Monday, May 30, 2011

Not knitting on the new subway train

It's lucky I write this blog instead of podcasting it, because I woke up yesterday with no voice and it seems still to be missing this morning.  I'm so grateful for the computer; every time the phone rings now all I can do is kinda look at it and hope the caller has e-mail.

This weekend was Doors Open Toronto, an exciting venture that unfolds on weekends all across Ontario in the warmer months, and I was super excited.  The idea is that places you would normally never get to see the inside of run an open house and invite everybody who's so inclined to come out and see how they work.  About a month ago I went to a recycling plant and it was surprisingly awesome. Did you know you can get shoelaces made out of recycled plastic bags?

This time I was especially hoping to visit the water filtration plant down in the Beaches - it's a gorgous, architecturally distinctive building both inside and out - but I also wanted to check out the repair yards for the light rail transit in the east end (yes, I am a train nerd) and when the lineup there proved to be about thirty minutes long I gave up the idea of the plant, whose lineup was probably more than two hours long.  I was in it twenty years ago anyway, when they staged an art exhibit there... large paintings hung on the far side of bowling-lane pools, lit so the reflection stretched out to the viewer across rippling water?  whoa.

My point: I got stuck standing for thirty minutes in a transit line! GAH.  Worse than waiting for the Leslie bus that time it broke down.  Fortunately, I had thought to stuff a Sock Sweater sleeve in my bag.

I was just past the colour band when I started, but I also knit while touring the facility because I never get tired of that party trick.

From there, it was on to the streetcar yards in the west end.  I panicked and didn't work on my sleeve en route, lest I run out of truly portable knitting, so the purple baby sweater got some love too.

I'm nearly ready to start the fronts.(go me).  Wouldn't it be nice if I could pull all that off in the next 48 hours?  Not gonna happen, but nice to think about.

Both yard tours were interesting and informative - I got to go through a car wash on the streetcar one! - but the really big deal was the reveal, on Sunday, of the new subway train our city is getting.  Not to mention the sugar factory I was going to visit after that, because I am nothing if not all about the sugar. Then I woke up with no voice and a super sore throat.

Wanh!  at that point, I'd have waited in tons of lines to check out the train while it's all clean and new.  It's connected in such a way that the cars aren't separate any more, you see - just one long sausage you can walk right through.  No more leaping into the same train with the person you were trying to meet and not knowing it! This actually happened to me last month, but since we were getting off at the same station it didn't matter. Oh yeah, and we all have mobile phones now too.  Still.

Anyway I didn't get to go, but I did get a friend who was doing the train to take my camera along, so thank you Pete:

Can you see it tucked up there on the left with the current cars, next to the platform that hardly ever gets used?  I spend a lot of time at this station waiting for trains on the left-hand tracks.

And here it is up close:

Very glam.  Just think: someday I'll knit on this train and not even appreciate it.

I've saved some train trivia to plug in here so non-train-obsessives can skip it - consider yourself warned:

To repair the underside of a train, the cars are brought inside on their rails and positioned over open spaces on the lower level of the building; it is wild to look down from train level and see all the light and tools down there of a proper workshop, and more so to think about how big the hydraulics would have to be to get them up like a car in a repair shop.

The wheels get replaced every five years or so using an interesting and super speedy method I didn't catch all of.  But apparently we use regular train wheels instead of the rubber ones on Montreal trains because rubber wears out after 18 months and that is SUUUper expensive by comparison.  Somebody in the crowd pointed out tht the traction on a snowy rail would suffer as well, and our guide said that regular wheels aren't exactly gluey either when the cars they're supporting are made of fiberglass.

A streetcar wash is just like a car wash except there are a lot more windows to close before you go in.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Loved this post about trains. Son#3 and I are train fans too! You are so lucky to live in the city and get to ride.
Carole W.