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The R42 is a New York City Subway car model built by the St. Louis Car Company between 1969 and 1970 for the IND/BMT B Division. It was the last 60-foot (18.29 m) B Division car built for the New York City Subway until the R143 in 2001, and the last car model class to be built in married pairs.

An R-42 (J) Train @ Fulton Street (August 2019).jpg
An 8 car R42 train set on the J at Fulton Street.
R42 Z train interior, dark.jpg
Interior of an R42 car on the Z.
In service1969-present
ManufacturerSt. Louis Car Company
Built atSt. Louis, Missouri, USA
Entered serviceMay 9, 1969
Scrapped2008-2009 (all NYCTA-rebuilt cars)
2009-2013 (most MK-rebuilt cars)
Number built400
Number in service50
Number preserved5
Number scrapped345
FormationMarried Pairs
Fleet numbers4550–4949
Capacity44 (seated)
Operator(s)New York City Subway
Depot(s)East New York Yard (50 cars)[1]
Service(s) assigned"J" train "Z" train – 32 cars (4 trains, AM rush)
 – 16 cars (2 trains, PM rush)
Car body constructionStainless Steel with Carbon Steel chassis, roof and underbody, Fiberglass A-end bonnet and B-end top bonnet
Train length2 car train: 120.4 feet (36.7 m)
4 car train: 240.8 feet (73.4 m)
6 car train: 361.2 feet (110.1 m)
8 car train: 481.6 feet (146.8 m)
10 car train: 602 feet (183 m)
Car length60 ft (18.29 m)
Width10 ft (3,048 mm)
Height12.08 ft (3,682 mm)
Platform height3.76 ft (1.15 m)
Doors8 sets of 50 inch wide side doors per car
Maximum speed55 mph (89 km/h)
Weight74,388.5 lb (33,742 kg)
Traction systemGeneral Electric (GE) SCM propulsion system using Westinghouse 1447J motors
115 hp (85.8 kW) on all axles
Acceleration2.5 mph/s (4.0 km/(h⋅s))
Deceleration3.0 mph/s (4.8 km/(h⋅s)) (Full Service)
3.2 mph/s (5.1 km/(h⋅s)) (Emergency)
Electric system(s)600 V DC Third rail
Current collection methodContact shoe
Braking system(s)CI Rebuilds: New York Air Brake SMEE/ Newtran (dynamic and friction), A.S.F. simplex unit cylinder clasp (tread) brake
MK Rebuilds: WABCO "SMEE" Braking System, A.S.F. simplex unit cylinder clasp (tread) brake
Safety system(s)tripcock
Coupling systemWestinghouse H2C
Headlight typehalogen light bulbs
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)



The R42s are numbered 4550–4949. As the R160 order replaced the vast majority of these cars, only cars 4788-4817 and 4820-4839 are in service.

The R42s were the first fleet of New York City Subway cars to be fully equipped with Stone Safety 10 ton air conditioning systems/units. Such units were similarly found on the last ten R38s (4140-4149) and all R40As.

The R42s were also the first cars to use solid state converters in place of the motor-generators as standard equipment, and were also the last cars to be equipped with the tried-and-true, and extremely reliable WABCO RT-2 or SMEE braking system temporarily, until returning in 1983 with the R62s for the IRT division, after disastrous results with the newer WABCO RT-5 or P-Wire braking systems used on their R44s and R46s cars of the 1970's.

Due to the cosmetic and mechanical similarities shared by the straight-ended R40As and R42s, the two fleets often ran together, since they were, for all practical purposes, the same car type. In fact, one R40A car was mated to a R42 car following an accident on the Williamsburg Bridge in 1995, which involved a pair of R40As and a pair of R42s (see "History" section for more details).


On May 9, 1969, cars 4554-4555 entered service on the N as part of a mixed consist with straight-ended R40As. By January 5, 1970, all cars were in service.[2]

Post-delivery and overhaulEdit

In 1974, cars 4764-4765 were sent to Garrett AiResearch's facilities in Los Angeles, California to test out Flywheel Energy Storage System equipment.[3] Car 4764 received energy conservation machinery with batteries and amber-type digital readouts indicating the amount of energy used by the equipment, while 4765 remained untouched. These cars were later tested at the UMTA, and the USDOT Testing Facilities in Pueblo, Colorado for evaluation, and were returned to the MTA in 1976 for in-service testing on all BMT/IND Lines to check the effectiveness of the technology.

In 1977, pantograph gates, salvaged from retired R1 through R9 cars, were modified and installed on the front ends of the R42s. Baloney coiled spring type inter car safety barriers were also installed on the blind ends of the married pairs.

Between 1988 and 1989, the R42s underwent overhaul as a result of deferred maintenance in the New York City Subway during the 1970s and the 1980s. 282 cars (most cars from 4550 to 4839) were overhauled by Morrison-Knudsen while the last 110 cars (4840–4949) were rebuilt in-house by the Coney Island Overhaul Shop in Brooklyn. The one minor difference in appearance between the two overhauls was that many cars of the Coney Island version featured the original blue door indicator lights at the ends of the cars, whereas these lights were removed from the Morrison-Knudsen rebuilds. Coney Island cars retained original Westinghouse XM829 master controllers in their cabs. The eight cars that were not rebuilt were 4680-4681, 4685, 4714-4715, 4726, and 4766-4767, which were prematurely scrapped due to damage sustained in various accidents during the 1970s and 1980s. As cars 4684 and 4727 lost their mates in separate incidents, the two cars were paired with each other and subsequently overhauled.

On June 6, 1995, cars 4664-4665 were involved in a collision on the Williamsburg Bridge with straight-ended R40A cars 4460-4461. Car 4664 was scrapped in 2000 (along with cars 4685 and 4726, which were not involved in the accident) and R40A 4461 was taken out of service, leaving 4665 to be mated with R40A 4460.[4][5]

On November 6, 2007, an M train of R42s was involved in an accident when the motorman attempted to relay it south of the Chambers Street station. As the R42 fleet was being retired at the time, the entire consist[6] was hauled to the 207th Street Yard for reefing instead of being repaired even though only the first two cars suffered major damage.[7][8]


Initial plansEdit

Retired R42 cars being shipped out to the Atlantic Ocean for reefing.
Retired R42 cars awaiting processing at Sims Metal Management in Newark, New Jersey.

The R160s replaced most of the R42 fleet. The NYCTA-rebuilt R42s were retired from late 2007 to mid-2008. Subsequently, most MK-rebuilt cars followed starting in late 2008 until December 2009, when it was decided to retire the NYCT R44s in their place due to structural issues. Most retired cars were sunk as artificial reefs.

However, after the reefing program ended in April 2010, retired R42s were trucked to Sims Metal Management's Newark facility to be scrapped and processed, an action that occurred between April 2013 and July 2013 with already-retired cars and is expected to occur with the remaining in-service cars when they retire.[9]

Several retired R42 cars were saved for various purposes throughout the New York City Subway system, including:

Prolonged serviceEdit

The 50 cars, 4788-4817 and 4820-4839, remain in service and assigned to East New York Yard, operating on the J and Z. At 50 years old, they are the second oldest subway cars in service, behind the R32s built in 1964-1965, and have undergone SMS (Scheduled Maintenance Service, a life extension program) cycles since 2016. They are expected to be replaced by the R179 cars, but no time frame has been set due to ongoing delays in the delivery of the cars.[13][14]


  1. ^ "Subdivision Car Assignments: Cars Required June 24, 2018" (PDF). 61 (7). Electric Railroaders' Association. July 2018: 16. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  2. ^ ERA New York Division Bulletin, August 2005 "January 5, 1970 Car Assignment", Page 9. [1]
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Cars #4730, 4731, 4624,4625, 4818,4819, 4786, and 4787
  7. ^ "MTA - Press Release - NYC Transit - M Train Incident at Chambers Street".
  8. ^ "".
  9. ^ "Showing Image 140235".
  10. ^
  11. ^ Mooney, Jake (May 3, 2009). "Very Closely Watched Trains". The New York Times. New York, NY. p. CY1.
  12. ^ "".
  13. ^ "Governor Cuomo Announces $600 Million MTA Investment in Upstate Manufacturing | Governor Andrew M. Cuomo". March 28, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
  14. ^ 79_staff_summary_March_2012.pdf "R179 Staff Summary March 2012" Check |url= value (help) (PDF). New York City Transit. March 2012. Retrieved September 12, 2016.

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

External linksEdit