R1 (New York City Subway car)

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NYC Subway R1 100.jpg
R1 car 100 at 23rd Street on the Holiday Shopper's Special
In service1931–1977
ManufacturerAmerican Car and Foundry Company
Built atBerwick, Pennsylvania
Family nameArnines
Number built300
Number preserved4
Number scrapped296
Formationmotorized single units (Half-width operator's cab at each end; conductor controls on exterior)
Fleet numbers100–399
Capacity56 seats
Operator(s)Independent Subway System
New York City Transit Authority
Car body constructionRiveted steel
Car length60 ft 6 in (18.44 m)
Width10 ft 0 in (3.05 m)
Height12 ft 1.9375 in (3.71 m)
Floor height3 ft 1.875 in (0.96 m)
Doors8 sets of 45 inch wide side doors per car
Maximum speed55 mph (89 km/h)
Weight84,081 lb (38,139 kg)
Traction systemWestinghouse ABF type UP143B switch group, with XM-29 master controller using Westinghouse 570 D-5 traction motors (190 hp each). Two motors per car (both on motor truck, trailer truck not motorized).
Power output190 hp (142 kW) per traction motor
Acceleration1.75 mph/s (2.82 km/(h⋅s))
Deceleration~ 3 mph/s
Electric system(s)600 V DC Third rail
Current collection methodContact shoe (Top running)
Braking system(s)WABCO Schedule AMUE with UE-5 universal valve, ME-23 brake stand, and simplex clasp brake rigging. (Air Compressor: WABCO D-3-F)
Coupling systemWABCO H2A
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

The R1 was the first New York City Subway car type built for the Independent Subway System (IND). 300 cars were manufactured between 1930 and 1931 by the American Car and Foundry Company, numbered 100 through 399, all arranged as single units. Nicknamed City Cars, the R1s were the first of five subway car classes collectively referred to as Arnines, or R1-9s, with future passenger stock orders – including contracts R4, R6, R7/A, and R9 – being virtually identical, with minor mechanical and cosmetic variations.

The first R1s were delivered in 1931, in anticipation for the opening of the IND Eighth Avenue Line. For their time, the R1s introduced several improvements to subway car design that greatly sped up the flow of passengers in and out of trains. The R42s, R44s, and R46s gradually replaced the fleet of R1s, with the final run taking place in 1977. Several R1 cars were saved for preservation, while the rest were scrapped.


The R1s were numbered 100–399. They were the first "R" type contract order (referring to the practice of naming a car class by the letter "R" – which stands for rapid transit – followed by a number derived from the actual contract number). Future orders of subway cars, including those built for the A Division, would follow the R contract. The R2 contract order was for trucks and motors for the R1 fleet. In 1930, each new car cost $39,201: $30,483 for the car body under contract R1, and $8,718 for trucks and motors under contract R2.[1]


R1 car 100 on the IND Rockaway Line, celebrating the restoration of service to the Rockaways in 2013

The first R1 cars to see passenger service were twenty individual cars to serve for two 8 car trains plus spares that were placed in revenue service on the BMT Sea Beach Line from July 8 to November 1931 for testing and then returned to the IND the same year.[2][1] The BMT was to have been paid by the City of New York for the testing, but since they were fairly extensively used in service (made up as two 8-car trains), the BMT and City called it even.

The cars were ordered so that the new Eighth Avenue Line subway could be operated.[1]

In 1949, when all of the R10 cars were delivered and placed in service on the A line, approximately 224 of these R1 cars were transferred to the 36th Street Yard of the BMT Southern Division to relieve a car shortage on the BMT Lines. They were used for service on the BMT 2 (now R) Broadway 4th Avenue Local service, which in 1949 was also extended from Queensboro Plaza to Astoria–Ditmars Blvd, requiring more cars until 1961 when new R27/30 cars were delivered to the New York City Transit System's BMT Lines. The new R27/30 cars replaced and released these loaned R1 cars back to the IND Division.


Most R1s were retired between 1969 and 1970 as age decayed the cars' internal components, causing the cars to perform worse than their newer contemporaries. Many were replaced by the R42s, but some remained past 1970 until being retired and replaced by the R44s. However, car 369, which was renumbered to 576 in 1969 and then to 1768 in 1972, was transferred to the East New York Yard. It ran on the Eastern Division until February 1977, when it was finally replaced by the R46s.

Following their removal from service, the majority of the fleet was scrapped. Few cars remained as work cars and were used until the 1980s. Several other cars have been preserved and remain today, including:

  • 100 – preserved by the New York Transit Museum and restored. It is the first car of the Arnine fleet, numerically.
  • 103 – preserved by Railway Preservation Corp. and restored. It is currently stored at 207th Street Yard.
  • 381 – preserved by Railway Preservation Corp. and restored. It is currently stored at 207th Street Yard.

Car 175 is at the Seashore Trolley Museum, but is used only for storage and as a source of spare parts. It does not have trucks, and two of its side doors were donated to R4 401, which has been preserved by Railway Preservation Corp. and restored.


  1. ^ a b c Cunningham, Joseph; DeHart, Leonard O. (1993). A History of the New York City Subway System. J. Schmidt, R. Giglio, and K. Lang.
  2. ^ "Showing Image 47727". nycsubway.org.

Further reading[edit]

  • Gene Sansone, New York Subways: An Illustrated History of New York City's Transit Cars, ISBN 0-8018-7922-1, pp. 179 - 189

Media related to R1 (New York City Subway car) at Wikimedia Commons