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SIR Receives First R211S Cars

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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MTA Staten Island Railway R211S. All photos: Marc A. Hermann / MTA

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) on Oct. 18 rolled out a five-car set of “standard” (non-open-gangway) Kawasaki R211S rapid transit cars for service on MTA Staten Island Railway (SIR) beginning in early 2024. The carset is part of a 535-car base order that includes 440 R211A standard cars, 75 SIR R211S cars and 20 R211T cars with open gangways. All R211S cars are expected to be delivered by late 2024.

All R211s include security cameras, additional accessible seating, digital displays that will provide more detailed station-specific information, and brighter lighting and signage, among other features “that improve the customer experience,” the MTA said. “These cars are a critical part of the MTA’s ongoing modernization efforts and feature 58-inch-wide door openings that are eight inches wider than standard door openings on existing cars, designed to speed up boarding and reduce the amount of time trains sit in stations.” The current class of SIR cars are R44s, which entered service in 1973.

The first of five R211S cars to be connected into an integrated carset was transferred by truck from the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal to the Staten Island Railway Clifton Maintenance Shop on Oct 11, 2023. The 75-unit R211S order replace SIR’s 50-year-old R44 fleet.

The R211 is an NTT (New Technology Train) built by Kawasaki Rail Car Manufacturing Co. Ltd. for the New York City Transit (NYCT) B Division (lettered lines) and the SIR. They will replace all SIR R44s and all R46 NYCT subway cars. The order is split into three parts: R211A and 20 R211T cars for NYCT and R211S cars for the SIR. The R211Ts employ open gangways between cars, a new feature for the MTA. The R211As entered service on March 10, 2023, beginning a 30-day acceptance test. Following a successful second revenue service test with the pilot set, it officially entered service with the first production set on June 29, 2023.

The 535-car base order has two options for up to 1,077 additional cars, for a total of 1,612. With all options exercised, the contract is worth $3.7 billion in the order. The 440 R211A cars will partially replace the 748-car R46 fleet. The 20 R211T open gangway cars are prototypes first delivered in late 2022. The 75 R211S cars will replace the 61-car R44 SIR fleet. All R211s are 60 feet long, compared to the R44s and R46s, which are 75 feet long.

Option 1 for 640 R211As was exercised in late 2022 and is expected to be delivered in early 2025. Option 2, for 437 R211A or R211T cars, is designed to accommodate either standard cars or open gangway cars, depending on the test results from the 20 R211T prototypes from the base order. The R211Ts would also increase capacity and allow passengers to walk seamlessly from one car to the next.

Of the 1,612 total cars with both options exercised, 1,015 will replace existing equipment; 597 are designated for fleet expansions following extension of the Second Avenue Subway and continued rollout of CBTC.

“For the first time in 50 years, brand new, faster, cleaner and safer trains are coming to Staten Island,” said New York City Transit President Richard Davey. “These new, top-of-the-line R211 cars feature security cameras and digital displays, along with wider doorways that will help speed up boarding times and run more reliable service. I look forward to delivering Staten Island Railway customers a totally modernized fleet as we introduce more new cars in the future.” 

“Wider doors and additional accessible seating will dramatically improve the experience for all riders, particularly those with disabilities, parents with strollers and seniors,” said MTA Chief Accessibility Officer Quemuel Arroyo. “I’m excited for riders on Staten Island to experience a more comfortable and convenient ride.”

“We are investing in state-of-the-art subway cars that will allow us to provide the best and most reliable service to our customers,” said New York City Transit Senior Vice President for Subways Demetrius Crichlow. “The R211S will give riders a more comfortable and modern experience on Staten Island.” 

The R211T car features open gangways, new to the MTA.
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