Weston Corridor Meetings Start Tonight

Metrolinx and GO begin their series of open houses for the expansion of tracks and service in the Weston corridor tonight.  Politically, this project has moved from a concern just in the town of Weston to a growing controversy along the line as neighbourhoods learn of the potential impact on them.

Among the issues are:

  • How many tracks are required to handle the planned service
  • To what degree does the proposed Air Rail link (Blue 22) affect track layouts
  • What pollution will be caused by a high level of diesel-hauled trains in the corridor
  • Why isn’t the line being electrified, and what effect would this have on track and equipment needs
  • What is the effect of increased service on existing grade crossings in Weston and at Strachan Avenue

GO Transit fought a long battle with the Weston Community Coalition over issues in their neighbourhood during an earlier GO-managed study of the line.  GO used the term “NIMBY” in an attempt to marginalize this opposition, and that term crept into recent provincial announcements about the need for an enhanced (read less vulnerable to opposition) transit environmental assessment process.  Sadly GO and their new partner, Metrolinx, do not seem to have learned much about meaningful public participation, but now face opposition from other neighbourhoods and possibly from the City of Toronto itself.

The open house schedule is available at the project website.

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14 Responses to Weston Corridor Meetings Start Tonight

  1. Tom West says:

    Has anyone added up the annual fuel bills for running diesels trains at the proposed level of service? I bet electrification could pay for itself within five to ten years.

    I suspect the real reason is a desire to use ancient diesel railcars, rather than go through hassle of getting safety approval for modern (and safer) EMUs, which would also cost a bit more to buy. (Though I suspect manufacturers would tender on the basis of extending a current order, keeping costs down).

  2. Robert Wightman says:

    I found a couple of costs for the UK. The first in Wales is for double track while the last is pr km of line.

    Business News 1 April 2009

    “ELECTRIFICATION of the entire Swansea-to-London route is crucial to support Wales’ economic needs of the next 25 years, according to a report from a leading think-tank.

    “Prof Cole told the Western Mail that it was hard to quantify the amount of money it would take to implement the report’s recommendations. Electrification of a rail line costs between £1m to £2m per kilometre, according to differing estimates, meaning the electrification of the line in South Wales could cost between £120m and £200m.”

    From the Railway 15 April, 2009

    “The cost of electrification per single track km is in the order of £550K to £650K. Work published last year by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) and commissioned from Atkins indicates positive Benefit Cost Ratios for full electrification on the Great Western Main Line from Maidenhead (to be electrified as part of Crossrail); to Oxford, Bristol and Swansea. A positive Benefit Cost Ratio also exists for electrification from Bedford to Nottingham and Sheffield.”

    At the moment 1 pound is worth about $1.81 Canadian so the cost per track km is between $1 million and $1.2 million The Georgetown line is 4 track for about 17 mile then triple tracked for the next 12 miles the cost for it is between$160 and 180 million. I also only did a maximum of 8 tracks but there are up to 6 for the first few miles. The lakeshore line has 40 miles to Hamilton and 31 miles to Oshawa and assuming three tracks for half and two for the rest the coast is $285 to $340 million for a total of the three big lines of $445 to $520 million dollars. Since electricity is going to increase in cost at least as fast as diesel for the next few years the savings will not come from fuel but from the fact that the operating times will be reduced thus saving in the number of cars required. The Deux-Montagnes line reduced running time from 55 to 35 minutes. A 25 to 30% reduction in running times would be great for passengers and save a lot on equipment costs. The outer ends of the line beyond Mt. Pleasant, Aldershot/Hamilton and Oshawa would probably not be electrified. If they were run as express on the electrified portion the question is would they use diesel locomotives or dual power diesel/electric at 25 000VAC. Bombardier is building 26 locomotives for NJ transit and 20 AMT, Montreal for use in the Deux Montagnes line. The cost of these Locomotives is $12.5 million USD or just over $15 million Canadian. This is quiet expensive to get the benefit of “cheap” electric power. I suspect that the outlying express trains would stay as straight diesel.

    I have been trying to find out GO’s costs for diesel fuel but have gotten no where. Since highway diesel fuel is about $0.80 per litre I assume with the removal of taxes (is this a rationale assumption?) that the cost would be about $0.60 per litre. Go uses about 50 million litres per year (2008) so its cost would be between $30 and $40 million. The cost of electrification, $400 milion would pay for 10 years of diesel fuel at today’s prices without factoring in the cost of electricity. We need a lot more information.

  3. scanner says:

    Expensive, but probably necessary. Do it now when we have time to plan, or do it later in a rush because diesel is $8 a litre or more. Or do you believe the oil fairy will find endless oil? Don’t forget that electrified locomotives are more efficient than diesel/electric and using even fosil fuel to provide the power is more efficient than burning diesel at the locomotive. If we ever to get high speed rail from Montreal to Toronto, the electrification needs to start somewhere. Look at what Bombardier is doing in Sweden:

    http://www.bombardier.com/en/transportation/media-centre/press-releases/details?docID=0901260d8003bb31

    On regular rail, not specially laid track and roadbed. Part of the Obama Administration’s high speed rail plan includes a line from Detroit to Madison Wisconsin, through Chicago. It will be electrified. New York has been electrified since the turn of the 20th Century. Another part of the high speed corridor ends starts in NYC and ends in Buffalo. Hello? Are we listening?

  4. scottd says:

    Tony Ruprecht are you listening?

  5. Robert Wightman says:

    One thing that you have to remember with electricity costs are that commercial users pay for two quantities.

    1 The amount of energy used.

    2 The peak demand load.

    The latter is as much as or more than the first. The reason for the peaking charges is that the utility has to provide generation and transmission capacity for the peak load even though it is only used for a couple of hours a day. There are industries that use large amounts of electricity but not in peak times. If they agree to let Hydro turn them off when demand is high then they get a really good price because they are smoothing out the load and not increasing the peak demand. GO had a big fight with Ontario Hydro in the late 60′s over standby power costs because Hydro was charging GO for peak usage which was between 1:00 am and 5:00 am which was the low demand time. All GO’s trains were running and being powered by the Locomotive.

    I do not believe in the Oil Fairy but I do believe that we have to spend our limited financial resources wisely. I do not think that electric locomotives are more efficient than diesels if you take the power input to the generator and the power output of the locomotive because you have the extra losses in the transmission lines. It is probably true if you measure the power inputs and outputs at the locomotive. You have to ask where all of this extra electric energy is going to come from. If another Niagara Falls were to appear in Southern Ontario then it would work, hydro electric power is quite cheap. If you are using oil or gas fired generators then it is probably a toss up versus diesel locomotives. Nuclear generation has all sorts of extra costs that have materialized after the construction of the reactors.

    I agree that the lines should be electrified but for the right reasons and it is not for cost savings in fuel. It is for cost savings in more efficient operation of trains. They will accelerate and brake more quickly which will reduce equipment and operating costs and with the use of regenerative breaking, if it is possible with high voltage AC, would reduce power costs. It still uses less fuel and creates fewer pollutants for 1 diesel powered go train to carry 2000 people than it is for 1700 cars to carry them. I am all in favour of electrification for the right reasons but people are ignoring the cost of the extra electrical energy that will be required. We do not have an infinite supply of it either and it will also get more costly. Decision need to be made for rational reasons and not because it is happening in Europe where the population densities and economic factors are very different.

    To electrify the Toronto Montreal main line would coat as an order or magnitude guess 1 billion dollars. Since the trains do not do much stopping there would be no benefit from regenerative breaking. To para phrase that great Canadian Politician and talker to the spirit, “electrification if necessary but not necessarily electrification.”

  6. Robert Wightman says:

    I just came back from the Georgetown South Service Expansion meeting in Brampton. One of the unnamed Metrolinx people or consultants said the numbers that he heard kicked around was that the total cost to electrify the Lakeshore line was $3 BILLION and $1 BILLION for Georgetown. He assumed that this included new equipment and an improved signalling system to allow for closer head ways and faster operation. This is a LOT of money.

    I also saw the service levels for the line and it will have over 480 trains per day. This is 20 per hour if you space them out. If you figure one third in the peak 2 hours this is 80 trains per hour in the peak. I would not want to try to use a level crossing.

    REALLY interesting and totally UNSUBSTANTIATED rumour: An unidentified source who has been correct so far say that in 5 years GO will buy the ex CP tracks from Brampton to Orangeville and run a connecting rail service. There is a piece of property in the north west quadrant of the rail junction that is a self storage area that GO would also buy. They would use this for parking and to store the RDC’s which would run the service from Brampton to Orangeville. They would also use part of it to swing the curve out to lessen the radius of the turn. It sounds far fetched to me but he has been right out every other wild prediction. The diamond and the track south to Streetsville would be removed and the OBRY would interchange with the CN.

  7. James says:

    The unsubstantiated rumour sounds great, in so far as service to Orangeville goes.

    But I would be very disappointed with ripping out the track to Streetsville.

    It seems to me, that there are increasingly serious discussions about re-laying tracks torn up, all over Southern Ontario.

    Discussions are afoot on track to Collingwood being re-layed; I linked one article on the subject in another thread.

    Many other re-laying or upgrading projects are at various stages of open discussion, study, and rumour. These include rails to and through Peterborough being re-built; there are also discussions of new track (first a rebuild) to Uxbridge on the Stouffville line, but then possibly all the way to Lindsay (though not for commuter service!)

    Although I doubt it will happen, the issue is even being raised of re-laying the track from Barrie to Orillia.

    Why in heaven’s name would want to spend money tearing any more of it up?

    Someone else will spend good public money re-laying it all a decade later.

    Many people on this forum have commented on [how] useful the Leaside Spur would be if only it hadn’t been torn up. It would be a shame to repeat that mistake!

  8. Robert Wightman says:

    James Says:
    April 17th, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    “But I would be very disappointed with ripping out the track to Streetsville.

    “Why in heaven’s name would want to spend money tearing any more of it up?”

    The reason is to eliminate the diamonds at Brampton. There is not now and has not been for many years any industry north of mile 2 until way north of Brampton that would make use of the line. Its right of way is not situated for it to make a useful passenger corridor as it is slow, winding and goes through mainly unpopulated areas. The benefits from removing this line out weigh the benefits of keeping it. It gets one round trip Tuesday and Friday involving 7 to 10 cars. The interchange would we more efficient at Peel or Malport and would eliminate the problems with the diamond.

  9. Drew T says:

    Interesting rumor. I was aware of plans to remove the diamond & tracks south to Streetsville but not of GO’s intent to purchase the subdivision, although it doesn’t surprise me. What does surprise me is the mention of having RDC’s provide the service. I can understand that ridership from Orangeville may not be so high as to demand a full-fledged 10 car GO train. But the line does pass through the northern part of Brampton where one or two stop can be easily accommodated and the ridership would be quite high.

    The rail lines to both Collingood & Uxbridge have not been torn out, they are still in place, albeit it in bad shape. Short lines run on both, an industrial switcher to Collingwood & a tourist line to Uxbridge. GO will purchase the extension to Uxbridge and extend service to that city in a few years’ time. The tracks to Lindsay have been removed but potential ridership demands from Lindsay would probably never justify the cost of running a GO train to that city, GO buses should suffice.

    Tracks do extend to Peterborough and are owned by CP. Industries in the city are serviced by the KLR (an internal short-line of CP). The line does not go much father ending in Havelock.

    The line used to go as far as Perth but CP removed the track in an effort to cut their operating ratio. At the time CP felt that the Belleville sub would be sufficient for freight volume levels between Toronto & Montreal. They were of course short sighted as before the current recession the single track Belleville sub was heavily congested.

    The track is currently in bad shape as CP only allocates enough funds to prevent the line from falling into complete disuse. The maximum speed along the line is 30mph. They have no interest in spending any significant amounts of money to upgrade the track to a level that would support passenger service, thus the government has to step in and do so.

    Unfortunately the tracks from Barrie to Orillia can never be re-laid at least not along the original route as many parts of the former corridor have been purchased and real estate developments have been built upon them.

  10. Robert Wightman says:

    Drew T Says:
    April 19th, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    “The rail lines to both Collingood & Uxbridge have not been torn out, they are still in place, albeit it in bad shape. Short lines run on both, an industrial switcher to Collingwood & a tourist line to Uxbridge. GO will purchase the extension to Uxbridge and extend service to that city in a few years’ time. The tracks to Lindsay have been removed but potential ridership demands from Lindsay would probably never justify the cost of running a GO train to that city, GO buses should suffice.”

    I believe that GO owns the line to Uxbridge and rents it to the Durham And York Railway for their tourist operation. This keeps the line in operation so people can’t complain that they did not know that trains were going to run on the line. GO plans to put stops in at Goodwood and Uxbridge.

  11. Drew T says:

    That does make complete sense. GO purchased the subdivsion from CN a while back, it wouldn’t make sense for them to sell a portion of it only to buy that back later. The Durham & York Railway is a not for profit, voluntary run service. Clearly they have neither the means nor the need to own the line, should of realized this before.

    I was not aware of plans for a GO station in Goodwood. Its not exactly a large city or even a large community. But the line does run right through it.

    I wonder if GO is going to build a new layover station in Uxbridge. The Lincolnville layover yards is almost 10 miles/16 km away from Uxbridge. That’s further away than Guelph Jct. was from the Milton GO station (7.5 miles).

    Then again there are no conflicting freight train movements on the Uxbridge sub and the current layover facility cost over 5 million to build, from what I’ve heard. Thus more than likely GO trains will depart Lincolnville as an equipment train to Uxbridge.

  12. Robert Wightman says:

    Drew T Says:
    April 19th, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    “That does make complete sense. GO purchased the subdivsion from CN a while back, it wouldn’t make sense for them to sell a portion of it only to buy that back later. The Durham & York Railway is a not for profit, voluntary run service. Clearly they have neither the means nor the need to own the line, should of realized this before.”

    By letting them use the line GO keeps the fact that the line is operational in the public eye.

    “I was not aware of plans for a GO station in Goodwood. Its not exactly a large city or even a large community. But the line does run right through it.”

    It is in one of their documents that I down loaded from the internet

    “I wonder if GO is going to build a new layover station in Uxbridge. The Lincolnville layover yards is almost 10 miles/16 km away from Uxbridge. That’s further away than Guelph Jct. was from the Milton GO station (7.5 miles).

    “Then again there are no conflicting freight train movements on the Uxbridge sub and the current layover facility cost over 5 million to build, from what I’ve heard. Thus more than likely GO trains will depart Lincolnville as an equipment train to Uxbridge.”

    I too believe that they will keep the existing yard. It has more tracks than they need at the moment; though half of the tracks are unusable because the platform is on the side of the train away from the exit and there is no way for the passengers to leave as there is no tunnel. There is also no place to put a storage yard in Uxbridge as the track ends in the town.

  13. Drew T says:

    “By letting them use the line GO keeps the fact that the line is operational in the public eye.”

    Interesting to see that GO actually had the foresight to do so in this case.

    Lincolnville GO station in its current form is only a temporary measure as once the trains start departing from Uxbridge a new full-length platform will have to be constructed along the mainline. It would make no sense to have the trains re-enter the yard to drop off passengers. Hence why GO only did the minimum in making Lincolnville a functional GO station (currently there is no connection to the mainline from the north end of the yard though I do believe that one will be constructed in the future so that the trains can depart directly to Uxbridge rather than back out through the south end first).

    My apologies to Steve for taking the conversation off topic.

  14. Mark Earley says:

    The most troubling aspect of these plans to me is why have two trains (GO and Airport) when one will serve all the objectives better. GO’s planned frequent all day Brampton (and maybe beyond) service does not require huge 10 and 12 car trains; instead they could make up some short 3 or 4 car trains with an existing 3000 hp locomotive providing fast acceleration and calling at the airport along with other stops including interchange with other GO services, streetcars and busses at Bloor. The lower level of GO bi-level cars are ideal for luggage bound air travelers, requiring only some luggage racks and maybe screens to announce what Toronto offers.

    Such a proposal would require a ‘through’ station at the airport, with double track access from both the south and the north, and provision for eventual 4 platforms long enough for at least an 8 car train. GO’s rush hour trains would bypass the airport. To offset increased airport infrastructure costs, considerable savings are likely elsewhere since the 4 tracks north of the CP grade separation would not be necessary; it would also almost halve the number of trains, save fuel, pollute less, and make less noise and make a lot of people happier.

    Consider too the potential route options as GO moves to frequent all day service on many routes: extend the Brampton (and Airport) service alternately to Guelph/Kitchener and (via CN freight line) Burlington/Hamilton; extend the same service the other side of Union to provide hourly airport service to Oshawa, Markham and Richmond Hill. Look too at the possibilities also for VIA Airport services, London, Windsor, Niagara Falls, Kingston, Belleville and even Ottawa.

    Look around the world, increasingly the airport is a stop (albeit an important one) on an ‘integrated’ transport network. To operate a separate service and disallow GO from serving an important stop, seems solely intended to protect someone’s profit derived from a likely $30 fare. To allow a private contractor to install infrastructure that serves its interests and not the taxpayers, and which will require major change to facilitate ‘integrated’ services later is irresponsible. Where is the vision?

    Steve: The “vision” consists of throwing a contract to a well-connected private company rather than letting GO do the work in the first place. As for a through service at the airport, the connection is designed for access ONLY from the southeast. There is no way for a train to continue to the northwest, or to enter from that direction, and the track layout would make it difficult to operate all service, even off peak, via the airport bothways.

    By the way, a lot of the infrastructure is being installed with public money. I wouldn’t mind PPPs so much if they did not rest on the need for massive hidden public subsidies.

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