Subway cars are, in essence, the heart of any underground rapid transit system on rails and numerous types have served the New York network during its more than a century of operation.
The IND’s R-1s, for instance, ushered in a new designation scheme for the unified system. Initiated by the Board of Transportation and maintained by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), it employed an “R” prefix to denote revenue control combined with the number of the contract awarded to the subway car manufacturer. Consecutive numbers indicated successive contracts for identical or virtually identical coaches, which sometimes featured minor modifications, while a letter suffix, such as “A,” usually denoted an upgrade.
As the basic design for the IND’s fleet throughout the 1930s, the R-1 was succeeded by contracts R-4, -6, -7, and -9, which resulted in a 1,703-car production run.
The R-10, also for the IND, represented the first post-war and therefore new-generation type. Built by the American Car and Foundry Company between 1948 and 1949, it offered several advanced features, including all-welded construction; a single, 100-hp traction motor on each of four axles; both pneumatic and dynamic braking; a brake pipe pressure increase from 70 to 110 psi; and generators that served as brakes by reducing motor speed. A more rounded roof modified its external appearance, replacing the former, and sharper, clerestory one, while interior appointments included fluorescent lighting and smaller ceiling fans. Four hundred of these “SMEE”-or straight air motor electric-pneumatic emergency cars-were produced.
The R-12, dimensionally the IRT equivalent of the IND’s R-10s, incorporated the same propulsion, braking, ventilation, and window features in a 51-foot-long and 8.9-foot-wide (as measured at the door sill) car, but introduced double passenger doors, side seats (for 48 passengers), and poles to replace the former grab handles.
Manufactured by the American Car and Foundry Company, it became a welcomed sight when it appeared on the barge transporting it across the East River from the Hoboken Rail Terminal in 1948 because World War II-created material shortages had squeezed the last mile out of the coaches they replaced. The type was inaugurated into service on the IRT Flushing line.
Because of unsatisfactory performance, its predecessor R-11, constructed by the Budd Company in 1949, never preceded beyond the initial order for ten, although it had featured several innovations, including stainless steel bodies, modern interiors, germicidal lamps, public address systems, disc brakes, and electric door motors.
The IRT division’s fleet renewal needs were filled with several successive contracts whose cars were based upon the R-12. The R-15, for example, featured arched roofs, two portable windows in each passenger door, and leatherette longitudinal seats, and later sported maroon paint schemes with beige stripes.
Five years after car #6239 entered service, it was retrofitted with an air conditioning system, the first in the New York subway system to do so. But this apparently not ready for prime time novelty itself succumbed to the heat when it failed after only two weeks of operation.
The intermittent R-16,20 unit: dominoqq pkv conforming to the BMT and IND “B” division, was made by the American Car and Foundry Company between 1954 and 1955. Introducing a new body style, built up of steel sheets, it appeared in Pullman green colors with exposed screws, and sported rectangular-windowed passenger doors, fluorescent lights, recessed Axiflow ceiling fans, and public address systems.
Measuring 60 feet, like the IND cars, it was the heaviest at such a length, weighing 85,000 pounds and was used to inaugurate service to Rockaway Beach in 1956 on abandoned Long Island Railroad tracks.
The R-17, the “A” division counterpart, was manufactured by the St. Louis Car Company and the first of the 400 ordered were inaugurated into service in 1955 on the Pelham Bay-Lexington Avenue route.
Other than a few subtle style variations, the succeeding R-21s and -22s were identical to this standard.
The R-26, of which 210 were produced by the American Car and Foundry Company from 1959 to 1960, was the IRT equivalent of the articulated car, although it was operated in a “married pair” configuration in which neither was autonomous enough to run without the other. Even numbered ones, for instance, featured motor generators and batteries for low voltage power, while the odd numbered ones sported air compressors, main reservoirs, and brake equipment feed valves. Passengers were accommodated in molded fiberglass seats.
Three subsequent contracts, for 770 cars based upon this design, were awarded to the St. Louis Car Company and designated R-29s, -33s, and -36s, the first of which was deployed on the Broadway-Seventh Avenue local line.
The same company was also awarded the R-27, -30, and -30a contracts for 550 “B” division coaches, the first of which was delivered in 1960 and placed in service on the local Fourth Avenue and Brighton line route.