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THE TURNOUT Number 305 October/November 2002 ISSN 0227-244X

Train Wreckage on the CP Line at Golden (July 2002). Photos taken by Sidney John Bowles

News From the Past - (The Turnout Number 54, October 1977)

Railway Stations of the Past by Bob Melvin

An article and photo on Cobourg's Station appears in "Articles & Photos"

Amtrak News - by Hollie Lowry (Adapted from Toronto Star)

Recently, Amtrak has made news on two fronts.

New President

On May 15, David Gunn, who served as TTC Chief General Manager from 1995-1999, took over as president at an annual salary of $275,000 (all figures are in U.S. funds). He was appointed president by the Amtrak board of directors on the advice of former MA governor Michael Dukakis who said that Gunn was the person they had to have in order to turn Amtrak around.

When Gunn took over, he promptly announced that he would close Amtrak down after the July 4 holiday. Some members of Congress, like AZ Senator John McCain, thought it was a ploy. But he (Gunn) was dead serious, so much so that Congress reluctantly coughed up an immediate $100 million lifeline. By year's end, Gunn is aiming to get a $1.2 billion budget approved for 2003.

Other steps that Gunn has taken since then include reducing the number of vice presidents from 85 to 25 and abolishing Amtrak's "satisfaction guarantee."

His efforts have earned him the wrath of right-wing media consultants and Republicans in Washington, D.C. They called funding hikes for rail service "throwing good money after bad" and labelled Amtrak "a perennial loser."

To Gunn, it all sounded odd, particularly, when a national study came out detailing the horrific deadlock on the highways surrounding the U.S.A.'s major cities. Even after 40 years, he still cannot understand the attitude towards rail service among politicians in the U.S. and Canada who consider money for rail "wasted."

Gunn sees himself spending the next 4-5 years rebuilding Amtrak.

Acela Express

In December 2000, Amtrak inaugurated a new high-speed train service in its heavily travelled Boston-New York-Washington corridor. The new service used 18 high speed sleek trains built by a consortium of Canada's Bombardier Transportation and France's Alstom S.A. Dubbed Acela Express, they shaved 20 minutes off the running time between New York and Washington and a half hour between New York and Boston.

But, from the very start, the train sets were plagued with "excessive failures." They included problems with software, valves, switches and sliding bathroom doors opening and closing at will. (In fact, in one case, Gunn himself was caught in a bathroom by one of those sliding doors.)

So far this year, the sleek train sets have posted the worst on time performance among all Amtrak trains in the corridor. In July, only 74% of the Acela Express trains reached their destination within 15 minutes of the scheduled time. At the same time, 35 Acela Express trains were annulled before leaving the station or terminated before reaching their destinations. Because of these and other problems, Gunn said that he wouldn't buy another Acela Express train set from Bombardier.

Then, during a routine check on August 12, a fracture in a wheel bracket was discovered in one locomotive. The remaining train sets were then inspected, revealing cracks on the brackets of another nine train sets. This lead to all the train sets being removed from service.

Bombardier said that such problems were routine kinks in manufacturing and sent 40 replacement brackets that are "sturdier and thicker" than the ones initially installed on the train sets.

But no sooner had a few train sets been returned to service on the 15 of the same month, additional cracks were found on the locomotives' undersides. It lead to the train sets being removed from service for the second time in less than a week. The train sets started returning to service for the second time during the week of August 19.


The Rocky Mountaineer at the old CN Station in Kamloops (July 2002). Photo by Sidney John Bowles

Railway Children of Toronto - by Ian Wheal

Gathering fuel somewhere on Toronto's railway waterfront, Fall 1912, when they should be in school, Photo supplied by Toronto Public Library

Both photos were taken by a newspaper photographer (Toronto Telegram) and were used by the Ontario Government in an official report on neglected children.

Many fatalities and injuries took place along Toronto's many miles of railway tracks. Children suffered as much as adults in early Twentieth Century Toronto. One boy (aged nine) playing on top of a boxcar was hurled off to his death by a switcher locomotive.

Children needing Supervision, somewhere on Toronto's railway waterfront, Fall 1912, Photo supplied by Toronto Public Library

Revelstoke Railway Museum, Revelstoke, B.C. (July 2002). Photo by Sidney John Bowles

Rail Clippings compiled by Hollie Lowry

Toronto Union Station: On July 17, a consortium called Union Pearson Group Inc. was chosen by Toronto City Council to redevelop Toronto Union Station. But almost immediately, there were objections and criticisms to the selection process. There were also concerns over the secrecy surrounding the deal and the rights to build office towers above the station's tracks. It was believed that these so called "air rights" could be worth at least $200 million to the city.

At its meeting on July 31, Toronto City Council approved the deal by a 34-2 vote. But even then, the secrecy prevailed. Out of a total of nineteen motions, only six were voted on publicly. Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman defended the deal saying that it was "squeaky clean." But even so, doubts still persisted. A final agreement was to have been reached with the consortium by October.

On another front, at 1510 on July 18, a small fire was discovered on the underside of the eastend of the train shed at Toronto Union Station. It resulted in the station being shut down for about 90 minutes as firefighters battled the blaze. By 1630 , the "all clear" was given and operation resumed but it wasn't until 1945 that trains were back to normal. It was believed that the fire was caused by a train sitting on a track with its engine running all day and it probably "superheated the roof."

World Youth Day: From July 23-28, World Youth Day was held in the City of Toronto. Both the TTC and GO Transit responded to the thousands of "pilgrims" by providing extra service. The TTC put on extra vehicles on its 509 Harbourfront and 511 Bathurst streetcar routes and 29 Dufferin bus route. On the day of the Mass at Downsview Park, the 28, the subway started operations at 0400.

GO Transit, for its part, provided half hourly train service on its L akeshore line between Exhibition and Oakville/Pickering plus a 0100 weekday train from Exhibition to Oshawa. On the day of the Mass, train service was provided on all of its "branch" lines except the Richmond Hill line.

All indications are everything went very well and both the TTC and GO proved themselves to be up to the challenge.

In other TTC news, in August, T1 class subway car No. 5202 was painted up as a "rolling billboard" for Grand & To y Back to School Specials...The last wye on the TTC streetcar system, located at Hillside Ave. and Lakeshore Blvd. W. has been removed. (Joel Rice).

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