Page semi-protected

R46 (New York City Subway car)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

R46 W train at 30th Avenue.jpg
An R46 train on the W at 30th Avenue
R-46 R Train Interior.jpg
Interior of an R46 car
In service1975–present
ManufacturerPullman Standard Rail Company
Built atChicago, Illinois
Number built754
Number in service746 (612 in revenue service during rush hours)
Number scrapped2
Formation4 car sets (5482–6207)
Married Pairs (6208–6258) (even)
Fleet numbers5482–6207, 6208–6258 (even)
(originally 500–1227, 1228–1278 (even))
Capacity70 (seated-A car)
76 (seated-B car)
Operator(s)New York City Subway
Depot(s)Coney Island Yard (396 cars)
Pitkin Yard (354 cars)[1]
Service(s) assigned"A" train – 216 cars (27 trains, AM rush)
224 cars (28 trains, PM rush)
"C" train – 72 cars (9 trains, AM rush)
 – 64 cars (8 trains, PM rush
"N" train "W" train – 144 cars (18 trains)
"Q" train – 168 cars (21 trains)
Rockaway Park Shuttle – 12 cars (3 trains)[2]
Car body constructionStainless steel with fiberglass end bonnets
Train length4 car train: 300 feet (91.4 m)
8 car train: 600 feet (183 m)
Car length74 ft 8.5 in (22.77 m) (over anticlimbers)
Width10 ft (3,048 mm) (over threshold)
Height12.08 ft (3,682 mm)
Platform height3.76 ft (1.15 m)
EntrySmall extension on the bottom edge of door.
Doors8 sets of 50-inch (1,270 mm) wide side doors per car
Articulated sections1-2 in the advertisement frames on the inside ends of the car.
Maximum speed55 mph (89 km/h)
Weight91,000 lb (41,277 kg) (A car)
86,670 lb (39,313 kg) (B car)
Traction systemGeneral Electric SCM 17KG192AH1
Traction motorsGE 1257E1
Power output115 hp (85.8 kW) per axle
Acceleration2.5 mph/s (4.0 km/(h⋅s))
Deceleration3.0 mph/s (4.8 km/(h⋅s)) (Full Service)
3.2 mph/s (5.1 km/(h⋅s)) (Emergency)
Electric system(s)600 V DC Third rail
Current collection methodContact shoe
Braking system(s)New York Air Brake "SMEE" Braking System, Tread Brake unit model D7587719
Safety system(s)dead man's switch, tripcock
Headlight typeHalogen light bulb
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

The R46 is a New York City Subway car model that was built by the Pullman Standard Company from 1975 to 1978 for the IND/BMT B Division. They replaced all remaining Arnine cars and GE-powered R16s, and some R10s. The R46 order initially consisted of 754 single cars, each 75 feet (23 m) long, and was the largest single order of passenger cars in United States railroad history at the point of the fleet's completion. The R46 was the second order of 75-foot cars to be ordered for the New York City Subway, after the R44s.

The first R46s ran in passenger service on July 14, 1975. The fleet was initially slated to be delivered between 1973 and 1975, but a strike at Pullman's factory caused the deliveries' completion to be delayed until 1978. In the first few years after its completion, several hundred cracks were found in the fleet's trucks, leading the new R46s to be referred to as "the most troubled cars ever purchased". From 1989 to 1992, Morrison–Knudsen rebuilt 752 of the R46s, the other two having been destroyed in a crash in 1986. After their overhaul, the R46s were renumbered and linked in sets of four, except for 28 cars, which were arranged in sets of two. The R46s are expected to remain in service until the mid-2020s, when they will be replaced by the R211s.


Inside the cab of an R46 car

The R46s are numbered 5482–6207 and 6208–6258 (even numbers only). 5482–6207 were originally numbered 500–1227 (except numbers 941 & 1054, as those two cars were scrapped prior to overhaul), and 6208–6258 were originally numbered 1228–1278 (even numbers only).

The R46 order consisted of 754 single cars, originally planned to be 745,[3] that were numbered from 500 to 1278. Even cars with cabs are A cars; odd cars without cabs are B cars. The cars cost about $285,000 each. Along with the previous R44s, the R46s are 75 feet (22.86 m) long.

The first two trains of R46s were placed in service on the F and N on July 14, 1975, with a brief ceremony at 34th Street–Herald Square, attended by Mayor Abraham Beame and MTA Chairman David Yunich.[4][5] During the 1976 U.S. Bicentennial celebration, cars 680 and 681 had white, red, and blue star bands on their bases and were respectively renumbered 1776 and 1976.[6]

The R46s were constructed with sheet rubber floors, plastic seats, fluorescent lighting, spaces for ceiling advertisements, and the use of air springs instead of heavy metal springs. The change in springs reduced noisy and bumpy rides. The cars were not equipped with straphangers like previous models. Instead, horizontal bars that passengers could hold on to were installed. The cars were built with air-conditioning.[7][8]

The fleet is infamous for having had frequent problems in the first decade of service. An overhaul performed by Morrison–Knudsen from 1989 to 1992 solved many of these problems and improved their reliability.

Currently, the cars maintained at Pitkin Yard run on the A, C, and Rockaway Park Shuttle while those maintained at Coney Island Yard run on the G, N, Q, and W.[9][10]



Poster celebrating the new R46 cars

On April 7, 1972, Pullman Standard bid on the contract for 900 subway cars, and it was the highest bidder. It put out a bid of $273,000 per car, or $246 million for the entire contract. Other bidders included General Electric, Rohr Industries, and Westinghouse Electric Corporation. The cars were to be constructed almost identically to the R44s. Once the order was awarded to Pullman Standard, the cars were constructed at the company's shops on the South Side of Chicago. The subway car order was the largest single order of passenger cars in United States railroad history at the point of the fleet's completion.[11] Once the order was reduced to 754 cars, the entire cost of the order was reduced to $210.5 million. The first cars were expected to be testing in the NYC Subway by October 1973, and all of the cars were expected to be delivered by October 15, 1975.[7] However, because there was a strike at the Pullman Standard on October 1, 1977, along with other problems, the final R46s entered service in December 1978, three years behind schedule.[12]

Manufacturing problems and incidents

In March 1977, there was a crack found in the frame of one of the lightweight trucks built by Rockwell International, which resulted in a motor breaking loose from the truck's 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 than 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.

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, many other flaws were discovered 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.

In 1983, organizations for the blind stated that the gaps in between R44 and R46 cars were dangerous, since the blind could mistake the spaces for doorways.[13]

On April 26, 1986, cars 1054 and 941 were heavily damaged when an E train hit the tunnel wall near Jamaica–179th Street. The accident occurred because the 54-year old motorman, Alick Williams of Saint Albans, had a heart attack; he died at the scene.[14] The two damaged cars were scrapped on June 4, 1987.[15]

General Overhaul Program

Plaque showing overhaul of the R46
The current LCD side destination sign. This replaces the original rollsign-based side destination signs on the cars prior to the cars' overhauls.

From 1989 to 1992, Morrison–Knudsen of Hornell, New York, rebuilt the remaining 752 R46s through the NYCTA's General Overhaul Program (GOH). During the GOH, the fleet received the same LCD destination signs as the R44s, replacing the older rollsigns. The blue stripes on the side of the cars were removed, resulting in the appearance of an entirely unpainted car body (the fiberglass ends remain painted silver to match the stainless sides). Other improvements included the rebuilding of all mechanical systems and making the R46 more compatible with other car types. Also, their trouble-prone WABCO RT-5 or P-Wire braking system was removed, and replaced with a more reliable NYAB Newtran SMEE braking/control system.

After their overhaul, the R46s were renumbered 5482–6258 in the early 1990s. Cars 5482–6205 were linked in sets of four, cars 6208–6258 (even only) were linked up as A-A pairs, and cars 6206–6207 were configured as one A-B married pair.[15] Like the R44s, their original two-note warning tones were replaced with the same ones found on the R62, R62A, R68, and R68A; however, some cars kept their pre-GOH door chimes. Due to the overhaul, the fleet's reliability has vastly improved, and the R46 is no longer considered to be the lemon that it once was.


In 1981, the New York Transit Authority's car replacement program estimated that the R46s would be replaced in 2011.[16] However, the MTA now estimates the cars to remain in service until the mid-2020s, when they will be replaced by the R211s.[17]

Since the late 2000s, the R46s have undergone intermittent rounds of scheduled maintenance as their parts age over time to extend their usefulness until their retirement.

On May 2, 2014, set 5742–5745 was involved in a derailment due to track defects while running on the F.[18] The whole set was pulled from service, but was repaired and returned to service in February 2016.[19]

On June 27, 2017, set 6150–6153 was involved in a derailment north of 125th Street while in service on the A. The whole set was taken out of service.[20][21][22] Cars 6150–6151 suffered body damage as they collided with tunnel columns and were retired; however, 6151 was retained and fitted with strip maps, colored wraps, and had some seats removed to serve as a non-operational mockup for future retrofits, all as a part of the 2017 action plan.[23] Meanwhile, cars 6152–6153 were linked with cars 6206–6207 to create a new four-car set and re-entered service.

On September 20, 2020, set 6062–6065 was involved in a derailment at 14th Street when a man placed track tie plates onto the roadbed, causing the train to derail.[24][25][26] The whole set was taken out of service. Car 6062 suffered body damage as it collided with track-side columns.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Subdivision 'B' Car Assignments: Cars Required April 27, 2020" (PDF). The Bulletin. Electric Railroaders' Association. 63 (6): 14. June 2020. Retrieved June 1, 2020.
  3. ^ Feinman, Mark (November 19, 2002). "The New York Transit Authority in the 1970s". Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  4. ^ "IND LINE IS GETTING A FIFTH NEW TRAIN". The New York Times. February 22, 1976. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 26, 2016 – via New York Times Archive.
  5. ^ "First New Subway Train in Service". The New York Times. July 15, 1975. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 25, 2016 – via The New York Times Archive.
  6. ^ Cunningham, Joseph; DeHart, Leonard O. (1993). A History of the New York City Subway System. J. Schmidt, R. Giglio, and K. Lang.
  7. ^ a b Malcolm, Andrew H. (September 25, 1972). "Work Begins on 752 Subway Cars for New York". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 25, 2016 – via New York Times Archives.
  8. ^ "New Horse, Old Blinders". The New York Times. September 11, 1972. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 26, 2016 – via New York Times Archives.
  9. ^ Meyer, David; Taylor, Alex; Barone, Vincent (February 29, 2020). "MTA saddles Q train riders with old subway cars to prep for new signal system". New York Post. Retrieved March 4, 2020.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Prial, Frank J. (April 8, 1972). "Pullman Bids Lowest on 900 Subway Cars". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 25, 2016 – via New York Times Archive.
  12. ^ Annual Report. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 1978. p. 6.
  13. ^ May, Clifford D. (January 6, 1983). "Subway Cars Held Perilous for the Blind". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  14. ^ "Fatal Subway Accident Is Subject of an Inquiry". The New York Times. April 27, 1986. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 10, 2017.
  15. ^ a b "R46 (Pullman-Standard, 1974-1975)". Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  16. ^ The New York Transit Authority in the 1980s.
  18. ^ Donohue, Pete (December 12, 2014). "F train derailment caused by unrepaired track defects: MTA". NY Daily News. Retrieved July 16, 2017.
  19. ^ "New York City Subway Car Update" (PDF). The Bulletin. Electric Railroaders' Association (April 2016). March 30, 2016. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  20. ^ "NYC subway derailment blamed on 'human error'". Retrieved July 16, 2017.
  21. ^ Santora, Marc; Ferré-sadurní, Luis (June 27, 2017). "Subway Derailment in Manhattan Injures Dozens". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  22. ^ "MTA: Unsecure Rail Stored on Tracks Caused Harlem Subway Derailment". NY1. June 27, 2017. Archived from the original on June 28, 2017. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  23. ^ Rivoli, Dan (October 5, 2017). "MTA to add more space on L line by retrofitting train cars". NY Daily News. Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  24. ^ "NYC Subway Service to Resume After Suspect Derails Train With Debris, Injuring 3". NBC New York. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
  25. ^ Tracy, Thomas; Parascandola, Rocco; Parnell, Wes; Guse, Clayton. "Manhattan subway train derails after laughing saboteur throws metal clamps on tracks: police sources". New York Daily News. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
  26. ^ WABC (September 22, 2020). "Arrest made in subway derailment caused by train striking debris on tracks in Manhattan". ABC7 New York. Retrieved September 22, 2020.

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