New high-tech subway cars arrive in Brooklyn

July 2, 2021 Raanan Geberer
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Systems will let trains run closer together, more safely

The first five subway cars in the new R211 fleet were unveiled on Thursday at the rail interchange and freight yard at 39th Street and First Avenue on the Brooklyn waterfront.

These new cars, manufactured by Kawasaki, are part of an initiative to expand the use of CBTC (communication-based train control) technology. 

Using this technology, the train control continuously senses the condition of the tracks via radio technology. The data then becomes available to the driver and those at control centers. DAILY TOP BROOKLYN NEWSNews for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Thus, said Janno Lieber, president of MTA Construction and Development, the technology will allow the MTA to run trains closer together.

The subway cars also include grab rails, LED lighting, closed-circuit TV, and digital displays to provide real-time service information and safety graphics, Lieber said at Thursday’s news conference. 

A crew member manually adjusts a switch so the train can proceed from rail tracks onto MTA subway tracks. MTA photo by Marc Hermann

They also feature doors that are wider than standard doors on existing cars. They are expected to speed up boarding time within the stations.

However, don’t expect to be riding R211s any time soon. There will be more than a year of testing. 

Then, if all goes well, the initial 535 cars will arrive by September 2022, according to Lieber. –>

The interior of one of the new R211 subway cars. Notice that protective material is still on the floors. MTA photo by Marc Hermann

At first, they are slated to be used on the Queens Boulevard line, but it’s possible that some may be deployed to the A and C lines, both of which run along Brooklyn’s Fulton Street corridor. In addition, said Lieber, some will be headed to the MTA’s Staten Island Railroad.

“Today is an exciting day for everyone in the Department of Subways,” said Demetrius Crichlow, acting senior vice president for the Department of Subways at MTA New York City Transit. “The impact for customers is going to be huge once we complete testing and get these on the rails. Our riders will experience enhancements to the ridership experience with expanded doors that will help speed up boarding time.” 

The R211s are part of a $6.1 billion investment in rolling stock that’s included in the current capital plan. While the full base order of R211 consists of the aforementioned 535 cars, the contract will include options for up to 1,500 cars that NYCT may exercise over time. 

An MTA driver begins towing the new cars with a locomotive. MTA photo by Marc Hermann

Furthermore, 20 of the upcoming order of R211s will have accordion-like passageways between the cars, similar to those found on the articulated buses, that allow passengers to go from one car to another.

While the cars were originally expected from Kawasaki a year ago, the order was held up by complications stemming from the COVID situation as well as by technical glitches.

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