The story of Toronto’s streetcar “bull’s eyes”

If you see a “bull’s eye” light on one of Toronto’s old streetcars still operating and want to know the history of them, here’s a great post by Sean Marshall.

Marshall's Musings

7566316174_524a59174e_o.jpgReplica of Toronto Railway Company streetcar #327 operates at the Halton County Radial Railway museum, with the unique glass bulbs visible below the metal “Belt Line” sign. Photo taken June 2012

In 1891, the Toronto Railway Company (TRC) was created, taking over the city’s streetcar system from its predecessor, the Toronto Street Railway. The TRC quickly began electrifying Toronto’s transit network, operating fifteen routes across the city. Electric streetcars were faster than horse-drawn trams, and passengers had difficulties figuring out which streetcar was theirs at night.

This was a problem as many streetcar routes overlapped. For example, Dupont and Avenue Road streetcars operated on Yonge Street south of Bloor, and Belt Line and Yonge streetcars both ran on Front Street. While the TRC had metal signs on the top and sides of each streetcar to denote the route, they weren’t illuminated. With electric light still in its infancy — arc…

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Can you make the grade as a GO train conductor? Take our exclusive quiz.

Happy to report I scored 10/10

Metrolinx News

Not a fair comparison to how well commuter train operators know their stuff, we’ve created a small test to give you a hint at how well trained they are.

If you thought learning the rules of the road was tough – remember how much the ‘merge’ sign terrified you – try becoming a GO Train conductor.

A set of three signal stands loom over rail lines, and a level crossing, on the Lakeshore East line. Signal lights wait to guide trains along the Lakeshore East line. (Photo by Hung Duc Hin)

According to Paul Robinson, manager of the training department at Bombardier, on top of spending countless hours learning every route, the conductors (officially known as GO commuter train operators) also need to memorize more than 100 possible signal combinations. To pass the test, they have to get 100 per cent – leaving no margin for error.

Signals are similar to the traffic lights you might see on the road. They tell the conductor what to do at the current signal and how to approach the…

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LRT Mythbusting: The Facts on Light Rail Transit

Metrolinx News

Many people think LRTs are the same as streetcars but that’s not quite the case. 

It’s like being mistaken for your twice-removed cousin.

Yes, you both pronounce ‘bagel’ oddly and are both allergic to black, wool socks, but that’s really where the similarities end.

 As Metrolinx works on expansive and remarkable light rail transit (LRT) projects – including in Mississauga, Hamilton and Toronto (Finch West and Eglinton Crosstown) – we often find ourselves answering the same question – “Isn’t an LRT just another streetcar?”

We have nothing against streetcars, but the two vehicles are more rail cousins than transit twins.

One of the biggest differences between an LRT and streetcars is that LRTs are run on their own dedicated right of way and have priority signaling at intersections. LRT is rapid transit, and won’t get stuck in traffic or compete for space with cars.

An LRT…

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Detailed ridership map released for GO and UP Express stations

Haven’t seen this map before so cool to see! #gotransit

Metrolinx News

Ridership increased to 52.5 million in November – Find where you and your neighbours fit.

More customers than ever before are bee-lining it to Barrie via GO Transit, or stops along its line, according to the latest ridership numbers released this week by Metrolinx.

The transit agency saw ridership on GO Transit and the UP Express jump to 52.5 million from April to November last year. Barrie GO train corridor saw the strongest growth of the entire GO network at 21 per cent, compared to the same time the year before.

The numbers are part of a detailed map Metrolinx has now released, breaking down ridership across the Greater Golden Horseshoe region. Take a look at how your local station compared.

click right here for the ridership map

“With our renewed focus to put the customers first, our team is increasing service to help provide new reasons for our customers…

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A 1990 @gotransit schedule #gotransit @Metrolinx

It can be interesting to look back a few years, in this case 19, and see how much has changed. An April 1990 GO Transit schedule provides many examples. Since 1990 routes have been extended, new stations built, more train service added at all times of the day, and the beginning of weekend service on a non-Lakeshore Line. There’s the promise of even more service in future years, and electrification through the #GOExpansion program.

This schedule also makes reference to “SKYDOME”. The railfan in me also appreciations the notation on if the GO line uses a CN Rail line (“CN”) or CP Rail line (“CP”).

Thanks to my friend Damian Baranowski posting a copy of this schedule and sharing here with permission.

(click on the images to expand)

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Metrolinx transit officers pull Toronto man from tracks on Christmas Day

Metrolinx News

Just one of many lost and vulnerable souls returned, almost daily, to worried families.

When74-year-old Shirley Lee was found safe on Wednesday night, two days after she went missing from her Scarborough home on Christmas Eve, searchers and Toronto residents breathed a sigh of relief.

Officials used everything from horses to drones as they combed corners of the city for the woman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. At one point, Metrolinx stopped trains to help in the search.

The story captivated the city – especially as she was missing over the holidays.

But her family was not alone in their worry for a lost and vulnerable loved one on Christmas Day.

Nor were they alone in seeing a safe return of a lost soul.

On Christmas morning, a confused and disorientated elderly man tried to find his way to his downtown Toronto home – and instead wandered out onto active tracks used…

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Exclusive. GOing Loco for GO’s new Tier 4 Locomotives

Great to have been able to tweet out a picture by Hunter Holmes and have it in the latest Metrolinx blog.

Metrolinx News

Reporter diary – A rare behind-the-scenes look at GO’s mighty new machines

Next to locomotive 675, everything else seems very small.

And I’m suddenly six years old ago, and dearly want to sound the train horn – if I could only find it.

As it waits at the Willowbrook train yard, located just west of Toronto’s Mimico station, it’s hard not be awed by the power of one of GO’s new Tier 4 workhorses.

Even by locomotive standards, the new generation of passenger train engines are behemoths. The MotivePower built locomotives are a staggering 129,000 kilograms – that’s equal to the weight of about 71 average cars – stand an imposing 4.7 meters from rail to roof and are longer than an articulated bus.

675 One of the new Tier 4 locomotives. Yes, you’ll want one in your driveway. (Photo by Matt Llewellyn)

Rail fanatics and fans have been sending our…

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