The Vincent Subway Yards

Text by James Bow, pictures by George Davidson.

Most passengers of the Bloor-Danforth subway are aware of the subway tracks which branch off to the south of the main line as they travel at grade between Keele Station and Dundas West. This yard has often been referred to as "Keele Yard", and many consider it to be abandoned. But this is not accurate. It is ironic, but Greenwood Yards, which are located off of the main line and out of sight of most subway goers has revealed far more of its secrets to the public than the yard near Keele Station. Although people pass by the Keele yard every day, Vincent Yard, as it is officially called, holds many surprises.

I was as ignorant as the rest of the general public until a somebody from the TTC offered me a number of interesting tidbits. The fact that the yard I'd known as Keele was actually called Vincent was the first. The name derives from Vincent Street, a short street that ran east of Dundas, just north of Bloor (it vanished years ago with the construction of the Crossways apartment complex). The name is famous within TTC history as it was here until 1966 that the King Streetcar would loop, and the loop was named after the street. When the Bloor-Danforth subway was in its early stages of planning and construction, the station at Dundas was planned to be named Vincent. The TTC opted to name it Dundas West instead.

Vincent Yard supplemented Greenwood Yard and stored trains for the Bloor-Danforth and Yonge-University subways. It did not have the maintenance facilities that Greenwood had, but it had space, and when Davisville was operating at capacity, before Wilson Carhouse opened, Vincent would store the excess trainsets, including Gloucesters that were never in service on the Bloor-Danforth subway otherwise. The insides of the trains could be cleaned at Vincent and some minor maintenance was done.

The yards at Wilson had capacity enough to relieve pressure from Davisville, and when the Spadina line opened, Vincent no longer stored service trains. It languished, underused, storing work cars and the occasional retired train. In the early 1990s, the retired Gloucesters awaited their fates here until squatters started taking up residence.

Passengers on the Bloor-Danforth subway can clearly see the yards on the south side of their eastbound train as they leave Keele Station. Immediately east of the scissors crossover between the main lines, the yard's ladder track branches off from the southern main line and opens up into four yard tracks. The yard tracks proceed east in the open until they come to a set of tunnels. From there, they disappear from view.

The tracks actually proceed for 500 feet into the tunnel. Each is capable of storing a single service train within the tunnel. At the end of the tunnels is a single platform, stretching across the tracks, providing access to the subway cars and to the yard offices. This miniature complex of offices is connected to Dundas West Station through a locked door.

Although not used as an active storage yard any more, Vincent still stores some subway work cars. The wall washer is stored in the Vincent tunnels during winter time, and the site is also the home of the TTC's gauge car (RT-22). The offices are used for the TTC's Way Training Centre.

While still in use, the lack of service trains and the passage of time have taken their toll on Vincent yards. The track is reported to be in poor condition due to dampness. The motor blowers and the MA sets used to dry and circulate the air. With the yard off limits to TTC passengers, there's little incentive to keep things in top condition.

The yard may be off limits to passengers, but TTC supervisor George Davidson was able to take a few pictures of the site while he visited it on his rounds and kindly donate them to Transit Toronto. These pictures provide a rare glimpse of a part of the Toronto subway few people actually see.


The Four Tunnels

Most passengers know about Vincent's four tunnels. They're barely visible from the main line. George Davidson has captured this view from a better angle. Poking out of the second tunnel from the right is a work car.

Work car in Vincent tunnels

Inside one of the tunnels, the TTC's gauge car waits for its next assignment. George Davidson reports that this car may soon be called out for checking the track in the Sheppard Subway. Note the abandoned Coffee Time cup, pressed behind the wires on the side of the wall.

Another shot of RT 22

Another shot of RT-22, the Gauge Car.

The middle of the gauge car

A shot of the middle of the Gauge Car.

Outside, looking west

Outside again, here's a shot from the yards, looking west at the main line and Keele Station. Vincent Yards could handle eight service trains; four within and four without.

Unfortunately, George Davidson was not able to get any pictures of the offices themselves, but thanks to him, we have now seen a portion of the Toronto subway very few people get to see. Thanks again to Russ for sharing these shots.


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