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.)
Meanwhile, here are a few scenes from the event at Downsview.
Car 5391 facing south midway along the platform at Downsview where the ceremony was held. Partly visible is the door between the operator’s cab and the passenger compartment. This has a window, although how often the blind will be up allowing a view through the cab and out onto the tracks will depend on individual operators.
An important feature not obvious in this photo is that the central panel (from just under the destination sign to the floor line) is hinged at the bottom and folds down to provide an escape ramp. This is a welcome feature for those with mobility problems, but they will still have to deal with sundry obstacles at track level including track mounts, signal boxes and special work at junctions.
This is the interior of the train looking from the front of the second of six cars to the back of the train. The space has been designed to increase standee capacity.
This view looks across the articulation between the first and second cars. (The white chain hanging across the aisle was temporary to keep visitors from wandering off into the far end of the train.) These gangways between cars are much wider than on the ALRV fleet, although subway cars are not faced with the constraints of tight curves on the streetcar system.
Route maps are illuminated to show which line the train is on, and the current station is lit in green. Probably the most important change here is that the maps are riveted to the cars to prevent theft.
Although not immediately obvious in this photo, the doorways are a bit wider than those on the T1 fleet.
This is a wheelchair location just beside one of the doorways. Seats at this location normally flip up out of the way, but can be folded down by passengers wishing to use them. The pullbox on the wall just above the middle seat is not an emergency brake, but a request to talk to the operator. Similar units are mounted at each doorway, and they are tied into the camera system on the train. These are intended only for emergencies, not for asking directions to Yorkdale.
The TR certainly looked shiny, but it was not moving on its own power. After the dignitaries and most of the media were out of the way, a train of T1s pushed the new train back to Wilson Yard. 5396 is the “back” end of the TR train here. (Each set will be numbered from car xxx1 to xxx6, and there will be no TR cars with numbers ending in 7, 8, 9 or 0, unless the TTC opts for a seventh car to be inserted within existing sets.)
I cannot help commenting here on the relative cleanliness of the TR and the T1, itself a set that was in what passes for “fair” condition these days. Thanks to wash tracks being out of service at Wilson and Greenwood, there are a lot of grimy cars on the system, and a few that appear to have been forgotten for months. How long will it take for the TRs to look the same?
After the TR was out of the way, the next service train made its way south from Downsview giving a chance to see the TR with a bit more space than on the platform earlier.
Once the TRs are actually in service we can see how they behave, whether they are as smooth and reliable as claimed, and whether the bold words of praise for Bombardier are merited by the equipment actually in operation.