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R4 (New York City Subway car)

R4 subway car at Seashore Trolley Museum, June 2007.jpg
An R4 subway car on display at the Seashore Trolley Museum
MTA NYC R4 484 interior.JPG
Interior of R4 car 484.
ManufacturerAmerican Car and Foundry
Family nameArnines
Number built500
Number preserved4
Number scrapped496
Formationmotorized single units (Half-width operator's cab at each end; conductor controls on exterior)
Fleet numbers400-899
Operator(s)Independent Subway System
New York City Transit Authority
Car body constructionRiveted Steel
Car length60 feet 2 12 inches (18.35 m)
Width10 feet (3.05 m)
Height12 feet 1 58 inches (3.70 m)
Doors8 sets of 45 inch wide side doors per car
Maximum speed55 mph (89 km/h)
Weight84,503 lb (38,330 kg)
Traction systemGeneral Electric (GE) 714 A-1, A-2 DC Motors (2 per motor truck)
Power output190 hp (142 kW) per traction motor
Acceleration1.75 mph/s (2.82 km/(h⋅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
Coupling systemWABCO H2A
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

The R4 was a New York City Subway car model built from 1932 to 1933 by the American Car and Foundry Company in Berwick, Pennsylvania. These subway cars were purchased for the IND division. They were practically identical to the R1s which preceded them, except that the R4s had a slightly different side door panel than the R1, adding small handle notches below the door window.


ACF built these cars between 1932 and 1933. The 500 R4s were numbered 400-899 to continue the R1's sequence of numbers. The R5 contract order was for trucks and motors for R4 fleet. In 1932, each new car cost $30,633 for the carbody under contract R4.[1]

The contract of subway cars was ordered to equip extensions of the IND in Queens, the Bronx, and Brooklyn.[1] The R4s were used for service on the IND exclusively until 1972 or 1973.

Most R4s were retired between 1972 and 1973 as age decayed the cars' internal components, causing the cars to perform worse than their newer contemporaries. Many were replaced by the R44s. Other cars were salvaged and renumbered with number plates taken from retired R6, R7, R7A, and R9 cars and transferred to the East New York Yard. They ran on the Eastern Division until 1977, when they were finally replaced by the R46s.


NYC Subway R4 401 on the Holiday Shopper Special at 2nd Avenue

Most of the cars were scrapped after retirement. However, four examples have been preserved:

  • Car 401 has been preserved by Railway Preservation Corp. and restored. This car contains two side doors that were previously used on R1 car 175, which lack the small handle notches below the door window.
  • Car 484 has been preserved by the New York Transit Museum and restored. This car was one of the two cars that were outfitted with "bullseye" lighting and an experimental PA system.
  • Car 800 has been preserved by the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine. The car was modified with trolley poles and is used in various trips at their museum, often coupled to R7 car 1440.
  • Car 825 has been preserved at the Trolley Museum of New York in Kingston, New York. It is currently undergoing a full cosmetic restoration with a planned completion date for April 2019, and expected to be fully operational within the 2019 or 2020 season.

Experimental Refits

  • In 1946, 744 and 484 were outfitted with "bullseye" lighting and an experimental PA system.
  • In 1962, 467 became the first of the first-generation IND subway cars to be retrofitted with sealed beam headlights.

Further reading

  • Sansone, Gene. Evolution of New York City subways: An illustrated history of New York City's transit cars, 1867-1997. New York Transit Museum Press, New York, 1997 ISBN 978-0-9637492-8-4


  1. ^ a b Cunningham, Joseph; DeHart, Leonard O. (1993). A History of the New York City Subway System. J. Schmidt, R. Giglio, and K. Lang.