R40 (New York City Subway car)

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NYC Subway R40A 4444 R40M 4549.jpg
Slant-ended (above) and straight-ended (below) variants
R40 4320.JPG
Interior of an R40 car.
In service 1968–2009
Manufacturer St. Louis Car Company
Built at St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Replaced many of the remaining BMT AB Standards
  • R40: 1967–1968
  • R40A: 1968–1969
Entered service March 23, 1968
Refurbishment 1987–1989
Scrapped 2008–2010, 2013
Number built 400
  • 200 R40s
  • 100 slant end R40As
  • 100 straight end R40As
Number preserved 6 (2 R40s, 4 R40As)
Number scrapped 394
Fleet numbers
  • R40: 4150–4349
    (4250–4349 renumbered from 4350–4449 in 1970)
  • R40A: 4350–4449 (slant-ended)
    4450–4549 (straight-ended)
Capacity 44 (seated)
Operator(s) New York City Subway
Car body construction Stainless steel sides with carbon steel chassis and underframes, fiberglass A-end bonnet
Car length 60 ft 2.5 in (18.35 m)
Width 9 ft 9 in (2.97 m)
Height 12 ft 1.625 in (3.70 m)
Platform height 3 ft 9.125 in (1.15 m)
Doors 8
Maximum speed 55 mph (89 km/h)
Weight 77,695 lb (35,242 kg) (slant)
78,030 lb (35,394 kg)
Traction system General Electric (GE) SCM 17KG192AE2 propulsion system using GE 1257E1 motors (115 hp or 85.76 kW per axle)
Acceleration 2.5mph/s
Deceleration ~3mph
Braking system(s) WABCO "SMEE" Braking System, A.S.F. simplex unit cylinder clasp (tread) brake
Safety system(s) emergency brakes
Headlight type halogen light bulbs
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

The R40 was a class of 200 New York City Subway cars built by St. Louis Car Company in Missouri for the IND/BMT B Division. The R40s were unique for their 10-degree slanted end (designed by the firm Raymond Loewy and Associates), and were nicknamed the R40 Slants or simply Slants. A continuation of the order, the R40A, was a class of 200 more cars built from 1968 to 1969 by the St. Louis Car Company. This order contained two "forms" or body types: a slant-ended version identical to the original R40s (also nicknamed the "R40 Slant" or "Slants"), and a "modified" straight-ended version designed by Sundberg-Ferar (nicknamed the R40M).


The R40s were originally numbered numbered 4150–4249 and 4350–4449. In 1970, cars 4350–4449 were renumbered to 4250–4349. The slant-ended R40As were originally numbered 4450–4549, and the straight-ended R40As were originally numbered 4250–4349; these cars were later renumbered to 4350–4449 and 4450–4549, respectively.[1]

Type Original numbers New numbers
R40 4150-4249 Same
R40A (straight ends) 4250-4349 4450-4549
R40 4350-4449 4250-4349
R40A (slant ends) 4450-4549 4350-4449

The R40s and 100 of the R40As were designed with a 10-degree slanted end, with the intention of beautifying the subway, and thus, making it more attractive to car users. However, the New York City Transit Authority found great dangers, along with other hazards and flaws, with the slanted end design; with the lack of handholds for riders walking between cars after children were playing in these areas, there were concerns of the passenger falling onto the tracks. The doors between cars were closed to prevent accidents as a temporary solution. Within months, the cars were retrofitted at a cost of $215,000 with large grab rails with pantograph gates mounted, which effectively destroyed Loewy's design, but allowed passengers to travel safely between cars.[2] In addition to modifying the R40s and slant-ended R40As, the last 100 R40As were built with the non-sloping design that is used on all other subway cars.[3]

The R40As were delivered new with the same successful Stone Safety 10 ton air conditioning systems/units found on the last ten R38 cars, and became standard equipment on all future new cars purchased from this point onward. As a result of the air conditioning, the standee poles were arranged in an alternating pattern rather than the straight-line pattern seen in the R40s, which lacked air conditioning systems/units until their overhauls.

Due to the cosmetic and mechanical similarities shared by the straight-ended R40As and R42s, the two fleets often ran together, since they were, for all practical purposes, the same car type. In fact, one pair of cars consisted of a R40A car mated to a R42 car. This was the result of an accident on the Williamsburg Bridge in 1995, which involved R40As 4460–4461 and R42s 4664–4665. R42 4664 was written off, while R40A 4461 was repaired and rebuilt into a slant-ended car (and temporarily numbered 4260),[4][5] leaving R40A 4460 and R42 4665 to become paired to each other.


In December 1965, the TA contracted Raymond Loewy and Associates to design a new subway car "dramatically different in exterior and interior." This design was planned to be used for 400 cars. The more attractive design was intended to get people out of their cars to use mass transit.[6] On September 20, 1966, the TA announced plans to order 400 new subway cars with this design. The cars were to have wider doors and windows, easier-to-read signage, and interiors with light colors. Bids were opened to the public on October 1, 1966. The cost was to be split evenly between the Federal Government and the city.[7] In November 1966, St. Louis Car Company was awarded the contract to construct 400 subway cars with the new design. The new cars cost $46,172,041.[8]

The first incomplete pair of R40s (cars 4350–4351) came onto TA property in November 1967 for promoting the Transportation Bond issue on Election Day. On March 23, 1968, the R40 fleet entered service on the F.[citation needed]

In 1977, pantograph gates, salvaged from retired R1 through R9 cars, were modified and then installed on the front ends of the straight-ended R40A and R42 cars, and coiled spring type inter car safety barriers were installed on the blind ends of the married pairs (the straight-ended R40As came factory equipped with the baloney coiled spring type inter car safety barriers on their blind ends, and so did not need such installations).

In 1988–1989, the R40s and R40As were rebuilt by Sumitomo in Elmira Heights, New York. The interior was changed drastically and the MTA paint band was removed on all rebuilt cars. The R40s were retrofitted with air conditioning, and all cars received a new interior design.[9]


The R160 subway car order replaced the R40s and R40As from 2007 to 2009.

The R40s and slant-ended R40As a were retired and reefed first, from late 2007 to June 12, 2009, when the last slant-ended train, consisting of R40A pairs 4414–4415, 4424–4425, 4432–4433, 4398–4399, and R40 pair 4256–4257, made its final trip on the A. The straight-ended R40As were retired starting in January 2009 until August 28, 2009, when the last pair, 4484–4485, ran on the V along with four R42 pairs.[9]

After retirement, most cars were stripped and sunk as artificial reefs in the Atlantic Ocean. The last R40/R40A cars to be removed from property by barge was R40 4272 and straight-ended R40As 4474–4475, which were reefed on April 17, 2010.[10] However, R40 pair 4162-4163 and slant-ended R40A pairs 4392–4393 and 4442–4443 were retained as school cars until 2013. These cars were eventually decommissioned and trucked to Sims Metal Management in Newark, New Jersey from April 2013 to October 1, 2013 for scrapping, as the reefing program had ended in April 2010.[9]

R40s 4280–4281 (originally 4380–4381) are preserved by the New York Transit Museum.[11][12] They were restored to operating status in 2013-2014 and have been operating on New York City Transit Museum-sponsored excursions since August 2014, specifically on the Train of Many Metals (TOMM).[13] Before cars 4280–4281 were preserved, cars 4192–4193 were temporarily displayed at the New York Transit Museum in 2008, but were later stripped and reefed.[14][15]

No slanted R40As were preserved. However, several straight-ended R40As have been preserved, including:

  • R40A 4460 (and its R42 mate 4665), preserved by the Railway Preservation Corporation and stored at Coney Island Yard.
  • R40A 4461 (rebuilt into a slant-ended car), currently at the Randall's Island FDNY Facility, used with R62s 1366 and 1370 as training cars. The car was renumbered to 4260 for some time, before being renumbered back to 4461.[16][17]
  • R40As 4480–4481, preserved by the New York Transit Museum. The cars were stored at the Concourse Yard until 2014, when they were moved to the 207th Street Yard. The pair is in need of restoration.[18]



  1. ^ "www.nycsubway.org: R-40 -- R-40M (St. Louis Car)". www.nycsubway.org. Retrieved May 4, 2017. 
  2. ^ Clines, Francis X. (August 12, 1970). "NEW SUBWAY CARS CALLED PERILOUS". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 25, 2016 – via New York Times Archives. 
  3. ^ Witkin, Richard (November 19, 1968). "A HAZARD IS FOUND ON NEW IND CARS; Authority Says Sloped Ends Leave Gap Between Units A Hazard Found in IND Subway Cars". The New York Times. Retrieved April 27, 2017. 
  4. ^ http://www.nycsubway.org/perl/show?5330
  5. ^ http://www.nycsubway.org/perl/show?31752
  6. ^ "New Design Is Sought For City Subway Car". The New York Times. December 6, 1965. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 27, 2017. 
  7. ^ "ATTRACTIVE CARS PLANNED FOR IND; Prettier Interior Is Stressed Doors Will Be Wider". The New York Times. September 21, 1966. ISSN 0362-4331. 
  8. ^ "Contract Awarded to Build 400 New Subway Cars". The New York Times. November 16, 1966. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 27, 2017. 
  9. ^ a b c "www.nycsubway.org". www.nycsubway.org. 
  10. ^ Chalasani, Radhika (September 17, 2015). "Watery grave for NYC subway cars". CBS News. Retrieved October 16, 2015. 
  11. ^ "www.nycsubway.org". www.nycsubway.org. 
  12. ^ "Showing Image 107062". nycsubway.org. 
  13. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15f1h1waGzo
  14. ^ "Showing Image 79128". nycsubway.org. 
  15. ^ "Coney Island USA Bulletin Boards – Coney Island express train". coneyisland.com. 
  16. ^ http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=674173
  17. ^ http://subhysteria.wordpress.com/tag/scout/
  18. ^ [1]

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]

Media related to R40 (New York City Subway car) at Wikimedia Commons