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The TTC says goodbye to its last H6 subway train

Posted by Chris Bateman / June 20, 2014

toronto ttc h6Say goodbye to the bright orange doors. The last of the TTC's H6 trains -- the oldest in the current subway fleet -- has officially retired, leaving just the brand new Toronto Rocket and the Bloor-Danforth T1s (the ones with the red doors) in active service.

The last of the 27-year-old trains, distinguishable from other subway vehicles by their intense tangerine and wood-effect interior panels, narrow doorways, and rare single seats behind the driver's cab, embarked on a farewell circuit of the Bloor-Danforth line this morning, packed with a crowd of enthusiastic rail fans, some of them in fancy dress.

toronto ttc h6At one time, the TTC had a total of 126 H6 trains in service on the Yonge-University-Spadina and Bloor-Danforth lines. According to Transit Toronto, an authority on TTC history, each of the trains cost $1.15 million from the provincial Urban Transportation Development Corporation in the 1980s. The first of the fleet entered service in 1986 following construction delays and technical issues.

"It's bittersweet, I guess," says Matt Brown, the head of the Greenwood carhouse where the H6 trains were stored and maintained. "They're the workhorse, they're a great train, they lasted and ran well for a number of years but it's time for them to go and to modernize the fleet."

toronto ttc h6A retired H6 recently made a brief return to Toronto disguised as a wrecked San Francisco subway car. The creators of the Godzilla movie promo bought the train from a Hamilton scrap yard and assembled it to look like it was bursting through the ground.

toronto ttc h6Unlike some of the previous generation of retired trains that were sold to a subway project in Lagos, Nigeria, the last H6 will be gutted and either scrapped or turned into a work car. For fans hoping to own a piece of subway history, the TTC is considering selling used parts on the Internet.

"We are looking at things like the number plates on the exterior, seats, anything we might be able to salvage and re-sell, we are looking at that," says Brad Ross, the TTC's head of communications. "There's a desire to have some sort of a store. It would be online, we're absolutely going to do something."

toronto ttc h6

toronto ttc h6

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Images: Chris Bateman/blogTO



Crater / June 20, 2014 at 01:31 pm
Lame... Effin Foamers!!!
SingleFan69 / June 20, 2014 at 02:13 pm
No photo of the single seat. For shame! :-)
Zlatko / June 20, 2014 at 02:16 pm
I remember them well. They were the first subway trains with air conditioning!! When I went to college, I used to get on at Dundas West and rode all the way to Warden station(at the time was end of the line)every day!
Nice replying to a comment from SingleFan69 / June 20, 2014 at 02:24 pm
Yes, totally. The single seat was the crown jewel of the subway system. I will miss you, rarely empty single seat!
Fergus Flattery / June 20, 2014 at 02:36 pm
You mention the train posing as a wrecked San Frasisco train. Little bit of trivia: when they were builting the SF system (BART) they had the TTC test carperting for a time, in the old red Gloucester cars. And, how long were they in service?
Vic / June 20, 2014 at 02:40 pm
Which one of those photos shows the "fancy dress"? My guess is #3.
deezee / June 20, 2014 at 03:21 pm
The single seat! The best part of subway.
yt / June 20, 2014 at 03:44 pm
I *can* see you, adult John Cena fan.
moeburn / June 20, 2014 at 03:54 pm
I always thought that these old trains had the old orange foam seats? What's with this odd combination of old orange-door train with newer red-carpet seats?
yt / June 20, 2014 at 04:16 pm
i'm just joshin' ya dude that probably will never read this - high five, bud.
W. K. Lis / June 20, 2014 at 04:35 pm
Rail-fan window. Missing on the Toronto Rocket.
FromMontrealWithLove / June 20, 2014 at 04:53 pm
I remember these trains when I just moved from Montreal to Toronto 4 years ago and I remember this was my first metro ride on the H6 trains... So cosy and nice aura inside the train, something rustic about them. I will miss these trains...
Torontorocks / June 20, 2014 at 04:54 pm
I have fond memories riding this train with my grams back when I was a kid ( you can now go ahead and guess my age haha ). I like the new trains, but there's definitely a different feel to the old ones.

Now how long before someone buys one and turns it into a restaurant ? Takers ???
Captain Awesome replying to a comment from moeburn / June 20, 2014 at 05:05 pm
These used to have orange vinyl seats (single seats, not the benches) but they switched them to the red ones sometime in the mid-2000s, they rebuilt them then intending to keep them much longer than they actually did (apparently because they couldn't retrofit the T1 trains for automatic control, so they loaded up on the new "rockets" to run the entire line with them and ended up retiring older vehicles early.
Jack Fuller / June 20, 2014 at 05:15 pm
Interesting that the H6's are being retired afyer "only" 28 years. The oldest BART cars are now 42 years old - altho there were rebuilt once. "Taking a lickin' and keeping on tickin'", like a Timex watch.
Glenn C / June 20, 2014 at 05:25 pm
I'm going to miss the chimes on the H series trains, and that distinctive buzz the trains made when accelerating and decelerating into stations. They are still rather young trains as someone else rightly mentioned. Thank you to the H6's for your service. Gone too soon though.
Marisa replying to a comment from Glenn C / June 20, 2014 at 05:36 pm
That is exactly what I'll miss the most too! There was just something comforting about the distinctive buzz and I'm glad to know it wasn't just me who felt that way!

Farewell H train!
John Doe / June 20, 2014 at 06:06 pm
Goodbye old friends! Will always remember the better days as a kid riding you to and from downtown!
John Doe replying to a comment from Jack Fuller / June 20, 2014 at 06:07 pm
The H4s and H5s managed to last to cca. 35-36 years of service. The problem with the H6s is that they were pretty bad when they entered service and never got much better.
John Doe replying to a comment from Crater / June 20, 2014 at 06:08 pm
Thank you for your enlightened comment. I'm sure you are much better than any of these so called "foamers".

Huy / June 20, 2014 at 06:59 pm
J_Bastard / June 20, 2014 at 08:49 pm
Driving H6s was odd. Unlike H5s, you had to drop them to Coast to downshift from full Parallel power to Series or else it would stay in Parallel. Always thought that was a design flaw.
Wychwood / June 20, 2014 at 09:01 pm
Crown jewel, lol.
Bobsyuruncle / June 20, 2014 at 10:10 pm
Ah, the single seat. Coveted by every bed bug ridden, lice infested bag bum! Hey, we all love the throne but who had it before you? I prefer to stand!
Dave replying to a comment from SingleFan69 / June 21, 2014 at 02:12 am
Are you blind?
AMG / June 21, 2014 at 09:50 am
Shoot. Our kid just asked me this morning if we could go to the subway and try to find an H6 to ride. He's sad they are gone.
Jeff replying to a comment from moeburn / June 21, 2014 at 10:38 am
The red seat covers were added during the mid 90's I believe. It was part of the mid-life rehab of the subway cars.
Freddy F / June 22, 2014 at 02:17 am
The red seats on the H6's were retrofitted when the cars were rebuilt in the mid-2000's. The H5's had them retrofitted earlier.
H5 replying to a comment from Zlatko / June 22, 2014 at 07:25 pm
The first subways with A/C are the H5's which retired a year before the H6's. When you got on at Dundas you must have gotten an H5, as the H6's only ran on the Bloor line.
H5 replying to a comment from Zlatko / June 22, 2014 at 07:26 pm
Sorry, just noticed that you said Dundas West not Dundas.
Spike / June 23, 2014 at 07:13 am
I wanted to ride these one last time...(sob)
Alex (Toronto) / June 30, 2014 at 07:50 pm
With the retirement of the TTC's H6 model series subway cars on June 20, 2014, we now only have the Bombardier T1 (red interior ones), the brand new Bombardier T35A08 "Toronto Rocket" subway trains, as well as the Scarborough RT trains.
Alex (Toronto) / July 8, 2014 at 05:24 pm
The H6 trains (the ones with orange doors) never operated on the Yonge-University-Spadina line, though they had another version of the Hawker trains, known as the H5's (the ones with yellow doors) which were retired in 2013.
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