The Holiday Nostalgia Train shown here in 2007. (Photo by Benjamin Kabak)
Lately, as part of an effort to remember the city’s transit past while providing for a neat way to get more people interested in the subways, New York City Transit has rolled out the Nostalgia Train with some regularity. These retrofitted and well-maintained vintage subway cars have made trips to and from Yankee and Shea Stadium during their final games and up to the Bronx for the playoffs this year.
Yet, through it all, December has, for the last few years, been a time for Nostalgia Train rides, and this year is no different. Transit announced this afternoon that the Nostalgia Train will be running along the V line from 2nd Ave. to Queens Plaza on Sundays in December. The train will operate between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. with trips leaving every 90 minutes from 2nd Ave.
“With a little bit of luck and good timing, riders will be able to catch a ride on this classic subway train at stations along the V line between Queens Plaza and Second Avenue.” Steven Feil, MTA New York City Transit’s Senior Vice President of the Department of Subways, said.
The train set will feature cars that were in service between the 1930s and 1970s. All have been maintained by Transit, and most are kept at the Transit Museum. Among the highlights are Car No. 100, an R1-type that was the first car ordered for the opening of the IND subway line; Car No. 484, an R4 made by American Car & Foundry that received a PA system and bulls-eye lighting in 1946; and Car No. 1575, an R7 that was rebuilt after a crash as the prototype for the R10. With wicker seats and ceiling fans, these cars are definitely curiosities as compared with today’s modern rolling stock.
Yesterday, in writing about the MTA’s plan to run vintage buses along 42nd Street, a few readers started debating the merits of these gimmicky holiday specials. Although running Nostalgia Trains and buses makes for nice photo opportunities, critics argue, they don’t do much to push transit forward. I believe that these trains serve as a draw though. By bringing out cars that look different and are evocative of the past, people are interested in transit. Even if just for a few hours, a heightened awareness of what’s happening underground is well worth it.