Metrolinx Announces Weston Corridor Airport/GO Study (Updated)

Metrolinx has launched a study of substantially increased rail capacity in the Weston Malton corridor to serve the growing demand on several lines in the northwest as well as a Union-Airport shuttle service.

Affected and proposed GO services include:

  • Brampton (frequent, express all day service)
  • Georgetown (all day service)
  • Guelph (peak service)
  • Bradford (all day service)
  • Bolton (peak service) 

For further information please refer to the Metrolinx project homepage.  There will be six public meetings between February 3 and 12 in various communities.

Worth noting is the timetable which includes several months of consultation, then the formal assessment of the proposal and public comment.

Updated January 24:

Mike Sullivan from the Weston Community Coalition has provided the following information about proposal.

  • From a meeting with Metrolinx Chair Rob MacIsaac, Mike has learned that three tracks are to be added between West Toronto Junction and the Airport, four tracks from the Junction to Union.
  • The tracks on the CN only (not the CP) will be in a trench through Weston, and this will be covered (ventillation will obviously be an issue with diesel trains) from just northwest of Church to just southeast of King.
  • The John Street crossing just north of Weston Station will be closed and replaced with a pedestrian bridge.
  • Air-Rail Link trains will stop at Weston Station.
  • The crossings at Strachan Avenue (west of Bathurst) and Dennison Avenue (about .5 km south of Lawrence) will be grade separated.
  • Operations will be diesel both on GO and the Air-Rail Link.  Electrification might happen in the 15-25 year timeframe.  [By that time, the refurbished Budd cars providing the airport link will be at least 70 years old if they are still in use.]
  • Some land expropriation is likely both for the grade separation at Dennison and at the north end of Weston.
  • Service to Brampton will be every 15 minutes all day long in addition to the airport service and other trains in the corridor.

Union Station: Updated Plans and West Wing Sale to GO (Update 1)

Updated January 24:  A video showing the proposed new layout of the eastern GO Concourse is available on the City of Toronto’s Union Station site.

The virtual tour starts  looking down into the moat from Front Street at the east end of the bridge linking the sidewalk to the station building.  Note that the moat is at a lower level than today and provides a direct path with no stairs between the subway mezzanine and the new lower level of Union Station.  Although the moat is shown with no cover in this video, there will be a transparent cover over this area to protect from weather and to prevent water and snow buildup in the crossing.  Also, the number of entrances through the north wall of the station will be greater than today to handle the large pedestrian volumes between the subway and the railway station.

The tour “flies in” through the north doors to the new concourse level.  This is in the same space as the existing GO concourse, but at a lower elevation giving a very high space for this entrance area.  The point of view pans west toward the centre block of the building.  Although it is not immediately obvious, there will be a stair up to the concourse under the great hall.  There is already a change in elevation at this location, but it will be greater because the east concourse will now be lower.  There will also be a connection into the Via Arrivals level.

The tour pans back and looks toward the east wall where you can see a stairway up to the east teamway.  This is roughly where the exit to the teamway south of Front is located today.

Next, the tour flies south to the escalators up to the new GO concourse level.  In the video, all six of the escalators are running “up”, but in practice this would be adjusted depending on flow conditions.  At this point you can see the diagonal undersides of some of the connections up to track level.  This design gives more open space than a simple box with a stairway inside it.

After we fly up the escalators, the view shifts to look back to the north and eventually comes back to the north end of the concourse.  The layout, with the escalators a considerable distance south of the subway connection, is designed to spread out the pedestrian flows.  In the original design, this connection was further north and the pedestrian modelling revealed that there would be congestion problems.  My shifting the escalator south, GO passengers enter the concourse in roughly the middle of the space rather than at one end, and travellers waiting for trains on this level don’t block people trying to continue further south.  Schedule and departure information screens are provided throughout the concourse to avoid congestion problems with many people clustering around few screens.

Finally, the tour looks down into the lower concourse from north to south, toward the bank of escalators.

The original post follows the break below. Continue reading

Metrolinx Fare & Service Integration (Update 3)

Thanks to an oversight on the security on the Metrolinx website, it was possible to view a report that was pulled from the agenda for this Friday’s meeting.  (Thanks to one of my regular correspondents for spotting this.)

The report talks about integration of services between the TTC and other systems as well as a Metrolinx-GTAH pass.  Because the report has been withdrawn it cannot be considered to be an authoritative Metrolinx statement, but it’s indicative of Metrolinx’ ham-fisted attitude to local systems including the TTC.

Updated:  Comments on the report added.

Update 2:  Tess Kalinowski writes about this issue in The Star.

Update 3:  For the convenience of readers, the report which was pulled from the Metrolinx site is now available here.

John Barber’s scathing commentary on this report is online at the Globe and Mail.

This report proposes that Metrolinx embark on a takeover of fare integration and service co-ordination for cross-boundary operations.  To that end, Queen’s Park would be asked to implement the necessary legislation to remove jurisdictional obstacles and to proclaim the section of the GTTA act empowering Metrolinx to implement a Farecard Division.  The target for full GTAH-wide fare integration would be 2012.

Notable in many discussions of fare and service integration is the absence of GO Transit, even though the GTTA Act includes GO as part of a future integrated system.  Nobody wants to mess with GO’s revenue stream, or to contribute “local” demand to what is seen as a regional service.  Strangely, the same approach is not taken with respect to the TTC (see the Richmond Hill subway debate).

The report notes that between 1996 and 2006, transit trips to downtown Toronto from the 905 have increased while auto trips decreased.  I venture that the vast majority of this effect is thanks to GO rail services, not to cross-boundary bus routes. Continue reading