160103 510 Spadina - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto
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Yesterday – January 2nd, 2016 – was a big day. It was the last day that the old streetcars would be in regular service on the 510 Spadina line. 

The streetcars that have run Spadina since 1997 are more properly known as CLRVs, for Canadian Light Rail Vehicle. The new streetcars are the Flexity, named after Bombardier's delivery schedule. There is also a two-section articulated version of the CLRV, cleverly called the Articulated Light Rail Vehicle, but they can't handle the loop at Union Station and haven't been assigned to Spadina. However, in an interesting twist, the greater capacity of the ALRV might be needed to substitute for a Flexity on Spadina's new reduced vehicle frequency, making for some scheduling headaches for the TTC and more railfanning opportunities for me.

CLRV 4043 heads southbound toward Harbord, where it will meet Flexity 4404. The CLRV cars 4000-4005 are the Swiss-built prototypes with red seats, while the Canadian-built cars have numbers that start at 4010, making 4043 a fairly old one. Flexity 4004 is the earliest production unit, with trains 4400 and 4403 being prototypes that have been converted for revenue service, while 4401 and 4402 still serve as test trains.

In these three photos CLRV 4050 crosses Harbord street northbound before meeting Flexity 4403 at Sussex Avenue, which is marked by street art of the Sussex rooster and Sussex spaniel installed when Spadina was rebuilt for streetcars almost twenty years ago.

The Flexity seen here, 4403, is the one that made the first revenue run for the new trains on August 31, 2014. In the third photo 4403 is showing off its length as it crosses Harbord. 

Having looped through Spadina station CLRV 4050 now crosses the newly-rebuilt intersection of College and Spadina, and heads south towards Dundas past typical Saturday-afternoon traffic. (I captured some of the track reconstruction on 150407.)

January 2nd was also the last day that a southbound run would use the "510" route designator, as it's now officially split into 510A, B, and C branches depending on how far south the trip is going. The northbound trips, which all go to the same place, will remain signed as 510.

510A? I guess it'll be okay.

Here CLRV 4028 heads southbound, picking up a passenger at College before continuing past the famous El Mocombo tavern, where the band playing is called "Summer of 2016". Its rear rollsign is incorrectly set to say that it's a 504 King car, which is an error that the LED-signed Flexity cars shouldn't be prone to. That's Flexity 4408 next to our friend CLRV 4050 in the distance.

A pair of cyclists cross behind car 4073, the back of which incorrectly thinks it's a 506 College streetcar. This is northbound on Spadina Crescent, passing Russel street. In another part of the city the CLRVs live in the Russell Carhouse, while the Flexities have a new facility nearby.

Although taken from very slightly different positions, these two photos show the size difference between the CLRV and the Flexity Outlook. Even the ALRV can't match the new trains for capacity or accessibility, which may make for interesting operation in the days ahead.

The Flexity car seen here, 4414, is currently the newest one in the fleet, having been brought into service on December 24 – just ten days earlier.

Here are two things that won't be seen on Toronto streets in the years ahead: a telephone booth and CLRV 4043, which has now completed its southbound run that started this photo series.


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