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The H-1 Garbage Train

Text and pictures by Aaron Adel and James Bow.

There are two H-1 garbage trains plying the system, each two car trains. The one pictured here is numbered RT-9 and RT-10, while the other one is numbered RT-38 and RT-39. RT-10 was formerly H-1 5374 while RT-9 was formerly H-1 5375. Why these cars should swap places in terms of which received the lower number, is not known. The H-1s replaced the Gloucester Garbage Train, which had, in turn, replaced Tokyo Rose a few years earlier.

The interiors of the H-1 garbage trains were completely rebuilt for garbage collection purposes. Baseboards, floors and side-facing seats were all "upholstered" in metal decking. This was probably done so that the train would be easily cleaned. Each time the train is used, it is thoroughly cleaned hosed out and washed afterwards. One would assume that this train would smell really bad, but after being on it myself, it smells like nothing but a hint of soap.

The side-facing seats were retained in their stripped-down condition likely because it would have been too costly to remove these seats from the car's structure. It is obvious that these seats aren't for sitting. The crew has their own sectioned off compartment at the front of the cabs, which nicely isolates them from the garbage and its associated smell. The cab maintains the original seating (including upholstery) and has windows in the separating wall salvaged from the doors of other H-1s. Everything else in the car has been removed, including poles, stanchions and the forward/backward-facing seats have been removed to increase the space available for garbage. Other features of this newly rebuilt work car include exterior door buttons so that the crew can open and close the doors from all points.

The garbage train usually left Wilson Yard at about 11pm and finished its run on the Yonge-University-Spadina line at about 1 am. The B-D garbage train started at Greenwood and goes eastbound at about 10:50pm every night, arrived at Kennedy station at about 11:10pm and turns westbound to Kipling, then back to Greenwood.

The End of the Garbage Train

On Friday, December 8, 2000, a fire started on board RT-9 at 2 a.m. The garbage train was heading eastbound through Old Mill station when the fire was discovered. The train was stopped at the glassed-in section of this station to allow fire crews easier access and to limit the amount of smoke billowing through the tunnels. The crew were evacuated as the fire worsened.

The fire gutted both cars, and melted RT-9 so badly that only its undercarriage remained. Old Mill station was also damaged and had to be closed until 4 p.m. that afternoon, causing significant commuter chaos. Although RT-10 was salvageable, the incident convinced the TTC to abandon garbage train service entirely. Until March 30, 2001, TTC subway garbage will be collected by an outside firm, and then it is expected that it will go in house, as the Commission owns several garbage trucks that aren't in use during the night. The Commissioners will receive a report at the March meeting with a list of possible long term solutions. It isn't impossible that they could recommend a return to garbage trains, but the Toronto Fire Service would likely step in and stop it, and, with the exception of Councilor/Commissioner Sherene Shaw, all of the Commissioners support (at least right now) outdoor garbage collection.

The remaining garbage trains will likely be kept and used as extra work cars if needed. There are no new garbage trains being built, and none will be unless an executive order is received from the Commission (this information from TTC reports, GM of Operations Gary Webster, GM of Subway Operations Rick Cornacchia, forwarded by Richard Hooles).

H1 Garbage Train Image Archive

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