Saying Goodbye to the H4 Subway Cars
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Saying Goodbye to the H4 Subway Cars

The last of the H4 trains—comfy orange seats, but no air conditioning—took its final run this morning.


This morning, the last of the TTC’s oldest subway cars, a series known to transit folks and to the fans as “H4,” made their last trip. Riders on the Bloor-Danforth line will remember them as the only cars that still had padded seats, and the best hope for “air conditioning” were the ceiling fans that might pull in cooler air from the tunnels.

The H4 fleet entered service in 1974–75, making it a very long-lived batch of cars. They were an add-on to a previous order a few years earlier, but with minor differences such as revised seating to make wider aisles. This was also the last set of subway cars before the TTC changed over to solid state controls, an energy saving but initially cantankerous technology in the H5 series, bought for the Spadina subway in 1976.

The 1970s was an era of subway expansion. The fleet grew quickly to serve extensions and to handle growing demand. Though the new H4s hit the rails in the mid-’70s, retirement of the original red “Gloucester” cars didn’t come until the late 1980s. (Transit Toronto has a helpful rundown of the different subway cars the TTC has used over the years.)

With the arrival of the new “Toronto Rockets,” cars purchased back in the 1970s and 1980s will gradually disappear, and our subway will lose the distinctive look of a few generations of trains.

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