On New Year’s Eve, a large fire occurred on the car of a TTC subway train at the Yonge-Sheppard subway platform on Line 1.  Thankfully, no one lost their life. However, several individuals were injured. It was “fortunate” that the fire broke out while the train was at a station with the doors open to the platform. If the train had been partially or fully in the tunnel at the time of the fire, the outcome could have been very different on account of this train only having a single crew member.

ATU Local 113 has repeatedly raised its concern that the One Person Train Operation poses a serious risk to passenger safety in the event of a fire on board the train.

If this fire occurred in the tunnel, the operator would have been cut off from the passengers by the flames. Assuming the operator was not overcome by fumes,  they would have been able to evacuate themselves through the front of the train, but the passengers would have been left in a smoke-filled train unassisted by any trained personnel.  When and if passengers were able to evacuate themselves they would be going into a tunnel filled with smoke and with a live electrified third rail.

Prior to the TTC implementing One Person Train Operation on this subway line, there were always two operators on board the train. In the event that the fire occurred on a subway train in the tunnel, there would have been an operator on either end who could assist passengers. This would ensure that no passengers would be cut off from trained TTC subway crew onboard the train, and that there would be a crew member to evacuate passengers and cut electric power.

Local 113’s concerns have been ignored by the TTC, presumably so they can “save” literally just a few pennies per ride. The fire that occurred on New Year’s Eve proves that this significant safety concern is not hypothetical, but rather a real one that the TTC should take seriously.

This was a near miss and the TTC should immediately return to two-person operation, as currently exists on Line 2.