Open main menu

R10 (New York City Subway car)

The R10 was the first series of post-war New York City Subway cars. They were built by the American Car and Foundry Company from 1948 to 1949 for the IND/BMT B Division.

R10 3184.jpg
R10 car 3184 at Sheepshead Bay on the Train of Many Metals on June 17, 2018.
MTA NYC R7A 1575 interior.JPG
Interior of R7A car 1575 that was used as the prototype for the R10
In service1948-1989
ManufacturerAmerican Car & Foundry
Entered service1948
Scrapped1983–1984, 1988–1995
Number built400
Number preserved2
Number scrapped398
FormationSingle units
Fleet numbers1948–1970: 1803–1852 and 3000–3349
1970–1989: 2950–2974, 3000–3049, 3100–3224 (WH); 2975–2999, 3050–3099, 3225–3349 (GE)
Capacity56 (seated)
Operator(s)NYC Board of Transportation
New York City Transit Authority
Car body constructionLAHT Carbon steel
Car length60.3 ft (18.38 m)
Width10 ft (3.05 m)
Height12.2 ft (3.72 m)
Platform height3.76 ft (1.15 m)
Doors8 sets of 50 inch wide side doors per car
Maximum speed55 mph (89 km/h)
Weight81,200 lb (36,832 kg)
Traction systemGeneral Electric cars: GE PCM type 17KG116A switch group, with 17KC76A1 master controller, using GE 1240-A3 motors (100 hp or 75 kW each). All four axles motorized.
Westinghouse cars: WH ABS type UP-631-A switch group, with XM-179 master controller, using Westinghouse 1447-A motors (100 hp (75 kW) each). All four axles motorized.
Power output100 hp (75 kW) per traction motor
Acceleration2.5 mph/s (4.0 km/(h⋅s))
AuxiliariesEdison B4H (32 Volt) battery with 24 cells.
Electric system(s)600 V DC Third rail
Current collection methodTop running Contact shoe
Braking system(s)WABCO SMEE Braking System
Coupling systemWABCO H2C
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge


The R10s were originally numbered 1803–1852 and 3000–3349. Cars 1803-1852 were renumbered 2950–2999 in 1970.

The R10s introduced many innovations. For the first time, the car body was of an all-welded low-alloy high tensile (LAHT) steel construction. This gave the body great strength, as the body and underframe were welded together to form a single, durable and rigid car body which had strong structural integrity. The R10s also featured a new type of braking system known as the "SMEE" schedule braking, which introduced dynamic braking. Dynamic braking reduced wear and tear on brake shoes, reducing maintenance costs. Improved propulsion, in the form of four 100 horsepower (75 kW) traction motors design instead of the traditional two 190 hp (140 kW) motors (the setup used in the Arnines) improved acceleration from 1.75 mph per second to the current 2.5 mph/s. They also featured roofline side destination signs, an arrangement that drew criticism. The R10s were also the first subway cars to incorporate roller bearings instead of the standard friction bearings found on all older railway stock, as well as being the last subway cars ordered with air-operated door engines. Additionally, the R10s were the first subway cars to be equipped with air horns, as opposed to air whistles found on all pre-war subway cars. Finally, the cars introduced the General Steel Industries cast steel truck frame design also used on many passenger cars and coaches up until the R68As in 1989. Sealed beam headlights were installed on all cars of this class starting in 1956.

These cars were nicknamed Thunderbirds by their operating personnel and rail fans because of the cars' high speeds.

Although the R10s could operate in mixed consists of later SMEE cars, the R10s for the most part ran in solid consists throughout their careers, although they were briefly mixed with R16s in the late 1950s when fifty R16s cars were assigned to the A, and the R42s assigned to the A line during 1969-1970.

The R10s bore several schemes during their service lives. The cars were delivered in two-tone grey/orange stripes. They were then repainted into an aqua blue/white scheme (with or without blue stripe), and finally repainted into the MTA's silver with blue stripe scheme. A handful of cars also carried a tartar red paint scheme for a short time, and the 110 Westinghouse units that went under the GOH program were painted into a green body with a silver roof and black front hood.



In 1947, following an accident in 1946, R7A car 1575 was rebuilt from its original appearance by ACF and became the prototype for the R10. The car was designed to test new interior and cosmetic features. After it was rebuilt, 1575 re-entered service on June 30, 1947; however, while it cosmetically resembled an R10, mechanically and electrically it was still an R7A and could only operate with other pre-war IND Arnines.[1][2]


The R10s first ran in service on the A service on November 20, 1948. They were initially the mainstay, and were exclusively assigned to this train, where they remained for almost 30 years, and became synonymous with that route for more than 20 years.

Fifty cars #'s 3300-3349 were transferred to the BMT Eastern Division[3] in 1954 to help familiarize crews with SMEE equipment in anticipation of the arrival of the R16 cars. Cars 3300-3319 were eventually returned to the IND in 1956 to supply extra A trains for the newly extended IND Fulton Street Line over the existing BMT's Liberty Avenue elevated line to Lefferts Boulevard, along with the newly opened IND Rockaway Line on former LIRR trackage, leaving cars 3320-3349 remaining on the BMT Eastern Division's #15 Jamaica Line until 1961, when new R27s and R30s were delivered to the BMT Lines, which in turn transferred and returned these cars back to the A.

Then some R10s were finally displaced from the A beginning in 1969 when brand new R42 cars and displaced R40 cars were transferred from Jamaica Yard beginning in early 1978 (which was in turn receiving brand new R46s) were directly assigned to the A (so that the A train could be equipped with some air-conditioned cars). The displaced R10s were then reassigned to the B and rush hours-only CC (now the B and C) to replace aging R1s on that line. During 1978-1979 some were also transferred to Jamaica Yard for use on the GG, and also cars 3050-3099 to East New York Yard for use on the LL, in order to fill a car shortage created by the ongoing R46 truck problems.

In 1975, car 3192 had a new R40A/R42 type front installed; it was a prototype car for a complete rebuilding of the fleet, which would add modern interiors and air-conditioning. The unit was scrapped in 1980 inside Coney Island Yard and the rebuilding program never took place with the other cars because of the higher cost of rebuilding the cars as opposed to purchasing new cars.[4][5]

There was a light overhaul program for 110 of the WH-powered cars between December 1984 and February 1986 in an effort to get the entire fleet in a non-graffiti state. The rehabilitation of the select R10s was done in-house at a budgeted cost of $65,000 per car.


R10 car 3189 at Pitkin Yard

Some R10s were replaced by the R46s in the late 1970s. While the remaining cars may have been considered the second worst operating revenue service car during the 1980s based on MDBF (Mean Distance Between Failures), doing better than only the R46s, many R10s outlasted the newer R11s and R16s, as well as a number of R27s and R30s.

The remaining R10s were replaced by the R68s and R68As. The last train of GE-powered R10s and non-overhauled WH-powered R10s ran on November 10, 1988, ten days short of the 40th anniversary of their debut. The rebuilt WH-powered R10s were withdrawn from March 1989 to September 8, 1989, when the last revenue service train ran on the C. On October 29, 1989, a train of R10s (3018-3203-3182-2974-3143-3045-3145-3216) led one final farewell excursion run on various IND-BMT Division routes, including the then-new IND 63rd Street Line.[6][7]

After retirement, most cars were sent to what is now Sims Metal Management's Newark facility to be scrapped and processed. Most R10s were scrapped by June 1990; the last R10 to be taken off property was 3081, the last GE-powered unit in existence. The car was scrapped sometime in 1993.

Two cars have been preserved:

  • Car 3184 has been preserved by the Railway Preservation Corp. and was previously displayed at the New York Transit Museum. It was repainted into its original two-tone gray and orange striped paint scheme, similar to R7A 1575. The car was restored to operating status in 2017 and has been operating on New York City Transit Museum-sponsored excursions since July 2017, specifically on the Train of Many Metals (TOMM).
  • Car 3189 has been preserved by the New York Transit Museum. The car had an experimental 3-passenger transverse fiberglass interior seating installed in 1969. It was retired from revenue service in 1984, but was later repainted solid blue and used as a Road Car Inspector School Training Car at the TA's Pitkin Yard in Brooklyn. This car is currently undergoing restoration at the 207th Street Yard.


  1. ^ "The Independent Fleet (1932-1939): Car Notes".[unreliable source?]
  2. ^ "Passenger Car No. 1575; Contract R7A (Rebuilt as R-10 Sample)".
  3. ^ "Showing Image 75642".
  4. ^ "Showing Image 2485".
  5. ^ "NYC Oddball Subway Cars: R-27 Car 8217". The JoeKorNer.
  6. ^ "Showing Image 127428".
  7. ^ "Showing Image 42109".

Further readingEdit

  • Sansone, Gene (1997). Evolution of New York City subways: An illustrated history of New York City's transit cars, 1867–1997. New York: New York Transit Museum Press. ISBN 978-0-9637492-8-4.

External linksEdit