Rail Photo of the Month: January 2019

R179 3150

R179 3150

Location: 125th Street/Saint Nicholas Avenue Station, New York, NY
Operator of Vehicle: MTA New York City Transit
Date of Photo: December 23, 2018

It seems appropriate to welcome the new Gregorian year with a photo of one of the newest New York City Subway trains, the R179.  This is the first time I’ve taken a photo of an R179.  These B Division cars began revenue testing in November 2017, officially entered revenue service in December 2017, and currently operate on the C and J lines.  The R179 is yet another class of “New Technology Trains” (NTT) that include the R142, R142A, R160, and R188 car types.  The extent to which the NTTs have become the rolling stock associated with New York City Transit can be seen in how as I was taking these pictures, other transit fans at the station awaiting the vintage holiday train thought these cars were R160s.  While the R160s and R179s do look similar, they are not the same.  While the R32s and R42s that will be replaced by the R179s are not likely to be retired prior to the end of the Canarsie Line partial shutdown in 2020, the New York City transit fleet is gradually becoming more homogeneous as time goes on.

For more photos of the New York City Subway, please click here.

The NYC Vintage Holiday Train is Back!


For the past 10+ years, New York City Transit has operated its vintage R1-9 trains from the 1930s.  Unlike most other times these trains operate when only passengers who purchase a special ticket may board the train for an excursion, the holiday train is open to anyone who pays a regular subway fare.  In past years, the train would run along the V and later the M lines between 2nd Avenue on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and Queens Plaza.  However, for the first time, this year the train will be taking a different route.  While it will start at 2nd Avenue, this year it will travel on the F line to Lexington Avenue/63rd Street and then continue on the Q line to the new 96th Street/2nd Avenue station.

The holiday train operates each Sunday through December 24th.  It departs 2nd Avenue at 10 AM, 12PM, 2 PM, and 4 PM, and it departs 96th Street at 11 AM, 1 PM, 3 PM, and 5 PM.

Do you plan to ride it this year?

Rail Photo of the Month: August 2017

R160A 8497

R160A 8497

Location: 9th Avenue Station, Brooklyn, NY
Operator of Vehicle: MTA New York City Transit
Date of Photo: June 24, 2010

Over time, transit routes can and do change.  I took this photo of an M train entering the 9th Avenue station in Brooklyn on the last day of M train service at this location in 2010.  Starting the next Monday morning, the M train had a new route that used a track connection that had been out of use since 1976.  The M train is just one of many New York City Subway lines which has maintained both a segment where it has always run (Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn) and a variety of segments that it no longer serves (Brighton Line, West End Line, Nassau Street Line, etc.).  The same can go for certain stations.  The Myrtle Avenue Line originally served a now demolished upper level station at the Myrtle Avenue-Broadway Station and continued to Downtown Brooklyn.  The 9th Avenue Station where I took this photo has a disused lower level that serves the now demolished Culver Shuttle Line; you can see the tracks leading to that abandoned level to the right of the M train in this photo.  The New York City Subway has many fun nuances like this, as do other systems, though perhaps to a slightly lesser extent.  It is what makes this hobby so fun sometimes, to travel around and know what was and what could be and to document it as best I can.

For more photos of the R160s, please click here.


Rail Photo of the Month: January 2017

R44 5410

R44 5410

Location: Beach 25th Street Station, New York, NY
Operator of Vehicle: MTA New York City Transit
Date of Photo: June 28, 2010


Today at noon, the Second Avenue Subway will open for revenue service in New York City. The Second Avenue Subway was first conceived in 1929 as a six track line running the length of Manhattan.  Needless to say, it took a long time to turn this line from sketches on maps in to reality.  So long in fact that several classes of subway cars that were designed with the intention of operating them on the Second Avenue Subway were introduced, operated elsewhere on the subway, and have already been retired.  One of these car classes was the R44, which is featured as the photo of the month for January 2017 in honor of the opening of the Second Avenue Subway.

The R44 was the first New York City subway car to be 75 feet long, under the premise it would be more efficient to operate 8 75 foot long cars as a single train instead of 10 60 foot long cars (both trainsets are 600 feet long).  They were also the first cars to feature bucket seats, audible door chimes, and lacked the traditional straps that standing passengers held on to.  They were introduced on the F line in 1971, overhauled in the early 1990s, and remained in service until their retirement in 2010 due to structural integrity concerns, having never had the chance to operate on the line they were expected to serve.  Instead, the Second Avenue Subway will be served by the R160s that currently operate on the Q line.

For more photos of the R44 subway cars, please click here.


Happy Birthday to the New York City Subway!

Today marks the 112th anniversary of the opening of the New York City Subway.  On this date in 1904, the first section of subway opened.  At that time, the line started at the now abandoned City Hall station, operated up the Lexington Avenue line to 42nd Street, jogged west on the tracks that are now used by the 42nd Street Shuttle, and then continued up the Broadway line to 145th Street.  Stopping at 28 stations on this original route (including four that are no longer in service), it was an instant hit with New Yorkers.
Today, the New York City has more stations than any other subway system in the world (469) serving 1.7 billion passengers annually.  It is one of the few in the world to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and to have express tracks for much of its length.  The subway’s 113th year promises to be an exciting one as the Second Avenue Subway is (finally) due to open some time between now and next October 27 if all goes to plan.  We’ll see in a year from now if that actually happens, or if the SAS opening waits for year 114…


Oren’s Reading List: NYC Subway Record

34th Street-Hudson Yards Station, December 27, 2015

I enjoy riding trains, perhaps more than most.  That said, I don’t think Matthew Ahn needs to worry about my breaking his record for fastest trip through the entire New York City Subway.  He had the Guinness World Record for the feat, but then the new 34th Street-Hudson Yards station opened on the 7 last year.  Not only did Ahn set out to make sure he would still have the record for the expanded system, he beat his original record by about 21 minutes!  Read about his 21 hour 28 minute 14 second odyssey through all 469 New York City subway stations in this article from the New York Daily News.

While I don’t have any aspirations to challenge this record, I have been to every station on the subways in Washington, DC, Toronto, Rome, Haifa, as well as the entire Jerusalem Light Rail, in a single day (and some of those were on a single fare, too).  What about you?

Oren’s Reading List is an occasional feature on The Travelogue in which I share articles that I’ve read that might also be of interest to the readers of this website.

Oren’s Reading List: Where Do You Stand or Sit on the Subway?

I saw the following interactive about where people prefer to stand or sit on the subway in New York.  I seem to have different preferences than most people who have taken the survey so far.  How do your results compare to everyone else’s?  Find out here!

Do you like to sit or stand near the door?  Tomorrow I’ll share a recent article from CityLab that looks in to the psychology of where people position themselves on the subway.

Oren’s Reading List is an occasional feature on The Travelogue in which I share articles that I’ve read that might also be of interest to the readers of this website.

Oren’s Reading List: The Meaning Behind the NYC Subway Tile Colors

A friend of mine shared this article with me on my personal Facebook page, and I thought I’d share it with the wider audience here.  If you’ve ever been on the New York City Subway, perhaps you noticed that many of the underground stations have tiled walls and mosaics with the station names.  But did you know that the tile colors used to have meaning on the former IND lines?

The NYC subway used to be three, separate systems, and the IND was one of those systems.  Today’s A, B, C, D, E, F, G, M, R, and Rockaway Park Shuttle lines operate on what was the IND for at least part of their routes.  At the underground stations on these routes, the color of the columns and tiles in the station changes at each express stop as you head further away from Manhattan.  The subsequent local stations each have a shade of the same color used at the preceding express stop.  Then, at the next express stop, the color changes.  For example, 59th Street-Columbus Circle is an express stop and you can see in the first photo below that the station columns and tiles are blue. In the second photo, at 110th Street, a local stop north of 59th Street (and further away from downtown Manhattan) and before the next express stop at 125th Street, the columns are still blue.

59th Street

110th Street

You can read the entire article and see a map that visually shows which colors are used for each group of stations at The Gothamist.

Oren’s Reading List is an occasional feature on The Travelogue in which I share articles that I’ve read that might also be of interest to the readers of this website.