Thursday, June 28, 2007

Streetcars' `wheel squeal' driving reader to despair - Toronto Star

Streetcars' `wheel squeal' driving reader to despair
June 28, 2007
Jack Lakey
Staff Reporter

Kimberly Tiessen is being driven around the bend by the ceaseless screeching of streetcars that have reached the end of the line.

Tiessen lives near the TTC's streetcar turnaround loop at the east end of the Queen St. route, at the corner of Neville Park Blvd. Eastbound streetcars turn south and wind their way around the curved track before heading west.

As long as streetcars are on straight track, their steel wheels don't make much sound.

But when they travel curved track, such as a loop, the surface of the wheel moves across the track at an angle, creating friction, while the part that extends over the side of the rail also rubs against it.

The result is a loud squealing sound, which has long been a source of annoyance for people who live near loops or curved track.

For decades, the TTC used a system that squirted water onto the tracks, which serves as a lubricant to reduce the sound, but it doesn't work in cold weather.

Other things have been tried that have reduced the squealing, but not eliminated it.

Tiessen sent us a highly descriptive email about how the noise from the Neville Park loop is driving her nuts. And with 24-hour streetcar service on Queen, it never ends.

"For the love of my sanity, sleep and overall well-being, will somebody please, please help with the streetcar screeching!"

Every time a streetcar enters the loop, she describes it as "11 seconds straight of that God-awful, fingers down a chalkboard, eye-piercing screech.

This isn't once a night, it's ALL night and day long.

"Eleven seconds may not seem like a long time, but close your eyes, imagine the quiet and stillness of the night, and count to 11. Imagine, all night, every few minutes, all you hear is screeching!

For the love of Pete, can't the TTC do something here?

"This is really driving me crazy. I beg of you, help stop the noise!"


STATUS: Jim Teeple, who's in charge of streetcar track issues for the TTC, said a state-of-the-art system for reducing "wheel squeal," as they call it, is already in place at the Neville Park loop. It applies a coating of Teflon to the tracks, but due to the angle of curvature, it cannot entirely eliminate the screech. For now, it's the best they can do, he said.
Welcome to the city. There are noises in the city. There's always houses in the suburbs. I would gladly swap houses with you.

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