9769 between 1992-1993 to improve their reliability.

Some R30 cars were saved for various purposes throughout the New York City Subway system, including:

  • 8429 and 8558 - converted to Rail Adhesion Cars, based at Coney Island Yard and Pitkin Yard, respectively.
  • 8506 - preserved at the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn, New York in the R30's original dark olive paint scheme.
  • 8481 and 8522 - retained as the New York Transit Museum's "supply" cars in the 207th Street Yard in Manhattan. Both cars are in the Redbird paint scheme.
  • R30A 8394 - placed in an Asics store in Times Square in late October 2014. The car was previously used for filming scenes in the Mohave Desert. Its future is uncertain, as the store was closed in mid-October 2015.[2]

Other R30s that had been retained before November 2013 included:

  • 8265 and 8336 - used as school cars in Concourse Yard until 2009. They were replaced by R40A cars 4442-4443 (since scrapped), and reefed on April 17, 2010.
  • 8289-8290 - used as police training cars in Coney Island Yard until January 2008, when they were reefed.
  • 8337 - used as a training car at the Transit Tech High School until 2009, when it was replaced by R42 cars 4736-4737 and reefed later that year.
  • 8392 and 8401 - used as fire training cars in Coney Island Yard until July 2004. They were replaced by R110B cars 3004 and 3006, and reefed in July 2007.
  • 8424-8425 - used as school cars in Coney Island Yard until October 21, 2013, when they were trucked to New Jersey to be scrapped at Sims Metal Management
  • 8463 - used as a school car in Pitkin Yard until October 22, 2013, when it was also trucked to New Jersey to be scrapped at Sims Metal Management (along with R27 car 8145).

In popular culture[edit]

  • A train of R30s was featured in the film Ghost running as a J train.
  • In the 1993 film Carlito's Way with Al Pacino, R30s were used during the chase scene near the end of the film. Cars 8275, 8277, 8330, 8332, 8335, 8340, and 8351 were seen among others. These trains displayed the 1 Broadway Local rollsigns.
  • For the 1995 film Money Train, two 3-car sets of GE R30s were retrofitted with extra bright lights in the bottom of the car. They were 8294, 8298, 8394-8395, 8397, and 8408. A single four-car set also appeared in the movie. This four-car set included cars 8463, 8510, 8558, and 8569, which were filmed running on New York City Transit property.[3][4]
  • In the 1995 film Die Hard with a Vengeance, a set of GE R30s was used for the scene when the rear car of a Brooklyn-bound 3 train is derailed at Wall Street station, demolishing many of the station's support columns.
  • In the 1998 movie Godzilla, a partially destroyed R30 car, 8410, was used for an underground scene.
  • All five movie appearances mentioned above depict the R30 cars in the Redbird paint scheme.
  • A simulated version of the R30 interior was featured in the opening credits of Season 2 of the television show Everybody Hates Chris.
  • Various R30s were shown in the 1982 made-for-TV film Dreams Don't Die, depicting the R30s in the MTA Silver/Blue livery and the beige and orange interiors filmed near Fresh Pond Road Station on the M line.
  • A scene in the 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever shows a train of R30As running on the R train.

See also[edit]


Further reading
  • 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]