4400 Makes Inaugural Run to Bathurst Station (Update 2)

Early on March 14, the TTC’s first new LFLRV (low floor light rail vehicle) made its inaugural test trip out of Hillcrest Yard to Bathurst Station and return.  The TTC’s Brad Ross posted photos of the event.  (Three photos were added at about 4:00 pm on March 14.)

Owly ImagesLeaving Hillcrest Yard

Owly ImagesSB on Bathurst at the CPR underpass

Owly ImagesUnder the CPR underpass

Owly ImagesAt Bathurst Station

Owly ImagesLeaving Bathurst Station

Owly ImagesNB north of Bathurst Station

Owly ImagesReturning to Hillcrest

Another test run is tentatively planned for the morning of March 15 leaving Hillcrest after the last 512 St. Clair car has passed enroute back to Roncesvalles carhouse at about 2:30am.  Car 4400 will make a round trip to Exhibition Loop.

Updated March 15, 2013 at 11:20 am:

Photos from the run to Exhibition Loop are in a gallery on the Torontoist’s website.

36 thoughts on “4400 Makes Inaugural Run to Bathurst Station (Update 2)

  1. I’m guessing that the rewiring of Exhibition Loop has been completed?

    It’s almost too bad, the CLRVs looked great running through Fleet St. Loop … the LFLRV would look even cooler wrapping itself around the lighthouse.

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: According to the TTC’s website, there is more work planned for the coming weekend.


  2. There will be some who will complain about the new streetcars. One complaint I already heard is that they are too long. The new streetcars are not long at all, when compared with what used to run on the streetcar tracks of Toronto.

    Remember the streetcar trains on the Bloor streetcar line? Two PCC multi-unit streetcars were coupled together to form a streetcar train. Those streetcar trains ran during the rush hours on the Bloor and later Queen routes. One new streetcar would be about the same length as one of those streetcar trains.

    Earlier, there were the older Peter Witt streetcar and trailer trains that ran on the Yonge and other routes. They would have been almost the same length as one new streetcar, as well.

    The main difference, of course, would be that only one operator (driver) would be needed on the new streetcar, unlike the two employees on the PCC trains (one driver/conductor per car) or three employees on the Peter Witt trains (one driver and one conductor in the front streetcar, and another conductor in the rear trailer).


  3. Would have been better if, 4400 was taken out during last month’s snowstorm.

    BTW, was Mayor Ford onboard?

    Steve: I don’t think they were ready for on street testing when the snows fell. As far as I know, there were no politicians on this trip.


  4. Is that a trolley pole? How many of the new streetcars will be delivered until they come with pantographs? Also, they’re gradually converting wire to be pantograph capable. Is this being tested? Seems to me they should have a pantograph on a PCC testing this now so the number of the new streetcars without pantographs can be minimized.

    Steve: If you look at the shot of the car leaving and entering Hillcrest, the pantograph is clearly visible on the third section of the car (particularly if you use the option to get the full size version of the photos). The testing will include running with both pole an pantograph (where the overhead has been converted). All of the cars will be delivered with pantographs.


  5. “Remember the streetcar trains on the Bloor streetcar line?”

    That was a long long time ago. Most people in Toronto these days weren’t even alive back then, and if they were, they weren’t old enough at the time to remember them. Those MU “trains” ran at 90 second headways, back in an era when streetcars dominated and cars were still an unaffordable luxury.

    Steve: Actually they ran at 4 minute headways on Queen, and often trains would be broken apart to short turn one half to fill gaps. In any event, the point is that we do have 75-foot cars running today on a few lines, and the extra 15 feet are not going to bring the world to a standstill.


  6. Well I must say that I’ve been waiting so long to see this beautiful LFLRV finally being tested on the actual track/overhead they’ll be running on for the next 3 decades or so! I’m so intrigued by this LRV. I’m a techie and wanna know about all the different components within this vehicle. This is the perfect vehicle to help inject some life into a once vibrant corridor along the legendary trolley line Rt 23 back here in Philadelphia. Its too soon to say that this car loaded with modern technology is a success but if the short run to Bathurst Station occurred w/o a hitch this only a positive sign for the future. I’m just in awe!




  7. Photo number 2 is the car “leaving” Bathurst station, not entering…….
    North end….

    Steve: Fixed. Thanks. Also, the photos have been resequenced.


  8. Wow they look bigger than I expected. What will the motorists say?

    Steve: I do not publish that sort of language on this site which is a location for calm, measured reflection on transit issues of the day.


  9. Could this run to Bathurst station and back to Hillcrest be done with a pantograph now? From the photos, the curves at Hillcrest’s entrance and at Bathurst station appear to have newer pan-friendly hangers. I’m not familiar with the rest of the route’s wiring, but most tangent track away from switches in the city is pan-capable, at least at lower speeds (due to little to no side-to-side shifting of the overhead).

    Steve: I would have to ride that section and check carefully. There are some odd places where old pole/shoe-only hangars are strangely still in place even though new hardware is installed nearby. A related issue is the change to the heavier gauge of trolley wire for higher current draw. Conversion of Exhibition Loop is in progress but not yet finished.

    If you look at the photo where 4400 is coming into Bathurst Station (the large “original size”), look at the frog where the curved wire from the runaround track (with 4400 on it) joins the main line. The hangar is an inverted I which almost certainly would foul a pantograph. This sort of thing, as well as frogs that are suspended horizontally rather than vertically, shows up even at locations where curve segments have been changed out to pan-friendly runners.


  10. I noticed today that they have installed the new hangers (though not new wires) on both the eastbound and westbound lanes of Richmond from Church to Yonge. I hope they do not intend to test the eastbound ones with 4400 as Richmond is one-way westbound and the eastbound track was removed about 10 years ago. :->


  11. “Another test run is tentatively planned for the morning of March 15 leaving Hillcrest after the last 512 St. Clair car has passed enroute back to Roncesvalles carhouse at about 2:30am.”

    Do you know if the test run is shortly after 2:30am, or anytime after 2:30am to as late as 4:30am ish? I would try to go, but it’s difficult to wait around for something for 2 hours.

    Steve: I only know what’s in the media announcement. Since they have advertised this, I suspect they will leave Hillcrest closer to 2:30 than 4:30 — also they have a lot more ground to cover.


  12. The photo labelled “Bathurst below Dupont” (TTC 4400Test 7.jpg) is more precisely opposite Annex Optical Pharmacy (in background) at 882 Bathurst Street. Thus, it is heading northbound about 100 meters north of Bathurst Station.

    Steve: Thanks for tracking this down, I was planning to hunt down the location myself, but have been pre-occupied with other matters. I will update the post.


  13. I expect that the higher current demand would result from peak acceleration (with a full passenger load) and with air conditioning load imposed. As I understand it, this car may have been equipped with a pantograph, but operated with a temporary trolley pole for this test run. The preliminary test runs can probably take place with old style overhead insulators/frogs and 2/0 contact wire without too much concern of under-voltages, especially late at night when bunched vehicles are unlikely, and substation loading is reduced.

    Steve: I do know that for a planned run along Queen Street (date not yet confirmed), they plan to travel quite slowly through a section of still-old style overhead.


  14. It’s great to see them finally doing some on-street testing. I am eagerly awaiting the new cars going into service next year. It’s rather humours that on City’s BT this morning they referred to them as “futuristic” – obviously a refection on how outdated much of the TTC has become that when we get current technology it’s consider “futuristic”.

    Sadly the TTC and City Hall have taught Torontonians to consider any form of surface transit (especially streetcars) as slow and inferior and causing traffic congestion. I hope that with the new LFLRVs being introduced first on the Spadina line the impression of these cars on our streets might actually bring a sense of pride.

    BTW Steve, with the reconstruction of the Spadina line has the overhead been upgraded to be pan-friendly?


    Steve: Some but not all of Spadina was pan-friendly when the line opened in 1997. During the design phase, the TTC was contemplating a switchover and a lot of the installed hardware anticipated this. A notable exception was the intersections where a lot of very unfriendly hardware must be replaced before the line can convert to pantograph operation. Some overhead has been changed out during the recent construction, but the line is not yet at 100%.

    I suspect they will also finish off all of the route between Leslie Barns and the Spadina line for carhouse moves as well.


  15. I understand that this is a test run and the vehicle don’t have close to a full load, but from the videos I’ve watched it seems (to me at least) that the new vehicles accelerate quicker than the C/ALRVs. (of course we all know that the current fleet are tanks on rails) Perhaps it’s just me.. but that’s something that’s always bothered me about the old fleet especially when it’s crossing an intersection.

    Have you any idea Steve if this is actually true?

    Steve: One big problem at intersections with special work is that the TTC has a permanent stop and proceed order and other rules at switches and crossings. This is rather odd considering that they have been rebuilding the system, but it’s the classic “do it everywhere” rule to deal with problems at specific locations. Acceleration on the ALRVs was detuned to limit their current draw so they are not as sprightly as the CLRVs. And, yes, the cars are far too heavy because they were designed for 70mph operation (!!!!) because the UTDC thought that’s what was needed for suburban lines. That speed does not make sense unless stops are miles apart with no grade crossings. Even the subway tops out at about 45-50mph.

    Yet another way Ontario government interference hampered Toronto’s transit. When the TTC was working on a new streetcar design in the 60s, it was going to have trucks descended from the lightweight PCC design. But the Ontario technology gurus knew better. Fie!


  16. I wonder if they will store the few cars necessary to operate Spadina at the Hillcrest complex, or is it anticipated that the Leslie Barns will be ready prior to converting Spadina over to the new vehicles?

    Steve: Leslie Barns won’t be ready for early 2014, and I believe that cars will be stored and serviced at Russell for a short time.


  17. Steve says,

    “I suspect they will also finish off all of the route between Leslie Barns and the Spadina line for carhouse moves as well.”

    Isn’t Spadina to Roncesvalles (where a new, tall barn has been a-building for a while) be more likely? When are the Leslie Barns supposed to be done? Will they be finished and connected by this time next year?

    Steve: It could also be Roncesvalles, but my bet is still on Russell especially considering that other work is planned there to make the site LFLRV compatible this year. No, Leslie Barns will not be finished for the start of 2014.


  18. Noticed in one video where the Outlook is curving out of Hillcrest, and the wheels are squealing. I know it’s winter, so water can’t be used, but do the new streetcars have some sort lubrication system available, or even turned on, to reduce the curve squeal?

    Steve: I was surprised by this too as, if anything, the new cars are supposed to be quieter. The curves at Hillcrest are not lubricated at any time of the year. It is possible that because the entire car has brand new wheels, we are hearing the effect of the lack of wear-in. In any event, this bears watching, so to speak, for obvious reasons.


  19. Steve said:

    Leslie Barns won’t be ready for early 2014, and I believe that cars will be stored and serviced at Russell for a short time.

    But the TTC is building an extension of the Roncesvalles carhouse building to accommodate the new low-floor LRVs. (That’s what TTC staff said at the last open house there.) Would that not be ready in 2014?

    Steve: Yes, it will, but both carhouses will eventually house LFLRVs.


  20. Steve said:

    Leslie Barns won’t be ready for early 2014, and I believe that cars will be stored and serviced at Russell for a short time.

    LRV’s will be stored at Roncy for a period of time and Roncy Operators will be doing Spadina. That’s the plan as of now.

    Steve: Thanks for the update. There is major track work planned for Russell this year to change the ladder track on Eastern Avenue by raising the grade and making it a reserved part of the street. This will simplify the compound curve from Eastern into the carhouse tracks. A new separate sidewalk will go south of the ladder. Originally there were plans to build an addition to Russell carhouse to service new cars, but this has been dropped.

    However, 4400 will be making a visit to Russell sometime later in March.


  21. I don’t have my reference works handy. How long did it take from TTC inception to delivery of the Peter Witts? And how long to debug them? Possibly for them the time was to widen the tracks?

    Steve: Don’t forget that the Peter Witt was an existing design, and that it was a North American standard, just like the PCC. Supporting multiple gauges was an integral part of both designs. The prototype Witt was built in 1914 with production from 1915 onward. The PCC went through a design and research effort of several years, and the first cars came to Toronto 10 years after the development project (which the TTC was part of) began in 1929.

    The first batch of Toronto’s Witts were ordered in April 1921, two were on display that summer at the CNE, and they entered service in October, a month after the TTC had formally taken over the street railway system from the TRC. Rebuilding of the track network was an ongoing project and gradually the new cars spread through the system. Don’t forget that the last of the TRC equipment survived into the early 1950s.

    The Flexity at least starts from a standard design with adaptations to fit Toronto’s track geometry and power requirements.


  22. The new streetcars have onboard flange lubricators with programmed GPS coordinates. The fixed location rail greasers will be decommissioned when the fleet is completely replaced. I highly doubt that the LFLRV coordinates have been programmed in yet.

    Steve: Thanks for reminding us of this. I had forgotten about this feature of the cars.


  23. Welcome to the 21th century, TTC


    With the projected roll out of new streetcars on Spadina early next year do you know if they plan to turn on the priority signals on that route? That will improve speed that has been an issue on this line. There is no reason for a vehicle carrying 150 people to wait for single occupant cars turning left or stop twice at intersections. With 3+ minutes headways traffic impact should be minimal.

    Steve: There has been a hot debate on the issue of Spadina signalling and right now the current arrangement seems to be winning. TTC staff produced a short, superficial, dismissive report about this, many years after it was originally requested.

    The fundamental problem, of course, is that farside stops only make sense if LRVs are not held nearside at intersections. I doubt we will see this revisited until the current crop of car-loving fanatics are removed from power at City Hall.


  24. Can we really expect that metal wheels on metal rails won’t squeak when rounding a corner? I’ve never heard any train make a curve without squealing — even the Toronto Rockets make like a banshee southbound approaching College, or rounding the bottom of the U to and from Union.


  25. A number of news articles said that TTC will be testing the coupling/towing capabilities of the new cars. I can’t wait to see 2 of them passing through a loop or intersection. Do these car’s have the ability to be converted into MU operation. I remember that there was talk of 2 car trains for the East Docklands line(s).

    Steve: I presume you mean the eastern waterfront lines. No, there are no plans to run MU, although the Metrolinx versions of these cars will run in trains. A two-car train of the new cars would not fit at many of the stops on the existing system, and the Queen’s Quay designs all have platforms a bit longer than one of the new cars, not two.

    If you check out YouTube for the new Blackpool trams they appear to be double ended versions of the new Toronto cars. They are smooth and quiet in the videos.


  26. Why don’t they lubricate curves at Hillcrest? Also, you said that the wheel profile hasn’t been worn-in yet and hence, the squealing noise. Will the streetcars be that noisy for the next while?

    I guess the TTC has received enough complaints about losing the real bell that they took the extra step to make the bells sound real. It helps that the sound is allowed to taper.

    Steve: As a previous comment mentioned, the cars have wheel lubricators that will be triggered by GPS information (although I’m not sure how they will know what a car plans to do when it reaches an intersection where the curving movement is not the common one).


  27. In the video exiting Hillcrest if you look closely you will notice the carbody in the front section oscillating left to right a few times elastically with a surprising amount of force given the low speed. This is the typical established bad behaviour found in this type of vehicle everywhere and it doesn’t bode well. Expect even more drastic and widespread speed restrictions as policy in the future. That issue caused rampant structural damage to the original Siemens Combino design.

    While I understand that the addition of independent bogies in the current Bombardier design allows more independent freedom of travel relative to the body in part to deal with that issue, at the very least the arrangement leads to a rather unpleasant ride in the front section through turns and it is worst for the operator. It is also this elasticity of all the connecting joints that results in excessive wheel/rail noise and premature wear in general.


  28. At some point is this testing program TTC needs a full load on these new streetcars.

    Sandbags might work but real people would be a better test.

    Maybe in July there will be a call for volunteers to ride the new streetcars between 2:30 am and 4:30 am.

    Maybe not.

    Bombardier knows what they are doing.

    Steve: It will be staff, not public “volunteers”, and the sandbags will get a good workout before that.


  29. But why don’t they lubricate curves at Hillcrest?

    Steve: Because they are not used very much and it’s an industrial area.


  30. I watched that video and it is a bit troubling. That is something that would not be nice on the ears in an enclosed space like the Union loop or the turnout from Queens Quay station.

    One thing I noted on the spec sheets was that these new cars have a larger minimum turn radius than the CLRV/ALRV cars that they are replacing. One thing I don’t know is how close to spec limits our standard track intersections are. From an engineering and systems standpoint, it is never comfortable to be operating right at the limits.

    Higher susceptibility to derailments would be an unwelcome new “feature.”


  31. I think most terminus loops have a larger turning radius than 90 degree corners.

    Steve: Union Loop, which is critical for the Spadina line, is tight. The south-to-west curve at Bay and Queen’s Quay mimics the street layout above. Earlscourt Loop on the St. Clair line is quite small too.


  32. Steve:

    “I presume you mean the eastern waterfront lines. No, there are no plans to run MU, although the Metrolinx versions of these cars will run in trains. A two-car train of the new cars would not fit at many of the stops on the existing system, and the Queen’s Quay designs all have platforms a bit longer than one of the new cars, not two.”

    I remember when the TTC came up with their wonderful redesign of the Union Station Street car loop that it had 2 unloading platforms, 2 loading platforms and showed or mentioned 2 car MU trains going of east along Queens Quay. I realize that these plans were probably designed for Oz or Never-Never Land but they show 2 car trains. Since these cars have a pretty standard controller it should be capable of MU operation. I was wondering what happened to the TTC’s dream land proposal. Did it die a merciful and quick death when someone realized what a 200′ (60 m) train would look like on Leslie?

    Steve: The dual platforms were for two cars serving separate routes to be on the platform at the same time, not for two car trains. The loading platform is something like the arrangement at Exhibition Loop with the intent that a car loading on platform 2 could leave by dodging around the car on platform 1.


  33. The Blackpool Flexity 2s appear to a a double ended version of the TTC’s cars. They have the same door arrangement but are about 2 m longer, mainly in the end units. You can look at a series of YouTube videos here and here.

    Look at the first video; it appears to be a test run after rebuilding some of the line. The noise in parts from the overhead arcing is louder than the car. There is also one seen where they have to remove paving stones because the car can’t clear them.

    If you get to the illumination trams my favourite is F736; every tram should come equipped with a gun turret that has twin 3″ (76 mm) cannon. It would clear up illegally parked cars quickly.

    The track switches seem to be single blade but I am not positive. Their minimum curve radius is supposed to be 25 m on the line with 20 m in the tram depot. They all seem to have wheel squeal so I guess they did not opt for the optional wheel greasers.

    The cars are 32.23 m long with 4 120 kW 3 phase AC traction motors. They accelerate at 0.5 m/s/s which seems low but decelerate at 1.2 m/s/s with an emergency rate of 2.73 m/s/s. You can read about them here.


  34. Eyeballing a CLRV-length across the loop in this image suggests that the turning radius of the Union Station Loop is 15 metres. I was surprised by this number, because the whole thing just looks small in real life (but I guess the whole closet-like environment makes everything seem small).


    I read somewhere that non-pivoting bogies are less of a problem if there are spiral curves. I think Toronto has these, but correct me if I’m wrong.


  35. @ Mikey:

    Spiral curves (curves with easements in other words) certainly are standard geometry in Toronto and they do help smooth travel through a curve. The main purpose though is to keep the curve as tight as possible for small road intersections to fit narrow road allowances and not interfere with the sidewalks at the corners. Facing point left-hand switches tend to be the sharpest in the street trackage. The right-hand turn exiting Hillcrest is not nearly as sharp. The initial deflection by the single-blade switch can be rather abrupt however.

    The problem I’m referring to is with the vehicle itself. Anyone who has had the chance to experience the ride quality of an old single-truck car will know what I’m talking about. They heave violently all over the place because they are locked to the truck, even when travelling in a straight line and at low speed. The modern-day low-floor LRV revives this design but adds an elastic suspension and limited travel to the truck in a desperate attempt to smooth out the wandering of the truck and keep the body level and vibration-free. Any deflection from straight by the truck is met with immediate resistance and recoil by the body section. The body section is also meant to be steered by the truck through turns much sooner and more closely following the path of the truck, but all the while it fights with the truck, shaking back and forth. I’ve ridden the first-gen rigid-truck Combinos in Amsterdam and the violent elastic shaking all the way through turns was quite distressing. The lessons learned from that documented and admitted engineering failure have been incorporated into some later designs including Bombardier’s but the effects of the limited truck swing and elastic suspension can only be dampened rather than fully eliminated. All of this is complicated by the addition of an unsupported body section slung in the air between neighbouring trucked sections.

    Also consider it this way – When a CLRV enters a turn the whole body is actually pivoting on the rear bolster until the trailing truck enters the turn. This gently eases the body into and through the turn. When the first body section of an LFLRV enters a turn the entire mass of the section is thrown sideways and twisted to steer it. The end result of this should be obvious even if only considered in theory. Why it was ever pursued as a viable technology is quite beyond me. Don’t forget that Bombardier was very hostile initially insisting that the TTC would have to modify their track to accomodate the vehicle design. Guess who is going to take the blame if there are any major problems?

    BTW, if you haven’t been afforded the luxury of a rigid-truck ride, try standing in the centre module of an ALRV. It’s not quite as bad but still a good approximation in terms of horizontal swing.


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