GO Transit’s Relief Line: The 1986 Study

This post continues a series looking at old proposals for ways to get commuters into downtown Toronto.  This isn’t a new problem, and as we have already seen, the TTC and Metro Planning were contemplating various alternatives four decades ago.

In response to the proposed Downtown Relief Line and other subway schemes, GO Transit commissioned a study of the possibilities for GO Rail service.  This study recommended frequent, all-day service between Halwest (the point where the York Subdivision, CN’s Toronto bypass, meets the line to Brampton) to Doncaster (the point where the CN Bala Subdivision, used by the Richmond Hill train, crosses the York Sub).

As is quite evident from any GO timetable, this didn’t get built.  One reason was that interest in the DRL waned as the political dynamic and planning focus turned away from downtown to the so-called “centres” that would grow within Toronto’s suburbs.  Travel into downtown continued to grow, and the GO Lake Shore service handled much of the transit-based increase.

A few points worth noting:

  • The option of using the connecting track from the CN to the CP between Oriole and Leaside was considered to be the superior route, although it had its problems including a potential conflict with the proposed Leslie Street extension.
  • For reasons that are not explained, the equipment cost for the most limited of services is higher than for all-day service.  In general, I would treat the cost estimates with some suspicion because (a) they are two decades old and (b) ancilliary costs such as connections to the TTC at Dundas West don’t appear to be included.
  • The inclusion of a cost comparison between subway and GO construction was clearly intended to plump for GO as the much cheaper alternative.  However, the study does not address the variation in origins and destinations that requires both local and express services in any corridor as discussed here previously.
  • There are no demand projections, only a feasibility study of what service could be operated.

Richmond Hill Georgetown Study June 1986

Figure II: Richmond Hill Line

Figure III: Georgetown Line