THE MOON AND THE TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION

CASA LOMA/RUSSELL HILL SUBWAY ACCIDENT AUGUST 11th 1995

INQUEST DAY EIGHTEEN - Monday 5th February 1996

DELAYS AND MYSTERY

 

         In a relatively full court room, there were at least four witnesses ready to take the stand, including Mr. Ted Galinis (the old phone book came in useful again !!). However, Mr. Punter announced that after the appearance of Mr. Adolphus "Junior" Williams, there would be an in camera session after which an announcement on further proceedings would be made. When pressed, Mr. Punter said he would not use the word "bomb" again!!

 

         Mr. Williams has been a Subway operator for 4 years. He was the motorman of run 36 on the night of August 11th, 1995 and also had Mr. Robert Jeffrey for training for one 8 hour shift. Mr. Williams was not a Divisional Trainer at the time of this training shift during which he guarded from Wilson to Finch and was motorman from Finch to Wilson.

 

         Mr. Williams described his training as a Subway operator and explained that he failed the exam on equipment details and retook the exam the next day. He said that the operational part of his second exam was taken on the Bloor Danforth Subway, a route (of 2) on which he had not been trained.

 

         In his four years as an operator, Mr. Williams claimed he had never been tripped. He had however operated a train a number of times where the Car to Wayside was not working. After questions by a number of counsel and Dr. Huxter, it was apparent he meant that he could hear all the "traffic" on the Car to Wayside, it was just that he could not join in.

 

         On the overblown subject of the Hi Rate keys, he said that he had been on so many trains where the seal on the Hi Rate Switch had been broken, at least four or five times a week, that he didn't bother calling it in to Transit Control anymore. It was not clear he ever did. (For those who would like a refresher course on Hi Rate Keys, please see comment number 6 on Day 6.!!!)

 

         Mr. Williams had never had the euphemistic speed-up message, he had not been trained or asked to tie a trip arm down, had never used or seen used the Trip Cock Isolation Valve, had never used a Hi Rate key.

 

         Mr. Punter then lead Mr. Williams through the events of the evening of August 11th. He described the "difficulty" in seeing the Lunar White on the SP77GT leaving St. Clair West station. He had a line mechanic on board who was looking at a dripping air conditioner and between Mr. Williams, the Line Mechanic and Transit Control, he described how run 36 was brought to within 20 feet or so of the rear of run 35, Mr. Jeffrey's train. He described his actions in evacuating his passengers, the passengers from run 35 and Mr. Jeffrey. He did not ask for, nor did Mr. Jeffrey volunteer, any information as to how the accident had happened. Mr. Williams is the first witness to describe that the train lights went off to emergency train lighting when the power was cut and also that the fluorescent lighting in the Subway was also cut off.

 

         Mr. Punter asked Mr. Williams if he had any recommendations to make as a result of the accident. He did not. When pressed by Mr. Punter on the Flashlight Recommendation, Mr. Williams opined that if flashlights were provided, they would be stolen along with the stop watches that Mr. Gomberg suggested so that motormen would know when the required minute waiting time before calling Transit Control had passed!!! Mr. Punter's Mantra could only be answered in the first part as Mr. Williams has not operated in the Subway since the accident.

 

         In cross by Mr. Gomberg, Mr. Williams said he believed it was mandatory that the phones work between the trains and the Transit Control Centre. He believed it was a big safety issue. (Oh Oh !!).

 

         In questions from Mr. Falzone, Mr. Williams said that the SP53 usually cleared quite a while before he passed it but that most signals clear when "you're right on top of them". He said this could be nerve wracking but could not define "nerve wracking". He does not operate in the Subway any more because when you make a mistake the punishment does not fit the crime. In previous testimony, Mr. Williams had described that when he heard that run 34 was asked if they knew how to tie down a trip arm, he was alerted to a signal problem. This meant he operated signal to signal. He could not explain why tying down a trip arm was safe or unsafe.

 

         Mr. Williams told Mr. Leck that the evacuation was done professionally (that is by people who are paid to do evacuations!!). He also explained that by being coached in exam questions, it meant he was being encouraged to study the questions before writing down the answers. As far as he knew, Mr. Williams said that no one has been punished for a signal violation since August 11th.

 

COMMENTS

 

1)      Mr. Punter seems to have a bee in his bonnet about the blocking of the Russell Hill Emergency Exit by run 36. He has mentioned it a number of times. I do hope we don't finish up with some more totally stupid and unenforceable inquest inspired rules about not blocking an emergency exit for the once in a blue moon that this happens.

 

2)      Has anyone done anything about the Flashlights yet?????

 

3)      Since the Subway opened, we have trained probably tens of thousands of motormen. The mystery of this inquest is why one of them should have caused an accident that killed three passengers. In divining the reasons for this conundrum, we have been presented with some very strange thoughts about the whole training process. One of these conundrums is the lack of training of the "road", as Mr. LaForce put it.

 

         We have approximately 50 route miles of Subway in Toronto and yet we deem it expedient to train our staff in operating only half of this amount. 50 miles is the approximate distance from London to Brighton which trip can be done nowadays in less than an hour and yet in Toronto we feel that a motorman is competent in knowing only half this distance which presents practically none of the complications of Victoria, Clapham Junction, East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Haywards Heath and Brighton. Trains on this route operate on the same two minute headway we operate. No train stops are in use although an Automatic Warning System is in place. This route is only one of the routes that a motorman would be expected to know. Not having experience with the operating conditions of the London Underground or New York City, I am unable to compare our style with these operations.

 

         In Toronto, we let two rookie operators out together to operate a train (Mr. Williams' first runs) in an operating environment guaranteed to generate Tunnel Vision. We do nothing to relieve the boredom, having forbidden the guards to do anything but stare at the walls as they ride from one terminal to another (the result of a previous inquest) and yet only one motorman has killed any passengers. Quite a conundrum for these five jurors to solve.

 

4)      So far no one has indicated any time pressures in this inquest. Practically all counsel have used the expression "...just one or two more questions..." which usually result in more than one or two!!

 

5)      Much guessing about the future course of this inquest was generated by the activities of the Crown today. After the in camera session, it was announced that there would be no more witnesses heard today and by late in the afternoon we were informed by the constable, Sergeant Evans, that there would be no hearings tomorrow (Tuesday). Speculation as to the reasons for this delay (given that Mr. Punter does not wish to use the word "bomb" again) were rife in the ante rooms as we all headed home.............

 

         We do not know when the inquest will continue.

 

NEWS FLASH!!

 

          According to the news report at 6:30 p.m. today (5 Feb 1996) on          CITY tv:- New evidence stops inquest in it's tracks, Mystery document discussed behind closed doors all day, Not even a break for lunch, Late afternoon announcement, Inquest will resume Monday (12 Feb 1996), Surprise witness from Washington DC Transit System, Immediately followed by David Gunn - Chief General Manager - TTC.

 

         Frank Gomberg (a lawyer for one of the deceased woman's          family), when asked by Kevin Frankish of CITY tv whether "... are we in for any surprises?, any revelations?", said "I don't know, but I wouldn't miss Monday if I were you !!".

 

         Your intrepid reporter apologizes for using the media in this manner, but as a pensioner, my naps are very important and I'd rather nap than wait for a bunch of Yahoos to reach a decision. For those requiring a definition of Yahoo, see Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726) of which NBC has just produced a very credible movie.

 

         As the inquest resumes, your dedicated digger of dirt and skullduggery, mixed with the occasional fact to spice things up, will also resume :-)

 

 

 

                  Dave Irwin    -     5 February 1996

 

 



 

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