At its meeting on November 17, the TTC will consider a report on the yard needs for the Yonge-University-Spadina subway.
Updated November 15 at 6:10 pm:
A reference to the replacement dates for the BD signal system and the T1 fleet has been corrected. This triggers a discussion of whether the TTC will concoct an excuse to retire the T1’s early on the grounds that it is not worth installing ATO on them.
Updated November 15 at 4:30 pm:
The Subway Rail Yard Needs Study (aka SRYNS) proposes that future operations of the Yonge-University-Spadina line through 2030 be provided through a combination of various facilities:
- Expansion of Wilson Yard
- Storage of 6-8 trains at Davisville Yard
- Consolidation of all non-revenue equipment (work trains) at Davisville Yard
- Provision of online storage for additional trains at Richmond Hill
- Sheppard Subway equipment (four 4-car T1 sets plus a spare) would be serviced at Greenwood
However, looking beyond 2030, staff foresee a need for additional storage and are asking the Commission for perimission to protect for a new yard on the Yonge line with purchase of property, should it become available. This is a rather oddly worded request to which I will return.
The SRYNS was funded by York Region in recognition of the storage and servicing issues that a Richmond Hill subway extension would create for the YUS line. The study explicitly does not look at requirements for the Bloor-Danforth line, but the report recognizes that this too must be examined. The restructuring of the fleet and storage requirements for YUS trigger a move of all T1 subway cars to Greenwood, but that yard is not large enough to hold all of them. In the short term, the TTC owns more T1s than would be required to operate both the BD and Sheppard subways, but this fleet will reach 30 years in 2026 and replacement with newer cars will occur within the timeframe of any projected yard requirements.
How Many Cars Do We Need?
The study states that the YUS fleet now consists of 62 trains of which 48 are required for service and the remainder are spares. However, the Subway Fleet Plan only shows spares at 13% for a total requirement of 55 trains. The current schedule calls for 44 trains in scheduled service plus 4 gap trains in the AM peak, for for 47 trains in scheduled service plus 2 gap trains in the PM peak. The peak requirement is, therefore, actually 49 trains on the current schedule. The YUS is operated with a mixture of T1 and H5 cars from Wilson and Davisville.
Peak service on the BD line now requires 42 trains in the AM and 39 in the PM. The Sheppard line requires 4 4-car trains in service at all times. BD operates with a mixture of T1, H6 and H4 cars, while Sheppard runs all T1 cars.
The fleet requirement based on current schedules is:
- YUS: 49 trainsets = 294 cars
- BD: 42 trainsets = 252 cars
- Sheppard: 4 trainsets = 16 cars
- Total: 562 cars
- Actual Fleet: 372 T1 cars plus 306 H-series cars
The TTC now has 39 TR trainsets on order, with an option for an additional 21, for a total fleet of 60 (360 cars). An additional 9 trainsets are included in the budget for the Spadina extension bringing the fleet to 69 trains (414 cars) by 2015.
In its fleet plan, as I have discussed elsewhere, the TTC double-counts the benefit of the larger capacity of the TR trains. It presumes it can provide 10% more capacity with the new trains, but also deducts 10% from its fleet requirements based on that same capacity saving. Correcting for this requires 9 more trains in the 2020 timeframe that the TTC was projecting, although I believe that they are now adjusting their plans. Nothing of this is mentioned in the SRYNS.
The study does project a requirement for 80 revenue trains by 2030, plus 8 spares, for a total of 88. This is a spare factor well below anything the TTC has achieved in recent memory.
The T1 fleet is considerably larger than today’s actual requirement for the BD and Sheppard lines which need 268 cars plus 40 spares (at 15%) or 308 vehicles. The TTC plans to add 6 trains to BD service by 2016 (7 including a spare), and this will soak up most of the surplus T1 stock.
Where Will We Put These Trains?
Assuming that the target fleet for 2030 is 88 trains (528 cars), Wilson and Davisville are quite short of space with a current capacity of 358-370 cars (about 60 trains) between them. Both carhouses have additional problems, especially at Davisville.
Wilson is organized to feed trains south onto Spadina from effectively the north end of the line, but this will not be the case once the Vaughan extension opens. The track layout at Wilson will be rearranged as part of that extension project. Wilson can be expanded with vacant land already owned by the TTC north of the existing yard.
Davisville was designed for the original G trains and, more generally, for car sets that could be broken up into pairs. The TR trains are semipermanently coupled 6-car sets, and these will not fit easily in all parts of Davisville Yard. Davisville cannot be expanded as it is bounded on all sides by roads, residential areas and a park.
The TTC considered 6 different schemes for accommodating the YUS fleet:
- Option 1 involves a small expansion at Wilson Yard and continued use of Davisville. This arrangement cannot handle an 88-train fleet, and it was discarded from further consideration.
- Option 2 includes full expansion of Wilson Yard, provision of online storage for 14 trains on the Richmond Hill Extension, and removing all revenue train operations from Davisville. Work trains now serviced at various locations would be consolidated at Davisville to release space in Greenwood and Wilson Yards.
- Option 2A is essentially the same as Option 2, but includes storage of 6-8 revenue trains at Davisville. This has a benefit in that the service buildup for both legs of the line would be better balanced, and dead-head time would be saved.
- Option 3 includes the construction of a new storage and maintenance facility in the Yonge corridor, probably somewhere along the Richmond Hill extension. However, the report describes such an option as “an environmental, political and risk challenge given the built up nature of the existing Yonge Subway corridor and along the proposed extension”.
- Option 4 includes a new storage and cleaning, but not maintenance, facility in the Yonge corridor. Many of the same issues apply as in Option 3.
- Option 5 includes a connection between the Sheppard-Yonge Station and Wilson Yard so that trains could be fed into the Yonge line from Wilson. The savings in operating cost from such a scheme is trivial compared to the cost of building the connection. Moreover, this arrangement would not add to yard space, only provide a way to get trains from Wilson to Richmond Hill comparatively quickly.
Option 2A is the recommended choice because it maximizes use of existing properties where subway operations are already approved. No new property would be required, and the configuration provides the best balance of storage and operations between the two legs of the YUS.
Finding a New Yard for YUS
A full maintenance and storage yard would require 10 hectares (25 acres) of land, while a storage-only yard would need 4 hectares (10 acres). Property of this size is not available in the Yonge corridor.
The TTC foresees the need to acquire an existing industrial property where a new subway yard would not disrupt surrounding businesses or residents.
The proposed 14 train storage and cleaning facility at Richmond Hill is expected to be underground and mainly on lands now in the public sector. The report shows a diagram of a track layout for this scheme, but not a site plan.
Longer term, assuming that the number of trains in service on YUS grows about 88, the TTC will require additional storage. This could be triggered by:
- A move to 7-car trains
- Reduction of the YUS headway below 105 seconds (1’45”)
- Extension of the Spadina Subway short-turn beyond of Glencairn
These stated constraints have interesting implications.
- Although the TTC has often talked about 90 second headways (1’30”) or 7-car trains, they do not plan to attempt such operation in the near future.
- The planned Spadina service to York University and beyond will be at best every other train at a 210 second (3’30”) peak headway.
The staff recommend that they have an open authority by way of a “budget envelope” in the 2015-2019 timeframe to purchase property to protect for yard expansion. This is the same capital budget from which the TTC recently cut a large number of projects due to funding limitations.
I cannot help thinking, given the wording of the report, that the TTC has its eye on a property already and wants to be able to move when it comes available. On one hand, they are quite frank that a new yard would be very difficult to obtain for the 2030 timeframe (options 3 and 4), but on the other, they want to protect for acquisition of a property late in the coming decade. These positions conflict with each other.
Either there is a property that will likely be available before 2020, or there isn’t, and if not, why make provision to buy one? Whether such a purpose is worthwhile depends on one’s view of the long-term structure of the subway network and demand.
For example, if the growth in peak demand on the YUS is capped by a combination of a Downtown Relief Line and frequent service on GO’s Richmond Hill route, a move below 105 second headways may not be required. Meanwhile, the BD line requires additional yard space and this might better fit with serving a DRL than a new property in York Region. I believe it is premature for the TTC to explicitly budget for another Yonge yard before they know how the regional network will actually evolve. These plans should be sorted out well before the timeframe of a 2015-19 property acquisition, and there is no need to give staff authority to acquire property today.
Capacity for Bloor-Danforth Trains
For the next decade, as noted above, the BD line’s growth in demand will be absorbed by the surplus T1 trains and there will be no need for additional storage. However, the TTC is considering two scenarios for growth:
- Headways reduced to 130 seconds (2’10”). This is the shortest that can be physically handled at the existing Kennedy and Kipling terminals given their track geometry. This would require about 4 more trains than the current service level. This is less than the growth shown in the Subway Fleet Plan, and can be handled by the available T1 fleet.
- Headways reduced to 105 seconds (1’45”). This operation would require ATO and would likely only be attempted following a BD resignalling. The existing plant will reach 50 years’ age 10 years before the T1 fleet is due for replacement. This would require about 64 trains including spares, plus a small allowance for the Sheppard line. Will the TTC use the cost of retrofitting ATO to the T1 fleet as an excuse to retire those cars ten years early?
Additional storage is available at Vincent Yard (8 trains), and some storage might be possible near Kipling (there is already a plan to add one storage track north of the existing station where provision was left for it in the structure).
The Rail Amalgamation Study
This study, which first appears as part of the SRYNS report, is supposed to review the function and requirements at various properties serving rail vehicles. The study is so new it does not even appear in the TTC’s Capital Budget.
Among the issues is should address (there is little detail in the staff report) are:
- How many trains will actually fit within existing facilities on the BD line? How soon will additional storage be needed?
- With the move to separate YUS and BD fleets, what modifications will be needed at Wilson so that it can assume its role as a full maintenance facility for TR trainsets while Greenwood handles the T1s?
- How would a DRL fit into these plans?
- What will Hillcrest’s role be once the CLRV/ALRV fleet has retired? Is it capable of handling the new Flexity cars in its work bays, or will all heavy maintenance of that fleet shift to the new Portlands Carhouse?
- What is the future role for the Russell and Roncesvalles properties?
- How will the various yards of the Transit City network serve their fleets especially before the network is fully interconnected?
- Is Black Creek Carhouse intended to be the heavy maintenance facility for Transit City?
- How does all of this affect capital budget planning?
The TTC appears to be coming to grips with the need to plan on a system-wide basis rather than one line at a time, although the SRYNS currently before the Commission only hints at this. While everyone has been busy drawing lines on maps, the TTC is now turning to the question of where to store and maintain the fleets these lines will need.