Part 1 of this article reviewed recent approvals and designs for the Eglinton LRT. In part 2, I will turn to the remaining Transit City routes.
The main article follows the break below.
Construction for the Sheppard East LRT began in October 2009 with utility relocation, and the next major work is the grade separation at Agincourt Station. A diversion road is now under construction, and the new overpass will follow in spring 2010.
Two sections of the LRT right-of-way and associated road changes will be built starting in 2010 (East Highland Creek to Progress in the spring, West Highland Creek to Birchmount in the summer).
There has not yet been a formal “ribbon cutting” due to co-ordination problems between the three levels of government. Fortunately, work does not stop while we wait for the polticians.
Most of the Sheppard East line is at grade except for a tunnel from Consumers Road west under Highway 404 (DVP) to Don Mills Station. The line should be completed in late 2013.
This project just finished a second round of open houses, and the Executive Summary of the EA is on the TTC’s agenda for this month’s meeting.
After feedback from the first round, six stops were added to this line (see the Display Panels at page 17).
The line will run on the surface except at Yonge and at Keele Street. At Finch Station, there will be a shallow underground station (see Display Panels at page 27). Because Finch Station actually lies north of Finch Avenue, there will be a tunnel connection north from Yonge Station on the Finch line. This connection involves three changes of level to get from the LRT platform to the subway platform compared with two from the present bus loop.
I can’t help wondering why the LRT station is centred on Yonge Street when this produces such a convoluted link to the subway. If it were east of Yonge, then at least the westbound LRT platform could link directly into the mezzanine level of Finch Station, and only the eastbound platform would require an underpass. This station requires a major rethink.
Although the Yonge Station will initially be the eastern terminus of the Finch LRT, Metrolinx has proposed a Finch East extension to Don Mills and then south to Don Mills Station. This extension will be studied separately, although the eventual connection at Don Mills has been taken into account by the Sheppard LRT planning. This would also be used, eventually, by the Don Mills LRT. Work on the EA for this section will begin after the EA for the western part of the line is completed.
An underground link to Finch West Station (Keele Street) is proposed, subject to detailed study. If this is unworkable, then an LRT surface station with direct connection into the subway mezzanine will be built.
When the Jane LRT is built, its connection with the Finch line will be on the surface.
The narrow section of Finch from Bathurst to Yonge will be widened from 30m to 36m to accommodate the right-of-way.
Left turns on Finch will be handled in the same manner as on Spadina with left/U turns permitted at major intersections, and no other crossings of the LRT right-of-way. Some left turn lanes will be extended to provide more queueing space at busy intersections.
The western terminal will be at Humber College. Proposed extensions to Woodbine Live! and thence to Pearson Airport will be part of a separate study.
Construction will begin in 2011 with a planned opening in 2015.
The maintenance facility for the Finch West line will be on the north side of Finch between Norfinch and Yorkgate. Acquisition of this property by purchase or expropriation was recently approved by City Council.
Although the entire process of reviewing the revitalization and extension of the SRT has been very focussed on ICTS technology with only minimal acknowledgement of an LRT option, it is quite clear now from statements by the TTC and by Metrolinx that this route will become part of a Scarborough LRT network. The next round of public meetings is planned for January 2010, and it will be interesting to see whether the TTC has finally created an LRT-based design.
Waiting for the obvious and long-rumoured technology change has been tedious, and people visiting the open houses have come away assuming that the ICTS technology would be retained. Moreover, Queen’s Park through Metrolinx is only funding the new line as far as Sheppard Avenue. The SRT link to Malvern is not funded, but the scope of the Scarborough-Malvern line was cut back on the assumption that the SRT would go there first. This needs to be sorted out so that residents north of Sheppard know what to expect and when it might be built.
The S(L)RT will not require its own maintenance facility, but will share the carhouse planned for the Sheppard East line at Conlins Road (east of Morningside). Clearly this will be an LRT facility as it is quite remote from the path of any possible ICTS-based extension. The property is already owned by the Ministry of Transportation.
The construction schedule for the SRT is currently scheduled from 2012 to 2016, but there is a desire to have this work done in time for the Pan Am Games in 2015. This does not really make much sense unless one assumes that trains would be interlined between the SRT and Sheppard East trackage to provide direct service closer to the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC). However, it would make even more sense if the northern section from Sheppard down to UTSC (at Ellesmere) were also built to make UTSC part of the initial Transit City network. (That section of Scarborough-Malvern has only two stops and is comparatively easy to build.)
The Environmental Project Report for this route has been completed, but there is no funding for this project. The City of Toronto would like this to be bumped up based on the Pan Am Games, but I am not convinced that this is the simplest way to provide service to UTSC on a timely basis (see above re access from Sheppard).
Provision for this line will be included in the Kennedy Station study.
There has been no update on the Don Mills route since summer 2009. As proposed, the route would run from Steeles to the Danforth Subway, likely connecting at Pape or Broadview Station. A scheme to connect at Castle Frank is a leftover from the earlier days of this study when the proposal was for BRT on the Don Valley Parkway rather than an LRT on Don Mills. Northern extension of this route has been proposed by York Region.
The route is affected by several other studies either in progress or about to begin including:
- Eglinton LRT Don Mills Station and Bus Terminal
- Sheppard East LRT Don Mills Station connection
- Finch East LRT
- Downtown Relief Line
The TTC continues to study on-street operation of LRT in narrow rights-of-way which, to quote the TTC
… present more challenges in accommodating the elements of transit operations, pedestrian realm, and urban planning.
It is no secret to anyone that I favour bringing the Downtown Relief Line north to Eglinton as in the original proposal now at least four decades old. My rationale is that a surface option for the Don Mills LRT through East York to the Danforth Subway is extremely unlikely. If the line must go underground, then a tunnel is a tunnel, and it makes more sense to bring the subway north than to take the LRT south.
This would make Don Mills and Eglinton a major transfer point, and would reduce transfer traffic at the Danforth Subway crossing by eliminating movements between the Don Mills LRT and DRL at that location.
The project is not funded. Preliminary planning is expected to finish in spring 2010 at which point we will see what the TTC has produced and whether they need to go back to the drawing boards.
Like the Don Mills route, Jane suffers problems with narrow rights-of-way. However, the portion of the line affected by this is much longer than the Don Mills line and this brings into question the viability of building the southern section of the route. The constrained area is generally south of Highway 401, although the worst portions are just north of Bloor.
The TTC has not discussed whether the Jane line might operate as a separate service over the Eglinton LRT into Eglinton West Station. There will be some joint operation, if only for carhouse moves, as the Jane route will be based at the carhouse on the Kodak lands.
Like Don Mills, this project is not funded, although preliminary planning is expected to complete in spring 2010.
The Waterfront West line study suffers from no end of problems, many of which arise from the ad hoc nature of the entire proposal. What began life as a streetcar serving the western waterfront via Ontario Place has morphed over time into a mish-mash of routes.
- The original route south to Ontario Place was changed to use the new Exhibition Loop under the Gardiner Expressway.
- The original route from Strachan to Bathurst via Fleet has been changed to run via Fort York Boulevard and connect into the proposed Bremner streetcar to Union Station.
- The route through Parkdale has been the subject of detailed studies by the TTC and City, and at this point there is disagreement about the best way to link southern Parkdale to the area south of High Park. The TTC’s proposed connection at Queen & Roncesvalles violates many of their own design guidelines because it would interfere with the operation of the existing intersection, not to mention the planned changes that will be built in 2010 as part of the Roncesvalles and Queensway renewal projects.
- The original proposed loop at Legion Road (that would have connected with a relocated GO Mimico station) has been replaced by a proposed loop at Park Lawn. The design for Park Lawn Loop is complete, but construction is on hold pending funding.
- Transit City extended the western end of the WWLRT from Park Lawn to Long Branch. However, there are right-of-way problems on the eastern part of this extension. Residents are unhappy with the possibility of losing property for the LRT line. Today’s TTC service today is infrequent and unreliable, and this does little to advance the acceptability of further incursions.
- Funding for this project is so far in the future that an opening date of 2029 (I am not kidding) is now on the TTC’s books.
Because the Transit City routes will be owned by Ontario but operated by the TTC, Metrolinx is part of the procurement process for vehicles. Although Bombardier has an option in its TTC streetcar contract to bid for the Transit City fleet, this is subject to conclusion of an acceptable agreement with Metrolinx.
I understand that if this does not happen by the end of January 2010, then the contract will be opened to other bidders. Such a change would almost certainly delay opening of the Sheppard East LRT if it required a complete retendering process.
Metrolinx has also dictated that their cars will be standard gauge, and hence the Transit City network (except for WWLRT) would be built to that gauge. This scotches the TTC’s long-range scheme for operating the 512 St. Clair route out of the new Eglinton carhouse in Weston because the route operates with TTC-gauge cars.
On the flip side, the SRT is already standard gauge, and so at least the track mounts won’t have to change to accommodate an LRT conversion.
Provincial Funding and Ownership
All of the new projects will be owned by the Government of Ontario through Metrolinx who will be responsible for:
- approval of “project scope, budget and delivery schedule”;
- responsibility for “overseeing project planning, procurement and implementation including approving the issuing of Requests for Proposals to procure construction services and equipment including vehicles”; and
- entering into “construction and operating agreements with municipal governments, transit agencies and third-party service operators”.
Infrastructure Ontario will act as Metrolinx’ agent for the Finch West and SRT projects using “Alternative Financing and Procurement”. Exactly what form that will take, and whether it will be cost-competitive with having the TTC delivery the projects directly remains to be seen.
Metrolinx has agreed to fund costs on the Transit City projects incurred before March 31, 2009 by the City and the TTC. Funding from April 1 forward is the subject of separate agreements. (For those who follow the details of the City’s Capital Budget, only those works for which funding agreements are in place are recognized in the City’s budget. This prevents a situation where there is a large projected expenditure with no guaranteed offsetting subsidy to pay for it.)
A report on overall Transit City project governance is to come to the TTC in early 2010. The TTC will operate and maintain the LRT lines.
The Waterfront West Line is a disgrace and it is truly appalling to see how the TTC is treating the residents of Southern Etobicoke. They actually seem to think that their new 145 express route will make up for this line until 2029 — dream on. The only 2 ways of getting downtown are by taking the B-D line (which is far from a lot of residents) or the unreliable 501.
It will be not surprised if the residents around here just completely abandon the 501 at Lakeshore and look for other means of transportation whatever that may be. The TTC (and I am understating this) is truly taking advantage of the residents of South Etobicoke by constantly saying there is no demand while they are taking daily efforts in killing whatever demand is left.
Steve: At the risk of sounding like I am defending the TTC, the 145 is the product of lobbying by a local Councillor who is also a Commissioner. It is not the TTC’s answer to transportation problems on Lake Shore.
Steve says about standard gauge vehicle acquisition
“On the flip side, the SRT is already standard gauge, and so at least the track mounts won’t have to change to accommodate an LRT conversion.”
Can the LFLRV pass each other on the SRT right of way or would the road bed need to be ripped out and redone? I also don’t think that the new cars will pass through the stations and existing tunnels. They probably could use centre poles even if they could pass each other.
Steve: On the north-south part of the line, I agree that the tracks are probably too close together for LFLRVs to pass each other. I was thinking of the stations and the elevated structure. Kennedy, of course, will be completely new.
The location of the loop at Park Lawn seems to be a bit arbitrary. We own the property so let’s put in a loop. There is a lot of new condo development going up west of there that could benefit from more service or is it the plan to turn all the Queen cars here and only run Lakeshore Long Branch cars past there? Why not at least build the 1 km or so of track from Exhibition loop to Dufferin and run the 507 or 508 all day from Long Branch to Union via King, Dufferin, Fleet and Queen’s Quay? A good portion of the line is already PROW and the portion of King St is usually not too bad for traffic.
Steve: The Park Lawn location is left over from the days when the WWLRT ended there to avoid reconstruction of the bridge over Etobicoke Creek. Also, I suspect, there was a time when the TTC was contemplating removal of streetcars west of that point. By the time the line actually opens, Park Lawn may indeed be an inappropriate place for a loop on the WWLRT, although 501s that make it past Sunnyside may loop there.
Re: Jane LRT and Downtown Relief Line:
Jane south of Wilson seems to be too narrow to be of any use. The cost of tunnelling this section would be astronomical and serve no need. For the money this would cost they could take two of the 5 to 9 tracks that Metrolinx is going to put into the Weston Corridor and build a standard gauge surface HRT with pantographs from the airport down to Liberty Village on the right of way then Tunnel under Richmond or Adelaide to the east end then go up to Don Mills and Eglinton. The line would run with 1500 or 3000 VDC instead of 25 000 VAC as this would eliminate the weight of the transformers, about 2 tonnes and reduce the clearances needed in the tunnel. From The 401 south the line is basically beside Weston Road so it would be in an existing transit corridor, just not Jane but the next closest.
It would be operationally segregated from the other GO services so the vehicles would not need to be built to FRA loading and safety standards. This would probably cut vehicle cost by at least 50%. Freights could be operated over it during the off hours if needed. Consideration could also be given to operating this type of service up the Newmarket and Uxbridge Subs, as GO owns them outright and possibly up the Bala sub to Richmond Hill or Aurora but it would need to be operationally segregated from the Bala sub north of the York Sub. Since the line would go under Adelaide it would not drop passengers into Union but rather to station on King or Queen. Aside from the downtown the minimum station spacing would be at least 1.25 miles, concession roads.
The Line could easily go to Bramalea as the existing station is on the south side of the Halton sub lass than 1 km from the Weston Sub. This could be an interchange station with the GO trains to Brampton and on out to Kitchener (Stratford?) I have been pushing this idea as long as you have the DRL and I think that this would provide service for the airport, DRL inner end of 3 to 5 GO lines and take some of the load off Union Station and get rid of much of the noise problem though the Weston Corridor. There would probably still be some diesel GO trains but they would not sit in stations then accelerate anywhere in Weston. This is my $0.02 worth of my favourite rant.
Steve: And if Metrolinx had “discovered” LRT sooner in its existence, they might have actually considered it as an alternative in some of their plans rather than having to be dragged fighting all the way to acceptance of LRT within the Transit City network. Rob MacIsaac and his crew wasted a lot of our time, and Metrolinx is well rid of him as head of the organization.
Why is the Province going with standard gauge anyway?
Steve: Rumour has it that at least one vendor other than Bombardier wants to bid on the Transit City cars, and are claiming that the odd gauge gives Bombardier an unfair advantage. This it total crap, of course, but lobbyists will use any excuse.
I am excited to see how Brimley Station will look on the Sheppard East LRT. The mall beside that intersection will get much more visitors!
I want the Scarborough RT to be demolished and extend the Bloor-Danforth subway to Scarborough Town Center. Of course, the subway has to be complete before the demolition…
Steve: Dream on!
“Metrolinx has also dictated that their cars will be standard gauge, and hence the Transit City network (except for WWLRT) would be built to that gauge.”
What inspired that piece of stupidity? Having two incompatible track gauges in Toronto? Crazy!
Steve: See previous comment.
With the conversion of the SRT to LRT, I am correct to assume that a completely new signal system would replace the current ATO signals on the line today. Is there any news on the signaling systems? Will the LRT lines get the same traffic signals like the ones on St. Clair?
Steve: There will be a new signal system, but I don’t know what it is. The new SRT is completely grade separated and so it won’t need traffic signals, per se, but would likely have some sort of cab signalling to control train spacing on this high-speed route.
The confirmation of standard guage being dictated by Metrolinx is making my blood boil. I’m seriously about ready to freak out. The mistake of the SRT will now live on forever at least in one way. The city should have one common guage. Don’t count on them being able to salvage any of the existing SRT trackbed due to age and clearances.
I really wish I knew who specifically to let loose my rage on.
Steve: See previous comments on this subject.
“Rumour has it that at least one vendor other than Bombardier wants to bid on the Transit City cars, and are claiming that the odd gauge gives Bombardier an unfair advantage. This it total crap, of course, but lobbyists will use any excuse.”
Sheer madness! It’s my fervent hope that cooler heads prevail, but knowing the history of such things I’ll have to be prepared for disappointment…
What are the benefits of standard gauge that Metrolinx likes so much?
Steve: See previous comments.
Cab signalling on LRT? — does such a thing even exist?
Steve: A railway car is a railway car. Now the TTC could save a bundle if they would just realize that it’s a busy streetcar line and put in block signals where they are needed (the blind curve through the tunnel at Ellesmere). There will be signals at terminals and turnback points, but they don’t have to be integrated with the car itself.
Standard gauge is non-standard in Toronto. To standardize gauges in Toronto means either staying on TTC gauge OR replacing track throughout the city. The reason rail gauge standardization has occured over the years has to do with being able to run trains across multiple railway lines, not because the standard gauge is better or vehicles of a different gauge are more expensive to make.
Of course another vendor wants to bid on the Transit City cars. They lost the original bid which included options, so of course they would love the opportunity to bid for something they already thought they lost. Of course Bombardier, having won the first bid, has an unfair advantage… they will have a manufacturing line in Ontario already producing cars which can easily be adapted to the different technical requirements of Transit City. They have this advantage because they won an open bid.
One advantage of being forced to standard gauge for the Transit City lines is that the works equipment from the SRT will still be usable. You have to look on the bright side.
Mark me down as someone is just fine with Metrolinx imposing 1435mm. The TC network will ultimately be larger than the existing network, and the mistake that was made was not making this decision sooner so that St. Clair was built as 1435 too, given that it is virtually an orphan line with a non-service link to the rest of the network.
I know this is not a view shared by those commenting above, but it’s bad enough that we have basically created vendor lock-in in our bus fleet (with huge re-orders despite notable “issues” with the product) without creating adverse conditions on our new lines. Bombardier displayed Toronto Flexity on a low-loader, it will display in Vancouver on rails. Perhaps we will see Alstom, Siemens, AnsaldoBreda and others do similar demonstrations on those same rails rather than relying on a website and a static display. Shipping the cars and determining electrical and rail/wheel compatibility is a far cry from having to also develop one-time trucks or adjust existing trucks just for a demo, and cars being “loaned” between systems for promotional purposes done several times previously such as from Mulhouse to Buenos Aires and Melbourne. The possibility of Toronto loaning surplus Flexities to other systems to promote the continuance of the Thunder Bay line is similarly hampered – although this presumes we could contrive a surplus in Toronto anyway.
As for the necessity to replace the downtown lines with standard, that’s not necessarily the case. As I have pointed out time and again, the TTC’s existing network and fleets are huge in the context of other systems that do just fine. A subfleet of vehicles is one thing when it is small like SRT but a subfleet of 204 vehicles (plus future expansion) is enough to justify dedicated yards and equipment, especially given the fact that the motive technologies will be similar unlike SRT so training will be essentially common.
While I agree that having one common standard rail gauge is good, but why is moving to standard gauge bad? The way I see it, we are keeping the odd rail gauge because we have these oddball ALRVs and CLRVs to use (and they WILL BE REPLACED). Why force the vendors to conform to an obsolete technology?
If Bombardier offers less expensive LRVs than other bidders, wouldn’t it be a wise choice to choose Bombardier again? Other bidders don’t have facilities in Canada, which would make it quite difficult to manufacture LRVs in Canada, another reason why most European companies didn’t bid on streetcar replacement in the first place. TTC gauge contributes to a small factor why those company choose not to bid.
Of course Bombardier in Thunder Bay will have to assemble the TR and the replacement streetcars. Would it delay the process if Bombardier have to manufacture and assemble the Transit City cars too?
Steve: Bombardier will find the room somewhere. They’re not going to give up on such a big contract.
“Steve: Dream on!”
Standard Gauge gives us slim trains with less room to stand in.
TTC Gauge gives us wide trains with more room to stand in.
I think we all know what gauge the TTC will choose.
Steve: The TTC will choose whatever gauge Metrolinx tells them to choose. Meanwhile, the difference in gauge is 2 3/8 inches. You are assuming that the entire carbody will be redesigned when what is far more likely will be a standard gauge carbody on TTC gauge trucks.
I wanted to make this comment separately from the gauge discussion. Why can we not consider at least beginning Jane LRT as a branch service of Finch West and as it gets built out create a separate route? It seems to me that if some of it gets built, the momentum to find a solution to the remainder will follow. I’ve just tracked from Steeles to Eglinton in Street View and while there are some narrow sections which would involve difficult decisions like expanding into boulevards, removing trees and expropriating the extensive amount of strip mall transverse parking, the last of these is no bad thing per se in creating a local as well as arterial feel to Jane St.
The striking part of it though is the presence over most of the route of a centre turning lane – if we can countenance that, why not single track operation over short stretches of line where widening is just not feasible? This would have the advantage of a single stop for either direction of operation given the double sided nature of TC cars. It’s frequently done in Europe (as well as Richmond/Adelaide, albeit for diversions), and there would an option of looping the Jane-Weston-Eglinton triangle in one direction to allow an interlink with Eglinton and its yard (so Jane services could be despatched from both) and minimise the ROW required.
I’m not sure that the gauge issue really matters, because I suspect that the one location where a connection between the old and new networks is proposed (St. Clair and Jane) will not materialize. My suspicion is that the Jane LRT will end up being downgraded to BRT due to narrow road width.
It might not be such a bad idea to have a branch service on Jane, say from Finch to Steeles initially that would link a high-density strip with a subway station at either end (Steeles West, Finch West). It would certainly be a start.
If Finch West is extended from Yonge-Finch to Don Mills, it means that Don Mills could become a branch route for Finch West in the interim until Don Mills is extended south to Danforth. The same could be done with Jane, with the open section of Jane becoming a branch of Finch West in the interim.
Ernie: those “oddball ALRVs and CLRVs” are going to be replaced, but the $BIGNUM km of tracks they run on (I’m sure Steve can give us the total) are laid in streets from Brown’s Line to Victoria Park and north to St Clair. Those tracks would need to be replaced all at once or not at all, so unless someone figures out how to replace both the tracks and the rolling stock overnight (literally) they aren’t going anywhere.
And there’s nothing that makes one track gauge more obsolete or progressive than another.
How much does it actually cost to simply lay tracks per km without buying cars and landscaping in Toronto? The TTC could afford to lay tracks from the Gunns Loop to the new Eglinton Car house in mix traffic. It is only 2.5km along Weston Rd and Black Creek Dr. The gauge issue remains a problem. It would be expensive but is double gauge tracks in the car house possible? Some railways around the world have two different gauge for compatibility.
This way, it is still possible to use the Eglinton Carhouse for the St. Clair line.
Steve: Sounds like a lot of trouble just to shift the 512 from Ronces to Black Creek.
The ALRV prototype used standard guage trucks and a pantograph at the UTDC test track, then was switched to TTC guage and a trolley pole for delivery. Zero problem for the manufacturer then and zero problem for any manufacturer now. The test track where the Skoda 15T was unveiled is tri-guage.
With such a massive order we should not have to ‘accommodate’ any manufacturer. They should be tripping over each other to accommodate us. We are not the only system in North America with a unique track guage. All vehicles are customized to the specification of each system on every order even when the vehicles are of the same design series from the same manufacturer. Any production line will be set up and tooled for one run of vehicles only.
The biggest possible mistake we can make is not in having a non-standard guage but in having two completely incompatible ones for all eternity.
Do you have a source for the claim that Metrolinx will require Transit City be standard gauge?
Steve: This first surfaced via private sources, and was most recently confirmed to be by TTC staff at a recent Eglinton LRT open house. I think it’s a red herring, but since Metrolinx conducts so much of its business in secret, it’s hard to get a handle on this.
I for one am happy to hear that standard gauge is proposed for use. Regardless of the reasons for the decision now, the other decision would eventually be regretted sometime in the next few decades, possibly within 15-20 years.
With this decision, there will be a small legacy network running from Roncesvalles to Neville Park and the waterfront to Bloor, plus the St. Clair line and the Lakeshore out west, which will be on TTC wide gauge. It will be primarily street running and operate much as it always has. Outside of this area there will be a much larger LRT network covering the City of Toronto, as well as surrounding areas including York Region, Durham Region, Peel Region, Halton Region, Waterloo Region. The exact operating arrangements, service design, and network layout cannot now be predicted, but it is reasonable to hope that this will be a fairly seamless network (and connected to GO for long trips).
With the other decision, little improvement in the connection between the City of Toronto LRT lines and the old streetcar network would obtain, owing to the difference in line design between a modern LRT and a streetcar line, but the City of Toronto LRT lines would not have a seamless connection with the LRT lines of surrounding areas, unless those areas also adopted Toronto gauge. But this would just push the interface out even further.
I would also point out that there are some significant parts of the existing network that could be re-gauged at track rebuild time or in conjunction with construction of an LRT line. In particular, Lakeshore west of Roncesvalles, St. Clair (please not anytime soon, though!), and the short stretch of track on Kingston Rd could all be re-gauged without affecting the rest of the network. I would also suggest that when the Waterfront LRT is built, it might be appropriate to build it as standard gauge as well (to connect to Kingston Rd. in the East and Lakeshore in the West). Some gauntlet track in places like Fleet St. and/or Queens Quay might be needed. Unfortunately I suspect a 3-rail 2-gauge system won’t work with the gauges so close so 4 rails might be required.
All the arguments about standardizing on one gauge apply even more to using standard gauge on new LRT lines than they do to using TTC gauge throughout the City of Toronto.
Also, somewhere/when within the GTA/next 50 years, there will be a place where running an overnight freight down a transit line while the LRTs are snug in their carhouses is a good solution to an access problem for a plant wanting to switch to rail from truck. This is much easier if the transit line is standard gauge – just make sure the appropriate part of the network is built to a suitable standard. I believe this is permitted even with today’s extremely … cautious rules on light/heavy separation. I know for a fact it is permitted in San Diego CA.
In conclusion, I don’t know if the decision is the result of long-term thinking or crass commercial considerations, but in this case I don’t really care.
Related but separate question, for my interest: If the SRT is converted to LRT, at standard gauge, will any of the actual existing tracks be useable (i.e., just remove the LIM hardware and install overhead, along with other related changes, but don’t do anything to the rails themselves)?
Note: I don’t mean with respect to stations or all the other things that have to change, just the basic tracks between stations.
Steve: The line would be retracked, if only for maintenance purposes. However, as Robert Wightman has already noted, the track centres are rather close together for LRVs in the north-south section of the line. The stations will have to be modified for low-platform cars, and the tunnel will also have to be expanded. Thank you, Queen’s Park, for forcing the TTC to downsize it from an LRT tunnel when the line was built so that only the toy trains would fit through.
The elevated structure was originally designed for LRT, and so it should be able to handle the technology change fairly easily. The real question is its structural condition and whether remedial work should occur while the line is shut down.
Steve said: “[Dual-gauged(?), non-service trackage] sounds like a lot of trouble just to shift the 512 from Ronces to Black Creek.”
Wouldn’t that reduce the cost of long non-service trips (45 minutes each way as a guess) between St. Clair and Roncesvalles?
On the other hand, why wouldn’t the TTC use Hillcrest as a carhouse for just the 512 as it temporarily is doing now?
Steve: Unless the operators are actually based at Hillcrest, they would still be paid travel time from their “home” division at Ronces. This would require a big enough operation from Hillcrest that it would be a subdivision in its own right, not just a base for the St. Clair cars. Bathurst and Spadina are obvious candidates, and this would free up space elsewhere.
The related question about Hillcrest is what the space now occupied by streetcar maintenance will be used for once that work shifts completely to the Portlands carhouse and shops. I could imagine a return to a three-carhouse configuration with Roncesvalles in the west, Hillcrest in the north and Portlands in the east. Whether the TTC is actually making such plans, I don’t know.
On a related note – is the Bathurst street bridge work really going to be finished by the end of next week? It seems highly unlikely given the weather and the slow progress being made pouring the west side of the bridge.
Steve: The cars will be staged from Hillcrest as long as necessary.
Steve wrote, “…it is quite clear now from statements by the TTC and by Metrolinx that this route will become part of a Scarborough LRT network.”
This change seems to be the largest ‘unofficial’ project change going in that there has not been a single definitive announcement of this.
The last round of open houses had a display board answering the question of the change with the suggestion that it was a possibility. At the end of September, City Council dealt with a motion asking Metrolinx and the TTC to look into it and report back in November. Then in November, Metrolinx’s John Howe stated in a press scrum that they and the TTC had agreed that the SRT should be converted to LRT.
Added to all that, I grabbed one of the latest Transit City brochures at one of the recent open houses and it now includes a “Current Transit City Project” titled “Scarborough Rapid Transit LRT” that says:
“This project will redevelop the current system into a modern LRT as well as extend the project from its current terminus at McCowan subway station north to Sheppard Avenue and Malvern Town Centre.”
I find the reference to “McCowan subway station” rather interesting!
My concern regarding the SRT’s conversion to LRT is in regards to the long-term plan to reach Malvern Town Centre. I hope that any new public consultation evaluates alternatives to reach Malvern Town Centre besides the abandoned rail corridor. It would make more sense for the line to eventually interline with Sheppard East to Neilson Road and then to take Neilson north to Malvern centre. That way the Scarborough-Malvern line over time can do the same but from the eastern direction.
Overall as a resident I don’t think that the short extension to Malvern Town Centre is totally necessary in the short or medium term. I think that if some cars interlined with the Sheppard East LRT to Morningside or even Meadowvale, this would actually provide more km coverage through the southern part of Malvern. By choosing to rebuild with Transit City compatibility, the TTC should be able to do this kind of service every few trains and eliminate a transfer for many.
I also have a question regarding cost. How much more would it really cost beyond the budgeted amount of 1.4B to interline with Sheppard East, and build the short spur north on Neilson. Seeing as to how the stations at the consultations were so elaborate in the original presentations, one would think that you could avoid those costs of station overbuilding and just get by with just a large shelter at the end of the line (and the cost of the tracks and road widening).
Sorry, but I call ‘bull****’ on that one. Malvern Town Center and the surrounding community is still a part of Toronto, and the Malvern area needs better transit that what it’s getting now. Cutting it off from the rest of the city feels like the kind of move done in LA in the late ’40’s when the Red Car was torn down to make way for highways and buses, and the community of Watts was left out in the cold with crappy transit options, leading to all that happened in the ’50’s and ’60’s. All of Toronto needs transit, not just certain areas, and not with a crappy intermittent bus service-if the LRT’s can use the old CNR-CP tracks, so much the better.
I only wish that the CP tracks along Morningside Ave. north to Old Finch weren’t torn down-those would have been great as a LRT line that could replace the Morningside 116 bus, especially with all of the snow which that area gets that paralyzes it in the winter (I used to live around this area, and I know what I mean).
Does anyone know what construction process will be involved for Finch West LRT? What I mean is will construction from “only one nodal point” and then progress forward to the next point or will construction start on 2 or more that two multiple points an then the tracks be aligned using GPS techonology?
I believe that starting construction on multiple points is cost effective and can finish the entire project early. What does everyone else think?
Steve: At the risk of sounding a bit puzzled, the Finch line will be built on the surface. You don’t need GPS technology to align trackage or any special construction navigation that would be used for tunnelling. I believe that all of the TC lines will be built in more than one location concurrently.
Well, maybe it will be compatible with the heavy rail lines. Tram-train operation anyone? 🙂
Steve: Don’t hold your breath. The track may be standard gauge, but there is more involved in taking a mainline rail car over the transit network than gauge.
No, no — that’s done almost nowhere, because the transit network practically always has lighter weight rail, tighter curves and clearances, and usually sharper grades.
I was thinking the other way around. “Tram-train operation” usually means extending the light rail over existing mainline tracks. I realize this would require electrification of the mainline tracks, and likely also trams designed to handle 25Kv AC as well as DC. It’s usually done either at the outlying edge of town to achieve higher frequencies than GO can reasonably achieve on relatively un-busy branch lines, or in the center of town to bring trams into major train stations where finding a new ROW is problematic. Toronto is fully low-platforming for every type of rail except the subway, so the usual platform incompatibility isn’t present. Running trams from the Eglinton line through to the Stouffville line would be an example.
Does Canada have the same rules as the US does, keeping lightweight vehicles off tracks shared with freight? Europe doesn’t, which is why they can do tram-train operation.
Steve: Yes, Canadian rules prohibit lightweight equipment from sharing track with freights.