all the cool new subway cars have been taken out of service
Nearly all of the MTA’s new cars have derailed. Six of the seven subway trains made up of the newest R211 cars are out of service due to faulty gearboxes, Gothamist reports.
Subway operators explained that gearboxes on trains are similar to gears that drive a bicycle chain and allow the wheels to rotate. If one of them is damaged on a subway train, the wheels become blocked and slip. And when steel wheels slip, they can become flat, causing bumps and clanks as the train moves along the tracks.
Footage posted online last week shows exactly that happening, with the new R211 train roaring through the Nostrand Avenue station on the A line as it is taken out of service.
“During routine maintenance on R211 subway cars, New York City Transit crews discovered a transmission problem in some of the cars,” said Eugene Resnick, an MTA spokesman. “As is typical when problems are identified with a specific model of subway car, we have temporarily taken the affected trains out of service pending further testing.”
Since August, the MTA said it has been putting two new R211 trains into service each month, consisting of 10 cars each. Company representatives called these trains “advanced, most modern, faster, cleaner and safer.” The new models will provide “more reliable service,” MTA officials said.
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R211 trains are currently running on the A Line. MTA officials said train service has not been affected.
Constant problems with new trains
In April, one of the new trains was also removed from service after graffiti appeared on it. In early 2020, the MTA pulled all of its then-newest subway cars out of service due to a faulty door mechanism. These trains, called R179, are manufactured by Bombardier and were delivered almost three years behind schedule.
The problems with the R211 follow further production delays from Kawasaki, which signed a $1.44 billion contract for 535 new subway cars in 2018. The first of the new cars arrived more than a year late. Last year, the MTA board approved the purchase of 640 more R211 cars from Kawasaki for $1.78 billion.
At an MTA board meeting this week, board Chairman Janno Lieber called for more competition in the railcar market. He noted that the MTA is required by federal law to buy American-made railcars. Only two American companies make railcars: Kawasaki, which has plants in Nebraska and Yonkers, and Alstom, which acquired Bombardier in 2021.
“We really need to take action to develop a competitive market for railcars and buses,” Lieber said.
New York City Transit President Richard Davey called the mechanical problems a “warranty issue,” stressing that taxpayers will not pay to fix them. He predicts the trains will be back in service within a few weeks.