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R46 (New York City Subway car)

The R46 is a New York City Subway car model that was built by the Pullman Standard Company from 1975 to 1978 for the IND/BMT B Division. They replaced all remaining Arnine cars, some R10s, and the problem-plagued GE-powered R16s.

R46 C Train @ 168th Street September 2019.jpg
An R46 train on the C at 168th Street
From the R Train td (2018-09-19) 06.jpg
Interior of an R46 car
In service1975-present
ManufacturerPullman Standard Rail Company
Built atChicago, Illinois
Number built754
Number in service750 (580 in revenue service during rush hours)
Number scrapped4
(2 un-overhauled cars wrecked)
Formation4 car sets (5482-6207)
Married Pairs (6208–6258) (even)
Fleet numbers5482–6207, 6208–6258 (even)
(originally 500–1227, 1228–1278 (even))
Capacity70 (seated-A car)
76 (seated-B car)
Operator(s)New York City Subway
Depot(s)Jamaica Yard (388 cars)
Pitkin Yard (362 cars)[1]
Service(s) assigned"A" train – 272 cars (34 trains, AM rush)
280 cars (35 trains, PM rush)
"C" train – 24 cars (3 trains)
"F" train – 64 cars (8 trains)
"R" train – 240 cars (30 trains)
Rockaway Park Shuttle – 12 cars (3 trains)[2]
Car body constructionStainless steel with fiberglass end bonnets
Train length4 car train: 300 feet (91.4 m)
8 car train: 600 feet (183 m)
Car length74 ft 8.5 in (22.77 m) (over anticlimbers)
Width10 ft (3,048 mm) (over threshold)
Height12.08 ft (3,682 mm)
Platform height3.76 ft (1.15 m)
EntrySmall extension on the bottom edge of door.
Doors8 sets of 50-inch (1,270 mm) wide side doors per car
Articulated sections1-2 in the advertisement frames on the inside ends of the car.
Maximum speed55 mph (89 km/h)
Weight91,000 lb (41,277 kg) (A car)
86,670 lb (39,313 kg) (B car)
Traction systemGeneral Electric SCM 17KG192AH1
Traction motorsGE 1257E1
Power output115 hp (85.8 kW) per axle
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)New York Air Brake "SMEE" Braking System, Tread Brake unit model D7587719
Safety system(s)dead man's switch, tripcock
Headlight typeHalogen light bulb
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)


Inside the cab of an R46 car

The R46s are numbered 5482-6207 and 6208-6258 (even numbers only). 5482-6207 were originally numbered 500-1227 (except numbers 941 & 1054, as those two cars were scrapped prior to overhaul), and 6208-6258 were originally numbered 1228-1278, even numbers only. Along with the previous R44s, the R46s are 75 feet (22.86 m) long.

The R46 order consisted of 754 single cars, originally planned to be 745,[3] that were numbered from 500 to 1278. Even cars with cabs are A cars; odd cars without cabs are B cars. The cars cost about $285,000 each. The first two trains of R46s were placed in service on the F and N on July 14, 1975, with a brief ceremony at 34th Street–Herald Square, attended by Mayor Abraham Beame and MTA Chairman David Yunich.[4] The fleet is infamous for having had frequent problems in the first decade of service. During the 1976 U.S. Bicentennial celebration, cars 680 and 681 had white, red and blue star bands on their bases and were respectively renumbered 1776 and 1976.[5] The first R46s were assigned to the F train.[6]

The R46s were constructed with sheet rubber floors, plastic seats, fluorescent lighting, spaces for ceiling advertisements and the use of air springs instead of heavy metal springs. The change in springs reduced noisy and bumpy rides. The cars were not equipped with straphangers like previous models. Instead, horizontal bars that passengers could hold on to were installed. The cars were built with air-conditioning.[7][8]

Currently, the fleet is maintained at Pitkin Yard and Jamaica Yard, running on the A, C[9], F, R, and Rockaway Park Shuttle.



Poster celebrating the new R46 cars

On April 7, 1972, Pullman Standard bid on the contract for 900 subway cars and it was the highest bidder. It put out a bid of $273,000 per car, or $246 million for the entire contract. Other bidders included General Electric, Rohr Industries, and Westinghouse Electric Corporation. The cars were to be constructed almost identically to the R44s. Once the order was awarded to Pullman Standard, the cars were constructed at the company's shops on the South Side of Chicago. The subway car order was the largest single order of passenger cars in United States railroad history at the point of the fleet's completion.[10] Once the order was reduced to 754 cars the entire cost of the order was reduced to $210.5 million. The first cars were expected to be testing in the NYC Subway by October 1973, and all of the cars were expected to be delivered by October 15, 1975.[7] However, because there was a strike at the Pullman Standard on October 1, 1977, along with other problems, the final R46s entered service in December 1978, three years behind schedule.[11]

Manufacturing problems and incidents

In March 1977, there was a crack found in the frame of one of the lightweight trucks built by Rockwell International, which resulted in a motor breaking loose from the truck's transom arms, striking an axle. By 1978, cracks were found in 264 R46 trucks. Because of these problems, all R46s had to be checked three times per week for truck cracks. In February 1978, 889 cracks were found in 547 of the trucks. The cracking was such a bad problem, that on June 14, 1979, New York City Mayor Koch ordered R46s with trucks that had 2 or more cracks out of service. Then, more than 1,200 cracks had been found by that day and they were classified into seven types. There was an account that called the R46s "the most troubled cars ever purchased". By this time, the number of cracks had almost doubled, from 889 cracks found in February 1979 to 1,700 in March 1980. In order to keep track of the R46s structural issues, they were inspected several times a week. In September 1980, two types of cracks that were not seen before were found on the trucks. As a result, the NYCTA tried to minimize usage of the R46 fleet, until their trucks were replaced with new R44 type standard trucks ordered from General Steel and Buckeye Industries.

In July 1979, Pullman Standard informed the MTA that the hand brake assemblies for the R46 were problematic. In late July 1979, inspections revealed that the steel where the car body was joined to the truck was wearing away, a severe safety issue. At the end of 1979, many other flaws were discovered in the R46 fleet, and the Transit Authority filed another US$80 million charge against Pullman Standard and a number of other subcontractors. This lawsuit invalidated an agreement made with Pullman by executive director John G. DeRoos for US$1.5 million in spare parts to remedy the defects.

In 1983, organizations for the blind stated that the gaps in between R44 and R46 cars were dangerous, since the blind could mistake the spaces for doorways.[12]

On April 26, 1986, cars 1054 and 941 were heavily damaged when an E train hit the tunnel wall near Jamaica–179th Street. The accident occurred because the 54-year old motorman, Alick Williams of Saint Albans, had a heart attack; he died at the scene.[13]

General Overhaul Program

Plaque showing overhaul of the R46
An R46 LCD sign on the R. This replaces the original rollsign that was on the cars.

From 1989 to 1992, Morrison-Knudsen of Hornell, New York rebuilt all R46s through the NYCTA's General Overhaul Program (GOH), except for the two damaged cars, which were scrapped on June 4, 1987.[14]

During the GOH, the fleet received the same LCD destination signs as the R44s, replacing the older rollsigns. The blue stripes on the side of the cars were removed, resulting in the appearance of an entirely unpainted carbody (the fiberglass ends remain painted silver to match the stainless sides). Other improvements included the rebuilding of all mechanical systems and making the R46 more compatible with other car types. Also, their trouble-prone WABCO RT-5 or P-Wire braking system was removed, and replaced with a more reliable NYAB Newtran SMEE braking/control system.

The R46 cars were linked into sets following their general overhaul. Like the R44s, their original two-note warning tones were replaced with the same ones found on the R62, R62A, R68 and R68A, although there are a few cars that still retain their original warning tones. Due to the overhaul, the fleet's reliability has vastly improved, and the R46 is no longer considered to be the lemon that it once was.

After their overhaul, the R46s were renumbered 5482-6258 in the early 1990s. Cars 5482-6205 were linked in sets of four, cars 6208-6258 (even only) were linked up as A-A pairs, and cars 6206-6207 were configured as one A-B married pair.[14]


In 1981, the New York Transit Authority's car replacement program estimated that the R46s would be replaced in 2011.[15] However, the MTA now estimates the cars to remain in service until the mid-2020s, when they will be replaced by the R211s.[16]

Since the late 2000s, the R46s have undergone intermittent rounds of scheduled maintenance as their parts age over time to extend their usefulness until their retirement.

On May 2, 2014, cars 5742-5745 were involved in a derailment due to track defects while running on the F.[17] They were pulled from service until being repaired in February 2016.[18]

On June 27, 2017, cars 6150-6153 were involved in a derailment north of 125th Street while in service on the A. The whole set was taken out of service.[19][20][21] Cars 6150-6151 suffered body damage as they collided with tunnel columns and were retired; however, 6151 was retained and fitted with strip maps, colored wraps, and had some seats removed to serve as a non-operational mockup for future retrofits, all as a part of the 2017 action plan.[22] Meanwhile, cars 6152-6153 were linked with cars 6206-6207 to form a new four-car set and have since returned to service.[a][better source needed]

See also


  1. ^ See also:
    • Howling Rails (November 8, 2017), Newly linked 4-car R46 consist 6152-6153-6207-6206 leaving Hoyt - Schmerhorn Streets, retrieved November 9, 2017


  1. ^ "Subdivision Car Assignments: Cars Required June 24, 2018" (PDF). The Bulletin. Electric Railroaders' Association. 61 (7): 16. July 2018. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  2. ^ "Subdivision 'B' Car Assignments: Cars Required November 4, 2018" (PDF). The Bulletin. Electric Railroaders' Association. 61 (12): 5. December 2018. Retrieved December 4, 2018.
  3. ^ Feinman, Mark (November 19, 2002). "The New York Transit Authority in the 1970s". Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  4. ^ "First New Subway Train in Service". The New York Times. July 15, 1975. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 25, 2016 – via The New York Times Archive.
  5. ^ Cunningham, Joseph; DeHart, Leonard O. (1993). A History of the New York City Subway System. J. Schmidt, R. Giglio, and K. Lang.
  6. ^ "IND LINE IS GETTING A FIFTH NEW TRAIN". The New York Times. February 22, 1976. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 26, 2016 – via New York Times Archive.
  7. ^ a b Malcolm, Andrew H. (September 25, 1972). "Work Begins on 752 Subway Cars for New York". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 25, 2016 – via New York Times Archives.
  8. ^ "New Horse, Old Blinders". The New York Times. September 11, 1972. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 26, 2016 – via New York Times Archives.
  9. ^ Barone, Vincent (December 18, 2017). "MTA adds longer cars to C trains to alleviate rush-hour crush". am New York. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
  10. ^ Prial, Frank J. (April 8, 1972). "Pullman Bids Lowest on 900 Subway Cars". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 25, 2016 – via New York Times Archive.
  11. ^ Annual Report. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 1978. p. 6.
  12. ^ May, Clifford D. (January 6, 1983). "Subway Cars Held Perilous for the Blind". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  13. ^ "Fatal Subway Accident Is Subject of an Inquiry". The New York Times. April 27, 1986. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 10, 2017.
  14. ^ a b "R46 (Pullman-Standard, 1974-1975)". Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  15. ^ The New York Transit Authority in the 1980s.
  17. ^ Donohue, Pete (December 12, 2014). "F train derailment caused by unrepaired track defects: MTA". NY Daily News. Retrieved July 16, 2017.
  18. ^ "New York City Subway Car Update" (PDF). The Bulletin. Electric Railroaders' Association (April 2016). March 30, 2016. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  19. ^ "NYC subway derailment blamed on 'human error'". Retrieved July 16, 2017.
  20. ^ Santora, Marc; Ferré-sadurní, Luis (June 27, 2017). "Subway Derailment in Manhattan Injures Dozens". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  21. ^ "MTA: Unsecure Rail Stored on Tracks Caused Harlem Subway Derailment". NY1. June 27, 2017. Archived from the original on June 28, 2017. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  22. ^ Rivoli, Dan (October 5, 2017). "MTA to add more space on L line by retrofitting train cars". NY Daily News. Retrieved October 9, 2017.

Further reading

  • 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 links