Back     Home     Forums     Chat     Search     Site map     Print this page  
On Track On Line - Trip Report Menu
This Report:   Section 1   Section 2   Section 3   Section 4    

Trip Report

Toronto RailFest 2004

July 14-20, 2004
Section 3 of 5

With photos by John Corbett (JC) and Piotr Dzwonek (PD)

Click small photos to see larger; all larger photos are less than 50K

Previous section

Chapter 4: Saturday, July 17, 2004

A full day of riding the TTC was planned for Saturday. The itinerary called for riding a good portion of the subways and rapid transit, and most of the streetcar lines.

Chapter 4.0: Watching the CANADIAN departure

But first, a few of the guys wanted to get to Union Station early to watch Via Rail's CANADIAN make its departure. Saturday is one of the three days a week it begins its journey from Toronto to Vancouver. We would go to the overhead walkway that leads to the CN Tower from Union Station to view the CANADIAN from above.

Jishnu and John left the Clarion Hotel Selby earlier than Michael and me. Because they opted to walk to Bloor/Yonge to cut out one subway transfer, Jishnu and John got to the walkway after Michael and I did. But they then found a better place to shoot photos. There was a spot at the end of the walkway near the CN Tower with a less obstructed view of the railroad. They met a local railfan there and talked with him for a while as the CANADIAN made its way out of the station and started out toward the West. Michael and I remained on the walkway, happy to just view the long train.

The consist of the CANADIAN, VIA Train 1(17) was:

6449 F40PH locomotive 6443 F40PH locomotive 8600 Dormitory/ Baggage 8101 Coach 8124 Coach 8500 Skyline Dome Jarvis Manor Sleeper Amhearst Manor Sleeper Cameron Manor Sleeper 8507 Skyline Dome Fairholme Diner Hearne Manor Sleeper Douglas Manor Sleeper Brock Manor Sleeper Draper Manor Sleeper Fraser Manor Sleeper 8509 Skyline Dome Frontenac Diner Cabot Manor Sleeper Bell Manor Sleeper Thompson Manor Sleeper Prince Albert Park Dome

After that excitement was over, we made our way over to our designated meeting area in the GO TRANSIT area, which was on the correct level of the station and much closer to the subway/streetcar station than the VIA area upstairs.

Chapter 4.1: All 12 participants

With Skip on his way back to Boston, we were down to a dozen people: Ted, Ed, HaRRy, Alan, Jishnu, Piotr, Brad, Mike, John, Steve, Michael, and me.

Chapter 4.1.1: Meeting at Toronto Union Station

Toronto Union Station main concourse (JC) All accounted for, we headed for the subway entrance, where one can also access two streetcar lines that operate in a short streetcar subway to Queen's Quay.

We entered the subway station and paid our fares, but instead of the familiar walk downstairs to the subway, we took another passageway that brought us to the streetcar station. The station serves two lines, the 509 Exhibition and the 510 Spadina. The station is a little bit reminiscent of the 13th Street/Juniper station in Philadelphia on SEPTA's Subway-Surface Lines. Cars discharge their passengers as they enter the loop, and then they proceed forward and pick up the boarding passengers at another location on the same platform. The cars can load through all doors since the passengers have already paid their fares in the subway station.

Chapter 4.1.2: TTC 510 Spadina Streetcar; Union Station to Spadina

A 509 Exhibition car came first, but it was soon followed by the 510 Spadina car we wanted.

We boarded the streetcar right on time at 9:33 AM, and rode through the tunnel for several blocks. We made one intermediate stop inside the tunnel. Then after making a quick S-curve, we began to ascend to a portal located near Queen's Quay. The tracks then take a sharp curve to the right to run on Queen's Quay itself parallel to the waterfront of Lake Ontario.

At Queen's Quay and Spadina Avenue, the two lines split. Our streetcar turned right onto Spadina. The streetcar line enters a protected right-of-way in the median of Spadina, where curbs were installed to prevent confrontations between vehicles and streetcars.

We passed King Street, and then Queen, both of which have frequent streetcar service (the 504 and 501 respectively). At Dundas Street, right in the middle of Toronto's western and larger Chinatown, we crossed yet another streetcar line (the 505). Later this day we would be riding on the lines on King and Dundas, and we would do this portion of the Queen line on Sunday. At the northern end of Chinatown at College Street, we crossed the tracks of another streetcar line, the 506. There was no service on the line at the time, since street construction was causing it to be diverted to Dundas Street.

After College Street, the protected right-of-way ended, as we entered Spadina Circle, which runs around the University of Toronto. Beyond the circle, for the remaining few blocks, we ran in the middle of Spadina Avenue but within the vehicular traffic.

Approaching Bloor Street, we entered a streetcar tunnel in order to stop within the Spadina subway station. We went through an underground loop similar to the one at the other end of the line, and came to a stop. We made our way to the westbound platform of the Bloor-Danforth Subway, where we waited several minutes for the next train.

Chapter 4.1.3: TTC Bloor-Danforth Subway; Spadina to Kipling

Spadina subway station is typically shiny and clean A dozen railfans piled into the subway car and off we went westbound towards the end of the line at Kipling. We arrived at the Kipling terminus of the line at 10:22 AM, about seven minutes behind our itinerary. Kipling was familiar to Mike Hammond, since he had come through this station to and from his hotel near the airport. His bus connected here with the subway.

We had an unscheduled potty break here, as a few participants needed to take a break from the trains. We let one train leave eastbound, but we caught the next one. Total time at Kipling was ten minutes.

Chapter 4.1.4: TTC Bloor-Danforth Subway; Kipling to Kennedy

Now headed eastbound, we rode the entire Bloor-Danforth Subway from one end to the other. This process took about 48 minutes.

Kennedy is a major transfer point between two modes of rail lines as well as numerous bus routes. It's a busy station. We took an escalator up to the platform for the Scarborough Rapid Transit and waited a few minutes for the next car to arrive from the north.

Chapter 4.1.5: TTC Scarborough Rapid Transit; Kennedy to McCowan

The Scarborough Rapid Transit uses vehicles that look very similar to the subways, but they are in reality light rail technology. A single car operates each scheduled run, compared to the subways which are multiple units.

We could have used a couple more cars, as our vehicle was packed with Saturday shoppers headed for the mall in Scarborough. Some of us had to stand for most of the route. The crowd thinned out substantially at the second-to-last stop, which is the huge shopping mall known as Scarborough Towne Centre. We rode one more stop to the end of the line at McCowan.

Chapter 4.1.6: TTC Scarborough Rapid Transit; McCowan to Scarborough Centre

We reboarded the same vehicle, and rode one stop back to the Scarborough Centre stop. Because I had padded some of the subway and rapid transit stops in my itinerary, we arrived at Scarborough Town Centre at 11:40 AM, three minutes earlier than intended.

Scarborough Centre is also a major transportation center. Besides the Scarborough Rapid Transit, there is also a stop downstairs for local buses, and one for GO TRANSIT's buses that connect with the commuter trains on weekdays.

Chapter 4.1.7: Lunch at Scarborough Centre

It was time to relax at the mall's food court. We all went to various eateries, but brought our food back to the same area of tables.

After eating, we had a little bit of time to walk around the mall on our own. We agreed to meet near the door that leads out to the rail station at 12:45 PM. At the appointed time, we re-entered the system to resume what would be our busiest day on the rails.

Chapter 4.1.8: TTC Scarborough Rapid Transit; Scarborough Centre to Kennedy

We almost missed one train as Piotr had run downstairs to shoot some photos of buses. But he made it back up to the platform just in time. With all twelve accounted for, we boarded a car headed for Kennedy. This time we all were able to find seats.

It was 12:57 when we arrived at the Kennedy station. We made our transfer back to the Bloor-Danforth Subway.

Chapter 4.1.9: TTC Bloor-Danforth Subway; Kennedy to Main Street

This was a relatively shorter ride on the Bloor-Danforth Subway than the last one. We went only as far as the Main Street station, from which we would begin a series of streetcar rides back and forth across the city.

At Main Street we went upstairs to the street level, but stayed within the station's paid area. A 506 Carlton streetcar was there waiting for us, so we got right aboard.

Chapter 4.1.10: TTC 506 Carlton Streetcar; Main Street to High Park Loop

We board 506 car at Main St. headed for High Park Loop It was a very quick, seamless transfer. We were only at the Main Street station for two minutes before we headed out. Upon our 1:13 PM departure we were 26 minutes ahead of our schedule.

But now came the interesting part, a portion of our day that dealt us two blows for which we could not have planned. Although I knew of the detours we would have to take, it was impossible to figure how long our trip would take over the detour route. And while being detoured, we had an unexpected traffic jam.

Our streetcar left the 506 Carlton route at Gerrard and Coxwell. We rode down Coxwell on what is normally non-revenue trackage to Queen, then over the 501 Queen line to Broadview. After riding a little bit over the 504 King route, we then turned left onto Dundas Street to follow the 505 Dundas route most of the way.

We passed through the downtown area with little incident. However when we got past University and began entering Chinatown, that is where our trouble began. We sat for quite a while on traffic choked Dundas Street, at most edging forward only a few feet. It was a delight to finally get through there and resume traveling at a normal speed.

Our car continued westbound on Dundas to Ossington, and then it turned right onto non-revenue trackage, following Ossington up to College Street. After turning left on College, we had resumed the regular 506 route. We passed through many ethnic neighborhoods along the way, so our long trip proved interesting in that we saw all the diversity Toronto has to offer.

The regular routes of the 505 and 506 lines normally interline again a few blocks from the intersection of Dundas Street West & College Street to Dundas & Howard Park Avenue. It was here that we made a left turn onto Howard Park. I noticed a trolley stop in front of a gas station along Dundas that would be a good place for us to switch to the 505 line later on the way east.

We finally arrived at High Park Loop at 2:22 PM, which was one hour nine minutes after we had departed from the Main Street Station. I had expected this trip to take about 47 minutes, so we had lost some of the time that we had gained by leaving Scarborough Centre early. But we still were a few minutes ahead of my itinerary.

Chapter 4.1.11: TTC 506 Carlton Streetcar; High Park Loop to Howard Park Avenue & Dundas Street West

506 on High Park Loop (JC) After about three minutes wait, we boarded the next streetcar to depart from High Park Loop. The loop has a rest room for the operators, so it serves as a layover point for them. We actually left there on the car that had gotten to the loop before the one on which we had arrived.

We retraced our way a bit on Howard Park Avenue until we came to Dundas West. There, we disembarked and walked over to the stop I had noticed earlier (by the gas station) to await a 505 Dundas car.

Chapter 4.1.12: TTC 505 Dundas Streetcar; Howard Park Avenue & Dundas Street West to Broadview

The 504, 505, and 506 streetcar lines form a triangle in this area, bounded by Dundas Street West, Howard Park Avenue, and Roncesvalles Avenue. We would be missing about two blocks of the 505 line by boarding here, since the 505 interlines with the 504 between the intersection of Roncesvalles & Dundas West and the Dundas West Station of the Bloor-Danforth Subway. We would pick up the latter portion when riding the 504 King streetcar line later that day. As for the missing two blocks, a scheme was already being hatched in order for the purists among us who wanted the trackage to ride that little piece of it. We could do it as our unscheduled after dinner activity later that evening, since we'd had so much fun doing something similar on Friday evening.

We waited about eight minutes for a 505 car, which seemed a bit long to us. No doubt with the traffic problems in Chinatown the cars were not spaced evenly. At 2:39 PM we all boarded a streetcar and once again we were headed from one end of town to the other. I figured we were headed back through the traffic mess along Dundas in Chinatown, only this time on the correct route.

As it turned out, there was not as much traffic along Dundas as we had encountered in the opposite direction. We rode east on Dundas Street all the way to Broadview, where we turned left and rode north to the Broadview station of the Bloor-Danforth Subway. Along Broadview we were treated to some picturesque scenes of the city skyline.

Once at the Broadview station and within its paid area, we got off our 505 car and waited for the next 504 at the same platform. There was considerable construction activity taking place on the street level of the station, but we found our next ride with ease and boarded it.

Chapter 4.1.13: TTC 504 King Streetcar; Broadview to Dundas West

Still about five minutes ahead of schedule, we left the Broadview station at 3:35 PM.

This trip duplicated some lines on which we had already ridden: the 505 along Broadview north of Dundas, the detoured 506 along Broadview south of Dundas, the 501/502 lines along Queen, and the 503 along the eastern portion of King Street, which we had ridden the day before. It wasn't until we were near King & Yonge that we were on "new" trackage. We had not yet been down the western part of King Street.

This streetcar moved pretty well across the city. It was somewhere along King Street West that I noticed a street corner (the cross street I failed to note when we passed) that had a Burger King, McDonald's, and a Quizno's Subs. I thought that this would be an ideal place to have dinner on one of our two remaining evenings, since it offered three popular fast food places.

King Street curves to the north and meets Queen once more at a grand junction just outside a major yard. At this point, King Street becomes Roncesvalles Avenue and continues north to meet Dundas West just before the station of the same name on the Bloor-Danforth Subway.

Although we had moved pretty well on this line, we took longer than I had anticipated. We got there at 4:22 PM, two minutes later than my itinerary. We had crossed the city east-west three times now. But we were not yet done with streetcar riding today.

Here we decided to take a break, as some people wanted to get refreshments from a small McDonald's in the station building. This McDonald's was interesting in that it had sections in both the paid and unpaid portions of the station. Since we all had DayPasses, we left the station briefly. A few people went across the street in search of rest room facilities as well.

After we were all accounted for, we re-entered the station and went downstairs to the subway platform for the next phase of our travels.

Chapter 4.1.14: TTC Bloor-Danforth Subway; Dundas West to Bathurst

After spending much of our day riding three streetcar lines back and forth, plus our unscheduled 18 minute rest stop, our group returned to the subway for a relatively short trip. We rode just six minutes to the Bathurst station, where there would be yet another barrier free transfer to a streetcar line. Even with the break, our arrival at Bathurst at 4:46 PM was just nine minutes behind the itinerary. I had done a good job of padding our travels! We really were not much in a hurry since we only had two more streetcar lines to ride today, plus dinner at a yet undetermined location.

Chapter 4.1.15: TTC 511 Bathurst Streetcar; Bathurst to Exhibition Loop

The 511 Bathurst streetcar line was next. This one runs primarily on a north-south axis along the street for which it is named, and it runs east-west to serve the Exhibition grounds. Along Bathurst there are tracks that run north of the Bathurst station; these are non-revenue tracks that take equipment for the 512 St. Clair streetcar line to and from the depot at Queen & Roncesvalles.

This line runs parallel to the 510 Spadina, so it also crosses perpendicularly the then-closed 506 line, followed by the 505, 501, and 504 lines.

Our car was crowded leaving the Bathurst station, but most of the people got off just before we crossed Queen Street. Later during this ride, our operator stopped and got off for a cup of coffee at a Second Cup Coffee. We made a right turn onto Fleet Street and ran towards the Exhibition Loop, this line's final destination.

We soon entered the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), which is held in late August and early September.

Streetcars on the 511 Bathurst and 509 Harbourfront lines go around a long loop under a freeway that is also adjacent to a stop on GO TRANSIT's Lakefront West Line. It was here that we got off our 511 car and found a 509 car in front of it, which we then boarded.

Chapter 4.1.16: TTC 509 Harbourfront Streetcar; Exhibition Loop to Harbourfront Centre

Our 509 streetcar left Exhibition Loop at 5:17 PM, which was the exact time I had planned upon on the itinerary. I patted myself on the back for excellent planning!

The 509 line retraces the 511 route to Bathurst, and then it runs on Lake Shore Blvd. on its own for a brief bit before coming to Queen's Quay & Spadina, where the 510 Spadina line joins it for the trip along the Harbourfront, through the streetcar tunnel, and into Union Station.

This was our last scheduled ride segment of the day. We originally were supposed to ride right into Union Station, the exact point where we had begun our day some eight hours earlier. But since we were uncertain about our dinner location, we decided to get off the streetcar along Queen's Quay, which is a tourist area where we felt we could find something to eat.

Chapter 4.1.17: Group separates at Harbourfront Centre

After we got off, we found that there were only ten of us. Alan and Steve chose to remain on the 509 streetcar as originally planned, and get dinner back at their respective hotels.

There was a Ferris Wheel at the Harbourfront that had gondolas large enough to hold automobiles. Some local dealership got excellent advertising by having its vehicles riding aboard the Wheel.

We went into the place where food is sold at Harbourfront Centre, but we found a poor selection and high prices.

We lost one more person when John decided the food selection was not for him, and he boarded another streetcar to Union Station to get dinner and to change some more currency. He eventually returned to the Clarion Selby Hotel.

Chapter 4.2: Food vendor dinner group

The remaining nine hearty souls were Ed, HaRRy, Mike, Piotr, Brad, Jishnu, Ted, Michael, and myself.

Chapter 4.2.1: Dinner at food vendors at Harbourfront Centre

We eventually found a group of food vendors, and we dined on hamburgers, hot dogs, French Fries, and canned soda. It was a picnic in the park, as we sat on picnic benches (while some ate while standing since the seats were at a premium).

It was here that we hatched our scheme for the rest of the evening. We would get those missing two blocks of trackage on the 505 Dundas streetcar by first taking the 510 Spadina line to Spadina & Dundas in the city's western Chinatown and transferring there.

Chapter 4.2.2: TTC 510 Spadina Streetcar; Harbourfront Centre to Spadina & Dundas

All nine of us boarded a 510 Spadina car on Queen's Quay for our ride to Chinatown. When we got to Spadina & Queen, HaRRy left us. He would take a 501 car eastbound to the Hilton Toronto and retire for the night.

The other eight continued onward to Dundas. We got off there, and made a quick transfer to a 505 Dundas car.

Chapter 4.2.3: TTC 505 Dundas Streetcar; Spadina & Dundas to Dundas West

We rode the 505 car westbound to the Dundas West station, successfully traversing the two blocks of trackage our group had missed earlier that day.

Chapter 4.2.4: Group separates at Dundas West

Toronto skyline at dusk (JC) Once we got to Dundas West, our activities as a group were essentially over. Mike Hammond took the Bloor-Danforth Subway westbound to Kipling, his usual station to access the bus back to his hotel. Piotr decided to take a ride with him. Brad took a 504 King streetcar from there back to his Days Inn hotel, which sits right in front of the streetcar yard at Queen & Roncesvalles. Ted, Ed, and Jishnu boarded an eastbound subway car with Michael and me. Ed then got off at Bloor/Yonge. Ted rode to the Sherbourne station, where he got off with Jishnu, Michael and me to see the quaint Clarion Selby hotel where we were staying. Ted then returned to his dorm for the night. The three of us got snacks in the nearby convenience stores on Bloor Street before returning once more to the Clarion.

Chapter 4.3: End of Saturday's activities

Saturday was by far our busiest day of riding. We had ridden the entire Bloor-Danforth Subway, and most of the streetcar lines. The only lines we had not ridden were the northern extremes of the Yonge-University-Spadina Subway, the Sheppard Subway, the western portion of the 501 Queen streetcar, and the entire 512 St. Clair streetcar. Those lines were on our agenda for Sunday, so we rested up well on Saturday evening in order to tackle the TTC once more.

Chapter 5: Sunday, July 18, 2004

Our final full day in Toronto would include riding the previously mentioned lines, as well as a visit to the CN Tower.

Chapter 5.1: All 12 participants

All twelve of us would be involved in the Fest today. Only eleven of us started out together in the morning, as Brad decided to join us later.

Chapter 5.1.1: Meeting at Toronto Union Station

We met at our upstairs place near the VIA Rail Canada information booth. This was much closer to the sky bridge leading to the CN Tower than the "GO TRANSIT" location downstairs.

Chapter 5.1.2: Watching the MAPLE LEAF departure

Amtrak train 64 engine 107 near Toronto Union Station (JC) As we walked over the pedestrian bridge between Union Station and the CN Tower, we were once again treated to a train departure. This was the New York-bound MAPLE LEAF, the same train that eight of us would be boarding 24 hours later.

Chapter 5.1.3: CN Tower

We did the tourist thing and visited the CN Tower. We purchased our tickets and then went through a security checkpoint that included a "sniffer", a device similar to those found in airports to detect explosives.

CN Tower (JC) Toronto Union Station from CN Tower (JC)

Our group of eleven somehow split up into two smaller groups somewhere along the way as we visited two different observatory levels of the tower. We had two reasons to justify this visit: CN Tower obviously was once owned by the Canadian National Railroad. And we could look down upon Union Station and see from above how the various rail lines feed it from different directions. At some point we saw GO TRANSIT trains running along the Lakeshore Line (we knew that the Lakeshore Line is the only one to run on weekends).

Somewhere during our time up in the tower, Brad had joined us, so once our two subgroups located each other, we were once again a dozen.

Chapter 5.1.4: Lunch at Marketplace Cafe at CN Tower

Some of us had a nice lunch at the Marketplace, located in the base of the tower. Several guys decided to go back to Union Station and eat there instead. We were done with our lunch and had re-convened at Union Station by 12:45 PM, so together we headed back for the rails and ahead of our schedule once more.

Chapter 5.1.5: TTC Yonge-University-Spadina Subway; Union Station to Finch

Our first mission was to ride northbound on the Yonge, or right side, leg of the Yonge-University-Spadina Subway. We boarded a train at Union Station at 12:52 PM, and got to the end of the line at Finch at 1:18 PM, 16 minutes earlier than our itinerary.

Chapter 5.1.6: TTC Yonge-University-Spadina Subway; Finch to Sheppard/Yonge

Then we rode southbound on the same line, as far as Sheppard/Yonge station, so we could transfer to the TTC's newest subway.

Chapter 5.1.7: TTC Sheppard Subway; Sheppard/Yonge to Don Mills

Although it is open for two years, the Sheppard Subway still looks new. It's just a stub operation, with a couple of trains running in each direction. At Sheppard/Yonge, trains come in on the eastbound track and the operator changes ends to go east towards Don Mills. The same action takes place on the westbound track at Don Mills for the train to return to Sheppard/Yonge. It is planned to add extensions to this line in both directions. An extension of the line west of Sheppard/Yonge along Sheppard would bring the line to Downsview, where it would hook up with the other end of the Yonge-University-Spadina Subway. And beyond Don Mills (where there is a major shopping mall) the line would extend east towards Scarborough, serving the mall out there and potentially hooking up with the Scarborough Rapid Transit.

Chapter 5.1.8: TTC Sheppard Subway; Don Mills to Sheppard/Yonge

We returned back from Don Mills to Sheppard/Yonge, where we transferred to the southbound Yonge-University-Spadina Subway.

Chapter 5.1.9: TTC Yonge-University-Spadina Subway; Sheppard/Yonge to St. Clair

We rode this subway only as far as St. Clair, where we arrived at 2:08 PM, 21 minutes ahead of our itinerary. Upstairs at street level, we followed signs for a free transfer to the 512 St. Clair streetcar.

Continued in next section

On Track On Line - Copyright © 2003-2017 David Warner, Harry Sutton, & Alan Burden Back     Home     Top