THE MOON AND THE TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION

CASA LOMA/RUSSELL HILL SUBWAY ACCIDENT AUGUST 11th 1995

INQUEST DAY THREE - Wed 10 January 1996

A SIGNAL SYSTEM EXPLANATION

 

         Today started the examination in detail of the signal system. The Crown had obtained a TTC training video which was played twice. Not because, as in the previous two days, the only monitor in the courtroom was faced first to the jury and a tape played and then faced to the counsel bench and the tape played again. This time it was replayed because it was so confusing a second playing was required to try to understand it. See the comment section below. Today the jury was seated in front of the counsel bench and the video played for jury, counsel and public gallery all at once.

 

         After the video, Mr. Mark Reidak, Head of the Signal Maintainers, took the stand. After the cool, calm presentation of SS Staples (Sgt. Buchanan was on the stand for such a short time, if you blinked, you missed him!!), Mr. Reidak presented a very different aspect. First of all, he was chewing gum throughout the rest of the day which was most unprofessional. Secondly he does not seem to have an appreciation of the seriousness of the situation in which he finds himself. He was guided by Mr. Punter to describe the detailed mechanics of the signal system and the signals between St. Clair West and Dupont in particular. If I thought SS Staples was volunteering information, his performance looked like silent rectitude against Mr. Reidak who even got into bantering matches with counsel!! As other TTC witnesses were present in court, it was obvious that it was expected that Mr. Reidak would be finished by around lunchtime. He was still on the stand at today's adjournment and Brain Leck (TTC counsel) has only scratched the surface with him.

 

         Mr. Reidak has 64 employees under him and has only recently borne the mantel of head of the Signal Maintainers. Mr. Punter elicited the information that he got the promotion very shortly after the accident (11 Aug. 1995) and that he got it because he was able to describe the signal system to senior management in a manner they understood. Senior Management's understanding capabilities are, in my humble opinion, somewhat suspect!!!

 

         Mr. Reidak offered the following facts:-

 

         Wismer & Becker designed and installed the Spadina Signal System at a contracted cost of approx. $7 million. This was $3 million dollars below the General Railway Signal company and the Union Switch and Signal company's approx. $10 million bid each. Mr. Reidak estimates it has cost the Commission at least twice this difference in the interim to fix, improve, adjust, modify, alter and otherwise change the equipment provided.          Mr. Reidak is the first employee to testify and the first to mention trying to achieve his objectives through budgetary cutbacks. The Intermediate Point Headway Control system was briefly described. Mr. Punter established the poor communications between TCC and the staff at track level. Described how the Erickson train stops have been modified. There are 229 Erickson train stops which Mr. Punter described as junk and Mr. Reidak agreed.   Criticized the training tape we had seen as being confusing.

 

         After lunch, Mr. Reidak was questioned by the counsel for the Parties in Standing. Mr. Falzone thinks it is common knowledge that there are at least two train stops in the danger position at every red light. Mr. Reidak opined that this was the case in only approximately one third of our signals (both interlocking and automatic).

 

         Mr. Falzone (Mr. Jeffries and Local 113's counsel) is also quite ignorant of the signal system and is completely unaware of the meaning of a Red signal with a Lunar White underneath it. This is because, as yet, no evidence has been presented that the Lunar White is driven by the same circuit as a normal Yellow aspect. Mr. Reidak did not clarify.

 

         Mr. Leck lead Mr. Reidak through a series of questions to establish the safety and reliability of the signal system; a course he will continue tomorrow.

 

COMMENTS

 

1)      When the training video was played I was not in a position to see the video but only to hear the audio. The audio sounded adequate and explained the Signals and Wayside Signs in a manner that seemed to me to be appropriate. At the end of the video the commentator said that, to the accompaniment of jazzy background music, "You are now familiar with the Signals and Signs in the Subway." Everyone in the court room laughed derisively at this and I couldn't understand why. When the jury requested to see the video again I decided to watch the video also. It is a video of such poor quality I am amazed that anyone at the TTC would let it out, let alone use it for training. The picture is not a video; it is a collection of very poorly taken and presented colour slides. There is not too much correlation between the audio and video and the whole is extremely confusing. No wonder there was derision in the laughter. When will we learn???

 

2)      Another day has gone by without a clear description of what the Signal System is about for the Jury's benefit. Falzone reiterated his confusion between the Signal description lighting and a Lunar White and again he demonstrated his ignorance of the system. I think if he is going to represent Local 113, the least he can do is to "get his feet wet". He is not doing his client a service.

 

3)      I suppose that the court personnel, coroner, police, counsel etc. are somewhat inured to the fact that they are dealing with death and this seems to be rubbing off on the witnesses. There is obviously a cozy relationship between ALL the parties concerned and no doubt with out this they would all go mad. But there appears to me to be a lack of decorum that I associate with the judicial process. As the numbers of attendees drop off and the inquest drags on this deterioration in respect is likely to increase. Pity !!!!

 

         Day 4 Commences at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow.

 

                 Dave  Irwin    -   10 Jan 1996

 



 

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