Poor Frozen Streetcars

Over the past week, we have heard a lot about streetcars that were stuck in the yard or failed in service because of frozen air lines.

If the air isn’t dry, moisture condenses and freezes, blocking air movement.  Whatever system that air line runs – such as releasing the brakes – stops working, and the streetcar is stuck just as if it were frozen to the rails.  Think of this as sclerosis for streetcars.

Drying the air has been an issue for the streetcar fleet more or less since it was delivered 30 years ago, and the problem is worse on the long ALRVs than on the shorter, and older, CLRVs.  One can only wonder if this is yet another subsystem where the TTC gambled that things would keep running until new cars arrived.

They lost.

Record cold weather meant anything that was borderline temperature sensitive has failed, and riders have seen the effects.

The new cars are over a year late.  If the wait means they work perfectly “out of the box” I will be ecstatic – the Toronto Rocket subway trains have not exactly inspired confidence in Bombardier.

The partial replacement of streetcars by buses led inevitably to musing by Councillor Doug Ford that maybe we should just make this a permanent arrangement.  The Ford family is well known for looking for any excuse to rid Toronto of what they see as a nuisance.

This begs two very important sets of questions for the TTC and its current chair, Karen Stintz.  Will they rise to the streetcars’ defence not just for the short, post-deep-freeze, but for their long-term future?

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