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RT-18 - Diesel Hydraulic Locomotive (1977-date)

Text by James Bow

This diesel powered locomotive, designed by Anbel Corporation of Houston, Texas, and built by a small company in Milliken on Kennedy Road, runs through the subway system without using the system’s third rail. This was a significant improvement on the TTC’s first subway locomotive, delivered in 1968, which only operated on batteries and the subway’s third rail. RT-18’s independent power supply made it ideal for use on the Spadina Subway line just before it opened to the public. Received by the commission in 1977 at a cost of $450,000, it was used to tow trainsets through the unpowered line to Wilson Yards.

The locomotive is capable of speeds of up to 90 km/h and its two diesel engines can produce as much as 700 horsepower — more than enough to haul a disabled subway train easily, not to mention heavy equipment. Platinum catalytic exhaust converters keep exhaust emissions to a minimum.

George Davidson caught these photographs of RT-18 at Davisville Yard. It was undergoing rebuilding designed to keep it operating well into the 21st century.

RT-18 Diesel Hydraulic Locomotive Image Archive


  • Partridge, Larry, Mind the Doors, Please, The Boston Mills Press, Erin (Ontario), 1983.
  • Roschlau, Mike, ‘TTC Subway Locomotive Arrives’ Rail and Transit, Nov-Dec 1977, p31, The Upper Canada Railway Society, Toronto (Ontario).