On October 14, Torontonians finally got a look at their new “Toronto Rocket” subway cars, although to do so they had to wade through a bevy of politicians and media. Many stirring speeches were heard from all levels of government, and from the manufacturer, Bombardier. Any mention of keeping jobs in Canada brought rousing applause.
The new cars have been some time coming going back to an order in 2006 that should have been on the rails last year. Delays with suppliers are blamed, notably the doors. One wonders why the contract wasn’t simply given to another supplier, or if other factors were involved leaving the doors as a handy scapegoat.
There are two striking features of these cars, one physical, and one technical:
- From the passengers’ viewpoint, a six car trainset is one continuous space. This will allow people to roam through the train to better distribute loads, and also frees up space used for mid-train cabs and car ends to become part of the passenger compartment.
- From the technical point of view, not only are these trains equipped for Automatic Train Control, they are supposed to be much, much more reliable than their predecessors. We shall see, given that the T1 cars were, themself, supposed to be a huge improvement over the H-series equipment they replaced.
For the next five months or so, the TTC will be testing its first sets of cars, and revenue service is expected in spring 2011. Over the next four years, leading up to the Spadina Subway Extension opening in 2015 (itself not a sure thing), the H4, H5 and H6 equipment will be phased out of service, and much of the T1 fleet will shift to the Bloor-Danforth line. (I will write about fleet planning in a separate article.)