Archive for Rolling Stock

The always-vigilant Dana Rubinstein has an interesting bit for the rolling stock fans among us who wish to plan ahead: When CBTC is finally ready for implementation along the Flushing Line, the 7 will be trading rolling stock with the East Side IRT. The deets:

By 2016, the year that the M.T.A. hopes to complete installation of a modern signaling system along the 7 line, the M.T.A. will have swapped out the line’s cars for newer ones from the Lexington Avenue line, Capital has learned.

Some Lexington Avenue riders, meanwhile, will get stuck with the old 7 train cars. (The newest 7 cars have been in use for about 25 years.) The M.T.A. has yet to determine which of the three Lexington Avenue lines—the 4, 5, or 6—will be affected.

“Sometime prior to when it is turned on in 2016, you will start seeing the cars on the 7 move to the Lex and the cars on the Lex move to the 7,” confirmed Adam Lisberg, a spokesman for the M.T.A.

Essentially, the R62As, which date from the mid-to-late 1980s, aren’t equipped for CBTC while the R142s are. So the MTA will swap rolling stock — and hopefully update the static FIND signs in the R142s — when the time is ripe. That time, of course, isn’t for another four years so I don’t think East Side riders should be holding their breaths. Meanwhile, for East Siders looking for a silver lining, I prefer the air conditioning on the R62As to that on the R142s, and the Second Ave. Subway might be nearing its revenue date by then as well.

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The first R179s will be delivered in late 2014. I miss the colored subway bullets on the front. (Rendering via Bomardier)

The MTA voted to approve the deal in late March, and today, the i’s have been dotted and the t’s crossed as Bombardier announced the signing of a $599 million deal to provide Transit with the R179 rolling stock order. The order, built entirely in Plattsburgh, NY, will consist of 300 new cars.

While we know the general contours of the R179 contract, Bombardier’s announcement gives us a timeline. The first 10 cars will arrive in New York City during the third quarter of 2014, and the remainder of the order will be delivered between mid-2015 and early 2017. These cars will replace the R32s and R42s currently in use along the C and J/Z lines respectively.

Raymond Bachant, President, Bombardier Transportation North America, said: “Bombardier’s partnership with NYCT began in 1982 with an order for 825 subway cars. Since then, we have delivered close to 1,900 vehicles to our valued customer. We are proud that NYCT has shown its confidence in our products and technologies once again, and we look forward to providing high quality, reliable, safe rail cars for the millions of people who ride New York’s subway system every day.”

We still don’t have many details about the inner workings of these newest rolling stock order. They will, of course, come replete with dynamic strip maps and the like, but by the time these arrive in New York City, that innovation will have been on the rails for the better part of a decade. We’ll see what other new features the R179s carry soon enough.

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In a few years, the R160s will no longer be the newest members of the Transit fleet. (Photo by flickr user Queens Surface 295)

When the MTA Board gathers to meet later this morning, the august governing body will vote to determine the fate of the system’s next rolling stock purchase, and all signs indicate that they will award Bombardier with a $599 million to build out the R179s. The entire construction process, as Joe Lhota told me on Monday, will take place in New York state, and the MTA will receive 300 new cars as it gears up to retire the oldest rolling stock in the system.

As of now, the exact technical schematics of the new cars are unknown. It appears as though they will be surveillance-camera ready and will likely be modeled off of the R160s currently in service. We know that the 300-car order will spell the end of the line for the R32s and R42s currently in use along the C and J/Z lines respectively. Bombardier, builders of the R62A and R142 cars, bid approximately $57 million less for the project than ALSKAW, according to MTA documents.

Impressively enough, the cars these R179s will replace beginning in approximately 38 months — or by mid 2015 — have held up remarkably well considering their age. The R32s were the first mass-produced stainless subway cars and entered service in the mid-1960s. They will be past 50 by the time they are shelved, and their current upkeep and maintenance stats show their age. These cars breakdown more frequently and require more maintenance than the MTA’s newer models. The R42s, the city’s first fully air conditioned cars, entered service in 1969 and 1970.

The history of the R179 is an interesting one as well. When the MTA wraps Phase 1 of the Second Ave. Subway in 2016, it will need additional car sets to maintain service levels along the BMT Broadway line and the four-stop extension to the Upper East Side. Originally, the authority had planned on requesting a base order of 290 cars for the R179s with a purchase option for an additional 80 cars that would service Second Ave.

As the MTA notes in the staff summary, though, the funding didn’t materialize as expected and the authority weighed demand. “A reassessment of projected ridership growth as well as anticipated changes in ridership due to changes in demographics in certain parts of New York City led to the conclusion that 300 new cars would satisfy NYC Transit’s need in lieu of the original 290 plus 50 cars,” the document says. “It was determined that car requirements for 2nd Avenue Subway Phase 1 can be accommodated with existing spare cars.”

So with the impending end of the 222 R32s and 48 R42s still in service, straphangers want to know if their line will get the shiny new toys. Will the C train move up from worst to first? And what of the sets along the Jamaica lines? Early reports indicate that the new cars will head elsewhere while the C line will get the hand-me-downs. I’d imagine the A will enjoy the R179s while the C gets the old R46s that run along the A.

And so, the upgrade of the rolling stock, an unsung hero in the revival of the subway system, will continue. Now how about those R211s?

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Is this an early glimpse at the cars delivered as part of contract R188? (Photo via Wikipedia)

The Internets were all abuzz today with word that the first of the R188s hit the Corona Yards last night with more to follow. The cars aren’t yet ready for revenue service, but they are sitting out in the open for shutterbugs to snap. Reportedly, the photo above from Wikipedia is the first glimpse we’ve had of the new order of rolling stock.

The R188 order is a strange one. The MTA is purchasing only a limited number of new cars while they’re converting a bunch of R142As into CBTC-ready sets. What you’re seeing here is a converted R142A. The new cars aren’t yet ready for delivery, and the 7 line isn’t yet ready for CBTC either.

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The R32s, seen here along the E line in 2008, will have to last a few more years. (Photo by flickr user gmpicket)

When the MTA first unveiled the 2010-2014 Capital Plan back in 2008, the rolling stock investment of course drew some attention. In that document, the MTA put forth its plan to purchase the so-called R179s that would replace the R44s and R32s. Optimistically, we even expected them early on in the five-year plan.

Of course, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and as the MTA has struggled to get its financial house in order, the R179s have become a victim, for now, of the budget knife. In the three-year budget released this week, the MTA announced that the R32s, already 47 years old, will have to last until 2017 when the MTA can bring the R179s on line. Fifty-three year old rail cars will be a sight to behold.

The full text follows:

Due to the accelerated retirement of R44 cars caused by structural defects, the older 222 R32 car fleet is required to remain in service beyond their normal service life. The R32 cars are currently 47 years old and already well past the standard expected useful life of 40 years. Now these cars will be required to remain in service for at least another 6 years until 2017 when new R179 cars are delivered.

The R32 cars received their last SMS work in 2007 and require a new SMS cycle to maintain acceptable performance levels for the next six years. R32 car MDBF is the worst by far of any car fleet now in revenue service; in April 2011 12-month average MDBF for the R32 fleet was just 57,210 compared with a fleet-wide average of 171,553 for the same period. The failure to perform this needed SMS cycle would result in unacceptable further deterioration of this already low level of performance. The R32 SMS cycle will require an addition of 52 positions and costs of $7.9 million per year for three years.

Already, these cars are in poor condition, and riders along the C train have been complaining of failing air conditioners and generally decrepit cars. For another six years, we’re stuck with them.

For the past decade, the MTA has disposed of old subway cars through a reefing program. In fact, more than 2500 cars, stripped of their valuable and toxic parts, have been dropped to the ocean floor to create a home for ocean life and a destination for water tourists. (Check out a video on reefing here.) In a slideshow for The Times over the weekend, though, Michael Grynbaum reported on the end of the reefing program.

According to Grynbaum’s MTA sources, the newer cars aren’t fit for reefing. “After 10 years,” he writes, “the authority determined that its newer subway cars would not be suitable for this fate; those trains have more plastic parts than their predecessors, making them more expensive to prepare for reefing. The era of the underwater subway graveyard officially came to an end.” The authority will try to find a “more efficient manner of disposal.” The reefs then will stay as they are, and the photos of cars being sunk will remain as dramatic as they ever were.

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As first reported by Heather Haddon, the MTA will not be scrapping the R32s and R42s that currently run along the A/C and J/Z lines. To save approximately $1.6 million in 2010 and and around $2.4 million overall, Transit will retrofit these cars and keep this batch of 46-year-old rolling stock in use for a few more trips before replacing them later on in the five-year capital plan. The MTA still plans to spend $748 million in capital funds to buy 340 new B division cars before 2015.

As Haddon reports, “[These] trains have the worst record for breakdowns in the system, and are about seven times more likely to fall apart than the new cars on the letter lines, NYC Transit records show.” By keeping them in service and ending the reefing program, the authority can save money on transportation, hazardous material abatement and barging costs. I do wonder how much of those savings is offset by higher maintenance costs. Either way, the fish in the mid-Atlantic will be so disappointed, and we won’t be seeing anymore of those nifty photos of scrapped subway trains on barges.

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A few weeks ago, Transit announced that it had accepted the delivery of the final R160 units. With that order of cars, the next push to upgrade the rolling stock would involve the R179s, and the city’s fleet of subway cars is getting newer all the time.

Yesterday, in a great behind-the-scenes glimpse, the good folks at Transit’s NYCTSubwayScoop Twitter account published a series of photos concerning the new rolling stock. They traced the origins of the car from its production in Brazil to Hornell, New York, where the cars are assembled to the train yards in the city where the cars are put on the rails.

My favorite shot is the one atop this post. The new car is wrapped so nicely, and when the engineers at Transit open it up, they’ll find one of 1662 new subway train cars awaiting service.

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The era of the new R160s is officially over as New York City Transit announced that they have received the final units of the 1662-car order. The new cars are in use on the E, F, N and Q lines, and the technology behind the R160s — including the underutilized FIND signs — should keep this series of rolling stock on the rails for the next four decades.

Transit officials have spoken glowingly of the new cars as they now average approximately 370,000 miles between mechanical failures. “A lot of work went into the development of the R160 fleet and these cars have allowed us to retire hundreds of subway cars that first entered service in the mid to late 1960s, Carmen Bianco, senior vice president of the Department of Subways, said. “These cars are state-of-the-art, and designed to provide customers with far more information and comfort than older models and they are designed to last at least through mid century.”

The R160 order wraps up the MTA’s rolling stock expenditures under the 2005-2009 capital plan, and the next order — the so-called R179s — will come under the next five-year plan. Current plans for the R179s include a 290-car order for 60-footers that will replace the remaining R32 and R42 sets. The R188 order for the 7 line will start arriving in 2012, and the R211s are slated to arrive in 2015 to replace the R46s.

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Wrapped subway cars, the world’s best present. (Photos by NGC/ Hoff Productions)

Tonight at 8 p.m. the National Geographic channel will go behind the scenes of the subway car manufacturing process. The latest installment in the Ultimate Factories series, tonight’s show will follow the manufacturing process for one of the new R160 cars as it goes from France to Brazil to upstate New York before arriving in our subway system.

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Neil Genzling, TV critic for The Times has already seen the show, and he praises it for the clips of the reefing process.

For regular users of the subway what’s likely to get the heart really racing comes near the end, when the program takes a brief detour to show what happens to retired subway cars. That’s when we see the gray monstrosities being deep-sixed 20 miles off the Maryland coast to create an artificial reef for marine life.

Watching those cars going under feels like revenge, or vindication, or something, for all those appointments missed because the R and the N — the Rarely and the Never — didn’t show up, or because an indecipherable intercom failed to convey that the E train was going to skip the next 20 stops, or insert your own subway nightmare here.

For those further interested in the companies that make the trains, Infrastructurist’s Yonah Freemark has published a series of posts about train manufacturing companies. He started with Alstom, moved on to Bomardier, then examined Talgo and looked at the Japanese newcomers. Good stuff.

After the jump, a four-minute video preview of tonight’s show. Read More→

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