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15: The first year of operation

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After all the tests and practicing with operations, and all the miles they had run to bring out any problems, we had four trains fully tested and parked out on the yard tracks, confident that all was in good shape for the opening day, May 23rd, 1967.

Oh, no! It didn't work out like that at all!

The first morning, getting the trains out

During the night a fog developed. The fog was not bad enough to delay train movements, but the moisture penetrated the traction motors of the locomotives sitting out on the trains ready to go. From the moment the first workers went out to prepare the trains for dispatch, they knew there was a problem. Every locomotive tripped a ground relay! The trains could not leave with that problem. Harry Dykstra was Trainmaster at the depot so he had to call out the depot staff to help.

The depot staff knew what was needed, but it would take time. Each locomotive in turn had to be uncoupled from its train, taken into the shop to have the motors blown out to dry them out. Then it was returned to its train, and the static tests of brakes and electrical connections gone through all over again.

This was another of the kinds of problems that Doug Young could do without. His staff understood what they were up against, and they put heart and soul into it. All the trains left the depot on time, and now they were in the hands of the operators! Three of these trains would return to Willowbrook after the morning rush, then go out again in the afternoon. The fourth would remain out all day.

There were four trainsets to be dispatched. The phrase "Dead-head" means that the train ran without stopping and was not open to carry passengers. Two of the sets ran deadhead to Hamilton to replace the two CN commuter trains that were withdrawn last Friday. After their service trip from Hamilton to Union Station, these two sets returned deadhead to Willowbrook. One set ran deadhead to Oakville to become train #946, the first GO-Transit train carrying passengers. It left Oakville at 0550, arriving Union Station at 0627. The fourth ran deadhead to Pickering, to make train #903 at 0600, due to arrive at Union Station at 0637. This was the first service train out of Pickering, just ten minutes later than that out of Oakville. This set remained in service during the whole day, completing each cycle in three hours. It made its last service trip from Union Station to Pickering at 2313 then returned deadhead to Willowbrook. This train set reversed in the Pickering terminus seven times and in Oakville six times. This gave a 3-hour headway between trains all day.

In the first stage, the weekend service was not operated. This also was to allow review of the experiences from that week. The depot would be having the extra work of putting together and testing two more trains received from the manufacturer. George Dollis and the Trainmasters had to arrange for transferring in and training the additional crews who had bid in to be ready for the expanded service when that date arrived.

The first train in service


Bill Howard remembered that he was one who went out to Oakville, as he said "In the wee hours of the morning!" to greet the invitees who came to ride #946, the first GO-Transit train. Premier Robarts of Ontario came out, with Vice President Gonder of CN. There were people from the Legislature, Mr. McNaughton and some of the local dignitaries, and a good representation of the press and TV stations. Jimmy Morrison was there with the train crew.

Another person who rode the train had not yet attained the high office he would occupy later. That was James Snow, who became Minister of Transport in 1975 I went to visit him in June 1996 at his home in Hornby, Ontario, not far from Oakville. On the inaugural run he was the candidate for the Progressive Conservative Party of the new riding of Halton East. He explained that the new riding was the result of the old riding having grown to the stage that a split was needed. The sitting member was George Kerr, who lived in Burlington, so he had chosen to stand for Halton West. That left Halton East open for a new member. Jim was new in the political field, but in view of his business as a construction contractor and a local farmer he was already a well-known personality in the area. The new commuter service lay within what he hoped would be his riding, it was logical for him to want to be present.

His nomination was in March 1967, and even then there was a lot of discussion about the coming service. When I asked the usual question about what he remembered most about the service, he said it was two things, riding the first train on May 23rd, and the provincial election that was called on Labour Day. That was the date of our fourth step, when we were putting the ONR trains into service. As candidate he was impatiently waiting for the Premier to call the election. Jim Snow took his seat in the Ontario Legislature from the election of October 17th 1967.

 The departure of the first train into service was a big occasion only for those of us who were closely involved. It had not been written up as a publicity stunt. It was cold and dark so early in the morning. The new timetable was out, so any passengers could come out for it. Mr. Gonder made a presentation of the orders for the train to operate, then it was all-aboard for the departure. So the first train in service left Oakville at ten minutes before six, and another from Pickering at six o'clock. 

"On the train there was a lot of talking. The press interviewed the railway personnel first. This was the first train carrying passengers, so they were boarding at stations along the line. The press representatives interviewed them as well to get their reactions. It was a great occasion!"

Jimmy Morrison was the Trainmaster who had looked after all of the training for the enginemen, and he was the one looking over the shoulder of the engineman on train 946. Premier Robarts came forward to see the operation in the control cab, and to use the public address system to make a speech to the passengers on the train. It was natural to invite him to sit down in the engineman's seat, and let him see how the driving was done. So with Jimmy driving over his shoulder, the train rolled into Union Station with the head of the Premier looking out of the driver's window, just as if he had driven it all the way! 

When I came on the job that morning, I went first to Willowbrook to see the trains out, then I continued on to Union Station to watch the arrival. It was a great satisfaction for me to stand watching the first passengers as they exited passed the ticket booths there. Surprisingly it was also a bit of a letdown! They walked out so nonchalantly, as if they had been riding GO-Transit for years. It just didn't seem to be a great occasion for them, and it was over in an instant. From then on, for us it would be just a case of keeping the operation going!

During the day, the crews had support from supervisors who rode along with them. Don Wallace was borrowed from the Rules office, Tony Williams and Bob Watson came from other offices, and the three Trainmasters took turns to observe the operation. They were all chosen because their background was in train operations. Don Martin went out to the various stations to maintain contact with the Attendants. Doug Young was busy at Willowbrook preparing the three train sets for their return to service for the afternoon peak. George Dollis rode in on train 903 from Pickering at 0600h, then he stayed in the office with Bob Withrow and me, listening to the reports as they came in. Bill Howard stayed on board that first train set from Oakville when it went on to Pickering and back to Union Station, then he went over to his office in the government buildings. There he spent the rest of the day responding to more requests for information about the service from the press and radio stations. 

The Government had decided that all travel on GO-Transit for that first day would be free, so the Station Attendants were told not to take the tickets that passengers were offering as they walked up to the ticket booths. That meant that we wouldn't have a count of tickets taken to be able to calculate our total carryings that day, but we asked the Attendants to keep a count of passengers as they entered the stations.

 The following morning was the time to review the events of the day. It had been a long day, and everything had gone smoothly. We could look back to say that it had gone very well indeed. The Station Attendants doing their manual count had estimated that the number of passengers who had ridden the trains had to be more than 8,000, more or less. Our opinion was that today we had friends who yesterday didn't even know we existed!

 The next two weeks

Wednesday, May 24 was the first day the passengers were required to deposit tickets, so it was the first time we could have an accurate count. The five morning arrivals brought in 2,284 passengers, almost double what had been the carryings on the two CN trains. I had a loose-leaf book that used to come on my desk every morning to report the previous day's carryings. It showed the figures for the number of passengers exited at each station, and which station they had travelled from. I'm sorry that I don't have that book any more. That day we carried more than 7,000 paying passengers.

Every day the level of carryings increased. Bill Howard was following it closely, and he would phone in to hear what had been yesterday's figures. Then he was passing the news around in his own offices. It was obvious that the service would be extremely popular. We could see ourselves becoming swamped with new demand. We had planned the next increase in level of service in five weeks, on Monday, June 26th and another on July 17th. Clearly we would have to do something before that to handle all the new commuters who were coming to the service.

We put our heads together at Willowbrook to see how we could have one more train ready to go in advance of the planned increase. They were able to offer one in two weeks.

For the Transportation Department, this meant we would be operating another train that was not covered already in the printed literature. It would need special paper work to get it out on the line, so we had to clear that through the dispatching office. The dispatchers had become more familiar with the new trains being on line, so the planning was not too difficult. All the trains were still operating as extras, until they could be included in the working timetable in the Fall.

The fifth train went into service between Toronto and Oakville on Monday, June 5th, three weeks earlier than planned, and was an immediate success. It gave relief to the other peak hour trains and offered passengers another train time in the 20-minute spacing to make the journey home.

Stages 2 and 3

The extra train that we started on June 5th was just an advanced leg of the full cycle that the same set would run when the next stage would be introduced, so it served also as part of the progressive implementation. More crews would be required for this stage, so this train set and the sixth were used as training in service, and the full stage 2 & 3 trains for the expanded service on June 26th and July 17th were running deadhead out on line from Wednesday, June 21st.

We ran the Saturday and Sunday service on June 24th and 25th, even though the weekend service would not be open to the public until the following weekend. When Monday, June 26th came along, the trains and crews already had run the stage 3 schedule during three days of the previous week, and the only change was that all the trains were open to carry passengers. By this stage, in our weekday service we were operating 46 service trains and twelve deadheads. 

Up to that time, we had had no problems in any part of the operation, and we were feeling supremely confident. 

The next day brought us down to earth. One train had an engine failure on line, and we used the radio well between the locomotive and the depot to help the engine crew to complete the service run. Another had ground relay problems in the depot that required some snappy action to get that train out in time. Someone fired a gunshot through one of the car windows, so there was a switching move to cut that car out of the train and get it into the depot for repair. The exercises that Doug Young had put his staff through in preparation for this type of service now showed their worth. All the staff on the trains and in the depot knew how to handle emergencies like this, and the public didn't know anything untoward had happened. 

Even though the service had started so smoothly, there could always be problems in the on-going operation. Yes, there were problems.

 This was a new service, so this was another learning process. We had tried to foresee things that might happen, and get ourselves organised to handle them. Still it was only at the moment of action that we could see how well we might have done our planning.

 The signal failure

 This incident happened when George Dollis and I had been out to Pickering to observe the change of ends on the train. We were riding in the cab with the engineman when we saw there had been an accident that had knocked down a telephone pole.

The next signal was showing stop, so we stopped and waited. As required in the rules, the engineman got down to the telephone on the signal mast, and spoke to the control centre. The dispatcher said there were no trains ahead, so he dictated an order to the engineman under rule 264. That is an order to pass the signal at stop, and proceed at restricted speed until passing the next two signals showing clear.

The next signal did not show clear. It showed stop. In fact, every the signal all the way to Union Station made us stop, talk to the dispatcher and obtain similar 264 orders.

That was when George realised that the downed telephone pole must have cut the signal control wires. All of the signal circuits between Rouge hill and Union Station were out. Every signal would be showing stop. All the trains east of Toronto going or coming would have to stop at every signal just as we had done. Each train could be delayed anything up to 20 or 25 minutes. These were the trains that should come back westward through Union Station to form the Oakville trains to go west on time. According to the schedule the station should have a train full of passengers leaving every ten minutes, one east, one west. The flood of commuters was starting already, and the platforms were not wide enough to let them all go up there to wait for the delayed trains. All passengers would have to be held in the lower concourse until their trains could come in.

There was no question what to do next. George phoned the control room to tell them where we had seen the telephone pole knocked down, so that a repair crew could go straight to the point of failure. I brought together what staff was available to give the best service we could under the circumstances. George stayed in my office with the radio to maintain contact with the trains. I went down to the station with the loudhailer so that we could keep the passengers informed. Don Martin stayed beside the telephone in the ticket office to receive updates from George. Stella Hanula took up a position beside the ticket barriers to be able to answer questions from the passengers who would be accumulating there.

At one moment the lower concourse was so crowded that commuters newly arriving could hardly get in to hear what was going on. Apart from that, the communication system worked well. As each train approached the station, George got a report by radio from the engineman, that he relayed to Don on the phone. Don told me which train was entering, then I walked through the crowd with the loudhailer to tell the waiting passengers which destination train would be at the platform next, so that they could pass through the barriers and go up to the platform. Each train departed as soon as it was loaded, so that we would not delay any other train trying to come in behind it.

No passenger was delayed more than 20 minutes, and the concourse was empty again when the 1843 train left for Oakville, albeit the service was still running up to 20 minutes late.

Track blocked at Oakville

There was an unfortunate event when there was a derailment between Oakville and Clarkson. This was at an interlocking at 8th line, where there are crossovers and industrial sidings. The main line was blocked, and our trains could not get through to Oakville or Hamilton.

Bill Howard called me from the Government offices to ask what was going on at 8th line. I had to ask him why he had called. He asked me hadn't I heard about the derailment near Oakville? I went to listen to my train radio but it was silent. I tried to call my offices but all the phones were busy and I could not get through. So I walked to the transportation office to find out what was going on. What I found was very impressive. My staff knew what had happened out on line, and they were on all the available phones, deeply into doing exactly the actions that each person's responsibility needed. No wonder I had been unable to get them on the phone.

Now Don Martin and I got together to decide how to get the commuters home to Oakville and west. We made a quick review of the figures to estimate how many passengers off each train would wish to travel beyond Clarkson, so that we could calculate how many buses would be needed to meet each train. I called Bill back to tell him that we would have to short-turn the trains at Clarkson, and asked him to call out buses to meet the trains at the station there and take the passengers onward. Don went out to Clarkson with the loudhailer to direct the passengers off the trains, and Jack Clark came from the Government offices to look to the handling of the buses.

The centralised traffic control with power over the switches and signals gave all the flexibility needed, and the trains ran back and forth easily. Because they were being short-turned they were able to run on their scheduled times. That was the situation through the peak period and for the rest of the evening. This was another place where having the trains equipped for push-pull operation paid off. There were no problems reversing direction, and no question of needing to run the locomotives round the trains.

Next morning CN had the tracks open in time for the peak hour service to operate as usual. All our passengers were well served and we had congratulations the next day about the way we had handled the problem.

Late delivery of self-propelled cars

The date for implementation of stage four had been set for September 5th, ready for when schools would reopen. This stage was planned to have eight trains on line in the peak period. We already had the six locomotive trains in service. The other two trains were to be the self-propelled diesel railcars, due to follow on out of the manufacturer's plant.

The S-P cars were to have the same car bodies as the coaches and cab cars we had already put into service. But these cars were to have a completely new design of propulsion unit. The diesel engine was to be suspended under the floor to drive the wheels through a gearbox and drive shaft. Control of the throttle and gears was by electric multiple-unit wires through the cars.

The designs were not ready. In effect, development of the design was going on even while the cars were being built in the shop. This had delayed getting them ready, so we would not have them in time for the stage four.

Clearly we had to find some other solution to meeting the commitment to open stage four on September 5th. The daily increase in carryings showed that the demand was coming on faster than anyone had expected, and we surely needed to have the other two trains in service as soon as possible.

We had not provided any trackage for running engines around trains at our outer terminals, so any trains we brought in would have to be reversible. The experience with push-pull on the new trains had demonstrated how this arrangement made it far more flexible, and was essential for our operation, but there were no other push-pull trains available to us.

The Government of Ontario was, and is still, owner and operator of the Ontario Northland Railway (the ONR), running passenger trains from Toronto to North Bay and further north. We turned to the Government to see whether we could borrow any spare equipment to fill out our service. The ONR released to us nine old commuter cars and four diesel units that we brought down from North Bay as soon as we had their agreement. These were traditional coaches with single doors at each end, slow to load and unload.

The idea of asking for four units was to have a unit at each end of the train. The unit at the head end would haul the train, while the unit at the rear would idle until the engineman changed ends. The units were of 1,500-horse-power each, so there was some question whether they could maintain the schedules they would have to conform to.

While I was meeting recently with George Dollis, he found his notes about these trains. We would need one train of four cars and one of five cars, for the schedules they would be filling. Tests were run on Sunday, August 27th, to measure what speeds they could make and what schedules we could put them in. With only the lead unit working and the rear unit idling, the train did not perform well enough to keep schedule. So a second test run was made with a second engineman driving the rear unit to help move the train. What we learned was that, if we had both units working, the train could keep time in commuter service.

It would be unacceptable to go into regular operation with an arrangement like this, so the alternative was to run trainlines under the coaches to convert each train also into a push-pull train. We had quick discussions with the technical staff at CN Headquarters, to learn what kind of wiring would be needed. The total need was for nine wires. The cars were placed in the coachyard at Spadina, where the craftsmen attached three bundles of three wires each to the undersides of all the coaches. It was necessary to retain the flexibility to be able to switch cars in and out of the trains, so the cables were connected together at the ends of the cars using standard three-pin connectors. All this work was done in a period of four days. Then we could couple the diesel units back to back, one on each end of the train. The next test runs were made on Saturday, September 2nd, from which we confirmed that the performance in push-pull was quite satisfactory, and the crews could change ends within the time available at the outer terminals.

Monday, September 4th was Labour Day, so the full stage-four service was open to carry passengers on Tuesday September 5th, using the six new trains from Hawker-Siddeley, and the two trains of old commuter stock borrowed from the ONR.

I set up a meeting with Joe Desjardins in the GO-Transit offices in 1995. He spoke to me as Director of Customer Services for the government offices of GO-Transit. During the opening days in 1967 he was a junior with Bill Howard.

There was an amusing incident while the ONR trains were in service. Joe explained this to me, when I met him. We had not provided on-ground ticket collection at the stations west of Oakville, which the Hamilton trains served only twice in the morning and twice in the evening, weekdays only. At those stations, the routine was for the train crew to open only one door while the CN Station Agent would stand at the open door to collect the half-tickets of the passengers entering or leaving. As the traffic rose, this became a slow process that delayed the trains. The longest train from Hamilton to Toronto was due to pass through Oakville at 0750, but it became consistently late. Passengers started to rely with this, so sometimes they came on to the platform later than train time, expecting it to be late.

In a commuter operation, it is always a bad thing to have trains always running late, so a change was made. The train crews were asked to open more doors so that the train could load faster and stay on schedule. Next day the train arrived at Oakville and left on time, leaving some astonished passengers still in the parking lot.

The Billy Graham crusade

While this work was going on, we had a request to run a service to the CN station at Exhibition, for a big religious meeting being held on both Sunday and Monday in the exhibition stadium for the Billy Graham crusade. The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) was still on, with the closing date being Labour Day. The old CN Exhibition station was at the Dufferin Street overpass next to the Dufferin Gate. For trains to stop there required that they should be put on the sidetracks. This required slow running, because the side tracks were not signaled for main line operation. The published timetables did not include any GO-Transit trains stopping at the Dufferin Gate station, so stopping our trains there meant special arrangements to run the trains on the side tracks, instead of on the centre tracks they normally used.

We had no experience from carryings to foresee how many passengers might use our trains, so for the Sunday we set up 14 extra trips, and had all the scheduled hourly trains running through the side tracks to stop there as well. This afforded trains every 30 minutes on what otherwise would have been only one train per hour on weekends. Don Martin called in extra Station Attendants to man the station and sell or collect tickets.

That was a disappointment! All those trains carried a total of 600 passengers into the Exhibition. It wasn't worth putting extra trains for that. So the Monday service had only the regular hourly trains stopping for Exhibition.

Surprise! The news had spread that the GO-Transit trains would be stopping there. It was gratifying to see how many passengers chose to go in that way. On Monday, September 4th, we carried over 8,000 passengers into Exhibition Station.

The lesson learned was that in the following year, the GO-Transit trains should serve the CN Exhibition station during the full two weeks it would be open.

Another comment from Joe Desjardins when we were talking was how surprised they were that we were able to fit a new stop at Exhibition and still keep trains on time. That was easy for me to explain. "You may remember that when we were setting the first schedules, there had not been a final decision whether there would be a stop at Sunnyside? So the schedules still had time to allow a station stop somewhere between Mimico and Union Station. So the time we used for Exhibition was really the time that had been intended for a station stop at Sunnyside just moved along the line a short way. When the service started we were glad to have that time in reserve, but it was turned to good use in the end, wasn't it?"

On the regular trains of Thursday, September 14th, we carried the millionth passenger, who boarded at Eglinton. Within eight months of opening the service, the traffic level reached 15,000 per day. That was the level that had been forecast in the studies to be achieved after three years of operation.

Inspection party from New Jersey

In the month of October 1967, we had two representatives visited us from Morris County, New Jersey. The County had a long-standing concern about the continuing deterioration of its suburban rail passenger services, and it fought to preserve and improve the service for the benefit of its users. It was a policy of The Board of Public Transportation to study successful suburban rail passenger service elsewhere, to ascertain how and why they were successful.

So the Chairman, Thomas T. Taber and the Vice-Chairman, Frank T. Richardson visited the Government of Ontario, and together spent a full day with us, when we showed them the CN operation.

In February 1968, The Board released the report prepared by these representatives, stating in their conclusions that "In the opinion of the writers of this report, the Province of Ontario has done the right thing, at the right time, and in the right way". This is the phrase they chose for the title of the report:


Receiving this report within less than a year of our inauguration gave a great feeling of satisfaction to all our personnel having had any involvement in bringing the service into being. We believe that this report significantly influenced subsequent decisions that led in the end to creation of the modern rail commuter services now operated in the name of "New Jersey Transit".

Putting the S-Ps into service

The S-P Cars were beginning to come to us soon after we had put the ONR trains into service. They had to be tested before we could put them out in the same schedules. Tests were run within the limits of the tracks in Willowbrook depot.

Two S-P cars were run on September 7th. There were many problems, so Hawker-Siddeley assigned a representative to correct them. He was Alan Wright, and a small group of craftsmen working for him. I met Alan in 1995 to discuss the work he had to do. He was responsible for any adjustments that had to be made to the coaches and cab cars as they went into service. That was called "Retrofit". When George Dollis had a severe cut on his finger due to getting trapped in a door as it closed, it was Alan who saw to changing the design of the doors so that this danger was eliminated.

When I met with Allen in 1995, he was far from being retired. Working out of his own home, he was representing another manufacturer of S-P cars, so all his experiences with GO-Transit were still part of his repertoire. Both Allen and I had started our careers in railways on the subway system of London, England, so we had some common ground.

When John Robarts and Donald Gordon made their joint announcement that they would create a new rail commuter service, Allen was working with Len Bardsley of the TTC in Toronto. Hawker-Siddeley had signed a contract to supply TTC with 164 new subway cars, to meet a specification that Allen had a part in drafting. That was when Lorne Main, the Marketing Manager of Hawker-Siddeley had asked TTC for a candidate to work for them on the production and delivery of the cars. Lorne was a great "Marketeer". He promoted the whole range of cars as being to the same basic design, so "Look what they are doing for the community!" Allen made the switch in January 1967, when the four different models of cars were already in production. So he was dropped right into the massive delivery program for the Expo Express, the TTC subway cars, the GO-Transit cars and the CN Tempo cars on order. The first GO-Transit trains were almost ready to go out on test runs. 

He said it was a surprise to him to see the sizes of the rail cars. He had started with the London tube cars only 15m long, built small enough to run in a tunnel only nine feet (2.7m) inside diameter. Then the TTC cars were bigger. Now he was into cars 25m long and 3m wide. They seemed enormous

 I asked him what he remembered most about his time with Hawker-Siddeley when they assigned him to us to put the train equipment into service. He said: "It was the decision of the Government to introduce a rail commuter service that registered with him. I was still with the TTC at that moment. When that decision was being made, there were only the two components of transit around Toronto, the subway in the city, and the highways surrounding it. If they had not built GO-Transit, I can't imagine what the roads would be like now. I'm thinking of the Queen Elizabeth Way and whatever. It's incredible!"

 "There were many new features built into the train equipment, that needed adjustment after the cars came to Willowbrook. Since there were no vestibules to protect the end doors, when the cab cars were leading, they were exposed to the pressures of wind and rain. We got into some heavy storms, and the end doors leaked like sieves. We must have tried three or four different seals. Every one had to be submitted to CN for approval before we could put it in. Finally we beat it!"

 "The S-P cars gave us a lot of problems. As they came to us, they showed a problem of the engines shutting down without apparent cause. The more cars we coupled into a train, the worse the problems became. There were other problems, but the worst thing was that the engines kept shutting down, even though the engineman had not called for a shutdown. Finding the cause of an event like this takes time. It needed a kind of a detective hunt for a cause that was by no means obvious. It was in November when we could say the cars were ready for service."

 The first S-P train was sent into service on train 902 on November 21st. That is a cycle for a set that should stay out all day, but the engineman had to keep restarting the engines that kept shutting down, and we had to change it out for a locomotive train on 915. So the S-Ps made only two round trips, and we knew they needed more work before they could be relied on.

 There was pressure to get all the new equipment into service and plans were made to release the ONR trains. By December 21st all nine S-Ps were out all day, and the enginemen were able to keep them working. The troubles developed again the next day, so we had to pull them out and call back the ONR trains. It was mid-January when we finally gave up trying, so the ONR trains remained in GO-Transit service all Winter.

 Icing of doors

When we had asked for double doors for quick loading and unloading of the cars, the choice had been for double folding doors. In wet weather and snow, passengers' shoes carried water and snow on to the bottom step. The doors folded outwards. When closed they rested on the edge of the bottom step, leaving a narrow ledge exposed to the weather. That allowed ice to build up, preventing the doors from opening.

There was no quick fix for a problem like that. Our solution was to provide the crews with salt crystals to spread on the ledge where the ice would form. The crews were very supportive of maintaining the image of this new service, and they accepted this unusual chore as part of the effort to keep the trains running.

The cold station buildings

The concept was that this was to be just a three-year demonstration, so there was no confidence that it would become permanent. The ticket booths were small structures of light panels of aluminum and steel, with limited insulation against the cold. When Winter came, the heaters inside could not keep the place warm. The Station Attendants complained of the cold, particularly around the feet, so we had to take action.

Don Martin went out to the stores that supply camping equipment, and found a type of heater intended for use inside tents. They burned light oil inside the heater, but the flame was not exposed. The heat developed at a heat-resistant dome, so that there should not be risk of fire. We placed these inside the ticket booths as a temporary fix. They helped somewhat, but still were not enough. Later, Jack Clark was able to arrange for the installation of additional electric heat. That required higher capacity in the power supply lines, so it could not be done instantly. He recalled going out to put carpets on the floors. Some of the booths were out in exposed places, Clarkson, Long Branch, and the south booth at Scarborough in particular.

The Station Attendants carried on bravely. This was a case where they knew we were doing what we could, so they just dressed warmly, and did their part to keep up appearances.

The short station platforms

Under the time pressure to get all the physical work done to have the rail facilities ready for opening in May, Eldon Dolphin had to make some shortcuts where he could.

One of the places was in laying down the asphalt for the station platforms. In the more traditional types of train equipment, the trainmen opened doors only where the platforms would be, so short platforms did not create problems then. These modern commuter trains with power doors that opened along the whole length of the train really required platforms as long as the trains. But we had to do with what we could get in time.

The platforms at Long Branch, at Clarkson and at Oakville were only as long as four cars. The conductors on the GO-Transit trains made announcements asking passengers to these stations to ride in the cars we knew would stop opposite the short platforms. That did not ensure that every passenger could do that. The result was that when all the car doors opened, some passengers stepped out on to trackside where there was no platform. We had two incidents, both at Clarkson.

In the Fall, a lady stepped out to trackside, but did not see that she was close to the slope of the drainage ditch. So she slipped down the bank to the bottom, where water might have been. Fortunately it was dry. Still it was a shock, and she needed assistance to get back up and to the exit. The Trainmaster, Emmet Roach, lived at Clarkson, so he was right on the spot to help. That told us that we must request the platforms to be extended to the full length of the trains as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, this work could not be finished before winter set in, so we still had short platforms at Clarkson when the snow came down. On another occasion we had an unwary passenger step out where there was no platform, and therefore the snow was quite deep there. It was difficult walking along beside the track to reach the actual platform and the exit.

It was Spring, 1968, before the final extensions could be completed. We breathed a sigh of relief! We had met and handled the problems that had come up. The Government of Ontario had a service operating in their name and there was great acceptance by the public of the quality of service we were offering.

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