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Broken, loose bolts responsible for Scarborough RT derailment, TTC says

Bolts that were broken or loose are responsible for the derailment of the Scarborough Rapid Transit system in July that prompted the permanent closure of the line, the TTC says.

An initial investigation has found that the cause of the Scarborough RT derailment on July 24 is “failed reaction rail anchor bolts,” according to a report presented to the board at a meeting on Tuesday. The reaction rail anchor bolts, part of the RT’s propulsion system, hold the power rails in place.

The derailment sent five people to hospital with minor injuries. A rear car of a four-car train, travelling southbound, separated from the rest of the train and derailed after leaving Ellesmere station and while travelling toward Lawrence East station at about 6:45 p.m.

Chrisanne Finnerty, the TTC’s director of commission services, told the board that visual inspections of the Scarborough RT were done every 72 hours during normal operations, but due to the unique design of the system, the fractured bolts would not have been seen during inspections because they were inside concrete.

“The immediate cause of the derailment are these failed reaction rail anchor bolts,” she said.

If the SRT were to continue to operate until its original closure date on Nov. 18, consultants involved in the investigation had said there would have had to be considerable testing and inspection done and those procedures would have taken time beyond the closure date, she added.

“The decision to permanently close the SRT system is also to eliminate any possibility of this incident occurring anywhere else,” she said.

Finnerty said the TTC will share its findings with transit systems in Vancouver and Detroit, which also use reaction rail systems.

Lack of political will also responsible: councillor

Coun. Josh Matlow, who sits on the TTC board, said during a recess in the meeting that a lack of political will to improve transit in Scarborough over the years is partly responsible for the situation now.

“There would have been a seven-stop LRT built in 2015 if politicians hadn’t gotten in the way of progress. And what we’ve been left with was a dangerous RT before it was decommissioned,” he said.

The TTC board heard that the reaction rail system is not used anywhere else in its rail systems.

When the derailment happened, the Scarborough RT was already 10 years past its design life.

Replacing the trains ahead of schedule is a network of increased bus service. Currently, there is express bus service, with bus lanes implemented on Kennedy and Ellesmere roads. Bus lanes will be implemented on Midland Avenue by early November.

“In November, transfers will be eliminated for many trips. Travel will become more predictable with full implementation of transit priority measures,” the TTC board was told.

The TTC is currently designing a busway to provide a full bus replacement service for the Scarborough RT.

TTC CEO Rick Leary said the transit agency made the right decision to close Line 3 following the derailment.

“We did that to give our customers the certainty that they needed in their planned trips,” he said. “The TTC is safe. But we never take that for granted.”

Line 3 was a 6.4-kilometre rapid transit line with six stations that opened in 1985. The TTC announced on August 24 that the line would close permanently.

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