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Standard Lo-V (New York City Subway car)

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The Standard Lo-V (an abbreviation for “Low-Voltage car”) was a New York City Subway car type built from 1916 to 1925 by the Pressed Steel Car Company, American Car and Foundry, and Pullman Company for the IRT. It was the third "Lo-V" type car ordered for the IRT, as it arrived after the Flivver Lo-Vs and the first Steinway Lo-Vs.[1]

Standard Lo-V
Interborough Rapid Transit Lo-V 5292.jpg
The four surviving "Low-Voltage" motor cars on layover on the IRT Jerome Avenue Line.
1917 IRT lo v interior.jpg
Interior of a 1917 IRT Lo-V car.
ManufacturerPressed Steel Car Company, American Car and Foundry, Pullman Company
Number built1020 cars (725 motors, 295 trailers)
Number preserved7
Number scrapped1013
Fleet numbers4515-4554 (trailers)
4577-4699 (motors)
4719 (motor)
4772-4810 (motors)
4811-4965 (trailers)
4966-5302 (motors)
5303-5402 (trailers), 5403-5627 (motors)
Capacity196: 44 (seated) 152 (standing)
Operator(s)Interborough Rapid Transit Company
New York City Transit Authority
Car body constructionSteel
Car length51 ft 6 in (15.70 m)
Width8 ft 10 in (2,692 mm)
Height11 ft 10.5 in (3.62 m)
Floor height3 ft 2 18 in (0.97 m)
Maximum speed60 mph (97 km/h)
WeightMotor car:
77,700 lb (35,200 kg)
Trailer car:
56,000 lb (25,000 kg)
Traction systemMotor car: Westinghouse 577,General Electric 260
Trailer car: None
Air Compressor: WABCO 2-C-Y
Prime mover(s)electric motor
Power output200 hp (149 kW) (Wh 577) 195 hp (145 kW) (GE 260) per traction motor
Electric system(s)600 V DC Third rail
Current collection methodTop running Contact shoe
Braking system(s)WABCO Schedule AMUE with UE-5 universal valve, ME-23 brake stand, and simplex clasp brake rigging
Coupling systemWABCO J
Headlight typeincandescent light bulbs
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)


Lo-Vs were arranged in mixed trains consisting of trailer cars and motor cars. While trailer cars were equipped with brakes, but no air compressors or motors, motor cars were equipped with all three. "Lo-V" is short for "Low Voltage" which refers to the cars' form of propulsion control. Earlier Composite and "Hi-V" (High Voltage) equipment that ran on the IRT had utilized a 600 volt DC circuit that ran directly through the motorman's master controller to control the car's propulsion. The 600 volts was also trainlined through the whole train by the use of high voltage jumper cables which had to be run between cars. However, Lo-V equipment used battery voltage (32 volts) in the motor control circuit to move high voltage (600 volt) contacts underneath the car, which would control the car's propulsion. Likewise, it would no longer be necessary to use 600 volt jumpers between the cars. This tremendously improved safety of the equipment for both train crews and shop personnel alike.

Standard Lo-V cars also simplified braking for train crews. On IRT equipment, an electric brake could be utilized to synchronize a braking effort and apply each car's brakes simultaneously and uniformly throughout the train. This was different from operating strictly using air (pneumatically), which was less responsive, but would still stop the train albeit more slowly. Lo-V cars simplified the braking process. On earlier IRT equipment, the braking notches were different for a motorman depending on whether or not he was operating electrically or pneumatically. On Lo-V cars, the notches were identical regardless of whether or not the electric brake was active. The braking system on a Lo-V car is known as AMUE.


The Lo-Vs served much of their time on the Lexington Avenue express services and the Seventh Avenue-East 180th Street-Bronx Park express services, but appeared on virtually all other IRT lines during their careers. In 1960, a few cars were modified for operation on some BMT shuttle services, by adding extensions on their sides at floor level to fill in the wider platform gaps on the BMT; this lasted only for a year.[2][3] After 48 years of service, most of the Lo-V cars were retired in 1963, spending their last days on the Lexington-Jerome line. Some cars, however, remained in service on the 7th Avenue-Lenox express until the spring of 1964. Additionally, a handful of trailer cars survived until as late as 1970, serving the IRT Third Avenue Line.[4]

Some Lo-Vs were converted into work cars following their retirement from revenue service. They were eventually replaced by retired SMEE cars converted into work cars and were eventually all scrapped.[5]


  • Car 4902 (trailer car) has been preserved by the New York Transit Museum and restored.
  • Car 5290 (motor car) has been preserved by Railway Preservation Corp. and restored.
  • Car 5292 (motor car) has been preserved by Railway Preservation Corp. and restored.
  • Car 5443 (motor car) has been preserved by Railway Preservation Corp. and restored.
  • Car 5466 (motor car) has been preserved by the Shore Line Trolley Museum in East Haven, Connecticut and restored. It was modified with trolley poles and is used in various tourist rides around the museum.
  • Car 5483 (motor car) has been preserved by Railway Preservation Corp. and restored.
  • Car 5600 (motor car) has been preserved at the Trolley Museum of New York in Kingston, New York. It is currently undergoing a cosmetic restoration, but is not currently operable.

See alsoEdit

  • Flivver Lo-V, a low voltage propulsion control IRT subway car built in 1915.
  • Steinway Lo-V, a low voltage propulsion control IRT subway car built from 1915 to 1925.
  • World's Fair Lo-V, a low voltage propulsion control IRT subway car built in 1938.


  1. ^ " The Interborough Fleet, 1900-1939 (Composites, Hi-V, Low-V)". Retrieved October 24, 2016.
  2. ^,_The_BMT#Section_D:_Strangers_On_The_BMT
  3. ^
  4. ^,_The_IRT_Subway#Section_F:_Low_Voltage_Cars.2C_A_Milestone
  5. ^,_The_IRT_Subway#Section_F:_Low_Voltage_Cars.2C_A_Milestone
  • Gene Sansone, New York Subways: An Illustrated History of New York City's Transit Cars, ISBN 0-8018-7922-1, pp. 82 – 84, 86 - 94
  • Interborough Fleet Joe Cunningham Xplorer Press

External linksEdit

  Media related to Lo-V (New York City Subway car) at Wikimedia Commons