Yesterday afternoon at about 4:30, smoke was reported at Jane and Runnymede stations, and then on an empty train at High Park Station. Service was suspended between Keele and Islington stations, Toronto Fire called, stations evacuated and shuttle buses ordered.
TTC crews made repairs to the train it believed was the source of the smoke, but when power was restored, a communications cable at Runnymede Station arced and smoked, knocking out communications at the station. While crews and Toronto Fire worked to investigate that problem, the TTC was able to restore service west of Jane Station at 6:10 p.m., shortening the turnback locations to Keele and Jane from Keele and Islington stations.
Subway service cannot safely operate without adequate radio communications. A decision was made at approximately 10 p.m. to suspend service between Keele and Jane stations for the rest of the night to allow crews to inspect the affected area and to ensure it was safe and ready for this morning’s start of service.
This morning’s service was problem-free.
The root cause of these fires is under investigation. The TTC believes, however, that the problem began with a faulty power cable on the underside of a westbound train.
TTC staff were dispatched from across the network to assist customers, safely evacuate stations and manage shuttle buses. At the peak of the incident, 65 shuttle buses were running. Shuttle buses are pulled from bus routes throughout the city and take time to get on scene, particularly in rush hour traffic.
A TTC-Metrolinx protocol was also enacted, allowing TTC customers to access GO and UP Express service for the price of a TTC fare.
Announcements were made throughout the subway system over the course of the evening, in addition to e-Alerts and social media updates. Communications is always a challenge in these situations, but was worsened by loss of communications at Runnymede Station.
Safety comes before service. The TTC appreciates the frustration these situations can cause, but it will not compromise public or employee safety whenever fire or smoke is detected. There were no reports of any customer injuries last evening and we thank our employees and our partners at Toronto Fire, Toronto Police and Metrolinx for their assistance.