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The R12 was a New York City Subway car built by the American Car and Foundry Company in 1948. The cars were the first post-war city-owned rolling stock for the IRT division. They were very similar to the R10s, except that the R12s were smaller since they were built to meet A Division specifications.

MTA NYC R12 5760.JPG
R12 car 5760 on display at the New York Transit Museum
R12 irt subway car interior.jpg
Interior view of R12 car 5760
In service1948-1981
ManufacturerAmerican Car and Foundry Company
Built atBerwick, Pennsylvania, USA
Entered serviceJuly 13, 1948
Number built100
Number preserved2
Number scrapped98
FormationSingle units
Fleet numbers5703–5752 (Westinghouse)
5753–5802 (General Electric)
Capacity44 (seated)
Operator(s)New York City Subway
Car body constructionLAHT Carbon steel
Car length51 ft (15.54 m)
Width8 ft 9.5 in (2,680 mm)
Height11 ft (3,353 mm)
Platform height3.76 ft (1.15 m)
Doors6 sets of 50 inch wide side doors per car
Maximum speed55 mph (89 km/h)
Weight73,100 lb (33,158 kg)
Traction systemGeneral Electric 1240A3 or Westinghouse J1447C
Power output100 hp (75 kW)
Braking system(s)WABCO A1 "SMEE" Braking System, A.S.F. simplex unit cylinder clasp tread brake
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge


The R12s were numbered 5703-5802. They were the first mass-produced cars to feature electric door motors, as opposed to air-powered door motors (The R11/R34 prototypes were the very first cars with such features).

The R12s were the first "R" type contract order built for the A Division (referring to the practice of naming a car class by the letter "R" – which stands for rapid transit – followed by a number derived from the actual contract number). This practice originated from the R1 order built for the Independent Subway System. Since the New York City Transit Authority acquired the IRT, BMT and IND in 1940, all subsequent subway car orders would follow the R contract.

There were two versions of the R12's: Westinghouse Electric-powered cars (5703-5752) and General Electric-powered cars (5753-5802).

The R12s bore several schemes during their service lives. The cars were delivered in two-tone gray scheme with orange stripes, then a solid bright red, and finally, repainted into the MTA's silver with blue stripe scheme.


Delivery of the cars began in June 1948.[1] The first R12s began service on the 7 (IRT Flushing Line) on July 13, 1948. All 100 cars were delivered by October 1948.[2]

The R12s ran on the Flushing Line until the arrival of the R33WFs and R36WFs in late 1963-early 1964. The R12s were then transferred to operate on other A-division routes. One particular assignment included all GE-powered cars being heavily modified (by deactivating the dynamic brakes and cutting out the third (parallel) notch on their controllers) and sent to the 8 (Third Avenue elevated line) in the Bronx during August 1969 and running there until that route's closing on April 29, 1973. In addition, four Westinghouse-powered R12 cars (5703-5706) were slightly modified for use on the Bowling Green – South Ferry Shuttle, and were so-equipped so that the center door of each car could be opened at South Ferry, while keeping the others closed. These cars were used until the shuttle was discontinued on February 12, 1977, when the cars were reassigned to the 3, since these four shuttle cars were inspected and maintained at Livonia Barn at the time, with the 3 line.


Car 5782 (renumbered to 35782) at the 207th Street Yard, awaiting cosmetic restoration

Although officially replaced by the R62s (delivered 1983-85), most R12s were retired earlier due to service reductions in the 1970s that made the fleet redundant. Many R12s were also converted to work service following their retirement to replace older Lo-V work cars. The last R12 was pulled from passenger service in September 1981. All but two cars have since been taken off property to be scrapped, though several cars lasted as training vehicles or work cars for many years.

Two cars have been preserved:

  • Car 5760 has been preserved by the New York Transit Museum since July 1976, and was repainted into its original two-tone gray and orange striped paint scheme.[3] The car is operational and has run on museum-sponsored nostalgia trains, specifically on the Train of Many Colors.
  • Car 5782 (renumbered to 35782) is also being held for the New York Transit Museum. This car was formerly used for fire training. The car retains its MTA blue/silver livery paint scheme[4] and has been stored at the 207th Street Yard for many years. However, it is slated to receive only a cosmetic restoration; the car will not be restored to operational status.[5]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "IRT SMEE delivery dates", R36 Preservation, Inc.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ ERA New York Division Bulletin, September 2009, Page 4
  3. ^ @NYTransitMuseum (July 13, 2016). "Board and explore #IRT #R12 car #5760 in #DowntownBrooklyn today from 10am - 4pm!" (Tweet). Retrieved July 13, 2016 – via Twitter.
  4. ^ "Showing Image 2730". September 13, 1998. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  5. ^ mtattrain (September 10, 2010). "R12 5782 & R22 7486 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!". Flickr. Retrieved February 10, 2012.

Further readingEdit

  • 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