Chapter 11, Another Renewal for the IRT
They Moved The Millions · by Ed Davis, Sr.
[This photo wasn't used in the book but it is a similar view; Northbound R62 and southbound R33 at Bedford Park Boulevard, April 10, 1998. Photo by David Pirmann.]
Although by 1970 the rolling stock used on the IRT lines was becoming deteriorated, there were still many years of projected life left for this equipment. Much of it was already 20 years old but even the cars built in the late 1950's were showing wear. No new cars were planned for the A Division, or the IRT, as older equipment on the B Division was being replaced. By the early 1980's new cars were again being planned for the A Division. When contracts were up for bid Kawasaki Heavy Industries of Japan was the low bidder. The Budd Company made a big fuss over this, and no doubt there were strong feelings about a Japanese firm building the new cars, but the unfortunate fact was that had Budd gotten the contract neither the bodies nor electrical equipment would have been American made. A second contract for 825 cars was let, and awarded to Bombardier of Canada, formerly Montreal Locomotive works, a one-time subsidiary of American Locomotive Company. While neither Kawasaki nor Bombardier are American firms it is good to know that 43 percent of the value of the Kawasaki cars is American and that the Bombardier cars would be assembled in Vermont.
With escalator clauses in the R62 contract for inflation it is estimated that the 325 cars built by Kawasaki would cost $930,000 each. An interesting note to this is how the prices of railears have increased dramatically since the period following the Second World War. The R10's in 1948 cost $77,000 each; the cars built in the mid-1960's cost about $115,000 each (without air conditioning), and the R44 of 1970 cost about $206,000 each. In 1975 the price tag for the R46 was $299,000 per car; in less than ten years the price tripled. Wages certainly haven't increased that much.
The first R62 cars arrived from Japan in the summer of 1983. They were built to conventional IRT standards for dimensions and a rather husky car, weighing in at 74,500 lbs, equal to the old Steinway cars of the old IRT, and heavier than the R32 thru 40 cars without air conditioning, but it must be mentioned that air conditioning equipment adds about 2.5 tons of weight to each car.
The R62's are the first stainless steel cars in service on the A Division. Additionally their finish is supposed to be grafitti resistant so hopefully this will thwart the armies of disrespectful people who use spray paint and magic markers to deface the cars and make the New York Subway a disgrace to New Yorkers and visitors alike. Neither system administration nor law enforcement authorities have been able to conquer this terrible vandalism that seems to go on unchecked since 1971.
New equipment never has and never will instill respect in people that have no values, and the arrest of a "graffitti artist" defacing one of the new trains proves it.
Mechanically the R62's are a step backward but hopefully the proven, heavy duty equipment that preceded the R44 and R46 classes will be suitable for the service and be properly maintained so a repeat of the disastrous conditions of the system will not recur in a few years. The R62's are being built as single cars and are much like the R42's which were thought to be the last of their type. Electrical equipment including traction motors and air conditioning are made in USA, as is the braking equipment.
The R62's were run in tests all over the system and had their share of "bugs" which new equipment usually has; hopefully all will be ironed out and these signs of better things to come will prove themselves worthy of their call. The author honestly doubts that any equipment built over the last 30 or so years will duplicate the many years of service that the original equipment of the first third of the century, but if some 25 years of reliable service can be given by the new stock then they will have earned their keep. Poor maintenance is nothing new; in the 1930's the Interborougb was bankrupt, and had suffered hard times before the depression, especially since the city would not let them increase their fares beyond the 5 cent level which had been charged since 1904. While inflation was not rampant then costs were always rising and even in those days the costs of cars had doubled in ten years, not to mention operating costs. Furthermore, the Second World War brought about the loss of skilled personnel in all industries and railroads were no exception; undoubtedly maintenance was not the best then. Nonetheless the old High-V's, Low-V's and other such equipment managed to serve until the late 1950's and early 1960's doing a superb job all those years. Let us hope that the threat of more foreign competition and further loss of jobs in this country will bring about a return to the old-fashioned quality and craftsmanship that once existed here. Let us further hope, again, that the new R62's, in an attempt to introduce reliable equipment to the system, will again make the great New York City Transit System a dependable and comfortable, and even moreso a socially acceptable means of transportation.
A train of new R62 cars arrives southbound on the Jerome line at Bedford Park Boulevard. The strange looking wire coils on the station are an attempt to keep graffiti artists off the system [Concourse Yard is directly behind the station platform]. Franklin B. Roberts.
The MTA look which has been evident on all transit and suburban cars in New York since 1968 is apparent here. A northbound train of R62's leaves 183rd St. on the Jerome line. Franklin B. Roberts.
New Japanese built R62 train at Bedford Park Blvd. on the Jerome Ave. line. Air conditioning, pleasant styling, and simpler electrical gear will hopefully bring people back to a crumbling system, Franklin B. Roberts.
Copyright 1985 by Edward C. Davis, Sr.
Reproduced on nycsubway.org with permission.