THE MOON AND THE TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION
CASA LOMA/RUSSELL HILL SUBWAY ACCIDENT AUGUST 11th 1995
INQUEST DAY SEVEN - Tuesday 16th January 1996
PLEASE SIR, WHAT’S A LUNAR WHITE?
There is a spectre hanging over the inquest in the form of the threat of evidence to be given by the Regina/Hill consultants who claimed that maintenance at the TTC was in a sorry state. This spectre takes the form of trying to second guess what may be said by these particular consultants. In the case of the Equipment Department an enormous amount of computer output and supporting documentation was presented today by Mr. DiPaolo. (I am going to continue to use standard departmental names. There is no guarantee this latest shuffle will outlast a gas pain!!) Mr. Leck guided Mr. DiPaolo through this mountain of paper. A considerable amount of data was entered into the record; of interest here is that run 35 had basically good wheels, down an inch to 27 inches. On average a car does 12,000 miles in two months and wears about a 1/16" off the tire in the same period. In closing his evidence with Mr. Punter, Punter suggested that, according to Regina/Hill, there was no preventative maintenance at the TTC. Mr. DiPaolo said "I totally disagree!!"
The next witness was Mr. Jim Thomas who is currently Assistant Manager of Systems Engineering in the Engineering & Construction Branch. Until this change of title, Mr. Thomas was Superintendent of Signal Design in the same branch. He still maintains responsibility for Signal Design in his new position. Mr. Thomas was on the stand from morning break through to the end of the day and I am unable to give you too much sense of his evidence. Messrs Punter, Falzone and Leck attempted to have Mr. Thomas describe the signal system and how it is designed but all failed in this quest. The only fair thing I can say is that, as Mr. Punter's witness, Mr. Thomas was very poorly prepared. Previous witnesses for the Crown, notably Staff Sergeant Staples, had developed visual aids and/or reports which counsel lead the witness through to give the jury a proper feel for the evidence. Mr. Thomas was not given this opportunity and he tried to describe in words a very complicated mathematical process known as Signal Design. He failed in this task. If this inquest is going to produce recommendations that the TTC can live with with respect to signal design and layout, someone is going to have to explain the signal system to them in such a way that they will understand what the relationship is between Time/Distance curves and Speed/Distance curves. How as the result of these curves signals are laid out and how these layouts are checked to produce a signal design which is safe and efficient. This explanation has not happened yet and Mr. Thomas has finished his evidence (subject to recall no doubt).
Some facts from Mr. Thomas' evidence:- The Spadina Signal contract was approved in 1975. The Ericsson train stop had not been used in North America before. Wismer & Becker (as prime signal contractors) proposed and the TTC agreed to the change in follower arm design. We have train stops to enforce obedience to red signals. Couldn't comment on operating headways only design headways. Did not know that trains had to wait for a minute before calling Transit Control. It is unlikely that he would know this as it is a Transportation Department change which, if the TTC is still operating as I know it, would never have been conveyed to the Engineering Branch or anyone in the branch who would know what to do with the information. Punter got confused over "sighting time (of fifteen seconds)" and got Thomas to agree that there was not sufficient sighting time in the accident area. THIS IS TOTALLY WRONG. It is a demonstration of how technical information in the hands of ignorant people like Mr. Punter is extremely dangerous. Mr. Thomas did not agree that the Signal design headway should be more than two minutes.
The following exchange is a reasonably coherent passage as I am able to reconstruct it, other exchanges were much worse.
Punter: Lunar Whites allow the Signal designer to facilitate headways. Thomas: Lunar Whites tell the operator the state of the next signal.
P: For headway?
P: Does Lunar White have safety features?
P: What signal does Lunar White modify?
T: The next signal.
Mr. Thomas answered one of these questions correctly. Can you guess which one?
Mr. Falzone (in the Afternoon): Lunar Whites are invisible in the open cut areas.
Mr. Thomas: I hadn't heard about that and we have a lot of problems with the signal system and we are trying to make it safe for the operators and we are working with people of different backgrounds and we question all the problems and we want to hear from operators and it's an ongoing process..............
Exchanges of this calibre prompted Mr. Punter to offer the opinion to the court that he and Mr. Thomas did not understand each other; in discussing an aspect of signal design, Mr. Punter decided "not to belabour the point". I think that was an understatement, Mr. Punter was one frustrated crown counsel!!
1) As someone who has spent a considerable part of his working career involved deeply with the design and maintenance of Signal Systems, I am very disheartened at the turn of today's events. I had hoped that after the large amounts of misinformation flowing from Staff Sergeant Staples, Mr. Reidak and Mr. Punter about the subway signal system that Mr. Thomas would tell the jury what a signal system is, how we use one and what it's design criteria are in such a way that they could understand and make any clear obvious recommendations (like running the Dynamic Clearance car through the subway once a year for example).
2) Evidence presented by Mr. DiPaolo suggests that a wheel can loose about 3/8" in about a year. Exhibit 18 indicates that the wheel encroaches into the follower arm profile by 3/8" This suggests to me that this problem of hitting the train stop at SP71GT has been going on for a year. Incidentally, when Staff Sergeant Staples indicated that the follower arm bolt had been sheared off during dynamic testing (in suspicious circumstances in my view), he offered NO explanation of how this happened. He did say that testing of the sheared bolt was unable to determine how long the contacts with the wheel had been made. Therefore my estimate of one year of contact is as good an estimate as you will get!!
3) Tomorrow, the jury gets to visit Transit Control and the School of Instruction. I get to sleep in !!
Day 8 continues at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.
Dave Irwin - 16 January 1996