CN U2g 6213 - Exhibition Park
Toronto Terminals Railway (TTR)
The TTR deserves a great big
Web Site all to itself. (It
has one, actually!)
The TTR is a
separate company responsible for operating the "Union Station
Rail Corridor": Toronto's Union Station, and its eastern and
western approaches. While Toronto's downtown landscape has changed
dramatically, the TTR still boasts many of the classic facilities of
steam-era metropolitan rail terminals: large throat trackwork with
interlocking towers and double-slip switches; a classic depot with
covered station platforms; and frequent passenger train activity. As
each year passes, the traditional Union Station landscape is hidden
behind yet another big building development, but the TTR still
operates pretty much as it did back in the days of steam.
Best of all,
there are many safe and sheltered vantage points from which to watch
To the east of
Toronto Union, the line is elevated and well fenced. It is possible
to gain access via TTR roads, but stay well back from the tracks, and
be prepared to move along if asked.
West of Union
Station, the line is mostly below grade with several overhead bridges
in the John Street - Peter Street area. Further west, it's possible
to reach trackside from the 'Railway Lands' - a vacant area west of
Spadina and east of Bathurst. But with the excellent overhead vantage
points, why bother?
Street Tower/Scott Street Tower
East of Union
Station, the Scott Street and Cherry Street interlocking towers guard
junctions with the CN Kingston Subdivision, CN Bala Sub, and CP
Belleville Sub (Don Branch). These are working interlocking towers.
Street tower can be accessed from a laneway running west off
Sherbourne Street, just south of the railway overpass. This is
railway property and is patrolled by USRC security, but it's possible
to grab a quick shot from the roadway without entering the yard area.
This is a nice shot in the morning with the depot and the downtown
skyline in the background.
Station was built between 1917 and 1927, and is a true classic
railroad terminal. It features a huge main hall, and a modernised -
but still attractive - departures hall. The station was recently
purchased by the City of Toronto; with rail transportation a proven
necessity in this transit-oriented city, Union Station's future
remains bright. The depot's only problem is an enviable one.....it
has reached its maximum capacity, thanks to the growth of commuter
and intercity passenger rail in the area. The city is planning a
multi-million dollar expansion project for the terminal, and may have
to build additional station facilities elsewhere to meet the demands
of GO and VIA passenger traffic.
You can't see
many trains from inside the station, but the atmosphere is on par
with Grand Central Terminal or Chicago Union at their best.
It is possible
to gain access to the platforms via the staircases in the arrivals
area, which are unattended. Be careful: some of the platforms in
Union Station are 'Proof of Payment' zones; if you are found
wandering in this area you could be fined by GO Transit Security as a
"passenger without a ticket".
elevated 'Skywalk' and roads to the Skydome, just west of Union
Station, offer wonderful photo and trainwatching access to the throat
of the passenger terminal.
walkway between the CN Tower and the Skydome will lead you to the
John Street Roundhouse. Just east of the CN Tower is the south
entrance to the Metro Convention Center. If you ignore the 'do not
climb' signs you can get good photographs from the flower beds at the
east end of the Convention Center. There is a "lookout" on
the west side of Lower Simcoe Street (right over the parking
entrance) that aims right over to the depot.
freight movements do use the TTR, passing to the south of the depot
on a bypass track.
John Street Roundhouse
former John Street roundhouse stands to the south of Union Station.
Now owned by the City of Toronto, it's bereft of rails. Nonetheless,
it is currently undergoing a rebirth as a heritage structure and -
hopefully one day soon - a rail museum.
ceased operation in the mid 1980's. Over the last 15 years, the area
around the roundhouse was redeveloped, first with the Skydome, and
then with the construction of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
The roundhouse was preserved as a heritage building, and enjoyed some
basic structural care, but its future plans were smothered in the
"care" of various government agencies: each with their own
agendas and mandates, and all without any source of funding.
Meanwhile, a number of pieces of railway equipment - several diesel
locomotives, a passenger car, and some vintage freight cars -
languished in the roundhouse's darkened stalls, and Cabin D - an
interlocking tower from the western approach to Toronto Union - was
parked behind the roundhouse in hope of preservation.
After years of
proposals and plans, the bureaucratic logjam finally broke. In 1999 a
lease was awarded to Steam Whistle Brewery - a local microbrewery.
The Brewery renovated eleven stalls of the 32-stall structure. This
brought the first public access to the roundhouse, in the form of
retail sales and periodic open houses tours. In addition, Steam
Whistle promotes special events at the Roundhouse and offers meeting
facilities for group functions.
plans for the remainder of the roundhouse seem to come and go. There
have been efforts to start preservation and restoration work on the
rolling stock and structures, but until development plans mature,
these are logjammed in the City's bureaucracy. The most tangible
product of this work has been the structure's inclusion in Toronto's
annual Doors Open festival, when it is possible to gain access to the
turntable area. On this weekend, the roundhouse doors are opened and
visitors can peer into the dim stalls.
The area is
landscaped as parkland. It's possible to walk all around the
structure. Some parts, such as the turntable pit, are fenced off, but
the unique feel of the engine house area remains. You can see in
through the structure's large windows. The original coal and water
towers are also preserved, although not in their original locations.
The roadway on
the south side of the Skydome leads directly to the roundhouse site.
A parking garage was built underground immediately to the east of the
structure and can be accessed from Lower Simcoe Street. The Brewery
has a retail store which sells six-packs and the usual caps,
sweatshirts, etc...and they will gladly offer you a small sample to
whet your whistle!
Whistle Brewery Web Page
For a somewhat
acerbic (but not necessarily inaccurate) account of the checkered
past history of the Roundhouse project, check out The
Roundhouse Alliance web site.
The TTR's John
Street interlocking tower is tucked behind the Metro Convention
Center on the south side of Front Street, across from the Skydome. It
controls all movements to the west end of Union Station. A yard track
leads to a GO Transit servicing yard, north of the station leads,
between John Street and Bathurst Street.
In steam days
the trackage between John Street and Bathurst Street was unsignalled,
with switchtenders at 'Cabin D' (Bathurst Street) giving hand signals
to trains. In the 1980's, the current track arrangement was built,
and CTC was installed in this region, controlled from John Street
Tower. The original station throat remains a working interlocking plant.
In the Front
Street-Bathurst Street area, the rail lines running west out of
Toronto converge to a single junction. This plant includes a double
track flyover allowing trains to the CN Oakville Subdivision and CP
Galt Subdivision to clear other trains using the Galt and CN Weston
Subdivisions. With all these lines meeting in one place, the traffic
is steady and varied. This junction is also the focal point for
equipment deadheading to/from Union Station. The Bathurst Street
bridge is an excellent spot for watching VIA and GO trains, and TTC
Just west of
Bathurst Street is Strachan Avenue. There is a road bridge over the
CN Oakville Subdivision, and a very wide crossing at grade over the
CP Galt and CN Weston Subdivisions, the one place to get shots 'at
ground level' on the TTR property.
U2g 6213 - Exhibition Park
class steam locomotive is on display beside the Marine Museum at
Exhibition Park, on the north side of Lakeshore Blvd just across from
Owned by the
City of Toronto, the 6213 has gained attention in recent years as a
candidate for restoration. Plans are still in the formative stage,
but stay tuned.
is in superb condition, having received tender loving care from
dedicated volunteers over the years. Unfortunately for photographers
it's well-fenced, but it's still worth a good look. Accessible 24
hours a day.
Museum is all about marine transportation in Toronto - the phone is
416-392-1765, hours for the museum itself are Tues-Fri 9:30am
to4:00pm Sat & Sun noon to 5:00pm.
East Toronto Lines
West Toronto Lines
North of Toronto
Halton Peel Lines
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Revised - February 27, 2005