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PHOTOS: Six More 1960s-Era R-32 Subway Cars Begin Final Journey

New York City Transit
Updated May 5, 2022 2:30 p.m.
R32s Float

New York City Transit Recently Retired the R-32’s After 58 Years of Service

Trains Made Their Final Runs in Early January

View Photos of R-32s Making the Journey Across the Hudson

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that six of the recently retired R-32 subway cars, nicknamed the Brightliners, sailed across the Hudson River on a Port Authority barge to Jersey City where they will be placed onto CSX freight trains for shipment to Ohio. The Port Authority’s cross-harbor car float is the only harbor freight crossing of its kind in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area and is a key cargo movement option between New Jersey and Long Island, particularly for domestic cargo.

The cars had been disassembled at an NYNJ rail yard over approximately four days by separating the car bodies from the trucks.

About the R-32s

The R-32s were the first large fleet of mass-produced stainless-steel cars purchased by New York City Transit (NYCT), comprising a total of 600 cars. Built in Philadelphia by the Budd Company, they were nicknamed the Brightliners because of their washboard-like stainless steel exteriors. The first revenue train ran on Sep. 14, 1964 on what is today‘s Q line, and in recent years, they were mainly found on the   and  lines.

With a state-of-the-art design for its time, the Brightliners quickly became a crowd favorite and continues to be a nostalgic favorite to many. The cars introduced design elements unlike any of its predecessors, but one that the MTA has received inspiration from for its newest train cars. Notably, the R-32 cars are the last subway car class in service to have a front window that passengers can look out of.

The cars were featured in multiple blockbuster films including Bridge of Spies (2015), Spiderman: Homecoming (2017) and Joker (2019). Many R-32s were retired in the late 2000s, when the R-160 cars began filtering into the subway system. A large number of these cars were sunk in the Atlantic Ocean as part of an artificial reef program.

The R-32s made their final run on along their original debut route from 1964, on the  line (the then-BMT Brighton Line) on January 9. 

More information on the Port Authority’s cross-harbor rail car float operation is available here.