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R33 (New York City Subway car)

NYCS R33ML.jpg
An R33 train on the 5 at West Farms Square–East Tremont Avenue.
R33 interior.JPG
Interior of an overhauled R33 car.
In service1962–2003
ManufacturerSt. Louis Car Company
Built atSt. Louis, Missouri
Entered serviceNovember 15, 1962
2013 (cars used as refuse motors)
Number built500 cars (250 pairs)
Number in service(42 in work service)
Number preserved11
Number scrapped447
FormationMarried Pairs
Fleet numbers8806–9305
Operator(s)New York City Subway
Car body constructionLAHT carbon steel
Car length51.04 feet (15.56 m)
Width8.75 feet (2,667 mm)
Height11.86 feet (3,615 mm)
Doors6 sets of 50 inch wide side doors per car
Maximum speed55 mph (89 km/h)
Weight72,900 lb (33,100 kg)
Traction systemGE 17KG192AE2/3 (9076–9305 formerly Westinghouse)
Traction motors(?)
Power outputWestinghouse 1447JR/GE 1257E1, 100 hp (74.6 kW) per axle
Electric system(s)600 V DC Third rail
Current collection methodContact shoe
Braking system(s)WABCO, "SMEE" electrodynamic
Safety system(s)Emergency brakes
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

The R33 was a New York City Subway car model that was built by St. Louis Car Company in 1962 and 1963. The cars are a "follow-up" or supplemental stock for the A Division’s R29s and closely resembled them. The cars were also referred to as R33MLs (R33 Main Line) to distinguish them from the R33WFs.


The first set of R33 cars was placed in service on the 1 train on November 15, 1962. Five hundred cars were built and served on all IRT subway lines.[1][2] In 1972 they became the first "A" division cars to be retrofitted with air conditioning when cars 9086/7, 9118/9, 9162/3, 9226/7, 9282/3, & 9294/5 were retrofitted at the 239 Street Yard with a modified version of the Stone Safety Air conditioning unit designed to fit on the smaller IRT cars, and by 1982 all R33 cars had received air conditioning. The cars were also rebuilt between 1986 and 1991.

Before they were rebuilt, the R33 cars were grouped as follows:

From 1987 until early 1991, the R33 cars were overhauled and rebuilt by the MTA's 207th Street and Coney Island Overhaul Shops. All cars were refitted with General Electric equipment. Existing General Electric cars received New York Air Brake Newtran brake packages; the former Westinghouse cars received an updated brake package from the Westinghouse Air Brake Company.

After rebuilding, R33 cars served on the 2, 4, and 5 trains, and occasionally on the 7 train.


In 1996, New York City Transit announced that it would begin phasing out all Redbird cars – the R26, R28, R29, R33, and R36,[3] with the arrival of the R142 and R142A cars, which entered service in 2000. The last train of R33s made its last trip on the 4 route on April 14, 2003.

Most of the retired cars were stripped and dumped into the Atlantic Ocean to form artificial reefs. However, many R33 cars were saved for various purposes throughout the New York City Subway system, including:

  • 8885 - converted into a rail adhesion car for the IRT Dyre Avenue Line after a derailment south of the Franklin Avenue station that led to the retirement of its mate, 8884.[4] The car is hauled by other cars during the fall season.
  • 8912–8913 - used as a static display at the Tiffany Street Iron Shops, a training facility for elevated structure workers in Hunts Point, Bronx. This pair was previously involved in a derailment at the 239 Street Yard.
  • 9010–9011, 9016–9017, 9068–9069 and 9206–9207 - preserved for the New York Transit Museum. They were repainted into various vintage paint schemes and used for various purposes since retirement, specifically on the Train of Many Colors.
  • 9075 – on display outside Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens, Queens. The car was retrofitted with swinging doors and converted into a tourist center, but was closed in 2015 due to low patronage.[5] Since then, the car is now used as a landmark and for movie shoots.[6]
  • 21 pairs were painted yellow and black and converted to work service as R161 rider cars RD400-RD441 from 1999 to 2004, allowing the retirement of the older R71 rider cars. RD407 (ex-8869) was damaged in a derailment and was scrapped in 2013. RD440-RD441 were further converted into de-icer cars.

Other cars were retained for work service until 2013, when they were scrapped, including:

  • Pairs 8812–8813, 8834–8835, 8996–8997, and 9000–9001 – - used to haul refuse trains until being scrapped in 2013. It was based from the 38th Street Yard, and was replaced with R32s restricted to work service.
  • Pair 8888–8889 – used to haul refuse trains until being scrapped in 2013. It was based from the Westchester Yard, but in 2011 was mothballed when Westchester Yard stopped using subway cars for work service.
  • Pair 9156–9157 – used for police training at Floyd Bennett Field until late 2013, when the pair was replaced by R110B 3001. The cars were moved to Linden Yard, and then up to the 207 Street Yard in 2014 for disposal.

Route assignments

Routes Years in Service Cars
1 1962 All cars
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 1963–1966 All General Electric and Westinghouse cars
2, 4, 5, 6 1966 All cars
2, 4, 5 1966–1985 General Electric cars
6 1966–1988 Westinghouse cars
3 1984–1986 Some Westinghouse cars
2, 5 1986–2002 Most rebuilt cars
4 1988–2003 Some rebuilt cars
7 1989–1996 Some rebuilt cars


See also


  1. ^ "".
  2. ^ "".
  3. ^ "NYC Transit prepared for major subway car procurement". Railway age. Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation. September 1, 1996. Retrieved November 27, 2009.
  4. ^ []
  5. ^ Roberts, Georgett; Strum, Beckie (July 10, 2015). "Queens tourist center closes because no tourist ever went there". New York Post.
  6. ^ Ngu, Rebecca; Small, Eddie; Kern-Jedrychowska, Ewa (March 25, 2016). "'The Get Down' Filmed a Subway Scene in Queens' Retired Redbird". DNAinfo New York. Archived from the original on August 21, 2016. Retrieved July 1, 2016.