Council Calls for Relief Line Study

Wednesday saw a long debate at Toronto Council on the Yonge Subway Richmond Hill extension.  As I write this (January 29, just after midnight), I do not have all of the details of Council’s final decision.

However, this much I know:

  • Council has requested a study of the Downtown Relief Line.
  • Some Councillors used the debate as a springboard for attacks on the TTC’s project management costs and proposals for private sector participation.
  • Council agreed that Transit City is the top priority for transit spending.

I find myself in the unusual position of being part of a wave of advocacy for the DRL, a line that will almost certainly be a conventional subway.  If this seems odd, my reasoning is that we must look at how the network operates as a whole.  The core of the network needs more capacity, and jamming more people into the existing Yonge line (getting more out of existing infrastructure as the TTC so delicately puts it) is irresponsible and possibly reckless.

If the studies that really need to be done emerge, we will look at both TTC and Metrolinx plans, and question what will work best for the core area, the outer 416 and the 905.  Both agencies have much to answer for in their shortsighted, misleading planning and their inadequate evaluation of alternatives to network structure and staging.

As details emerge, I will add to the information here.

44 thoughts on “Council Calls for Relief Line Study

  1. Karl Junkin Says:
    “People need to stop thinking that the DRL can be on the surface along the CN Kingston sub… not practical.”

    Why wouldn’t it be practical? Isn’t there enough space in the railway corridor? Or is because the railway corridor meets major north-south streets in residential areas and potential subway station alignments wouldn’t be optimal? Is DRL West on surface of railway corridor practical?

    The railway corridor from DVP to Queen to just east of Carlaw Avenue has 4 sets of tracks. How many does CN need for the current GO trains, CN trains and VIA trains? I mean, couldn’t they share one eastbound track and one westbound track and thus leave the other two sets of tracks to be converted to subway train tracks which will have much more frequent usage. I know it’s owned by CN and City can’t take/buy their land because they’re CN.

    From just east of Carlaw Avenue to Coxwell Avenue the railway corridor is 3 sets of track, but at the railway bridge over Greenwood Avenue it has 4 sets of tracks, one leading into the TTC Greenwood subway yard. The Jones Avenue bridge has only 3 sets of tracks and would likely need to be widen for a forth set of tracks,.. the rest of the railway corridor has quite a bit of open space along the side and should be able to fit another set of track.

    If CN can’t give up 2 sets of tracks for subway, could they double track it?,… lay the subway tracks on top of the two less frequent rail tracks? And of course, use an automated signalling system to control all trains and subways. Obviously, I’m not a rail expert like Karl and that’s why I’m asking.

    If it’s really not practical for the DRL East to be on the surface of the railway corridor,… and they have to use the much more expensive tunneling method, wouldn’t it be more passenger friendly to tunnel under city streets and avoid the railway corridor altogether? But if the railway corridor is used and surface is not practical, tunnelling underneath is too expensive,…. then what about an elevated subway track,… How much would an elevated subway track system be versus an underground system. And if it goes elevated, wouldn’t it make more sense NOT to use the current wide and heavy subway cars the TTC currently uses on the YUS & BD lines,…. and opt for an off the self more lighter subway cars,… or even LRT cars?

    NOTE: Railway corridor for DRL West also has 4 sets of tracks with the exception of Dufferin to Lansdown which has 5. If railway corridor for DRL East isn’t practical for surface subway operation, how can railway corridor for DRL West be practical for surface subway operation especially since they’ll be upgrading that railway corridor for Blue 22 and Georgetown GO.


  2. Let me throw this out there. A DRL would create a lot of congestion at union station. So, change the Eglinton-Young line. As the subway continues south from St. Andrew, continue south down York St. west of union station. Create a N-S platform basically under the train tracks. The north end of the platform would be at union station, the south end would have easy access to the ACC. Continue south down York and make the 90 degree turn east onto Queen’s Quay where the Gardiner exit ramp currently is. East on Queen’s Quay to Freeland. Put a stop there with transfer to the waterfront streetcar. Then turn back north to rejoin the Young line. The current Union subway platform would now be free to reuse for the DRL.

    Steve: First of all, no subway makes a “90 degree turn”, and the connection you propose at Freeland and Queen’s Quay doesn’t have room. York Street’s underpass is similar to the one on Bay and while it might be possible to go directly south, this would not be a simple construction project. Coming north from Freeland requires you to get back to Yonge Street (note the correct spelling) somehow under a mess of existing buildings and the rail corridor.

    This is an extraordinarily complex, expensive and disruptive “solution” to the problem of what to do with the DRL downtown. A much simpler approach is to come in via a street other than Front such as Wellington.


  3. Points taken and reliance on a spellcheckers gets me again. Allow me to fine tune my pipe-dream that does not rely on tunneling beneath buildings.

    – University subway continues south on York with station west of Union and then at Queen’s Quay
    – Yonge Subway continues south on Young with station at Front and then at Queen’s Quay
    – Each line continues south and loops together under the harbour. Just think of the view of the caissons you would have from the York wave deck! Or, for the frugal, don’t connect them.

    – Great access to the waterfront,
    – Queen’s Quay LRT is a straight run
    – Reuse of current Union subway stop for DRL. Since its just below grade the rest of the DRL on Front could be a cut and cover.
    – Putting the DRL on Front gives it access to Union, the ACC, and Skydome. To the west it can transition to the railway ROW at Bathurst. To the east it can transition to the railway ROW east of the Don river.

    – Expensive. However, I’m not too concerned about governments spending money domestically. They’re very good at getting it back.
    – Transition. Yes its a challenge. The train viaducts at Yonge and York would be tough but they have to be replaced eventually. All the new stations I mention above could be built first without effecting the current line. Then, for a while, the University line would have to stop at Union while the Yonge line was transitioned to the new extended loop. Then, stop the University line at St. Andrew while that line is connected.

    Okay, I’m done.

    Steve: I hate to tell you, but the train viaduct is in no danger of falling down soon. Otherwise, I really think that you’re proposing a massive undertaking just to be able thread the DRL through Front Street. Maybe we should move the Gardiner up to Eglinton to make a better connection with the Spadina “expressway”.


  4. Would LRT technology be possible for the DRL? I realise that DRL requires high capacity, but can’t LRT trains be lengthened and facilities be designed and tweaked to allow for subway-like capacity? Then any future phases of the DRL will always have the same flexibilities with LRT.

    Steve: The problem you get into with long trains is that you reach a point they cannot reasonably run on middle-of-the-road alignments. There are problems with the physical size of stops and the pedestrian traffic these stops generate. My preference, as I have written before, is for the DRL to end at Don Mills and Eglinton where it would meet the Eglinton line and the south end of a Don Mills LRT.


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