Text by James Bow, revised by Robert Lubinski
In 1983, the Urban Transportation Development Corporation had purchased a majority ownership in the rail car production business of Hawker-Siddeley Canada Ltd. This made up of primarily the old Canadian Car & Foundry plant in Thunder Bay, operating the business as Can-Car Rail. UTDC, which had been responsible for designing Toronto's fleet of CLRVs and ALRVs, as well as the ICTS trains operating on the Scarborough RT, had been sold by the Ontario government to Lavalin Inc. in 1986 and it operated as a division of that corporation, known as UTDC Inc. As a result of the tough economic climate in the recession of the early 1990s, Lavalin suffered financial difficulties and sold UTDC to Bombardier in 1992, resulting in consolidation of the public transit vehicle industry. Bombardier had built a reputation on snowmobiles, and by the early 1970s it entered the rail business when it bought out Montreal Locomotive Works. Among Bombardier's best recognized rail products in Canada were the LRC locomotives and rolling stock operated by VIA Rail Canada. Bombardier also acquired existing car builders in Europe and was a major supplier of trams, subway cars and rail cars to systems across Europe.
Following the problem-plagued delivery of the H-6 series of subway cars, the TTC began to consider its next large purchase of new subway cars, to replace the aging M-1 and H-1 series, and to add cars for the opening of the Sheppard Subway, which was scheduled to begin construction in the mid-1990s. The TTC decided to work with UTDC to design and build a significantly improved subway car. Concerned with crowding (which was the cause of numerous door-related delays in the late 1980s), the TTC wanted to cut down on the time it took for people to board or leave each car. They specified a design with wider doors, more standing room, and fewer obstructions. The car would also feature more advanced electronic microprocessor systems such as a computer screen displaying systems data and up-to-date electronics to control the various systems of the car. An early plan to switch back to camshaft control similar to that used on the H-4 and earlier classes of cars due (likely due to troublesome choppers on the H-6 cars) was later superseded by using three-phase AC traction, which was beginning to take the place of DC traction. Another change proposed was the replacement of the rotary-style controller with a T-shaped stick controller.
The TTC field-tested some of these modifications in H-5 car #5796, which had been sent to UTDC in Thunder Bay in 1990. The car was unveiled to the press on February 12, 1991, and put into service on April 8. Although UTDC was not able to expand the width of the doors, or modify the cab controls, they were able to show to passengers what a car without centre poles and more standee room looked like. The initial design featured no forward facing seats, and all seats were made of hard plastic. The interior colour scheme included grey floors, grey walls, red seats and red panels beside the doors. The doors themselves were painted silver inside, which was later changed to dark red to match the adjoining panels. As the new car design departed from the traditional design, the car was designated as the "T-1" for being "Toronto-designed". The public response, gathered over the next six months, was generally positive on most of the features, but many objected strenuously to the seating arrangements. The TTC resolved to alter the seating arrangement to allow for forward facing seats, thus restoring the more familiar seating layout and bringing seating capacity up from 54 to 66. The forward facing seats were added to car 5796 in March 1992.
On August 20, 1991, the Commission approved the purchase of 216 new cars, at an estimated cost of $580 million, a purchase the OMB approved on October 22 of that year. In the meantime, Bombardier had taken over UTDC and began working with the TTC on the T-1 order. The formal order was placed with Bombardier in December 1993. A pair of prototype T-1 "shell cars" was delivered on April 28, 1995 to Hillcrest Shops, where they were transferred, by truck, to Davisville Yard two days later. These were empty cars with an unfinished interior and were not seen by the general public. Tests were performed in the dormant Davisville Carhouse and on the mainline at night, including loading these cars with enough material to simulate a crush load. Finally, starting on October 11, 1995 and finishing on November 9, cars 5000 through 5005 were delivered as a six-car test train. These cars were placed into revenue service on March 11, 1996, after a demonstration run with media on board. On March 13, they were assigned to operator training for three weeks, before being used to open Downsview station on March 29, 1996. Delivery of the rest of the order began in the late summer of 1996.
The T-1 design also has significantly wider doors. To compensate for this, one set of three-person side-facing seats were reduced to two at each doorway, and the windows were narrowed to a more square shape. To remove obstructions to standees and mobility devices, centre poles have been replaced with overhead grab-bars and spring-loaded hand grips (reminiscent of a feature that was exclusive to the Gloucester cars) were added. All of this, plus locations specifically designed for wheelchairs, with attachment points and seats that tilt out of the way, allowed the T-1s to be marketed as an accessible train. With more and more elevators being installed throughout the subway system, the T-1s have been designed to handle more passengers using wheelchairs, scooters and walkers.
The T-1's were numbered from 5000 up, replacing the numbers used by the retired Gloucester series cars. The TTC was so pleased with the new vehicle that initial order of 216 vehicles (which was to enable the replacement of the M-1 and H-1 series cars) was expanded in June 1998. By ordering an additional 156 cars on the back of the original 216, instead of making a separate order, the TTC was able to keep workers in Thunder Bay employed for several more months, drop the per-car purchase price dramatically and save itself over $100 million. With the additional 156 cars, the TTC would be able to completely replace the H-2 and part of the H-4 series cars earlier than expected.
As the T-1 cars started entering service in greater numbers beginning in late 1996, they first replaced the H-1 series cars on the Yonge-University-Spadina line and displaced enough H-2 cars back to the Bloor-Danforth line to retire the M-1 cars. Once there were enough T-1s on the Y-U-S, the first cars were transferred to the Bloor-Danforth line for training purposes. While there were some early issues with incompatible radio designs, T-1s soon started appearing on the Bloor-Danforth in greater numbers as newly-delivered cars were assigned to the Y-U-S line. By the time the last T-1 cars were accepted by the TTC in November 2001, about 140 cars were assigned to the Bloor-Danforth line, and the remaining 232 were used on the Yonge-University-Spadina line. Since the opening of the Sheppard Subway on November 22, 2002, T-1s have exclusively provided service on this line, using four four-car trains, due to the lower demand relative to the other two lines.
In March 2004, cars 5004 and 5040 were damaged in a collision with Gloucester work car RT34 near the Greenwood Portal, however both cars were repaired and returned to service. On April 19, 2008, cars 5184-85 and 5326-27 were involved in a collision at the Wilson Yard. All four cars were shipped to Bombardier for evaluation and possible repairs. Cars 5184 and 5327 were repaired and returned to service in January 2012, with 5327 renumbered as 5185. 5326 and 5185 were deemed to be too badly damaged to repair and were scrapped, reducing the T-1 fleet to 370 cars.
The introduction of the Toronto Rocket (TR) class of subway cars beginning in mid-2011 allowed for the retirement of the last H-4 series cars. 50 T-1 cars (numbered in the 5300 series) were gradually transferred to the Bloor-Danforth Subway to replace the H-4 cars with the last cars transferred in January 2012. Interestingly, the transfer of the 5300-series cars brings that number series back to the Bloor-Danforth line, last seen on the Montreal cars which ran there until 1999.
The T-1s initially had a problem with 'scratchiti', but the TTC solved the matter with an information campaign and vigilance. More recently, a sturdy plastic film has been applied to all windows, so that scratchiti only damages the film, and not the glass underneath. The film can be peeled away and replaced, so that expensive window replacement is not necessary. Overall, the T-1s have been a popular addition to the TTC fleet, for their smooth operation and good reliability. A more recent complaint about the T-1 cars has been excessive brake squealing on some cars as they come to a stop in the stations but this doesn't seem to affect all cars so it is likely related to calibration of the braking system. After 10-15 years of continuous service, some T-1 cars are also showing evidence of corrosion along the roofline and on the car ends. Most of the cars still look good, but some fresh paint and a good wash would make them look as good as new.
As the Toronto Rocket series of cars continue to be delivered through 2013, they will eventually provide all service on the Yonge-University-Spadina line, with the T-1s providing all service on the Bloor-Danforth and Sheppard Subway lines for many years to come.
T-1 Specifications (based on preliminary sheet from Bombardier; updated by TTC)
Weight and capacity
- Car weight (W1-tare): 33095 kg (72960 lb)
- Car weight (W4-service): 50105 kg (110460 lb)
- Car weight (W5-crush): 54527kg (120210 lb)
- Seated passengers per car: 66
- Standing passengers per car: 184
- Crush load: 315
- Length (over anti-climbers): 22698 mm (74' 5-5/8'')
- Length (over coupler faces): 22787 mm (74' 9-1/8'')
- Width (over side sheets): 3134 mm (10' 3-38'')
- Maximum width: 3150 mm (10' 4'')
- Height (rail to roof): 3658 mm (12' 0'')
- Height (rail to top of floor): 1105 mm (43-1/2'')
- Doorway width (side, clear opening): 1524 mm (5' 0'')
- Doorway width (end, clear opening): 711 mm (28'')
- Doorway height (side): 1930 mm (6' 4'')
- Floor to ceiling height (high ceiling): 2184 mm (7' 2'')
- Wheel diameter (new): 711 mm (28'')
- Truck wheelbase: 2134 mm (7' 0'')
- Truck centre distance: 16459 mm (54' 0'')
- Track gauge: 1495 mm (58-7/8'')
- Maximum design speed: 88 km/h (55 m.p.h)
- Maximum operating speed: 80 km/h (50 m.p.h.)
- Acceleration rate: 0.85 m/s2 (1.9 m.p.h.p.s)
- Service braking: 1.30 m/s2 (2.9 m.p.h.p.s)
- Emergency braking: 1.38 m/s2 (3.1 m.p.h.p.s)
- Minimum lateral curve radius: 116 m (380')
- Minimum vertical curve radius: 610 m (2000')
- Power fed by third rail: 600 VDC
- Auxiliary voltage: 120/208 VAC
- Low voltage: 36.4 VDC
- Interior lighting: Fluorescent
- Carbody: Aluminum and steel
- Propulsion system: AC motors
- Truck type: Fabricated truck, M-A-N design
- Number of trucks: 2
- Primary suspension: Chevron elastrometric springs
- Secondary suspension: Air springs
- Braking: Pneumatic/rheostatic/regenerative (no brake pipe)
- Heating: Overhead and baseboard heaters
- Air conditioning: Split system, 12 tons
- Wheelchair location: 1
- Couplers: Automatic
- Drawbars: Between cars of married pair
- Monitoring system: On-board computer with diagnostic
Inspecting the New Arrivals
Thanks to Mark Brader and Ray Corley for correcting this web page and offering additional information.
- Corley, Ray F., Subway Car: Aluminum Class T-1 Cars (AC Propulsion), The Toronto Transit Commission, Toronto (Ontario), September 1998.
- 'New T-1 Subway Cars', Rail and Transit, March-April 1995, p14, The Upper Canada Railway Society, Toronto (Ontario).