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Commuters return to their regular routines Monday morning on the Toronto subway. Most workers in the city were expected back at work for the first time since the blackout last Thursday and the transit system was ready to take them there.

Darryl James/ The Globe and Mail/Darryl James/ The Globe and Mail

Christmas Day travellers in Toronto faced service-wide delays on the subway system for more than five hours Sunday.

A glitch in the transit computer system created signal problems, according to the Toronto Transit Commission, which resulted in riders waiting 20 minutes and longer on all three subway lines.

"Delays happen, unfortunately. Some are beyond our control but something of this length is quite rare so we're going to have a really close look," said spokesman Mike DeToma. The height of the problem was between noon and 5 p.m., he said, noting the cause of the glitch still hadn't been determined Sunday evening.

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At one point, trains were turning back early on one subway line and shuttle buses were being used. Overnight, after the subway had shut down, technicians were due to look through the system to find out what happened.

Mr. DeToma said the TTC is hoping the problem will be corrected before Monday morning, when Boxing Day shoppers and other commuters will be filling the system.

He said holiday staffing wasn't the reason the problem went on for so long. But the delays falling on Christmas Day did mean fewer commuters were affected.

"The numbers today on the system would be far less than they would normally be," he said. "But unfortunately it did affect a lot of our riders today."

An exact number of affected riders was unknown but there are typically more than 1.5 million riders on a business day.

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