Steve Munro posts a fascinating overview of the history of streetcar use in Toronto, and lays out the argument explaining why they are preferred over buses, not just in Toronto but in many cities of the world. One tidbit caught our eye: the reconstructed streetcar tracks should be much quieter than what has previously existed:
From Steve Munro’s blog:
Until the late 1960s, TTC track was built from continuously welded sections of rail, and this was installed in the street in a manner that made it fairly easy to dig up and make repairs. The welded rail holds together much longer and does not produce vibrations at the joints that lead to breakup of the pavement. In 1968, after a derailment accident with one of the two crane cars used to perform track installation, this practice stopped. At that time, the TTC’s policy was that streetcars would be gone by 1980, and there was no point in building track that would last for decades.
Fast forward to the early 1990s. By this time, the track infrastructure was badly deteriorated through inferior construction and vibration from the newer fleet, and the TTC had to roughly double the rate at which it replaced track. Roadbeds that should have lasted 25 years were wearing out in about 10.
They are now using a construction technique with welded rail and mechanical isolation of the track from the roadbed. Moreover, the substructure uses steel ties, rather than the untreated wood used since sometime in the 1970s. This means that the track bed will not disintegrate as the ties rot underneath it. Finally, all recent construction has gone right down to the base slab, and the lower layers of the structure should last a very long time with future track replacement limited to the upper part of the structure.
Track vibrations along Roncesvalles have been a big complaint of our community. It’s good to know that the TTC has changed its construction methods to ensure much quieter and longer-lasting tracks.