The Toronto Rockets Debut (Updated)

Updated June 4 at 4:10 pm: In response to comments about the lack of a handout at Doors Open when the new cars were on display, I have scanned two pages from the Bombardier handout showing the train layout and technical specs.

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Updated May 26 at 11:45 pm: Minor corrections.

Today, May 26, the media were treated to a short excursion on one of the new “Toronto Rocket” subway trains.  We assembled at Davisville Station anticipating a departure around 1100, but it was not the best of days for the TTC to roll out their shiny new trains.  Signal problems earlier in the morning made a shambles of service, and the YUS line was badly backed up.

This gave lots of time for everyone to wander the train and ask questions while it sat on the build-up track at Davisville.  Eventually, we moved off, but rarely got up to full speed because of the service backlog.  When we arrived at Union and pulled onto the pocket track, we sat for quite a period thanks to another delay in progress northbound on Yonge.  Finally, we left and made our way back to Davisville.  Not the most auspicious launch of the new “rocket”.

The train is attractive and certainly roomy.  The interior is one continuous space, and there are no central stanchions.  A few of the media joked about bowling, and wondered how long it would take for someone to attempt rolling a pop can or bottle from one end of the train to the other.

Where transverse seats are provided, they are in a 2+2 layout.  This leaves a wide walkway that is enhanced slightly by the fact that the seats on opposite sides of the car are slightly offset.

The train’s operation was smooth, although I look forward to riding at higher speed such as the section north of Eglinton once these units enter revenue service in a few weeks.  The noise level from motors and from the tunnel is slightly lower than on the T1 trains, and the braking appears to be squeal-free.  (Now if only the TTC can fix the problem with the T1s whose propulsion software was supposed to be updated to correct this last year!)  The ride is a less springy than on the older trains (good for rail that’s a bit out of alignment), although bad track is bad track no matter what you’re riding (the switches at the south end of Davisville Yard were particularly rough).

Many passenger features have been discussed before and I won’t dwell on them here beyond the photos below.  Technically, the trains are a big step up from the T1s, and many more of the controls are centralized in the operator’s cab rather than being sprinkled through the train hidden under seats.  In some cases, equipment isolation can be performed from the cab, or is handled automatically when the train senses something isn’t working properly.

A vaguely computerish female voice announces stops, and in an empty train this can sound a bit like being in a long cave if you stand in the right place.  The voice did not sing “Daisy” for us, but then nobody was trying to disconnect it.

The real challenge for these trains will be reliability.  Each set of trains Toronto has received from Bombardier is supposed to be far better than past generations, and yet the spare ratio doesn’t budge.  Part of this, of course, is that some trains are always going to be in the shop for routine scheduled maintenance, but the real test will be for in-service failures.  We shall see how this new fleet works out as the service on the YUS gradually converts to Rocket operation.

Eventually, after many projects that have yet to be funded, the TTC will be able to bring faster, more frequent operation to the Yonge line.  However, much remains to be done:

  • build up the fleet to a size that will handle planned service improvements (extending the short-turn to Glencairn, then to Downsview; extending the line to Vaughan)
  • re-signalling the entire line (not just the current project, lower Yonge) for automatic train control, faster speeds and closer headways
  • adding the trains needed to operate more frequent service
  • addressing terminal design issues for closer headways at Finch
  • addressing Bloor-Yonge capacity
  • expanding carhouse capacity

In the short term, the main promise of the TRs will be to add about 10% to capacity as they replace older rolling stock on the Yonge line.

The photo gallery follows the break.

We’re on train 5411-5416.  (The first set delivered to the TTC was 5391-6, and it’s the one on which all of the fixes have been worked out. As production rolls on, the changes identified on that train are retrofitted to later sets.)

Car numbering reflects the married sextet with each train having cab “A” cars numbered “xxx1” and “xxx6”, while three “B” cars (the ones with compressors) get numbers “2”, “3” and “5”. Car “4” is a “C” car, and so the train overall is “ABBCBA”.  Equipment arrangements are different on each car type, and swapping cars is not as simple as with the older married pairs.

This view looks down the train from car “5” toward car “1”.  There are lots of places to hold on, but the centre aisle is completely open.  This is intended not just for good circulation, but for mobility of wheelchairs or other large objects.

The space under the seats is completely clear from one end of the train to the other.  This gives passengers space to tuck both their feet and any packages they might have out of the way of the stampeding hordes in the aisle.

This shows the articulation between cars “5” and “4” which presents less of an intrusion on the compartment than what we know in the ALRV streetcars.  Of course those cars are both narrower, and must handle much tigher curves than a subway train.  Subtle curves on the line will be much more obvious to riders with this open, flexible passenger space.

The area reserved for wheelchairs includes three fold-down seats that will automatically flip out of the way when not in use.

Doorways feature an emergency call station through which passengers can talk to the crew.  In the cab, any of the video cameras on the train (four per car, and one at each end) can be selected either as a group for one car, or individually.  This allows an operator to see what is happening without leaving the cab.

The route maps are now build into the cars, and installed in a manner that makes them just about impossible to remove.  The line on which the train is operating is illuminated.  Stations “behind” the current position are shown in green, while those “ahead” are in red.  When the “next station” call comes over the PA, this station blinks on the map.  Junctions are highlighted, and when a train arrives at one (for example at Bloor), the intersecting line flashes.

Another method of showing the location gives both the location, and the side of the train where the platform will be.

At the cab ends of the train, there are small seats on which someone can rest their bum.  This is the only location where seats like this are provided.

No, there is no railfan seat, and the window to the operator’s cab has a reflective coating that cuts visibility from the passenger compartment especially when in low lighting areas underground.

Here is our train on its return to Davisville (this is car 5416).  The central doorway folds down for emergency evacuation, and the mechanism is completely manual (and easy for an operator to deploy) so that it does not depend on power or the train’s control systems.  There is a handcranked winch to pull the door closed again, and the design obviously assumes that this won’t be needed often.

The TTC will have a train on display for tours at Davisville Station on Sunday, May 29 from 1000 to 1600.

Additional info and pictures are on the TTC site.  Bombardier has a nice 4-page handout, but the info from it is not yet completely available on their site.

43 thoughts on “The Toronto Rockets Debut (Updated)

  1. I wondered why I had so many issues going up and down the Yonge line this morning. 🙂 I must say I did notice a distinct difference in the frequency of delay announcements after 11 – unusually often. This compares to earlier sitting at Sheppard for 10 minutes without a single announcement as to why the delay. Can we get the bigwigs on the trains more often, please?

    Were the stop announcements and the delay announcements comparably more audible?

    Steve: The stop announcements were quite audible. Some of the delay announcements less so. They need to adjust the volume control, or figure out how to have onboard systems compensate for whatever level of signal they receive. One thing I noticed about today’s delay announcements is that the computer voice tends to compress syllables especially at breaks in words (which may vanish leading to hard-to-understand text).


  2. There’s one question that I have to ask – how was the turn from King to Union?

    Eagerly anticipating my chance to ride this beautiful piece of machinery.

    Steve: We went around that curve without any trouble.


  3. Service problems and other potential concerns aside … new trains are always something to be happy about (at least for me).

    I think the extra spacious feeling is not really from not having centre stanchions (neither do the T1s) or the open gangways (although that does help).

    It’s the bright white interior with red + silver trim and the vertical stanchions (grab bars) in red that curve away at the top. It draws your eye out and makes the train look bigger inside.

    Of course, will it look the same with 150 passengers? I can’t wait to see whether it does or not.

    Steve: Yes, the colour scheme and the angled stanchions help, but they have also managed to shave a bit off the thickness of the walls at the door pockets so that the interior is a bit wider.

    Regards, Moaz Ahmad

    ps. I think it’s wonderful that you are included amongst “the media” as I never had that privilege in Malaysia. Also, I think it’s wonderful that you were able to provide this level of detail – I cannot get that from the newspapers or the 24 hour news channels.


  4. Is there anything to hang on to during rush hour when you’re squeezed in the centre of the train near the ends of the cars?

    Steve: No.


  5. “We’re on train 5411-5416, the first set delivered to the TTC”

    Just a little correction, 5391-5396 was actually the first set to be delivered. It was delivered in October and was the train shown off at Downsview Station with David Miller and Adam Giambrone. 5411-5416 was delivered around mid to late March.

    Steve: Yes, my error, although it was based on what the TTC told us at the briefing (I should have caught this). 5391-6 are running with extra instrumentation in the cars to monitor them (I saw the train about an hour before writing this reply). I will correct the main post.


  6. I find the red light/green light representations on the map to be, well, backwards, frankly. Intuitively, one would expect red to imply that the train won’t be serving stations lit in that colour (usually because it has already passed them) and that you’re on the wrong train if you’re trying to get to a red-lit station, whereas green would represent stations the train will be serving and heading towards.

    Case in point; I would find it particularly confusing in the case of trains that short-turn at St Clair West in the morning, where one would see lights behind it as green, and lights between St Clair West and Downsview as green, too. It would be a lot more coherent in that scenario if the colours were reversed.

    Steve: Yes, those displays seem to have been designed by someone who would never actually have to use them. There is no legend to explain what the colours mean either.


  7. The overhead ‘screen’ is embarrassing. Can we not get any higher resolution in 2011? And, why can you get off at red stops but not green stops? Isn’t that backwards?!

    Steve: The TTC is working on a transfer machine using automated quill pens. On the red/green issue, I agree. Maybe they wired it backwards.


  8. I do wish they hadn’t used green and red.

    And while the subway stop announcements have always been horrifically badly delivered, a computerized voice isn’t the right fix. Recording them using the surface system’s announcer is. Yes, I could look up their names.


  9. Little Rant:

    I don’t know if I should feel insulted or just cry that the media org. that I work for did not get the invite (heaven and earth forbid non-main stream media covers transit).

    Steve: Send a note to TTC Communications and ask to be put on the media list. I was not the only blogger present.

    Fun Part:

    As far as I understand the current YUS trains will eventually go to BLR correct?

    Steve: The H4/5/6 fleets will be gradually replaced by T1s that will come off of the Yonge line as the TRs go into service. Note that there is a backlogged service improvement extending the St. Clair short turn to Glencairn that has not yet been implemented because they don’t have trains. Whether it will fall victim to budget cuts, I don’t know.

    What will SHE have?

    Steve: Four-car T1s as now.

    Will BLR & SHE eventually get Toronto Rockets?

    Steve: BD won’t get rockets for a very, very long time. There is at least 15 years’ life remaining in the T1s, and we will have more of them in the fleet than will fit on the BD line. TTC’s fleet planning originally assumed that some T1s would stay on Yonge, but once they decided that these trains would not get ATO, they bumped up the TR order to compensate. However, the plans for ATO on Sheppard and BD will require ATO on the surviving T1s. I have written about the chaos in TTC fleet planning on a number of occasions.

    I would put 4 Toronto Rockets for SHE. Is that enough for SHE?

    Steve: The TTC’s plans show no growth in the Sheppard fleet for two decades. Of course, Rob Ford may actually get his subway built, and it will need more cars. In the short term, at least, it would make more sense to use 4-car T1 sets on Sheppard, whatever its length, rather than odd-length sets of TRs that would be captive to this line.

    Is it because I am bitter at the TTC for over 10-15 years that I am making bets on when the first one breaks down? I used to live in VP/Queen and worked near Long Branch, years later I lived in Finch/Neilson and went to Humber College (hwy. 27/finch).

    Just out of curiosity, what happens to older trains? Eventually you can’t fix things and you can’t buy spare parts.

    I so want one set to dump at bottom of Scarborough Bluffs (Lake Ontario) and do a marine coral. Somewhere in the US they did that.

    Steve: I don’t think we have coral in Lake Ontario.

    P.S. I ask you these questions because of your transit wisdom is greater than years I have been alive on earth. Heck, you were gaining transit wisdom years before my parents even met. So I appreciate the answers you give me here and previous answers in previous comments through the years. I seriously think you have more transit wisdom than 99% of TTC (combined).

    Steve: There are gaps and occasional errors of judgement, but at least I (usually) admit them.


  10. Why would the TTC opt for a hard-to-see-through railfan window? Are there privacy issues with cab operators?

    Steve: I’m not sure how much this is a privacy issue and how much a desire to keep light levels low inside the cab so that operators can see clearly into the tunnels. I suspect a bit of both. After all, they have privacy screens on cab doors now.


  11. These types of maps are utilized on some New York MTA trains as well and are just as confusing. Someone decided to take a traditional, static, print map and make it dynamic, but really didn’t make an attempt to think outside of the box. In other words: Same map, now with lights!

    I think that the map would be more useful, although altogether different looking, if the space in between two stations lit up with a directional arrow, rather than lighting up the stations that had been passed, versus the upcoming stations, in different colours.

    Steve: I also find the map seems tighter, smaller, and the accompanying station directory requires a magnifying glass.


  12. I can’t believe I forgot this. Remember at the showing at Downsview ages ago about the mis-alignment of subway map? (Wilson aligning with Sheppard-Yonge and I think it was Dupont or St. Clair West aligning with Bathurst or one station west).

    Certain someone in the TTC said that those were “temporary” maps.

    Did they fix that?

    Steve: Sort of. The current subway map has Downsview and Sheppard opposite each other, but the stations from Wilson to Eg West don’t all line up with the counterparts on Yonge. The north end of the Spadina line is more or less above Bathurst Station when it is actually west of Christie. All that said, it is supposed to be a diagrammatic map, not an exact replica. What I really wish we could see is line maps using the larger poster areas beside doorways. As the YUS gets longer and longer, squishing the entire network into the current format simply won’t work.


  13. I don’t understand why they couldn’t use a normal ttc subway map, and just add the lights to it. This map actually has some geographical errors that could be confusing to passengers. For example, Dupont appears to be west of Spadina Rd., Kipling appears to be on Bloor St., and St. George appears to be directly north of University Av., Union appears to be at King and Bay, etc.

    As for the red/green issue, this is not accessible design, particularly for the colour blind. The map only needs to light up the stations ahead, thats the only information that matters.


  14. I’m going to assume that these trains are being outfitted with the “scratchitti” protective coating on the windows that most trains now have. Otherwise, I can guarantee that within a few weeks of these trains being placed into service that they will be extensively targeted by vandals, as the T1s were (and still are on the Bloor line). I’m wondering as well if the interior and exterior surfaces can be easily cleaned after being vandalized. I know that some of New York’s new trains were designed to account for this.


  15. You northbound trip was probably delayed because the train I was on broke down.

    “many more of the controls are centralized in the operator’s cab rather than being sprinkled through the train hidden under seats.”

    Part of the process of coupling us to the train behind us apparently involved the operator removing one of the seats and jamming his foot into the mechanism.


  16. JW asked about hanging on while at the ends of the cars (at the gangways)

    It’s too bad they did not incorporate shorter vertical grab bars in the design of the gangway – most of the full-length” trains I have seen have them. And I may be wrong but don’t ALRV’s have grab bars around the “bendy” part? I also think that the design would benefit from some horizontal grab bars at the roof, perpendicular to the direction of travel … I also like that the retracting “straps” are now in red – but there should be way more of those, mounted on all the horizontal grab bars.

    Karl Junkin commented on the red/green light scheme for the lit route maps.

    I’m surprised that the TTC didn’t ask people what they would want to see for this map – considering that it’s been highlighted by so many people as a “major” feature of the new trains.

    To my mind, Hong Kong has the best active route maps – station indicators are lit if the station has not been reached, and unlit once the train arrives at the station. Little green arrows between the stations to indicate direction of travel. There are also lights on the map that indicate whether doors will open on “the opposite side” or “this side”

    When the train gets to an interchange, the connecting line starts flashing. And since, Hong Kong usually has two station interchanges, the lights (and announcements) direct your travel.

    I think our system does not have to be as informative … this is Toronto, after all. And if the station indicator lights were unlit (after passing a station) then people would take to the online newspapers and complain about the TTC purchasing lousy trains … but I agree that they should switch the red & green lights.

    Regards, Moaz Yusuf Ahmad


  17. Steve said: What I really wish we could see is line maps using the larger poster areas beside doorways. As the YUS gets longer and longer, squishing the entire network into the current format simply won’t work.

    We have an interesting “line” map at station interchanges, showing either the BD or YUS or Sheppard lines as thicker, with station details, and the “other” lines thin and without stations. One good thing about that map is that it really gives you an idea of the size of the YUS line in relation to the city.

    Since the TR trains are going to be staying on Yonge for the duration, they should have gone with a map redesign. Either:

    *keep the existing “squished” network map above the doors and place the “realistic” network map from the interchange stations at the door side “posters” spaces

    *keep the existing “squished” network map above the doors and place the “realistic” network map onto another space – the plexiglass in the doorways, or at the end of each train … or on the door windows themselves (place the “mind the gap” on the door itself).

    *replace the “squished” network map with a YUS ‘strip’ map showing the interchange stations with stylized lines (green & pink) … abandoning geography for now – but place a “realistic” network map in a prominent and visible place.

    I’ve not seen a huge number of route maps in my life but I think that people have no problem with line “strip” maps as long as they are detailed and informative. As I recall, Hong Kong and Toronto are the only places I have seen with full diagrammatic network maps “squished” into the space above the doors.

    Regards, Moaz


  18. Looking forward to seeing these in service. It is a shame about those maps, though.

    You’ve mentioned software as one of the causes of the noisy braking on the T1s – can you elaborate? How simple a fix would it be?

    Steve: Most of the braking effort of a subway train is handled by regeneration — the motors act as generators and pump power either into a bank of resistors, back onto the line, or into onboard energy storage. At low speeds, the amount of energy from the movement of the train falls to a level too small to be used and the brake shoes (or disc brakes) must cut in. Back in the days of manual controls, the operator was responsible for handling the application of brakes so that they did not grab or squeal, but that’s a long time ago. Now, this is managed by computer systems on the train, and the behaviour of the brakes — including the transition to friction from regenerative, and the level of brake pressure applied — are managed by software. After many years of complaints, Bombardier and the TTC finally acknowledged that (a) there was a problem and (b) they could fix it. The new software was supposed to be on all trains by yearend 2010. Either this was not completed, or it doesn’t work.

    A related problem is the buildup of brake shoe dust in tunnels caused by excessive wear. This dust adds to the peculiar mixture of subway dirt that is part of the “smoke at track level” calls, but the TTC seems to prefer to blame this on passengers dropping newspapers. The latter could be controlled by platform doors, a TTC pet project, while brake dust will always be with us, doors or no.


  19. About the maps.. LCD screens are so cheap now, to me it makes more sense just to display the map %100 electronically using CGI etc. You could even animate it and do all kinds of neat stuff. Those orange LED signs are also ridiculous. Where did they even find them? Goodwill?

    Steve: Yes, it’s a rather odd choice of technology, especially considering how antique it will be by the time the cars wear out in 30 years.


  20. “About the maps.. LCD screens are so cheap now, to me it makes more sense just to display the map %100 electronically using CGI etc. You could even animate it and do all kinds of neat stuff. Those orange LED signs are also ridiculous. Where did they even find them? Goodwill?”

    I thought LED’s have lower energy consumption than CGI, no? Just guessing…

    Steve: CGI requires a video display of some form, and there are already a number of small units within the cars that (today) show only “safety” messages. When these cars were first proposed, they were to be full of video advertising, but this was killed off by the Commission of the day. As a result there are only plain ad frames, but nothing prevents these being converted to videos in the future in our environment where every available surface is used for advertising and everything is for sale.

    The LED displays probably involve a specialized control system and wiring simply to run all of the winking lights, and they must be updated any time the network changes. Within the lifespan of these cars, we will likely see the need to add the Vaughan and Richmond Hill extensions, the Eglinton line, and possibly a revised Scarborough line. Maybe even something on Finch or Sheppard. That will require major rework of the units now installed, and I am willing to bet that they will morph into video screens for simplicity and lower cost, especially if this can be piggybacked on video adverts.


  21. The two other systems I am familiar with (London and New York) have route maps in the cars that show only the current route (or the variations of it) as a long line. The cars seem to be next to dedicated to certain routes. I was on one NYC train that was spending a weekend on a route that didn’t match its map. New York’s maps, IIRC, have white lights for the stations the train will be stopping at* and the current station flashes. Previous stations are dark.

    *remember that NYC has express trains that skip many stations.


  22. Steve commented, “I really wish we could see is line maps using the larger poster areas beside doorways.”

    In a number of cities (Buenos Aires comes to mind) has a straight line map above the doors plus a system map on the larger poster areas beside doorways. The poster maps show the whole system in a geographical layout, while the above-door maps are a straight line that makes it easier to figure out what comes next. Like the Rockets BsAs has next stop signs in addition to audible announcements which greatly helps out someone like me that is not great with Spanish pronunciations. 😉

    One other thing about the above-door line maps in BsAs: the maps on the right side of the train are mirror images of the ones on the left side of the train. As long as trains don’t get turned around physically, this means that if you are on a train heading for Finch, the map you are looking at will have Finch located towards the front of the train. Having stations on this arrangement light up in colours to show the movement would be easier to follow, regardless of colours chosen.

    Steve: Trains on the TTC get turned around from time to time because there are loops at some carhouses and we have two wyes. Trains can arrive and leave at Greenwood in either direction, and there’s the wye downtown. When the Bloor line is split with service running down University. What was the front end of the train leaving Kennedy becomes the back end arriving at Kipling.


  23. Do the seats have to be covered in (what I think is) velour? I understand it provides “friction” so people don’t slide all over the place, and it probably prevents spills from spreading too far, but the current seats aren’t exactly comfortable or visually appealing either. I often find what appear to be white, circular stains or something furry on them. Though the red, fuzzy seats may appear soft and warm, I’ve found that they’re rather hard and cold particularly in the winter; I may as well sit on steel. Though there are the aforementioned drawbacks, wouldn’t a seat with a smooth surface be easier to clean as well (e.g. a simple wipe)?

    Steve: The TR seats are part of an overall design to reduce the “fire load” inside the vehicle. Cushy seats, aside from being targets for vandals, also contribute to the car’s ability to burn and for the fire to give off toxic fumes. The TTC has had a few experiences with subway fires, and industry standards now emphasize minimizing the amount of combustible material on board.

    Also, I think the KISS principle should be applied to the message: “Arriving at Davisville, Exit This Side”. It would be simpler and more concise if the overhead signs just displayed the name of the next station and the arrows indicating the side on which the doors will open (e.g. <<<<< Davisville).


  24. It would be nice if they could get one system map in each car. With busses and streetcars. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen people looking at those above door maps asking how to get to Jarvis or the skydome or something and not knowing what station to get off at. Or maybe get one of those customer service students to ride in each car and help out tourists.


  25. Al T said: ““It would be simpler and more concise if the overhead signs just displayed the name of the next station and the arrows indicating the side on which the doors will open (e.g. <<<<< Davisville).

    That is exactly what the very efficient and amazingly clean Barcelona subway has – it seemed very clear to us last week. BTW, in Barcelona all the ticket machines (subway and rail) offer multi-language capability and, as in London and other cities noted above, they display route-specific maps. They use the moving LEDs to show where one is and in which direction.

    While on System Maps – one place where one is REALLY needed is at the bus stop of Terminal One at Pearson (and maybe Terminal 3). There may be a map inside the terminal but having one at the stops would really be helpful for tourists.


  26. I was recently in Warsaw, and the transit system there is evolving far more rapidly than Toronto’s. The latest articulated Solaris buses have numerous large LCD screens which show the route and the position of the bus, as well as the name of the next stop. The portion of the route already covered is light in colour, that to be still traveled darker. Some screens also show news and advertising, as everywhere, on a bus rather like the VIVA artics. These latest buses also have on-board multi-language ticket vending machines as well as the small POP ticket cancellation units. There are numerous hanging holding handles. There are bays for wheelchairs with fold-down seats. Let’s say, I was very impressed by these buses.

    The subway also is evolving, a new line is being built, and as well as ticket vending machines becoming ubiquitous, some interesting ticket options are now offered, including time-limited tickets (20 & 40 minutes, 24 hours, etc.) which included unlimited transfers in any direction. Vending machines offer such flexibility. And they are “open”, accepting cash and many cards, including an equivalent to Presto.

    On my visits every every few months I see much improvement. One nice new feature is a major intersection, subway below, trams and buses above. The trams and buses share the same transit-only lanes and platforms separated from regular traffic at the surface station. More and more new-style LRV’s are in service. In Warsaw, much of the time trams run on separated tracks … I suppose that in rebuilding after the war, the main boulevards were made very wide and the buildings respectably high. This is so different from the narrow streets and low old-west style store-fronts of Toronto.


  27. Steve, I asked a couple questions for you.

    I asked the staff onboard the TR earlier what they would do for the Vaughan extension on the map and they said provision was made for lights on the map to indicate the extension.

    I also asked the operator about the removal of the emergency stop devices located in the trains. He replied a study was done regarding how much people actually used them and it was determined they were not used enough to warrant their installation. He went on to say that it would be very simple to rejig the software in the alarm pull stations to stop the train when pulled, if and when the TR’s are fully automated.

    On a side note, they had the doors of the train isolated today and while I was standing there someone had to get in the door to the left of the cab in the passenger compartment. For the first time I saw someone operate the emergency opening device to open the doors. It was a neat little thing, the operator stuck his key in the panel, opened it and pulled the handle to slide open the doors. When done, he reset the handle and locked the panel up again thereby closing the doors.

    Ah well, it was an interesting display and one thing that a visitor brought up that you might have thoughts on … if they say please do not block the doors why are they putting butt rests alongside the doors at the ends of the trains?


  28. I haven’t had the pleasure of riding the new TR’s but I look forward to seeing them in action. Although I personally would benefit more from new streetcars… one day, may be.

    The suggestions for LED/LCD flat panel displays as opposed to the circa-1970’s vintage LED display is great in theory but not in practice. Not that the technology is faulty (although flat panels are not the most durable and easily subject to scratching) but that the technology the TTC is capable of delivering is right up there with the “automated quill pens”. To make the displays useful would require IT development staff, something the TTC seems to be lacking. The TTC already has a problem delivering up to date information, especially to their customers. How high on the list would maintaining the maps and station information possibly be?

    The argument can be made that if the panels had advertising on them that the costs could be recovered. But there is a group of vocal opponents to advertising in “public spaces”. This group has many of the same people that pushed for the billboard “tax” that is now mired in the courts and has yet to deliver any public art to my knowledge. I could do without being bombarded with advertising but I accept it is a means to provide much needed revenue.


  29. A region wide sales tax is probably the most effective solution. In a number of cities in the US (believe it or not), referendums have been passed increasing sales taxes to pay for transit e.g. Measure R in Los Angeles. To make this politically palatable, there needs to be a relatively even distribution of funds in both the 416 and the 905 (probably about a 50/50 split based on population). There needs to be a heavy emphasis on commuter rail improvements because of their low cost and region-wide benefit. Toronto needs to be like Denver which is building the only decent commuter rail lines in North America outside NYC (the East Line and Gold Line) which are to be fully electric and have frequent service (15 minutes all day except late at night).

    As for Sheppard, I would like to see it built eventually, but subways are costly and there is not enough money to build all the suburban subways in every other corridor with similar densities to Sheppard. On the other hand, the Sheppard LRT was widely hated so I think it is best to just leave it alone if there is no money.


  30. I’ve read a few comments about stop announcements, wouldn’t the easiest fix just be to have the stop announcement say any attractions that are around instead of re jigging the tiny little maps to have more info?

    Steve: There are far too many “attractions” around some major stops, and the announcements would spend more time listing them than the name of the stop itself. Just think, for example, of the hospitals near Queen’s Park and St. Patrick stations, not to mention the legislature, court houses, the university, etc. At some point, people have to look at maps.


  31. I had a look at the Toronto Rocket on Sunday on my way into work and I’ve got a couple of comments.

    I think the design of the ends is ugly; something better than that huge piece of black plastic that’s curved at the bottom could have been done pretty easily along with making the destination sign a readable size. On the subject of the cab, the actual area inside reserved for the driver is pretty cramped considering that the cab is the full width of the train. That means the unused portion of the cab represents a loss of space to carry passengers. Luckily that’s only repeated over two cabs per train instead of six. SEPTA manages to do one person train operation on the Market Frankford line with the train driver performing the guard’s duties without having full width cabs by using closed circuit TV so I’m not convinced that full width cabs are necessary for the guard here.

    I also asked if the brakes shrieked and pointed to a T1 coming to a stop on the other side of the platform for example and I was told, “We hope not” by one of the TTC employees. The T1 braking cycle’s a problem that should’ve been fixed back in the late 90s when the trains were new. That ship sailed long ago so I wonder how committed the TTC and Bombardier are on revisiting that issue now in a manner serious enough to actually get it solved.

    Does anybody here remember the detailed fact sheets the TTC had for all of the subway cars Gloucester through T1 and the streetcars from Peter Witts through ALRV that had nice plan and elevation drawings and detailed specifications in addition to a writeup? Were any of the TTC staff handing out such a thing on Sunday? I couldn’t find any and the TTC staff only had light information about how it’s nice that there are security cameras and electronic maps and the open gangways. I was hoping for some hard facts and figures but nobody could tell me what the horsepower rating of the motors was when I asked, for example. Your average car dealership does a better job of answering that kind of question than the TTC did on Sunday.

    Steve: Bombardier had a nice handout at the media tour which has a lot of the details. The info should be on their website, but the page does not display much. I may scan and post the handout here at least until they get their act together.


  32. SEPTA manages to do one person train operation on the Market Frankford line with the train driver performing the guard’s duties without having full width cabs by using closed circuit TV so I’m not convinced that full width cabs are necessary for the guard here.

    I agree that only one crew per train should suffice, but I see another purpose for the full-width cabs in that they allow rapid step-back crewing without interference with passenger boarding/alighting at terminal stations regardless of which track the train pulls in to at either end of the train. If the TTC is going to have a prayer of getting headways down to even close of what their ambitions are, this design helps a little (but they’ve still got challenges).


  33. If the TTC is going to have a prayer of getting headways down to even close of what their ambitions are, this design helps a little (but they’ve still got challenges).

    Doesn’t the great hope of reducing headways hinge on automated train control, in which case the train operators being able to quickly move from one side of the train to other becomes totally irrelevant because there won’t be any operators on the trains?

    Steve: And ATO depends on complete replacement of the signal system. FYI the Spadina extension is NOT being built with ATO because nobody thought to include it in the budget when the line was approved. The current ATO project budget only covers the oldest part of the line and it will be ages before they finish the whole thing. Then there is the small matter of more trains to run a closer headway and a carhouse to store them in. None of this is in the budget as funded projects.


  34. Thanks for the scanned Bombardier handout. The copy they gave you at the media presentation’s got far more useful information than Bombardier’s website has right now and it’s vastly better than the puff piece the TTC handed out last weekend that was clearly written for a Karen Stintz-ian level audience.


  35. Joey Connick said: Doesn’t the great hope of reducing headways hinge on automated train control, in which case the train operators being able to quickly move from one side of the train to other becomes totally irrelevant because there won’t be any operators on the trains?

    ATU113 prevents trains being operated without at least one staff on board.

    Steve: Before we get that far down the road, we have to find the money to complete the ATO system on the entire line, and we have to have a big enough fleet to operate the whole line with TR trains. Nobody has explained, by the way, who is going to deal with all those emergencies we have both with onboard equipment, passengers or “smoke at track level” in an automated environment. Unless the TTC can show us trains operating reliably without constant interruptions, automated operation will be a farce.


  36. How much more testing needs to be done before the train is put into service?
    Or are there still small issues with compatibility on the YUS lines?

    Steve: The TTC claims that two to four trains will be in service “in a few weeks”. They have been seen in test/training runs mixed in with regular service. If there were problems with these trains, they wouldn’t be allowed on the line during normal service hours.


  37. Thanks for scanning the detailed specs.

    Acceleration is given as 2.0 mphps (standard). I wonder if there’s a high rate that isn’t shown. 2.0 mphps isn’t exactly neck-snapping.

    Steve: The question of high rate is one of top speed, and this is spec’s as 55mph, or 88km/h, faster than typical operation on the subway today. Holding the acceleration rate to 2.0 saves on various parts of the electrical system, some weight, and peak power consumption.


  38. As far as I understand it, a major controlling factor on the capacity of the Yonge line is the dwell time in Bloor station.

    As the new trains have the same number of doors and same door-size as the T1s, yet are supposed to carry 10% more passengers, won’t this increase the dwell time?

    How much does TTC think they’ll have to extend the dwell times with the new TR trains?

    I’m not understanding how the new trains will increase capacity on this critical segment of the line.

    Steve: The dwell time is a function of the number of people trying to get on and off, and the ease with which they can do so. Your argument may be valid, but only to the extent that it is not offset by the through passengers’ ability to move further away from the doors into space now occupied by caps and the inter-car gap. There is also the question of the station’s ability to absorb greater passenger flow, and that gets us to both the capacity and the frequency of the trains.


  39. I just hope the TR won’t have the squeaky braking sound like the T1s.

    Steve: What I have heard of them in trials sounds much improved over the T1s.


  40. Can you provide details with respect to the timetable for rolling out the new Rocket on the YUS line? Will proposed cutbacks roll back delivery of the new trains?


    Steve: I don’t have a timetable for the new train rollouts. This depends on deliveries from Bombardier and acceptance testing by the TTC. Also, there are no changes in subway service levels, and so there is no effect on fleet allocations or utilization for rapid transit services.


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