Home Rolling Stock Bombardier officially announces R179 contract

Bombardier officially announces R179 contract

by Benjamin Kabak

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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John-2 June 4, 2012 - 4:08 pm

Does this mean the conflict of interest questions have been resolved, or just that the MTA thinks they’re good on defending the bid award, but the procedure still could get tied up in an investigation?

And yea, you’d think by now the MTA would be willing to spring for one full-color LED for every other car so the proper colored bullets could again be shown on the front of the train (the sides aren’t as important, since those signs also display route and destination information).

Anon June 4, 2012 - 8:49 pm

good question.

Also why doesn’t this car have an American Flag on it????

R. Graham June 5, 2012 - 12:38 am

Because it’s a prototype that didn’t go through the normal final road ready aesthetics.

al June 5, 2012 - 12:35 pm

Somethings off, it might be a computer generated or modified image.

petey June 5, 2012 - 12:55 pm

because they hate america

mike d. June 5, 2012 - 1:51 pm

Its call Photoshopped. R179 render image on the R142 trucks.

Someone December 16, 2012 - 10:04 pm

It’s a rendering of a R160 car body on existing R142 trucks in an existing yard, with an (A) bullet lit up.

Someone December 16, 2012 - 10:04 pm

It’s a rendering of a R160 car body on existing R142 trucks in an existing yard, with an (A) bullet lit up. It’s not a final draft. Hence, the US flag is not on there

Alex C June 4, 2012 - 4:12 pm

Will the MTA and their vendors have fixed the glitches that to this day continue to plague the the FIND system by then? I still see R160B’s and R160A’s with FIND displays that glitch out and freeze on one stop, ceiling displays that either shut off or also get stuck, and outside window displays that shut off or get stuck on “LAST STOP” while the rest of the train is fine. Six years, still not fixed.

On the propulsion side, I hope Bombardier has a Siemens Syntegra-like propulsion system to use by then, as that really helps save a lot of weight in the trucks while allowing for a stronger truck. I assume LED lighting all around.

Kai B June 4, 2012 - 4:56 pm

I also see it occasionally, but much less in the last year or so.

al June 4, 2012 - 5:29 pm

Do they have any operating cost benefits vs R160? Do they have self steering axle trucks (noise, wheel and track wear decrease)? Resilient wheels (noise)? Tread truing brakes (noise, vibration)? Enclosed gangways between cars (capacity, mobility, safety)?

I wonder if they looked at plug doors or sliding doors that slide out and to the side. It allows for thinner side walls and adds 4 extra inches to the usable internal width of the cars. If they increased the external width at the belt line to 10′ from 9’9″, that another 3 inches. Add wide enclosed gangways at the ends of the cars. All 3 features together will boost passenger capacity by at least 10%, or the equivalent of adding a 11th car to a 10 car train. The E & F can use that, and so can the L.

The doorways can also use a redesign. They’re 4’4″ wide. Two 2’8″ (ADA requirement) doors, separated by a structural post per doorway, would create and sustain a double stream (per doorway) of passengers boarding and alighting the subway car. You end up with up to 8 sustained passenger streams per car vs the current 4. That will cut station dwell time and enable increase train frequency and capacity.

Alex C June 4, 2012 - 5:36 pm

I would like to see at least simple diaphragms between cars so as to make passage between cars safe. But this is the MTA, so common sense things go out the window. They didn’t do it with R142/A, R143, R160A/B, so I doubt they’ll do it with the R179.

Bolwerk June 4, 2012 - 5:54 pm

Forget that. It would probably add a little extra capacity too.

I dunno, I guess it could make maintenance a bit more difficult, but it’s probably cheaper than lengthening dozens of stations.

Alex C June 4, 2012 - 9:13 pm

I didn’t mean articulated; that’s waaaaay out there for the MTA (despite sane agencies in other countries doing this for decades now). I just meant plain-old simple diaphragms between the cars covering the passage between cars like we have between LIRR/Metro-North cars and between Amtrak’s Amfleet cars. The MTA doesn’t have the common sense to even do that. And then they make walking between cars illegal despite having doors on the R142 and R160 cars especially designed for easier passage between cars. Incompetence at its best.

Bolwerk June 4, 2012 - 10:43 pm

Passage between cars should be easy in case of emergencies. It would be a foolish, pointless safety hazard to not make it easy.

That said, the ban between walking seemed like overkill anyway.

R. Graham June 5, 2012 - 12:44 am

I can only point out my reply to Alex C but I will also state that walking between 75 foot cars should never happen, EVER. I see the scissor action those cars have when hitting the sharp turns back when I was actually riding the lettered lines more often and it’s a guaranteed killer.

Alex C June 5, 2012 - 12:52 am

I should have been more specific: my complaint on walking between cars refers specifically to the IRT cars and 60-foot BMT/IND cars. And as I said, the MTA should have designed all NTT’s with simple diaphragms (think Amfleet, LIRR M7, etc) in between cars to allow safe passage.

Andrew June 5, 2012 - 7:22 am

Look down on an Amfleet or M7 between cars. Now look down between subway cars. Notice anything different?

Diaphragms might work if the cars were shorter, but that gets very costly.

Alex C June 5, 2012 - 10:51 pm

There’s a bit more space between the R160 cars, but not enough to where diaphragms aren’t doable. The R142’s are fine. Unless you’re referring to the rounded anticlimbers.

Alon Levy June 6, 2012 - 6:49 pm

It’s probably impossible to retrofit existing cars, but ordering new ones to have gangways is not difficult. It’s done in lots of places, including some with longer cars. Some places even get walk-through trains, allowing passengers to walk between cars without passing through doors or narrow gangways; France in particular is buying new suburban trains with this feature in order to make the interior feel larger and reduce fear of crime.

Andrew June 6, 2012 - 8:26 pm

Alex C: Bingo. Diaphragms won’t help if there’s nothing solid underfoot.

Alon Levy: I’d love to see cars with open gangways, but they’d probably have to be shorter than the current cars, which I assume would increase costs. (Would the benefit outweigh the cost? I have no idea.)

Alon Levy June 6, 2012 - 9:32 pm

The Singaporean cars have open gangways and are just shy of 80′ long. Cost is US$2 million per unit for the latest orders, the same as the R179 but for longer trains. I haven’t found good photos, but here is a passable one of an older train.

The newest Parisian cars also have open gangways, but are shorter (50′) and also more expensive, since they’re rubber-tired. No photos of the French commuter trains – sorry.

Andrew June 6, 2012 - 10:14 pm

Good for Singapore. That doesn’t mean they’ll work with the curves in New York.

Alex C June 7, 2012 - 1:42 am

In reply to Andrew’s next reply:
Something like this between cars might be doable. I’ve seen a few patents for flexing diaphragms like this, so the rounded anti-climbers seem like an issue that can be worked around. The issue then becomes of cost. At the same time, they’re bloody diaphragms between cars and the MTA cheaped out. The people who designed the R143/R160 overweight and under-functioning whales screwed the pooch.

Alon Levy June 7, 2012 - 1:43 am

Paris has walk-through trains, at IRT lengths, with a minimum curve radius of 40 meters on the line in question, or 131′, a bit less than the IRT minimum of 147.5′, and much less than the IND minimum.

One city that doesn’t adopt gangways is Washington. You’d expect that such a modern system could handle them… but it’s not what they’ve always done, and the idea was invented elsewhere, so it’s bad. It’s a cultural thing, not a technical thing.

R. Graham June 5, 2012 - 12:42 am

At the time the MTA instituted the ban, there were quite a few number of growing incidents of individuals falling between the space of the two cars. Some getting killed while others getting severely hurt. Most people who go walking through the cars have no idea when that next wicked turn that can make you lose your balance is coming up next. I still have no problem with the policy.

Let the cops determine if use is warranted or not.

Alex C June 5, 2012 - 12:54 am

As I said before, that’s the fault of the MTA for not designing their New Technology Trains with simple (don’t even need to go full articulation) diaphragms between the cars to let people pass through safely. It was complete idiocy.

Bolwerk June 5, 2012 - 2:53 am

I’m inclined to agree with Alex C. Besides the fact that it’s a bad idea to let the cops do anything – who watches the watchers? – people are going to move between the cars anyway, and may as well do it safely.

But articulation sounds like a good idea. It might get close to the equivalent of one more [current] car worth of space per train.

Lenny June 4, 2012 - 8:13 pm

I’m with you right until the double stream doors. You wind up with a bottle neck as passengers entering the train run into those waiting to disembark. You’ll likely end up with the same bottleneck on the platform side since people still feel like they have to be the first onto the train.

al June 5, 2012 - 1:03 pm

The B division NTT currently have double doors (2’2″ each for 4’4″ doorway) that devolve into single streams within a second or two of opening. If we have (2) 2’8″ doors with a 4″-6″ post in between, it would sustain a double stream per doorway. That post also increases the structural efficiency of the rail car by shrinking the door openings to 2’8″ from 4’4″. The total doorway width, including the mid post, will be 5’8″-5’10” wide.

Current double doors leave lots of space to the sides of those exiting. 4’4″ openings leaves at least 14″ to the sides of each person exiting during single stream condition. That permits those who are on the platform to squeeze their way on if they choose. The smaller openings (2’8″) will reduce the board while exit phenomenon. A smallish person (18″ wide female or boy) will leave 7″ on each side as they exit. A good size adult male (24″ wide) will leave 4″ per side. Add in doors that pop outwards slightly, and an auditory and visual cue that is apparent from the inside but not outside, and it greatly inhibits and deters those on the platform from boarding before those aboard finish alighting.

Larry Littlefield June 5, 2012 - 9:38 am

“The doorways can also use a redesign.”

Changing the doorways on every order is a conspiracy to make it impossible to ever install platform doors in the most crowded stations. Bite your tongue.

al June 5, 2012 - 1:05 pm

The doors are in the same place. The individual doors and doorways are wider, but the openings are smaller.

Nick Ober June 4, 2012 - 4:13 pm

I certainly miss the color bullets — I can’t imagine on a $600M contract that color LEDs would have broke the bank. Oh well…

Josh June 4, 2012 - 5:27 pm

Yeah, I was going to say – it’s not like LEDs only come in red.

Alex C June 4, 2012 - 5:34 pm

Didn’t they go with red and amber because they’re easiest to see in the dark or something like that?

Bolwerk June 4, 2012 - 5:55 pm

IMHO, they aren’t easier to see than the old colored bullets. You can see them coming, but you can’t see what the route designation is until it’s closer.

R. Graham June 4, 2012 - 7:45 pm

And personally I don’t mind that because to see it at a distance means you are standing very close to the platform edge in most cases and that practice needs to start coming to a close. It annoys me to no end to see it still going on at IRT stations with a countdown clock at almost every station.

So color bullets can go buh bye for all it matters.

Bolwerk June 4, 2012 - 8:39 pm

Well, I don’t care much either way, except the bullets do kind of have some character that I think new rolling stock is lacking.

Alex C June 4, 2012 - 9:09 pm

As OLED technology advances, in a few years we should have bright, easy-to-see, OLED displays that allow big, bright R-44~R-68 style bullets.

Eric June 4, 2012 - 10:27 pm

I still peer into the tunnel at countdown clock stations. Old habits die hard. And I don’t think I’d want this one to, either.

Someone December 16, 2012 - 10:07 pm

The LEDs can come in white, green, orange, amber or red. It costs a lot of money to put other colored LEDs in, due to the fact that those other colors burn out more quickly.

meera June 4, 2012 - 7:12 pm

Makes wayfinding difficult, since there’s no matchup between the color designations on maps and signs and the trains. There should be something with the appropriately colored bullet somewhere on the physical train.

Nathanael June 4, 2012 - 7:39 pm

Well, MTA rolling stock ordering is VERY conservative, so expect to see absolutely no new innovations. Just look at that mockup picture.

Walk-through diaphragms/gangways are now standard on London’s new orders, and practically every other agency is ordering them too, but I doubt the MTA will.

We can expect all-LED lighting, anyway; that saves money and it would be crazy not to do it at this point.

R. Graham June 4, 2012 - 7:47 pm

For those of you who drive across the George Washington Bridge. Keep those dates in mind. The deliveries are going to have traffic backed up to say the least.

Bolwerk June 5, 2012 - 2:54 am

Wouldn’t they be delivered by rail?

BoerumBum June 5, 2012 - 9:36 am

Nope, single-car wide-load flatbeds. Kinda fun to see… that is, unless you need to be anywhere quickly.

John-2 June 5, 2012 - 1:22 pm

Would these get delivered across the GWB, since they’re coming from Bombardier’s plant in Plattsburgh? Seems like it would be a straight shot down I-87 to the Fordham Road exit and then across the 207th Street bridge, unless the Thruway toll barriers are too much of a PITA.

mike d. June 5, 2012 - 2:32 pm

Ha, good luck finding those cars on the GWB….certainty not.

Most likely if MTA follows the R142 BOMBardier car delivery route. They will be deliver on the rails via Canadian Pacific rail tracks down to Selkirk, NY transfer to CSX tracks across then go across the Hell Gate Bridge to Brooklyn.

UESider June 4, 2012 - 8:15 pm

agree – they definitely should have colored bullets if only to preserve the character of the system

also, it would be cool to see them put flat panel displays showing a camera feed of what’s coming down the pipe – that way, people wouldnt have to lean over the platform edge to get a peek, especially on curved entrances

David June 4, 2012 - 9:01 pm

Unrelated to this, but has anyone noticed that some old R32 C trains are now showing up as A’s on the A Line and the old R46’s on the A line are now showing up as C’s on the C Line?

Alex C June 4, 2012 - 9:11 pm

Yep. Just as last year, it’s to give the R32’s and 30 R42A cars on the A now some air outside. The AC units on those aren’t very strong. All R32’s are running on the A now. They’ll probably do this Memorial Day-to-September for the remaining years until the R179’s arrive.

pea-jay June 4, 2012 - 10:42 pm

I get why the R32s were moved from the C to the A. But why the R42s? I mean isn’t the J/Z mostly above aground to begin with?

At this point the “A” in the A Train kinda stands for Antique. They ought to toss a few Slants in there for good measure.

Andrew June 4, 2012 - 10:55 pm

The C is running 18 8-car trains of R46’s now. It used to run 18 8-car trains of R32’s. But the A needs 10 R32’s to replace each 8-car train of R46’s, so there’s a shortfall of 36 cars. The 30 R42’s are being used to fill much of that shortfall.

The regular C fleet is much older than the current (temporary) A fleet.

Someone September 23, 2012 - 6:47 pm

Hmm, never thought of that.
Maybe they could keep all the R32s and R42s on the A so the J/Z lines could get more R179s. There is a shortfall of 34trains on the J/Z right now, because it used to have 40 R42 cars and now it only has 10, so it would need 40 extra R179s to fill in the number of cars transferred to the A. So there would be exactly 300 R179s to build, with no room for expansion (the 222 R32s + the 48 R42s + a shortfall of 30 cars on the J/Z.)

Someone December 16, 2012 - 6:20 pm

Actually, more R46s were being used as a result of the reassignment. Since there are 140 R32s and 20 R42s (not 30 R42s) in service on the A, they need 16 more R46s in service. The J, as a result, also used 24 more R160As to cover its own shortfall of R42s. There is no shortfall, there are just more R46s and R160As in service.

Al D June 4, 2012 - 9:29 pm

Aren’t the R46’s also nearing the end of the useful lives too? 1976 or so, the Bicentennial. They’ll be 40 when the R179 order is completed.

Alex C June 4, 2012 - 9:56 pm

They are, but they’re not in nearly as bad shape as the R32 and the barely-running R42A’s. The R46’s also have new AC units and have mostly gone through a good servicing the past few years. Their LCD side displays are pretty much all borked though, so that’s unfortunate.

Andrew June 4, 2012 - 10:23 pm

Transplant the sign boxes from the R32’s! 🙂

Alex C June 4, 2012 - 10:55 pm

I’d actually love to see that Frankenstein job. BTW, I’d love to see them replace the side signs on the R32’s with amber LED signs. That would be a new sight for our subway.

mike d. June 5, 2012 - 1:47 pm

MTA needs money and its a waste to do that. Those R32 cars are retiring in 2-3 years.

Alex C June 6, 2012 - 1:46 am

Wasn’t really being serious there. I just thought the idea of having those R32-type side signs but with 3 lines of LED displays instead of the roll-signs would’ve been interesting.

Someone December 16, 2012 - 6:22 pm

In 1989, maybe that would have been a choice. In 2012 when the MTA is about to retire the cars in 3 years, that is not a serious idea.

Justin Samuels June 5, 2012 - 3:16 pm

The R211 order, being designed now, will replace the R46 cars. Remember the MTA just got rid of the R44, which looked identical to the R46s.

mike d. June 5, 2012 - 1:57 pm

MTA is planning to replace the R46 car fleet right now; still is too early to release an RFP. After the R179 car order, it is R211. Its going to be 60 footers and same design with Eco-friendly or green technology stuff.

Seth Rosenblum June 5, 2012 - 1:49 pm

These trains are going to be 60 feet long, right? Has the MTA decided to permanently ditch 75-foot cars?

mike d. June 5, 2012 - 1:53 pm

MTA is not ordering anymore 75 foot cars. Fleet standardization = Same old boring look.

Larry Littlefield June 5, 2012 - 3:38 pm

That’s just what I want. I want a NYC subway car to look like a NYC subway car.

Andrew June 5, 2012 - 10:22 pm

Prove it.

The R179’s had to be 60 foot cars, since some of them are replacing Eastern Division cars.

75 foot cars have significant cost advantages. I don’t know what the R211’s will look like, but I’d be surprised if the MTA has permanently ruled out 75 foot cars.

Alon Levy June 6, 2012 - 7:16 pm

60′ cars have a significant capacity advantage: more doors per unit of length. Once you have the Eastern Division and the legitimately crowded lines like QB and the A/C, there’s not much of a point ordering something that can only be used on a handful of lines.

Andrew June 6, 2012 - 8:22 pm

You’re comparing existing 60 foot cars to existing 75 foot cars. Who’s to say that future 75 foot cars won’t have 5 doors on each side?

All of the cars ordered by NYCT after the R68A’s have been in fixed sets of 4 or 5 cars. The moment that decision was made, the ability to swap trains between the Eastern Division and the rest of the system was essentially given up (except for the C). No, 75 foot cars can’t run on the Eastern Division, but neither can 10 car trains.

mike d. June 6, 2012 - 9:25 pm

Prove it…. go ask MTA. They are just about finish evaluating benefits of 60 vs 75 ft and probably finish the final design phase of R211 project.

Andrew June 6, 2012 - 10:12 pm

So are you going to share some of those benefits with us or are we supposed to take your word for it?

mike d. June 7, 2012 - 1:32 am
Andrew June 7, 2012 - 7:14 pm

I guess you aren’t.

mike d. June 7, 2012 - 10:41 pm

you too lazy.

Nathanael June 9, 2012 - 3:46 pm

75 foot cars were determined to (1) not run on all lines, (2) be more damaging to wheels and tracks on the relatively tight curves, (3) have worse ADA access at lightly-curved platforms.

60-foot is the future.

Andrew June 10, 2012 - 9:56 am

600 foot trains can’t run on all lines. It doesn’t matter how long each car is. The R211 order will be for 300 foot units only, so it doesn’t matter whether they can run on lines that are limited to 480 foot trains.

I doubt that the marginal increase in maintenance costs on wheels and tracks due to longer cars is substantial enough to exceed the additional cost to purchase and maintain a 25% larger fleet. (That includes 25% more wheels!)

The ADA issue is also minor. How many stations are ADA-compliant with 60 foot cars but not with 75 foot cars?

Purchasing and maintaining 25% more cars is costly, and that cost needs to be weighed against the benefit. If those costs doesn’t matter, why buy 60 foot cars? Wouldn’t 50 foot cars been even better? And 37.5 foot cars better still?

Someone December 16, 2012 - 6:33 pm

It’s not ADA access that is important (as less than 1/4 of the subway is ADA-compliant) but the fact that the longer the car, the more it costs.

Someone December 16, 2012 - 6:25 pm

Who’s to say that future 75-footers built for the MTA won’t have 5 pairs of doors per side?

Someone September 23, 2012 - 6:38 pm

The MTA aren’t original with the rolling stock anymore. The newest rolling stock all look like each other for some reason.

Someone December 12, 2012 - 11:51 am

Put the R179s on the M where they really need it the most, and bring the R160As on the M to the C (different yard assignment)

Andrew December 12, 2012 - 11:47 pm

Why does the M need the R179’s any more than the C does?

Someone December 16, 2012 - 6:14 pm

The M will run on the Queens Blvd Line, where CBTC will be installed. Hopefully the R211 order comes pretty soon as well, and there will be enough trains to supply all the services from Jamaica Yard with CBTC. The SAS can use R160s transferred from Jamaica.

As Bombardier struggles, R179 delay to cost MTA $50 million :: Second Ave. Sagas August 14, 2015 - 12:17 am

[…] in 2012 from the governor, set to produce these cars in its Plattsburgh, NY plant, but delivery, originally scheduled to begin this year, is not on time. The MTA hasn’t divulged the cause of the delay, but ours isn’t the […]

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