Goodbye to the H4 Trains

For all the lovers of non-air conditioned trains, noisy ceiling fans, but comfy seats, Friday, January 27 will be the last run of the H4 class cars on the TTC.

Run 64 will leave Greenwood Yard eastbound at 7:27am to Kennedy, make a round trip to Kipling, and then run back to the yard at 9:44.

As more of the Toronto Rocket trains enter service on Yonge, they will replace the H5 and H6 fleets, and the BD line will become an all T1 route.  The last of the TRs now on order are for the Spadina/Vaughan extension opening in 2015.

39 thoughts on “Goodbye to the H4 Trains

  1. What’s the latest date TRs could be ordered for the B-D line without a break in production?

    Steve: Two issues here. First off, the T-1s are nowhere near retirement and it would be a huge waste of capital to replace them in the 2015 timeframe. Second, even after the Spadina order, the TTC will not have enough TRs to completely convert YUS to that fleet, and will therefore not be able to run ATO on the line unless they retrofit some of the T-1s. This I understand to be very expensive as the T-1 cars were not designed for this sort of retrofit, and it would be a big investment in cars that were by then at most 15 years from retirement. There is no justification for churning out new cars at Thunder Bay forever just to keep Bombardier in small change. They do have other products and customers.


  2. The ceiling fans were classic. They still have ceiling fans in the Montreal Metro cars. The comfy seats on the H4’s were really well…comfy but they weren’t very sanitary. They attracted a lot of grime.


  3. Are all of the TR’s from the first production run in deployment?

    Steve: No. We’re not even 25% there yet. The first order is 60 trainsets.


  4. I can’t exactly say that the TRs have had any noticeable effect on reducing overcrowding on the Yonge line. This line is a sardine can from 6am-10pm daily. No one seems to understand that they can walk between the cars, or that they are allowed to stand in the space between the cars on the new trains. (I guess I will have to continue regularly walking up Yonge Street from downtown to my apartment instead of taking the subway, in order to avoid the sardine can and conserve tokens which have become 10 cents more expensive this year. It’s a nice walk if you have spare time to do it).


  5. Thought they would still be around to end the short-turning of trains at St. Clair West station. I guess we’ll have to wait a little longer, but that would be a service improvement, and we can’t have that, can we?

    Steve: It’s been in the fleet plan for a few years, but keeps getting cut out of the service budget. I think it might happen later this year, maybe, and the short-turn will move to Glencairn using the pocket track south of Lawrence West.


  6. Any chance there may be a “farewell” charter trip?

    Steve: There was an attempt to organize one, but the TTC’s restrictions and cost quotes went into the stratosphere. It didn’t happen.


  7. When the T1’s need to be retired, the TR’s will move to the Bloor-Danforth and Sheppard while the Y-U-S gets new trains.

    Steve: Don’t count on it. For one thing, it takes far more trains to operate YUS as it will be by that time as it takes for Bloor. That’s a problem with the TTC’s current fleet plans. Originally they were going to have compatible fleets, and it didn’t matter if some T1s stayed behind on Yonge. Now their plans require an all TR operation on YUS. Ooops!


  8. Shame the TTC could care less about quality seating. While other transit agencies in the GTA are investing in high-back seats for their buses, the TTC still opts for the basic and moderately comfortable seating.

    Fortunately this will change with the new streetcars, but it would be nice to see these on our new subways and buses.


  9. Don’t forget that Greenwood would need retrofits for TRs, especially if YUS were to have deployment issues from Wilson related to higher frequencies from Finch as demand grows.


  10. Forgetting about terminal crossover limitations for a moment, if every train on YUS is not a TR under ATO, then how are they going to run the closer headways they promised, squeeze 35% more capacity out of the line, and keep arguing that a DRL is not needed?

    Even with ATO, I don’t believe they can work around the terminal crossover constraints and reduce headways by interlacing short-turns. Only the continuous YUS loop proposal from the 90s could have gotten things down to 90 seconds (in theory), and then that would only work if the Bloor Stn. dwell times could be significantly reduced with a center platform. If you’re going to go to all that trouble, you’re better off just building a new subway line.

    Steve: But the TTC wants to squeeze every last ounce of capacity out of the YUS before building a Downtown Relief Line, even if they have to invent future capacity potential and ignore obvious constraints. In some ways, they are almost as bad as Mayor Ford, almost, but not quite.


  11. No more fan rattling alarmingly over my head causing fear that the whole assembly is going to land on my head. No more humid air blown right in my face. No more rattling and narrow doors. Oh happy day!


  12. I started commuting from Mississauga to a summer job downtown around the time that the Montreal trains were nearing the end of their life. I remember always being on the lookout for them, and it would make my day if one arrived while I was waiting. The best thing about them was that the conductors still used whistles to signal the door closing (the TTC never installed the door chimes on those cars, since they weren’t expected to be around much longer at that time). It was glorious. The grey, blue and powder yellow interior probably looked dated to most commuters, but to me it was beautifully retro. And there were the odd quirks that differentiated them from their later cousins (non-backlit ad panels; window shape in the doors; asymmetrical seating pattern). I was so disappointed when the last one finally left the rails.

    Oddly, I have no such nostalgia whatsoever about the H4s. Noisy as hell, non-air conditioned, and I’m pretty sure I lost an umbrella underneath one of the seats. Never seemed to bother me with the Montrealers.

    It will be interesting to see how much nostalgia there will be when the CLRVs/ALRVs start to go.


  13. Even though the TR’s were supposed to increase capacity, it seems like they may actully decrease capacity. An Operator on CPTDB said:

    “Yes. H5s are fastest in operation, then T1, then TR. A TR is about as fast as a T1 with a full car eco. They aren’t governed like the T1s and H5s, but going up hills they fall behind, 10 km/h slower in a lot of places. Doors are slower too. A delay about one second before they open with a good crew, and a couple longer before they close with the proper chime sequence. Some overly sensitive doors screwing things up and slowing things down. Seems like a gust of wind from a train on the opposite platform will make multiple sets of doors recycle. 547x I’m looking at you right now.

    Don’t get me started on those exterior cab doors.

    Once the line is all TR, this will be irrelevant if they adjust the schedules. Give us reasonable scheduled dwell time at every station, and things will run more reliably. I’m thinking at least 10 extra seconds per stop, and 45 seconds scheduled for interchanges, and set up the system to do more finite headway adjustments. “


  14. If I’m not mistaken, at one point, BD and YUS used different radio systems, so trains were not fully interchangeable between lines. The Gloucester cars were confined to the Yonge-University line after the integrated service test ended.

    It used to be that Bloor-Danforth got all the new subway cars first. All the Hs (mostly) ran there first, and YUS got the BD hand-me-downs. I remember when the H5s first came out — that buzzing sound was very irritating, so I always preferred an H4 and the blowing-air “choo” sound. Could never figure out why the H5s had that smell, although I don’t remember it being there when the trains were new. The H6s were the best in my opinion when they first came out — comfortable sponge seats, and very quiet on the inside. Quieter than the T1s actually. When the H6s first went into service, the trains were always mixed – 4 H4 cars, and 2 H6s. In the summer, everyone would go into the last two cars (the H6s) for the air conditioning.

    Finally, in case anybody is interested, there is a vintage video on Youtube of a Gloucester train (complete with the old double whistle).

    I also remember seeing documentary film somewhere of the original Yonge line, in color, in the 70s (vitrolite and all), and the Bloor line, in B&W, in the 60s.


  15. @William

    William, I was one of the organizers who, on behalf of Transit Toronto were trying to organize a farewell charter utilizing an H4 train. I had lengthy chats with the TTC about it and in the end the cost was too great. It would have came to over 7000 at the end of the day and the only way it would have been cost effective would have been if we charged 100 dollars a head and had a minimum of 90 people on the charter.

    I cannot see anyone for the life of me paying 100 dollars a head for a charter. As well, the restrictions were too great. I was told they would need to pull ALL H4 trains from the line for the duration of the charter and that I would need an army of staff to tag along in order to make it doable.

    Long story short, I would have loved to have done it but at the end of the day, the red tape and the cost made it impossible.


  16. @ Mark Dowling: in speaking with a retired TTC man from the Equipment Dept. Vehicle Engineering section, he told me that they added chains to the diffusers so that when the screws are removed they won’t fall to the floor – you’ve actually had nothing to worry about all these years. You can still enjoy humid air blown in your face when H-6s and T-1s have a/c failures, not to worry.

    The H-4s have been the longest-lasting class of subway cars at 37 years and nearly 4 months, surpassing the Montreal cars. They were rather popular with operators and Equipment staff over the years and have been remarkably reliable. I highly doubt anything else will have that kind of endurance.


  17. When the YUS extension is complete, what will be the fleet requirement for the line? How many non-TR trains will remain in service on YUS?

    Steve: I presume you mean the Spadina extension, not the proposed extension to Richmond Hill. The answer to your question depends on the service design — what headway will they operate, and how far north will the short turn be moved on the Spadina line.


  18. Hmm, I will miss those soft, vinyl-covered seats (though not on hot, humid days) and especially the hum of the motors that reminded me of the engine sound effect they used on the old “Star Trek” series.

    What is the fate of these cars? Are they being sold to another transit operator? Any being donated to a museum? Or are the lot destined for scrap?

    I guess they’ll next soon retiring the H5 series (running on the YUS) and H6 (on the BD). I did like the original seating on the H5 cars (very similar to the seats on many of the buses at one time). Alas the padded seating on them was long-ago replaced with the current hard seats.


    Steve: The H4s will go for scrap.


  19. As usual, everything comes down to money. It would be great if all the trainsets on the YUS were TR but that costs more money. And money is something that Toronto does not have, and after how the Mayor dealt with the Province over Transit City, I doubt the Province (which is also cash strapped) will want to give more money to a city that does not appear to have a clear transit plan. Other cities have plans that they are committed to and those plans should be completed first now.


  20. There actually was an H-4 subway charter on Sunday, September 11, 2011. The Toronto Transportation Society held their 3rd ever subway charter (G train in Sept. 1990 and M train in Feb, 1999 were the others). Ninety people attended and we toured all of the B-D and Y-U-S lines as well as Lower Bay. We were not allowed to take the train onto the Sheppard Line. The event was in celebration of the 150th anniversary of street railway operations in Toronto. The TTC gave us a very good rate for the charter and they were very good to work with in the setting up of the charter.


  21. When trains run out of service into Greenwood, (or start service) are they moved through the yard by operators or engineers?

    Somewhat off-topic, but since you brought up Greenwood, I thought I’d ask!

    Steve: Carhouse operators move them between the yard and a small platform at the north end where operators pick them up. This avoids having regular operators wandering through the yard tracks and areas where they have to watch out for moving trains, not to mention climbing up into the trains where there is no high platform.

    At other times of the day, carhouse operators shuttle trains around between the yard and the shops, and when necessary take trains out on the mainline to change off for ones that are in bad order.


  22. The H6’s are nowhere near retirement either. In 2013 they will only be about 25 years old, they could live for 12 more years until 37 like H4’s. It would also be a waste to just send them to scrap. That’s why they’ll continue their life in Nigeria instead. The T1’s should retire in 2030 – 2035 at the latest, when they’re that old.

    Also, how come the ads on the subway about a better tomorrow say that there will be “60 sleek new Toronto Rocket subway trains”? Isn’t it 70? There should be more TR’s than T1’s.

    Steve: The extra 10 were deferred to keep the 10-year capital budget under control. They will reappear magically as and when the TTC gets better funding.


  23. I remember the difference between an H2 and H4. The H2s that were retired in 2001 had narrower aisles and the ceilings fans were different. The H2 fans didn’t stick down and they had three rings just like the ones in the M-1 TTC fleet and the ones on Montreal’s metro.

    I loved and missed the old H1 that always had the darker navy blue leather seats and the doors always had that sluggish squeaky portcullis sound when they opened and closed if anyone remembers that.


  24. The good news is that many fans who miss the H4s will always cherish their memories by listening and watching them on Youtube, THANK GOD FOR YOUTUBE.

    Youtube started to become a thing way after the M-1, H-1 & H-2 fleets were now extinct.

    The retirement of the ALRV streetcars and CLRV streetcars will occur either during or after their H6 retirement.


  25. The retirement outlook for 2012 will be the H5s and some of the Orion V buses which are now the oldest buses in the fleet.

    Do you know the retirement schedule for the Orion Vs, 1999 Flyers and Nova RTS?

    Steve: No. Partly this depends on TTC fleet plans and the number of buses that must be kept in service until the next bus order.


  26. Getting back to Montreal’s cars, I know that the older cars have the ceiling fans but don’t the later ones have a totally different ventilation system in them. I’ve ridden both types of cars but just can’t visualise the newer cars having ceiling fans in them. I do remember riding the newer cars when they were new and thinking they were air conditioned but now know otherwise. One thing that’s always been pretty obvious is that the newer cars are definitely cooler and less stuffy in warmer weather.


  27. Thankfully, that those H4 subway cars are gone, because those trains were non-air-conditioned I have noticed that the H5’s are currently the only subway cars not to provide accessible seating, T1’s along with TR’s have accessible seating, not sure about the H6’s if some, (but not all) have accessible seating too?


  28. Here is the current subway model rolling stock for the four subway lines as of January 28 2012.

    * Yonge-University-Spadina line: H5, T1, TR
    * Bloor-Danforth line: H6, T1
    * Scarborough RT line: ICTS Mark I
    * Sheppard line: T1


  29. As previously stated, once all these new trainsets are delivered, the Yonge-University-Spadina line will be operating entirely with new Toronto Rocket trains, the Bloor-Danforth along with the Sheppard lines will be operating entirely with T1 trains, and in 2015 the Scarborough RT will be close down for good, as it retires its ICTS Mark I cars and will be replaced with new streetcars as part of the future Eglinton-Scarbrough Crosstown line, which is slated to launch in 2020.

    Steve: Actually, the TTC has not yet ordered enough TR trainsets to completely convert the YUS. Until quite recently, their fleet plans treated TRs and T1s interchangeably, and they had a surplus of T1s for the BD line alone. Hence the smaller-than-needed order of TRs. On top of that, there is no budget provision for the trains needed to run more frequent service as and when they convert to ATO.


  30. As Brandon stated above, how come the ads on the subway about a better tomorrow say that there will be “60 sleek new Toronto Rocket subway trains”? Isn’t it 70? There should be more TR’s than T1′s.

    Well the TTC has received 10 new Toronto Rocket trains which were available for revenue operation so far as of late 2011.

    Steve: As I said before, the TTC only ordered 60 trains. An add-on order for 10 more has been deferred for budgetary reasons.


  31. I heard that the new Toronto Rocket trains were to be equipped with those OneStop Media group screens on-board, which would consists the next stop announcements, service delays, TTC promos (as well as promos for programming for Bell Media’s co-owned stations, including CTV, CTV Two, CP24, MuchMusic etc.) along with news headlines, sports, business and weather information provided by CP24, similar to those already in-use at most TTC subway station platforms.

    Steve: Actually the video screens that are onboard now are very small and if you don’t know they’re there, you will miss them. There was a big fight when these cars were being spec’d to ensure that video advertising didn’t take over. Considering that the current crew would sell their grandmothers to give people a tax cut, I don’t know how long this will last.


  32. What chance is there, if any, of that 10 train add-on order ever actually being placed?

    Steve: They will be bought eventually but they are not needed soon. The TTC does not yet have full funding for the conversion of the YUS to automatic operation (they even forgot to include this in the Spadina extension!), and without this, they cannot run as many trains as their eventual plans would have on the line. This is part of a much larger issue of route and fleet planning on the subway.


  33. @Misha

    I hope they do not retire H5 5796-(T1 prototype) – 5797 this year; that is a unique artifact and MUST be preserved for people to see in the future. They should definitely send the pair to Halton so that people can see what the original H5 (5797) looked like and the modernized version (5796). I’m sure Nigeria people won’t mind us keeping 2 cars behind, besides a report said that their deal was 255 H5 and H6 cars, and we have 260 (134 H5’s and 126 H6’s; all of the H6’s ever built are still out there, a record not even the T1’s hold since 2 T1’s were scrapped after an accident).

    As for the H4’s, the most classic design feature were the “eyebrow” marker lights and the driver’s windows positioned at an angle (rather than flat like on the H5/6 and T1) and kind-of slightly “pushed into” the car. The T1 exterior look is basically a template on which variations can be made (i.e. a reflector around the rim like the H5’s and the H1-4 look I’ve described). So, I was always wondering why the T1’s dropped the H1-4 design and were given a very basic look?

    This is why I liked H4’s more than T1’s, and I’ll miss them (as well as H5/6), however I think the roll-out of the TR’s with their classy new look overcompensates the H series retirement, and I’ll have fun riding them on YUS for the next 30-35 years 🙂


  34. As you previously stated Steve, when the more of the new Toronto Rocket trains enter service they will end the operating lives the H5’s (on the Y-U-S) and then the H6’s (on the B-D) shortly thereafter, as such, T1’s operating on the Y-U-S will be shifted onto the B-D and Sheppard lines meaning that the Y-U-S line will become an all TR route but it has been stated that the TTC would give away those latter H-series to Nigeria, is that true?

    I’m also happy that the retirement of the H4 units came just before another hot summer approaches because is that those passengers would no longer have to suffter with that hot and humid air anymore when they take the subway now that the entire subway fleet is air-conditioned.

    Steve: I am not sure whether the TTC is donating the H4s or selling them at some nominal value. As for the YUS, the TTC does not own or have on order enough TRs to fully convert the line from T1. This is thanks to a screwup in fleet planning — the original order for TRs assumed that they would interoperate with T1s not required for BD. The problem has not yet been settled.


  35. I thought they already ordered 70 trains. Is that not enough for YUS? Are they going to expand the TR order even more then?

    Steve: 10 of the 70 have been put on hold because of budget constraints. The Yonge line today requires 48 trains in the AM peak. Add spares at 15% and we need 7 more, or a total of 55. There are plans to extend the short turn operation further north (a plan to shift from St. Clair to Glencairn has been on hold due to budget problems for a few years), and once the extension opens, the short turn will move further north again. Without even counting the trains for Spadina (which are in a separate budget line as part of that project) and the extra trains needed if the headway is to be shortened, there are not enough TRs to run the whole line. For more details, see my article from last year.

    @Alex yes H5/6’s are going to Nigeria, and H4’s are going to scrap, and all that remains will be T1’s and TR’s.

    @Jonathan Chen don’t count on YUS getting new trains unless… they are launched on BD and SHE instead! If there will be too many TR’s to fit on BD and SHE to replace T1’s, and YUS requires a TR-only fleet, then it can continue using TR’s while BD and SHE get the new trains.


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