The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) launched its new subway train today, The Rocket, and will only run on the University/Yonge line with just the one train until next month.
Another train will be added in August to the system and then every two weeks more trains will be added. It's a very sleek and modern train, with many new security features and you can walk the full length of the train without any doors. The walkway through each car is similar to those on the articulated streetcars which are in service on many busy routes within Toronto.
The cars are air conditioned and with the walkway through each connecting car the capacity is increased by 10%. There did seem to be a delay in the doors opening when the trains arrived at each station today. There is special seating for handicapped, or elderly passengers and special security cameras and an emergency intercom system throughout the new cars. The special seating area can also accommodate strollers and bikes as the seats are always in an upright position unless needed. The route map above the doors is still there, but it has an added feature that indicates where the train is on the route, by a green or red light.
When the TTC first launched the subway from Union Station to Bloor Street back in 1954 (video above) the train was called the Red Rocket, but today it is still called Rocket, but it is no longer red. There are still station announcements, so you know when to get off the train, and you can actually understand what they are saying.
It was overheard by one of the Inspectors on the train today, "It seems to be running slower than the other trains," and this may because, they are just driving slower in the initial release.
One way of catching the New Rocket, if you have the time, is wait at a station where the passenger area is between the tracks, like Union Station, Yorkdale, York Mills and many others, that way you can catch either train, without running up/down the stairs.
Representatives from all levels of government (Federal, Provincial and Mayor Rob Ford) were on hand to cut the ribbon this morning at Downsview Station when the train made it's first public run from there to Finch Station.
A little TTC trivia: When the Yonge subway was built in the early 1950's the engineers felt that another subway line may be built in the future, so they actually built a dummy station under the Queen Street station near the Eaton Centre. You can't see it, but it can be accessed by TTC employees where you walk under the tracks to go between north or southbound trains. At the Bloor/Bay Street station there is a fully functional train station underneath the Bay Station, which is used mostly for commercials and films, but was also built to accommodate future expansions, which never happened.
In June 2011 the city announced the start of a tunnel expansion to York University and further to Vaughan, and the boring machine is currently underway working it's way northwest.
In 1913 Edmund W. Burke the architect who designed and built the arch bridge, Prince Edward Viaduct, envisioned that in the future there may be a train that would travel across, so he built the structure with the anticipation that a train would travel from the west of the Don Valley to the Danforth, at Broadview and of course we know that as the Bloor subway which was build in 1966.
The 1951 vintage refurbished streetcar is still in service and is available for private rental, but it still runs along Queens Quay from Union Station every Sunday during the summer months, a great outing for the whole family.