Archive for the ‘Scarborough RT’ Category

LRT Conversion of the SRT

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Scarborough RTLast October, I wrote about the possibility of the SRT being converted to true LRT. Since that time, open houses dealing with the extension of the SRT had display panels that were showing only ICTS technology. However, at the open house held back on June 2, there was one question on the FAQ in the handout material that addressed the possibility of converting the line (see this post for the details).

Last week, Steve Munro had reported that there was a “SRT Conversion and Expansion project” that was mentioned on page 6 of the July Chief General Manager’s Report. Steve also reports today that city council today will deal with a couple of motions one of which reads:

City Council request the Toronto Transit Commission and Metrolinx to report back in November 2009 on a process to implement LRT Technology to match and work with Transit City, on the extension of the Scarborough Rapid Transit line, and request the conversion of the existing line between Kennedy and McCowan stations from its current I.C.T.S. Technology to LRT technology, matching the extension, consistent with Transit City.

I have expressed my support of this idea, both here and in written comments at a few open houses related to the SRT. The SRT was originally intended to be an LRT line, and we may finally see that happen. I have even suggested (both on this site and on Steve Munro’s site) that the funding that is in place will only be enough to extend an upgraded SRT to Sheppard, but would be enough to extend a converted line all the way to Malvern. This morning, TTC Chief General Manager Gary Webster stated to council:

TTC now feels that LRT is the appropriate technology for the route and is working with Metrolinx to define the technology and scope for the Transit City projects generally.

The funding announced by Queen’s Park is not sufficient to carry the SRT north from Sheppard to Malvern.

This second statement backs up what I have suggested.


A Ride on ART Mark-II

Friday, July 17th, 2009

I have been in Vancouver this past week and finally had the chance to use SkyTrain and ride on a Bombardier ART Mark-II car, as well as another ride on a Mark-I car to remind me of the differences.

The Mark-II cars are longer and married pairs have a gangway between them making the two a continuous space. While this added length increases the feeling of having more room, these cars actually feel wider than the Mark-I cars even though they are not wider. The seating layout, which actually has more forward/reverse-facing seats, makes it feel like a wider car.

For the rail/transit fan, the Mark-II cars have a larger window in the front (with windshield wiper), with a seat available that has one seated facing forward. SkyTrain is fully automated, so there is no driver’s cab. There are two versions of the Mark-I car: the original 114 cars have a window on the front door similar to the centre window in the driver’s cab on the Scarborough RT. In 1991 and 1994, a total of 36 additional Mark-I cars were purchased that had no door on its front end, but had a slightly larger window with a windshield wiper. The Mark-I cars have a fold-down seat that faces sideways in the narrow space in the front.

If the Scarborough RT were to keep the ART (formerly ICTS) technology, new Mark-II cars would have to be ordered as Mark-I cars are not manufactured anymore. For the most part, these are interchangeable as is the case on SkyTrain, but there are some changes that will be needed on the Scarborough RT as a matter of course including a lengthening of some stations and a re-alignment of Kennedy station to remove the sharp curve and place the RT platform at the mezzanine level below ground. These are significant projects that will have the line shut down for a period of a few months.

It is believed that Mark-II cars can negotiate the tunnelled curve between Ellesmere and Midland stations. I am unaware of how this belief has been determined, but if it is wrong, some major work will be necessary. If converted to LRT, the articulated nature of the type of vehicle to be ordered will allow negotiating this curve. The issue with the Scarborough RT is that the overall infrastructure was originally designed to accommodate CLRVs and it turned out that Mark-I cars worked for the most part. Only the loop at Kennedy was a problem, which required the station to be shut down for the single stub track to be built as it is now.

Years ago, when the TTC first considered purchasing 72-foot subway cars, they actually built a frame of a 72-foot car on wheels that could be pushed through the tunnels to ensure that it would fit. I have not heard if they have done a similar test on the Scarborough RT.

As nice as the Mark-II cars are, the linear induction motor technology has a serious flaw in Toronto’s environment: slushy wet snow clogs up the gap between the reaction rail and the underside of the train. Furthermore, there is a slight heating effect when a train passes over the reaction rail that can cause some minor melting of snow that refreezes before the next train passes. This can occur when the temperature is not so cold that a slight heating will melt snow, but the repeated melting and refreezing can cause a build-up of ice that can cause problems like the wet slushy snow can. The great technological breakthrough to combat this is a heated reaction rail, which is not exactly the epitome of energy efficiency. It is one thing to heat switch points to prevent freezing problems, it is a whole other thing to heat the reaction rail along the entire double-track length of the line!

The Scarborough RT should be converted to Transit City-compatible LRT. The power pick-up would be changed from third/fourth rail to overhead catenary, and the platforms at stations would have to be lowered (or the track level raised). If the Transit City lines are to be built to TTC gauge, the track will have to be re-gauged. If the Transit City lines do not need to have connect-ability with the legacy streetcar network, then they could be built to standard gauge and then the current Scarborough RT tracks are usable as-is.

SRT Extension

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Scarborough RTI made it out to the open house on the extension plans for the SRT on Tuesday evening.

None of the display boards made mention of choice of technology, but on the hand-out materials, this question in the FAQ sectin on technology appeared:

Q. Could the entire SRT be replace with LRT technology?

A.  Yes, the SRT right of way (and existing stations) can be modified to accept LRT vehicles. This would require major changes to the existing stations and the replacement of the third rail with overhead power. This will require additional construction works and will significantly extend the period of service disruption and require shuttle service. A conversion to LRT has advantages as a consistent fleet and opportunities for centralized maintenance facilities.

I filled out a comment sheet that encouraged the conversion to LRT and make it part of the Transit City network.


SRT Open House

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Scarborough RTThe City of Toronto and the Toronto Transit Commission are conducting preliminary planning for the extension of the Scarborough Rapid Transit line to significantly improve the transit service to the north and east of the Scarborough City Centre.

An open house will be held:

  • on Tuesday, June 2, 2009 from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm at Sts. Peter and Paul Banquet Hall, 231 Milner Avenue

This open house is presenting the the preferred alignment of the extension and station locations. Nothing appears in the announcement about technology choice, but the open house would be a good place to submit comments on the conversion to LRT.

The official announcement can be seen here. The page on this project has not yet been updated since February.

Slicing Up a $9 billion Pie

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Yesterday, it was announced that $9 billion of the provincial government’s infrastructure funding in last week’s budget will be going to transit in the GTHA. Now that a day has passed since that announcement, I have managed to let its details sink in, because it was not exactly clear-cut about what this fully entailed and what it didn’t. A fair bit of interpolation and extrapolation is necessary, along with piecing in various bits of other information. (more…)