Fire on subway tracks stops trains for hours, leading to commute chaos

Sannah Choi/CBC

When Stephanie Valadere left home on Monday morning, she expected to spend her usual 35 minutes commuting to school near Kipling Station. 

The trip ended up taking three and a half hours. 

Valadere was one of thousands of Torontonians who struggled to get to school or work this morning after a small fire on the tracks near Dundas West Station shut down a portion of Line 2 for hours. 

The result was crowded platforms and sidewalks as people tried to summon ride-shares and cram into shuttle buses. 

The shutdown came on a difficult day, with roads, sidewalks and transit routes icy and snow-covered across the Greater Toronto Area from Sunday's storm. 

In addition to the west-end subway shutdown — and another, later shutdown on Line 2 east of St. George — there were dozens of collisions in the region. 

Commuters escorted through tunnel after fire 

Valadere was riding westbound towards Dundas West station before 7 a.m. when the train was stopped due to the fire, which the TTC says was caused by damage to cabling that impacted the third rail and the cover that runs on top of it. 

The passengers were then escorted out of the train and into the tunnel, backtracking about 10 minutes on foot to get to Lansdowne station. 

Above ground, huge crowds formed to try and get on board shuttle buses — and the price of ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft surged to four times their usual cost.  

"I could hear people calling into work and letting them know they were going to be late," said Valadere. 

Still, she credits the TTC for keeping them informed, saying staff handled it "really well." 

Stuart Green, a spokesperson for the TTC, tweeted an apology after trains began running again at about 9:45 a.m. 

"This is the second time in a month we've had an issue possibly related to the age of Line 2. That's why our CEO previously ordered an infrastructure review of the line," he wrote. 

Stuart also apologized for a fire at Chester Station, which led to a brief shutdown on Line 2 between St. George and Woodbine stations and which was caused by debris either falling or being thrown on the tracks. 

He said there was also a "significant" disruption on the 504B streetcar route. 

Snow leads to collisions, cancelled school buses

The morning commute didn't treat drivers much better, with slow-moving highways and dozens of collisions. There were also school bus cancellations in Halton and Durham. 

"We've got snow covering the lanes, the ramps, the shoulders," said OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt early on Monday morning. "The highway itself is very slippery. We're dealing with dozens of collisions." 

Snow continued to fall through Monday morning, compounding the issues created by Sunday's mix of ice pellets and freezing rain. 

In all, Schmidt said there were 500 crashes in the GTA in the 24 hours between Sunday and Monday morning.