For those who are purists about their transit advocacy, listing all of the planned track replacements may seem just the sort of thing a railfan might do. If that’s your attitude, you’re in the wrong article, probably the wrong site.
The streetcar track repairs planned for the next five years mark an important milestone in Toronto’s streetcar network. For two decades after the TTC decided to keep streetcars in operation, they continued to build poor track, and the quality of construction actually deteriorated as time went on. Some bright spark thought that unwelded rail, sitting on untreated wood ties, all poured in a slab of concrete, was a wonderfully modern way to built track. It wasn’t, and we saw streets fall apart quickly, in some cases within a decade of construction.
Things changed in the early 1990s, and over the years the TTC has moved to use continuously welded rail (a practice abandoned in the late 1960s), steel ties and rubber insulation to keep the track from vibrating the roadbed like a gigantic sounding board. At intersections, the change started later, but recent installations such as Church at Queen and at Adelaide are built to the same standards as the regular tangent track. This is track built to last.
The photo above shows Church and Adelaide. Visible here are:
- steel ties where they can be used, otherwise treated wooden ties
- welded rail
- rubber matting around the rails, and rubber moulded around the special work
- the machine used to move pre-assembled track panels into location
Within five years, presuming the gods of budget cutting don’t intervene, all of the track used by main routes in Toronto will have been rebuilt. Intersections will take longer because there are so many, and the TTC settled on its current standard of construction for them only recently.
This list may be amended to stretch out spending and relieve pressure on the City’s capital budget. However, even with some delays, this will see the streetcar track network back in first class condition over the coming decade.