Editorial Archive

Thanks for bearing with us

8/16/13 6:00 AM

Signal upgrades, new crossovers will pay dividends

Last weekend (Aug. 10-11, 2013) saw the largest-ever planned TTC subway closure when the Yonge-University-Spadina (YUS) line was closed for two days south of Bloor Street to carry out continued signal-system upgrade work.

Months of preparation and planning culminated in the successful temporary disconnection of the existing 60-year-old signals, then the installation and testing of new equipment. It was followed by the reinstatement and testing of the existing system in time for a trouble-free start to service on Monday morning.

This is just one phase in the complete renewal of the original signal system along the entire YUS line, from Finch to Downsview Stations. Once the system is fully up and running, we will be able to safely run trains much closer together using what is called Automatic Train Control, thereby increasing line capacity by upwards of 25 per cent and decreasing wait times. New signals will also deliver far greater reliability going forward.

The safety-critical nature of signalling work means that it cannot be rushed, and requires more time than the few hours available to us each night when service shuts down. Signals control train movement and, ultimately, customer safety, so each and every piece of work has to be carefully carried out, checked and recorded to ensure that it is 100-per-cent functional. The work also has to be carried out in phases and the first step, now complete at Union, is to ready the new equipment for commissioning in October when we will need to do a further closure.

Another improvement, soon to be delivered, involves three new crossovers. A crossover is special track that allows us to reverse a train’s direction where a crossover is installed in the event of disruption to service. At present, too few crossovers mean that subway service has to be suspended over a far greater area than is ideal. Last weekend, we successfully tested the new crossover at King Station. This will be commissioned in October, with the other two new crossovers at College and St Clair Stations to follow at later dates.

We took advantage of the closure to carry out a raft of other improvements along the closed section of subway, including installation of new track equipment, as well as cleaning, painting and repairs at King, St Andrew and Queen Stations.

Any closure inevitably causes inconvenience and frustration to customers. I would like to offer a big thank you to you for bearing with us while we undertake this work. We chose last weekend because we carry fewer passengers in the summer. Those who took the TTC would have noted a major bus shuttle was deployed with a large number of customer assistance staff and plenty of brightly coloured signage to guide customers on their way.

I would like to acknowledge and thank, as well, all the dedicated and professional TTC staff who planned and delivered this successful closure. A huge amount was achieved and this gets us ever closer to the introduction of Automatic Train Control on our busiest subway line and the greater capacity that this will deliver.

Thanks again for bearing with us while we modernize the TTC.

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