R68 (New York City Subway car)

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R68 (New York City Subway car)
An R68 train on the NYCS-bull-trans-D.svg at Bay Parkway (BMT West End Line).
R68 Interior.jpeg
Interior of an R68 car.
In service 1986-present
Manufacturer Westinghouse Amrail Company: Westinghouse, ANF Industrie (all cars)
Jeumont Schneider (2500-2724), Alsthom (2725-2924)
Family name SMEE
Replaced Many R10s, remaining R16s, many R27s, and some R30s
Constructed 1986–1988
Entered service June 20, 1986, on the Broadway/Brighton NYCS-bull-trans-D.svg train
Number built 425
Number in service 425 (344 in revenue service during rush hours)
Formation 2500–2915 (416 cars) are linked into 4 car units
2916–2924 (9 cars) remain as single units with OPTO switches added
Fleet numbers 2500–2924
Capacity 70 (seated)
Operator(s) New York City Subway
Depot(s) Concourse Yard, Coney Island Yard[1]
Service(s) assigned NYCS-bull-trans-B.svg – 48 cars
NYCS-bull-trans-D.svg – 232 cars
NYCS-bull-trans-G.svg – 52 cars
NYCS-bull-trans-N.svg – 8 cars (AM rush)
NYCS-bull-trans-S.svg – 4 cars
Car body construction Stainless steel with fiberglass end bonnets
Train length 2 car train: 150 feet (46 m)
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 92,720 lb (42,057 kilograms)
Traction system AdTranz E-Cam Propulsion with Westinghouse 1447J 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) New York Air Braking (NYAB) GSX23 Newtran "SMEE" braking system, NYAB tread brake rigging model TBU190
Safety system(s) emergency brakes
Coupling system Westinghouse H2C
Headlight type halogen light bulbs
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

The R68 is a B Division New York City Subway car order consisting of 425 cars built by the Westinghouse Amrail Company, a joint venture of Westinghouse, ANF Industrie, Jeumont Schneider, and Alsthom. The cars were built in France from 1986 to 1988 and shipped through New York Harbor.


The R68 was the third R-type contract to be built with 75-foot (22.86 m) cars (the previous two being the R44 and R46), which have more room for sitting and standing passengers per car than the 60-foot (18.29 m) cars that were used previously and afterward. The cars, numbered #2500–2924 cost about $1 million each and they replaced many R10s dating from 1948, all remaining 6300-series R16s dating from 1954 to 1955, and some R27s and R30s dating from 1960 to 1962.

Initial Problems[edit]

The R68's manufacturers suffered from significant system integration problems. Poor communication and coordination between the carbody builder (ANF Industrie) and the chassis assembler (Westinghouse) led to operational failures. Due to this, the R68s became known as a "lemon." During the beginning of service, the R68s had problems with malfunctioning doors, and the fleet had a high breakdown rate. Another problem occurred on November 11, 1986 when a train of R68s failed to climb the grade on the Manhattan Bridge. However, extensive work performed by the New York City Transit Authority provided solutions to the fleet's many problems.[2]

The MTA was given a second option order of an additional 200 subway cars from Westinghouse-Amrail, but due to problems from the manufacturer, the MTA awarded it to Kawasaki.[2] This order became the R68A.

Delivery and Revenue Service[edit]

The delivery of the first R68s was made on February 4, 1986, but it failed to pass a sharp curve on the South Brooklyn Railway trackage on 38th Street in Brooklyn, and as a result the curve had to be rebuilt and the radius eased somewhat, and the delivery took place on February 26, 1986. The 30-day acceptance test for the R68s began on the Brighton Line on April 13, 1986. The R68s' first entry to revenue service was on June 20, 1986 on the Brooklyn half of the divided D train with the first fleet consisting of cars #2500-2507.[3] There were two contracts to supply the R68 fleet. The primary order consisted of cars #2500-2724 while the R68-1 option order consisted of cars #2725-2924. The R68, therefore, became the first subway fleet to have an option order.

The R68s are based out of the Concourse Yard in the Bronx and the Coney Island Complex in Brooklyn and assigned to the B, D, G, and Franklin Avenue Shuttle with weekday AM rush hour service on the N. The R68s that operate on the Franklin Avenue Shuttle have some noticeable differences from the main line cars. These cars have permanent side signs instead of rollsigns, remain set up as single units with OPTO switches added (unlike the rest of the R68s, which have been configured into sets of four), and car #2923 has three-piece side windows.


The R68s are scheduled to remain in service until at least 2025[4] and the MTA is proposing mid-life technological upgrades for the fleet including LED destination signs and automated announcements. However, it is unlikely that these improvements will be implemented in the near future.[5]

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]