An Update Re Subway Special Work

There was a conversation recently in comments on this blog about a perceived improvement in the noise (or lack of it) of subway trains on special work (switches and crossovers, also known as “frogs”) at Lawrence and Keele Stations. I postulated a few possible answers, but wrote to the TTC to ask what they had done.

Their response, from Stuart Green, Senior Communications Specialist, confirms what I had expected and provides additional details.

Lawrence Double Cross-Over

  • It is an improved design with different type of heel that eliminates the joint at the heel of the switch.
  • Two turnouts are now flange bearing lift frogs that means continuous rail at the crossing – no jumping over the toe of the frog.
  • Newer rails that have no end battering at the joints
  • New ballast that provides better load transfer and required stiffness/flexibility to track.

Keele Double Cross-Over

  • New double cross-over is of the same design with some improvement in the design to make it smoother. The main reasons for smoother ride are new rails and new frog that do not have any end battering or excessive wear.
  • New ballast that provides better load transfer and required stiffness/flexibility to track.

12 thoughts on “An Update Re Subway Special Work

  1. Do you know what the TTC October board period service changes will look like?

    Steve: I have not yet received the detailed memo from the TTC. Usually it comes out about two weeks before the change, and so I expect to see it soon.


  2. I remember when the North Yonge extension to Finch opened, the service updates crowed “Finch to Front in 25 minutes”. I wonder if that still holds true…


  3. What about the “special work” with the streetcar tracks? Or it is not in the budget?

    I’m assuming the light rail tracks already have them.

    Steve: Streetcar special work also carries wheels over the junctions via the flanges, but the intersections get into rough shape as they age.


  4. At least Finch to Front in 25 minutes is plausible. Going the opposite direction, especially in a train of Gloucesters, 25 minutes would be a very, very aggressive timetable.

    I am surprised the TTC didn’t do a big announcement though unless what’s happening right now is a soft launch and they want to run it for a week or two before having a press conference about it.

    That said, now that automatic operation’s in place over the whole line, I think a subway ride’s going on the itinerary soon.

    Steve: I think you will find it underwhelming.


  5. With ATC, the trains maximum acceleration speed limit will be nn and no higher. With operators, unless they installing speed governors on the trains, they could exceed the recommended speed often, which results in the trains getting ahead of schedule and having to wait or dwell times at some points.

    Maybe if they increase the maximum for some stretches of track, they could adjust the timing to allow for faster trains.

    Steve: That used to be true, but TTC installed speed control across the system some years ago. Ops cannot exceed the speed limit. What I have noticed, however, is that the limits under ATC seem to be lower than before.


  6. Forgive me for continuing the off-topic here, but since we are talking about it, will the TTC be extending the single operator running soon? The stopover at St. George is getting tiresome. I find about one out of three times passing through there it results in a long siesta for the train while at the east end of the platform there appears to be an all-day party with five or six operators and a supervisor gabbing.

    Steve: I don’t know which schedule period will see this change over for the whole line. The changes for Thanksgiving weekend are not out yet, but I suspect it would be the late November Board at the earliest. When I know, I will publish this info.


  7. What is the update on the Sheppard subway extension? Premier Douglas Ford campaigned on this in 2018 and 2022. Let us complete the Scarborough subway network by extending the Sheppard subway east to McCowan. A less urgent project would be to extend the Sheppard subway westwards but eastwards is more urgent.

    Steve: According to any published material I have seen from Metrolinx or Infrastructure Ontario, the Sheppard East extension is “in planning” and construction would not begin until after the Scarborough extension is finished in 2030. It is not seen as a high priority by the Province, notwithstanding what Ford may have campaigned on. Also, I suspect it’s a cash flow issue given the amount that will be spent on other big projects already in progress.


  8. Re: a train of northbound Gloucesters. I remember once going north out of Rosedale during a very heavy afternoon snowstorm on a packed G Train. We were going so slow, the operator came over the PA and said “if we go any slower we’ll all have to get out and push!”


  9. The TTC did release a self-congratulatory news release on ATC today with a very slight nod to the messing around their customers put up with over the years – lets see if they learned ANYTHING when they start in on Line 2.

    Steve: I will be sympathetic, up to a point, with the TTC considering that many of the service interruptions on Line 1 were for Crosstown work, although some were used for both that work and the ATC project. The section north of Eglinton also had asbestos and tunnel liner repair issues. More generally, TTC seems to be using early closings more frequently to get a longer overnight window, with extended weekend shutdowns for track repairs.


  10. I expect to be underwhelmed.

    I should probably change the nickname to Former TTC Passenger or something like that because I don’t use the TTC very often anymore. It’s been quite a while since I’ve taken a long subway ride so I’m curious how things have changed with ATO. The reports that the line has been slowed down even more are disappointing though. ATO was just the most recent thing that was supposed to change that but didn’t. High rate operation was supposed to come once the Yonge-University-Spadina line fleet became composed of all T1 and rebuilt H5 cars. Maybe someday.

    Steve: Yes, an issue that ATC/ATO should have solved as the need to shuffle braking markers and grade timing signals to suit the higher speeds. This is particularly important on segments with wide station spacing. I know from rides I have had in “the old days” when ops could put trains into high rate that the travel time from Eglinton to Finch goes down from 12 to 10 minutes each way. That’s almost equivalent to saving two trains.

    The flip side was that the track on that section was in rough shape years ago thanks to poor maintenance which, in turn, arose from issues with tunnel asbestos. The H1s (and that’s going back a while) had motor problems at high speed, and older trains had truck sway problems that produced longitudinal wear patterns that would generate even more sway. And so we get a collective institutional “memory” that we cannot run high rate without understanding why or whether the conditions that limited this still exist.


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