West End Streetcar Construction Update: July 31, 2022

Several projects are in various stages on the west side of Toronto’s streetcar system. Here is an omnibus update.

King-Queen-Queensway-Roncesvalles

The reconstruction of this junction has reached the point where all of the contact wire for the new intersection is in place, but it is not yet attached to the hangers on the spiderweb of span wires above the intersection. Contact wire extends west of Roncesvalles through the South Gate area, but ends just east of Sunnyside Loop.

Further west, the track is in place to Glendale Avenue (St. Joseph’s Hospital stop), but not fully concreted. One block remains to be installed from Glendale to the existing right-of-way.

According to the most recent City construction notice, service west of Bathurst Street will resume in two stages, and even then will not yet be through to Humber and Long Branch.

  • Effective September 4th:
    • 501/301 Queen streetcar service will be extended west to Dufferin Street from Bathurst Street. 501L replacement buses will be shortened to operate from Long Branch Loop to Dufferin Street.
    • The 504/304 King streetcar will continue to be replaced by bus service west of Dufferin Street.
  • As of October 9th:
    • 501/301 Queen streetcar service will be extended as far west as the KQQR intersection. 501L Replacement buses will continue to operate between Long Branch Loop and Dufferin Street.
    • The 504/304 King streetcar will continue to be replaced by bus service during construction and will have no service on Roncesvalles Avenue south of Howard Park Avenue. Route adjustments are: Howard Park, Parkside, Lake Shore, Colborne Lodge, The Queensway (both directions).

Detailed service plans will likely be published by the TTC in mid-to-late August.

Lake Shore Boulevard West

The track between Louisa Street and Mimico Avenue was not replaced in the last round of TTC upgrades on this route. They are now completing this section. A few points to note in the photos below:

  • In the view looking west, work on overhead conversion to pantograph mode including staggering of the contact wire is in progress. Over the entire route from Humber to Long Branch the contact wire is not yet attached to many of the new hangers.
  • In the view looking east, note that the rail is not yet fastened down with Pandrol clips. The previous rebuild here is recent enough that the track foundation already has steel ties, and so the rebuild only requires removal of the top pavement layer. The new track is then attached to the existing foundation.

At Kipling and Lake Shore, construction has just begun on replacement of the intersection and Kipling Loop. From the pre-assembled track already sitting on trailers near the site, it appears that the east-to-north curve will be replaced rather than removed. This curve is only ever used by railfan charters, and yet it survives. Meanwhile, on another project at Church & Carlton where missing curves in the south-east quadrant would add to network flexibility, the TTC is rebuilding the track as is without them.

Dundas West Station

The new extended platform for 505 Dundas cars is now in place, although still missing guardrails, and the track replacement for the loop has been complete for a few weeks. The new platform will allow two 505 Dundas Flexitys to be in the station at once (this was already possible for 504 King cars) relieving a source of congestion on Dundas Street at the station entrance.

Currently announced plans are for buses to return to this loop in September, but 505 Dundas streetcars will continue diverting to High Park until early October pending completion of new overhead and the platform.

504 King streetcars will not return here until completion of the last phase of the KQQR project likely in late Fall 2022.

12 thoughts on “West End Streetcar Construction Update: July 31, 2022

  1. I once saw an out-of-service service car use the east-to-north curve at Kipling and Lake Shore. So at least one time it was used, by NOT a railfan charter.

    Also, the overhead for that curve was redone with updated wiring already. Can’t let that go to waste.

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  2. Meanwhile, on another project at Church & Carlton where missing curves in the south-east quadrant would add to network flexibility, the TTC is rebuilding the track as is without them.

    Every intersection that had staff recommended changes for the rebuild was rebuilt exactly as it was before construction. College & Bathurst, College & Church, King & York, and Gerrard & Broadview. They have been asleep at the wheel for a long time.

    When College & Spadina was built, the lone west-to-north curve survived. In my mind it made no sense to keep that curve alone. It only made sense to either add the south-to-east curve or remove the west-to-north curve but TTC logic intervened and they chose the option that made the least amount of sense. I have literally only ever seen this curve used once for a 510 car entering service via Queen-Parliament-Gerrard-College.

    Another missed opportunity happened when Dundas and Parliament was rebuilt and the south-to-east curve wasn’t added. Westbound 506 diversions can use Broadview and Parliament. Eastbound 506 diversions through the area have to use Queen and the heavily congested Queen & Broadview intersection.

    Steve: My favourite preserved curves were east to north at Howard Park and Dundas, and west to north at Howard Park and Roncesvalles. They were remnants of Dundas Carhouse that closed in the late 1930s, but were lovingly replaced during a few intersection rebuilds. They are gone now, but that E-to-N was handy for visiting both High Park and Dundas West Station on the same trip.

    The TTC talks a good line about transit priority and operational flexiblity, but when they have a chance to add curves, they drop the ball. By the way, the curves in the northwest quadrant of Broadview & Gerrard were additions, and it was on the next round of rebuilds that they forgot to add a north-to-west. This from the same outfit that created a trio of grand unions in walking distance of each other.

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  3. Talking of missing curves ….. it will be ‘interesting’ to see if they install all useful curves when they do the Adelaide & York track this year (and 2023?). Also, whether they allow for the addition of the short piece of southbound track needed on York from Adelaide to link up with the King track when that is redone (2024?). Based on past experience, I would, sadly, say “no”.

    Steve: Current plans do not include a link south so King, but may include useful curves at Adelaide. But I suspect that the track has already been ordered given the lead time, and I am not hopeful except maybe for an east to north because there was once a curve there.

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  4. Hey Steve!!

    I’m a Big Fan!!

    No mention that the streetcar tracks southbound on Roncesvalles don’t actually meet up with the tracks at KQQR. In fact there is a jog where the old tracks are and the new ones begin.

    Thanks for all you do.

    Steve: When the north quadrant at KQQR is rebuilt, the tracks will be realigned and everything will meet up again. The southbound track will shift a bit to the west to make a curbside stop with the realigned sidewalk.

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  5. 504 King streetcars will not return here until completion of the last phase of the KQQR project likely in late Fall 2022.

    Well, “December 31, 2022” is the City’s published “timelines are subject to change” end date. None of the previous initially announced stage end dates on this project have been kept so far. (In Update #3 – _after_ they found all the problems under the intersection – King was supposed to reopen “Early Winter 2022”.) And believing that they’ll manage to sync platform rebuilds with Roncesvalles shutdown also requires a fair amount of optimism. I’ll be glad if I see 504 on Roncey by next summer.

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  6. I always was curious as to why they rebuilt that curve Victoria and Dundas North to East. Never in my entire life have I seen any evidence that this gets used. The track has absolutely no wear on it. Currently there is a sign that says power off. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen Victoria used in ages either.

    Steve: Victoria was blocked north of Queen for years by the construction at St. Mike’s which ran late due to problems with the contractor. It has only recently reopened. The track on Victoria was scheduled for replacement some years ago, but who knows when this will actually happen. When it was still possible, one would see the Dundas route split at Yonge with cars looping via CHurch, Queen and Victoria, but for years now City TV has used that space on Dundas Square as a parking lot. I would love to see their reaction if a streetcar actually showed up!

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  7. The reason for that the streetcar track construction takes so long is the VERY low priority given to public transit operations and maintenance in general. The city keeps cutting corners and budget items that would improve public transit. We could add additional curves, but that would mean actually spending money public transit, and we can’t do that.

    Been to Europe, where I saw them use double-points on tram switches. The trams speed through the switches without stopping. Not in Toronto. We can improve the speed of our streetcars, but can’t.

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  8. This project has dragged on far too long.

    Steve: I heartily agree. There have been various delays, particularly with utilities that were not located where they were expected, as well as Covid related hangups for the work. The idea of a “big bang” project where everthing that needs doing is bundled together is good in theory, but multiplies the opportunities for screwups when any one component goes awry.

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  9. The final concrete around the tracks on the section of the Wellington project from King to Scott was poured today. There now only remains the short block from just east of Scott to just east of Yonge to do. I think that because of the garage entrance on the block, the contractors will do a ‘blitz’ on that block and try to do ALL the road work in a weekend. I noticed that, just east of Yonge, they have put down the yellow tactile markings on the new sidewalk for a long streetcar stop.

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  10. How long before the entire 501 Streetcar is in service?

    Steve: It’s not announced yet, but at the rate things are going, I would not hold my breath for anything before very late fall.

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  11. Steve do you know when streetcar service as far west as Long Branch will resume?

    Steve: I doubt much before the end of this year. There is no announced date. Service to Sunnyside is supposed to resume in mid-October.

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