Hundreds of passengers were stranded on a flooded GO Transit train for nearly seven hours after heavy rains dumped a record level of rainfall on the city Monday evening.
Rescue efforts began around 9:30 p.m. and continued until just before 1 a.m. Tuesday when the last passengers were ferried by police marine units to dry land.
“It was a lengthy process, there’s no doubt about it but it was the safe thing to do,” said Toronto police inspector Tim Crone. “To do it any quicker would have been to put safety in jeopardy and that’s just not acceptable.”
Close to 100 of members from Toronto Fire Services, Toronto police marine and ground units, paramedics, Go Transit and Peel Regional Police officers were all on site to assist with the rescue. There were a small number of minor injuries, officials said, but all were minor and treated on site.
GO Transit manager of transit safety, Steve Harvey, estimated 1,400 passengers were trapped on board with no power, food or water for nearly seven hours. He said safety inspections will occur before the train can be moved.
The train was headed from Union Station to Richmond Hill but was stopped around 5:45 p.m. Monday evening near the Don Valley Parkway and Pottery Road. Waters washed out the tracks and quickly rose to engulf the first levels of many of the cars, passengers on board said. Passengers were crammed on to the upper levels as water rose several feet into the second level.
Rescuers transferred passengers 20 at a time to dry land via police rescue boats—two dinghies and two smaller, canoe-like vessels.
Once safely evacuated, passengers were transferred to GO buses to complete their route to Richmond Hill, though many were picked up by family members who had waited nearby for their safe evacuation.