New open gangway subway cars to debut on the A and C lines this year

February 6, 2023

All photos courtesy of Marc A. Hermann / MTA on Flickr

Starting this year, commuters on the A and C subway lines will be able to easily walk from one train car to the next. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority last week unveiled one of the “open gangway” subway cars, which are undergoing testing and are expected to carry passengers by the end of the year. The open gangway cars, which feature accordion-like walls that connect the entire train, are part of an order that includes 535 subway and Staten Island Railway R211 cars, 20 of which will have the open gangway design.

“Putting these cars into service will be a huge milestone in the MTA’s efforts to modernize our fleet,” MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said. “These modern subway cars will of course upgrade the passenger experience, but they will also complement our signal improvement efforts and allow us to run more trains and provide more frequent subway service.”

In 2018, the MTA announced a contract with Kawasaki Rail Car, Inc. to manufacture 535 R211 cars. Following pandemic-related delays, the first batch of new cars arrived in the city for testing in July 2021. Last October, the MTA Board voted to approve an order for 640 additional R211 subway cars, bringing the total number of R211 cars to 1,175.

According to the MTA, the second set of new cars is scheduled to be delivered in early 2025. If testing is successful, there’s a second option for 437 more cars with open gangways.

Door openings on the R211 cars measure 58 inches wide, eight inches wider than doors on existing cars. Wider doors are expected to allow for quicker on- and off-boarding, which will lead to a reduced “dwell time,” or the time a train spends in the station loading and unloading passengers.

Other modern perks of the new cars include security cameras, digital displays with real-time service updates, brighter lighting, and better signage. The cars are also equipped with the MTA’s new communications-based signal technology, making it possible to run more trains closer together.

Testing is currently underway on the standard R211s, which are expected to be put into service this spring.

The new cars will eventually replace the MTA’s fleet of 1970s-era R46 cars that run on the A, F, R, and C lines, as well as the Staten Island Railway.

“Wider doors and additional accessible seating will drastically improve the experience for all riders and particularly those with disabilities,” MTA Chief Accessibility Officer Quemuel Arroyo said. “Open gangway pilot cars will also allow customers with mobility devices or strollers the ability to move through a train like never before, and I’m excited to try out these new cars.”


All photos courtesy of Marc A. Hermann / MTA on Flickr

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