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R11/R34 (New York City Subway car)

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The R11 was a prototype class of experimental New York City Subway cars built by the Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Company in 1949 for the IND/BMT B Division.

BMT 100 Nostalgia Ride (19333779811).jpg
R11/R34 car 8013 on the Train of Many Metals
MTA NYC R11 (R34) 8013 interior.JPG
Interior view of R11/R34 car 8013
In service1949-1977
ManufacturerBudd Company
Built atPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
Entered service1949
Number built10
Number preserved1
Number scrapped9
FormationSingle unit cars
Fleet numbers8010-8019
Capacity56 (seated)
Operator(s)New York City Subway
Car body constructionStainless steel
Car lengthover coupler faces:
60 ft 3 in (18.36 m)
Width10 ft (3.05 m)
Height12 ft 2.125 in (3.71 m)
Floor height2 ft 10.125 in (0.87 m)
Platform height3 ft 10 in (1.17 m)
Doors8 sets of 50 inch wide side doors per car
Maximum speed55 mph (89 km/h)
WeightBefore overhaul: 81,476 lb (36,957 kg)
After overhaul: 82,500 lb (37,421 kg)
Traction systemWestinghouse type ABS switch group (model UP631B) with Westinghouse XM179 master controller, using 4 General Electric 1240B motors (100 hp or 75 kW each). 4 motors per car (2 per truck - all axles motorized).
Power output100 hp (75 kW) per traction motor
Acceleration2.5 mph/s (4.0 km/(h⋅s))
AuxiliariesBefore overhaul: Edison B4H (32 Volt) battery with 24 cells. Battery charged primarily by Westinghouse XF23A motor alternator
After overhaul: Edison B4H (32 Volt) battery with 24 cells. Battery charged primarily by YX304E motor generator
Electric system(s)600 V DC Third rail
Current collection methodTop running Contact shoe
Braking system(s)Before overhaul: WABCO schedule SMEE with ME-42 brake stand and drum brakes. Air provided by WABCO 3-Y-C compressor
After overhaul: WABCO schedule SMEE with ME-42 brake stand and disk brake rigging. Air provided by WABCO 3-Y-C compressor
Coupling systemWABCO H2C
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)



The R11s were numbered 8010-8019. From 1964 to 1965, the R11s were overhauled under contract R34. Therefore, it is also acceptable to refer to the cars as R34s, provided one is referring to them in their post-overhaul state.

Because each car cost more than $100,000, the R11s were frequently referred to as the Million Dollar Train.

The R11 was the first stainless steel R-type car ever built (the Budd BMT Zephyr holds the title of being the first stainless steel subway car in the city). Fifteen years after the building of the R11s, the Budd Company built the first bulk order of stainless steel cars in New York City Subway history, the R32.

The ornamental design of the car body featured standee windows separated by a heavy brace from the lower windows. This was due to the influence of noted industrial designer Otto Kuhler (US patent Des.153,367), and featured as part of a bid by the American Car and Foundry Company in 1947. The cars also implemented new technology in several areas. "Precipitron" lamps were included, designed to combat airborne bacteria. Forced air ventilation was introduced as ceiling vents circulated fresh air in from outside each car, while removing stale air. Electric door motors were used for the first time, replacing the standard air-powered door motors which had served on much of the older equipment. However, these cars were also built with outside door operating apparatus or controls, along with an exterior mounted Public Address microphone system. Lastly, drum brakes were installed instead of conventional tread brakes.



Otto Kuhler's patent of subway car filed 1947 (copied by R11)

On June 19, 1947, the city announced the details of the $1,158,000 R11 subway car order. The equipment in the subway car was installed by Westinghouse Electric.[1]

The full size of the R11 contract was 400 new subway cars, intended to provide service on the planned Second Avenue Subway. The subway, which was then slated to open in the 1950s, had been repeatedly delayed throughout its history, and the 10 cars ordered were to serve as a newest technology prototype test train available at the time. However, the remainder of the cars were never built due to the halt of construction on Second Avenue shortly thereafter.[2] The subway itself opened in 2017, seventy years after the R11 was first announced.[3]

Modifications and overhaulEdit

The R11s originally used storm doors that were similar to those used in later SMEE cars, but by the early 1950s, those storm doors were modified to feature circular windows similar to those on the R15, R16, and R17 cars.[1]

The ten R11s were rebuilt in 1965 at the Transit Authority's own Coney Island Complex under contract R34. During the rebuild, the drum brakes were replaced with disk brakes, new fans were installed, and the middle stanchions were removed to improve passenger flow. The rebuild also included modifications that allowed the cars to operate in consists with other SMEE (contracts R10 through R42) cars.


Despite the rebuild, maintenance for the cars proved time consuming and difficult by the 1970s, as special skills and components were needed to keep the cars in working order. Because there were only ten R11s, the cars were retired from service in 1977 following a yard accident that wrecked car 8016. By 1980, all cars, except 8013, were scrapped.

Car 8013 has been preserved by the New York Transit Museum. It was also damaged in the yard accident that wrecked car 8016, but it was repaired before being sent to the museum. The car was restored to operating status in 2013-2014 and has been operating on New York City Transit Museum-sponsored excursions since August 2014, specifically on the Train of Many Metals (TOMM). On July 30, 2017, the car made its first-ever run on the Second Avenue Subway with the TOMM consist, making a full round trip on the Q route.

In popular cultureEdit

The interior of the one remaining R11/R34 was featured in the movie Bridge of Spies.

R-11 subway cars are mentioned in chapter 21 of "Trigger Mortis - A James Bond Novel" by Anthony Horowitz. Initially described as "shot-welded" [probably an author / editor error; more likely to mean spot-welded ] stainless-steel with porthole windows, although later in the same chapter as having a "sleek aluminum shell" [probably also an error].

Further readingEdit

  • Sansone, Gene. New York Subways: An illustrated History of New York City's Transit Cars. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2004 ISBN 0-8018-7922-1 pp. 193 – 194


  1. ^ a b "NEW STAINLESS STEEL TRAIN FOR THE SUBWAY" (PDF). New York Times. June 20, 1947. Retrieved February 21, 2016.
  2. ^ Neuman, William (March 24, 2007). "A Museum-Quality Car for a Subway Yet Unbuilt". The New York Times. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  3. ^ Fitzsimmons, Emma G.; Palmer, Emily; Remnick, Noah; Slotnik, Daniel E.; Wolfe, Jonathan (January 1, 2017). "Highlights From the Opening of the Second Avenue Subway". The New York Times. Retrieved June 29, 2018.

External linksEdit