First Look: NYCT Unveils R211s

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor

MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) has taken delivery of the first five of 535 Kawasaki R211 rapid transit cars; they will begin qualification testing in the coming weeks.

The cars, part of a $1.4 billion order placed in 2018, were unveiled July 1 and are expected to begin revenue service operation on select letter lines (B Division) in summer 2022. They will replace R42 cars dating to 1969-70, and some R32 cars, which are more than 50 years old.

The R211s feature 58-inch door spans—eight inches wider than standard doors on existing cars—that are designed to speed boarding and reduce dwell time at stations. They also include digital displays that will provide real-time information about service and stations; brighter lighting and signage; and a “slicker bonnet design,” according to NYCT.

The Kawasaki contract includes options for up to 1,500 cars that NYCT may exercise over time. As part of a pilot program, 20 of the R211s will feature an open-gangway configuration, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) reported. That design features “soft accordion-like walls and allows riders to move freely between cars to reduce crowding and distribute passenger loads more evenly throughout the train.”

The R211s are part of a $6.1 billion investment in rolling stock that’s included in the current capital plan, according to MTA.

“The arrival of the first of the R211s marks a critical milestone in the MTA’s broader efforts at modernization,” MTA Construction & Development President Janno Lieber said. “They are a vital element of our historic capital plan that is continuing to pick up steam as we begin to emerge from the pandemic. In addition to giving riders a more modern passenger experience, they’re also essential to the re-signaling initiatives already under way that will allow us to increase capacity by running more trains, and providing more frequent service.” 

“The impact for customers is going to be huge once we complete testing and get these on the rails,” said Demetrius Crichlow, Acting Senior Vice President for the Department of Subways at New York City Transit. “Our riders will experience enhancements to the ridership experience with expanded doors that will help speed up boarding time. I can’t wait for customers to experience the R211 experience starting next summer.”

NYCT announced plans in February 2020 to develop and purchase up to 949 new R262 subway cars with an open-gangway configuration, designed for the A Division (numbered lines).

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