Today, May 17, 2010, Metrolinx CEO Rob Prichard addressed the Toronto Board of Trade with an overview of plans for Transit City projects. The presentation slides are available on the Metrolinx website.
The final transcript version of the accompanying speech is also available online.
Updated May 18 at 6:20pm : An updated version of the Metrolinx plan is now online. This includes more information about the staging and cash flows for each of the five projects, and confirmation that Metrolinx will be ordering 182 LRVs for the four Transit City lines.
Queen’s Park announced the Ontario Budget in March 2010 including a $4-billion cut to the short-term funding for the “Big 5” Metrolinx projects — VIVA BRT, Sheppard East LRT, Eglinton LRT, Finch West LRT, and Scarborough RT to LRT conversion and extension. This triggered a vigorous debate between Provincial and Municipal politicians about the real effect of the cut and the true extent of Provincial commitment to transit funding.
The primary concern at Queen’s Park is constraining the growth of the Provincial debt. In the short term, the Metrolinx projects were seen as easy to shift into future years, beyond the point where debt would be a problem. However, in political circles, deferral can mean outright cancellation especially if the government changes or another portfolio takes precedence for spending.
Only half of Transit City has any funding commitment to date, and now half of that commitment is in question. Where does this leave the plan and, more generally, the growth of a robust transit network in the GTA?
“Move Ontario 2020” and “The Big Move”
In June 2006, Premier McGuinty announced the “Move Ontario 2020” program, a shopping list of over 50 projects to transform public transportation in the GTA. The list included Transit City, but there was no funding for any of the projects. Indeed, Ontario hoped that Ottawa would come in for a 1/3 share as a vital economic development contribution to the heart of the Canadian economy. The total pricetag would be $50-billion.
Ottawa surprised nobody by demurring, and the federal commitments to transit remain on a project-by-project basis. The transit share of the federal gas tax is totally consumed in routine capital costs for systems such as the TTC and nothing is left over for system expansion.
Metrolinx boiled the Move Ontario shopping list down to its own scheme, “The Big Move”, which included a list of “Top 15” projects as candidates for initial funding.
In April 2009, Queen’s Park announced specific funding for the “Big 5” projects totalling $9.5-billion, of which $330-million is the federal contribution for Sheppard East. The VIVA project got $1.35-billion leaving $8.15-billion for Transit City.
However, scope and cost creep pushed the total estimated cost for the four Transit City projects to $10.498-billion, almost 30% above the agreed funding. Metrolinx, TTC and the City of Toronto wrestled the projects back down to fit the budget by splitting six sub-projects off to a “Phase 2”.
- Finch East from Yonge to Don Mills Station ($655-million) (This section was not part of the original Transit City network, but was added by Queen’s Park in the April 2009 announcement.)
- Finch West from Yonge to Finch West Station (Keele Street) ($460m)
- Sheppard East from Conlins (the carhouse location) to Meadowvale ($100m)
- SRT from Sheppard to Malvern ($386m)
- Eglinton from Renforth to Airport ($300m)
- Eglinton from Jane to Renforth ($467m)
Until the Budget announcement, the projects remained on more-or-less their original schedules.
March 2010: The $4-billion Cut
With the Provincial budget came a $4-billion cut in Metrolinx funding. Technically this is a deferral to push the associated borrowing beyond the five-year line in budget projections. A similar scheme has been used by the City of Toronto and the TTC to keep costs everyone knows we must bear off of the short-term capital projections. The problem with this scheme is that the backlog of funding needs grows, and without new revenue it is unclear how we will pay for everything. In a worst-case situation, a future government may take an axe to this backlog for fiscal or political reasons.
To fit the “Phase 1” projects into the new borrowing schedule at Queen’s Park, Metrolinx proposes to stretch out spending primarily by pushing two projects to 2015 and beyond. These are the SRT and Finch West lines. The Eglinton project already extended beyond the five-year window with openings in phases from 2016 to 2020.
In the original plan, $7.7-billion would have been spent in the five-year period where Queen’s Park wants to reduce debt growth. This left $1.8-billion for the out years in that plan. With the revisions, this number has grown to $5.8-billion.
One important point here is that Queen’s Park will index the $8.15-billion Transit City commitment relative to 2008 dollars. This will ensure that the delay in startup will not eat into funding through inflation, provided that project cost estimates do not grow at a faster rate. This provision adds about $2-billion to the funding commitment.
Metrolinx’ May 2010 Proposal
Metrolinx proposes to build the five projects over a longer span.
- The York/VIVA BRT will now be completed in 2020, a four-year delay.
- The Sheppard East line will open to Conlins Road in 2014, one year later than planned.
- The Eglinton line will be completed from Jane to Kennedy by 2020, two years later than planned. Work will begin in June 2010 with the ordering of tunnel boring machines. Tunnel construction starts in 2012 although an access shaft for the tunnel launch will have to be built first. Station construction starts in 2013, and the eastern surface segment begins in 2017.
- The Scarborough RT will continue to operate until after the Pan Am Games, and the rebuilt/extended line will open in 2020. It is unclear why the construction period is so long given that the TTC’s estimate put the shutdown at only 3 years.
- The Finch line from Keele to Humber College will start construction in 2015 and open in 2019.
- Vehicles for all four lines will be ordered in June 2010.
Metrolinx and Queen’s Park have turned down a City of Toronto proposal to provide short-term financing that would allow the Finch and SRT projects to begin sooner. Their reasoning is that debt is debt, no matter who borrows the money, and if Ontario is obligated to repay the City, then it’s Provincial debt simply in another guise.
Metrolinx has suggested that the City of Toronto may choose to fund part of these projects directly by purchase of land for projects in later years, or by construction of extensions such as the proposed Sheppard link south to the Aquatic Centre at UTSC. It is unclear how a City contribution would affect the Provincial desire to have full ownership of the Transit City lines on its books.
These add-ons really belong in a potential “goodie basket” for the 2011 Provincial Budget and the runup to the election. If the Pan Am Games are important, why shouldn’t Queen’s Park find the $150-million needed to extend the Sheppard route south to UTSC? This would have lasting benefit not just for the games, but for the Sheppard line and the campus.
On the subject of subways, the Metrolinx response is simple: both the Eglinton and SRT lines are, effectively, full rapid transit with a long stretch of tunnel on Eglinton and complete grade separation on the SRT. The outer parts of Eglinton will be at grade, as will Sheppard and Finch where demand does not justify the high cost of subway construction.
Prichard ended his presentation with a warning against delay. Mayoral candidates are jockeying for position, trying to replace the David Miller transit vision with their own schemes. Some would tear up Transit City and start over. Readers of this blog will know that I consider such an attitude, charitably, as uninformed and, at worst, crass pandering to those who think we can have a huge transit network, little effect on municipal budgets and no disruption for construction.
What Future Does Transit Have in the GTA?
With all the debate on the Provincial budget and its effect on Transit City, a much more important issue was pushed to the background. Many other projects do not have committed funding, and they are expected to benefit from the “Investment Strategy” whenever it appears.
Today, the Star editorialized on the potential fallout a delay in proceeding with even the “Big 5” projects could have. Although the revised plan takes longer and provides somewhat less than the original Transit City designs, the Star argues that demanding funding for everything may play into the hands of those who would kill Transit City either for alternative schemes in Toronto, or elsewhere in the GTA.
Yesterday, Carol Wilding, president of the Toronto Board of Trade, wrote that the lack of transit investment and expansion now puts the GTA far behind other cities and that further delay will only compound the problem. If the business community really gets behind transit spending, this will be a welcome change from endless calls for lower taxes. Making the GTA competitive on a global scale involves more than having the cheapest possible government.
Some Toronto Mayoral candidates, not to mention factions at Metrolinx and Queen’s Park, hope that the private sector will magically provide funding either through direct investment, or through the tax benefits of development stimulated through transit construction. As we have seen with Highway 407, private ownership of infrastructure doesn’t get rid of the cost even though it may push the debt off of public sector accounts. As for tax benefits, yes, new buildings can bring tax revenue, but this is often decades in the future and that revenue is normally assumed to pay for an array of public services, not just the debt on a transit line.
Creative accounting has no place in this discussion, and politicians must be honest with voters about how we will pay for massive increases in transit infrastructure and service. We need honesty, too, in talk of the “do nothing” alternative, in the cost of simply letting population and traffic grow within the existing system.
Metrolinx had planned to publish an “Investment Strategy” by June 2013 setting out how its long-term plan would be financed. The Phase 2 list above was to be funded through this strategy, not by Provincial borrowing.
Many “investment” options are available, but they all involve extracting large sums on an ongoing basis from taxpayers who are notoriously unwilling to pay. Indeed, the 2013 date was intended to put any discussion of new revenue tools well beyond the 2011 Provincial election. With the economic downturn and the deferral of project funding to an “Investment Strategy” we know nothing about, the delay to 2013 is no longer reasonable or responsible.
When Premier McGuinty announced Move Ontario, he signalled that Queen’s Park would take on the challenge of building transit. When Mayor Miller proposed Transit City, he signalled that Toronto would plan for a network of routes to serve people across the city, not just the favoured few near short subway expansions.
Cold feet. Reconsideration. Indecision. That’s Toronto’s history of support for transit. We wait decades, and still transit has no dedicated funding for construction and operation. Every delay pushes the entrenchment of transit as a vital, permanently funded public service off to the future and the whims of whatever party might control Queen’s Park or City Hall.
Where is the leadership to build a real Transit City?
To JT’s point …
Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think they can run LRT trains with more than 3 cars. That’s the limiting factor.
The 5,400 estimate for Eglinton is rubbish — a number pulled out of thin air. It fails to take into account the “BD interceptor” effect that Eglinton would have. Every N-S bus route in this city will feed that line between Jane and Kennedy, so we’re not just looking at how many people use the Eglinton buses today.
Most of those N-S riders are all heading for BD, so if the Eglinton line is underground between Jane and Yonge, riders from the west will see it as a “subway” and a much faster way to get to YUS (with an easier less-congested transfer at Eglinton W. or Eglinton) vs. (St. George or B-Y via BD). Remember, these guys are advertising 3-minute frequencies on Eglinton all day long.
Karl’s point is that it costs roughly the same either way, so he sees a full subway as *insurance* against future demand that can’t be accurately predicted at this point. The BD subway now carries 425,000+ riders per day. In 1969, when it ran from Islington to Warden (roughly the same length as today), the ridership was in the 100,000-ish range.
Ridership was so low in its early years that it ran with 4-car trains at all times from ’67 to the mid-70s. In 40 years, the ridership on that line has increased by 400%. If the same thing happens on Eglinton, in 40 years an LRT subway may not cut it if longer trainsets can’t be run.
When looking at the Ontario government’s revenue and the introduction of HST, keep in mind that if HST does bring in a bit more than the old PST, it’s introduction was coupled with the recent reduction in both the provincial income tax, and corporate income tax rates (which drop from 14% to 12% on July 1st 2011, and gradually drop to 10% by July 1st, 2013).
Given that the combination of HST (for PST) and income tax cuts is reported to be revenue neutral, then if anything, there will be less money for Ontario to spend when you also consider the corporate income tax rate cuts. And then there’s also the effect of the July 1 2010 elimination of the Ontario corporate capital tax!
I compared the summary table on Page 26 of the “Five in Ten” document to the original Transit City cost estimates, and the outcome is quite disturbing.
Finch West: the original Transit City estimate was $770 million for 16 km (less than $50 M/km); now we are going to pay $1,280 M for 11 km (about $115 M/km). I realize that the $1,280 M figure is “escalated dollars” with allowance for inflation; but that certainly can’t account for all the difference.
Most importantly, is it still cost-effective? For $1,280 M we could probably build a 4-km branch off Spadina subway, from Finch & Keele to Finch & Weston, and connect several bus routes serving Northern Etobicoke to the terminus. In contrast, Finch West LRT will mostly serve locations within walking distance.
Steve: The Finch line includes a carhouse that would serve the entire line, including extensions east to Don Mills and west to the Airport, not to mention the Jane route if it were ever built. This is a fixed cost just to start an LRT network in the northwest. Similarly, the Conlins Road carhouse on the Sheppard line will serve both the Sheppard and Scarborough “RT” lines, but it is being built as part of the Sheppard project. You have to factor out this sort of one-time cost when looking at cost/km values.
Eglinton: the original proposal was $2.2 billion for 30 km; a pretty good price for a line that crosses the whole city. Now, we are looking at $6.06 billion for 20 km ($300 M/km). The only additions to the original plan are the slightly longer tunneled section in the west, underground Don Mills Stn, and underground Kennedy Stn.
The new cost of $300 M/km is in the subway territory. 10, or maybe 11, km out of those 20 are going to be an LRT subway, but where is the big saving from the other 9 km.
Taking those $6 billion and adding another $1 billion or so to cover inflation, we probably could build an 18-km or 20-km subway line along Eglinton: Yonge to Pearson, or Jane to Kennedy.
Steve: The $6 billion includes inflation (see second note on page 26, among other places). It should be noted that $330m is the current cost of subway construction on the Spadina project, and that in the timeframe of an Eglinton project, this number would also rise.
The original estimate for Eglinton was low (as were other TC numbers) because some elements were not included. The initlal value of $2.24b in 2007 had become $3.691b by late 2008 (no inflation included; details taken from TTC 2009 Capital Budget). Most of the increase was fleet and a carhouse (over $1b between them). I was not amused to find that TC had been “lowballed” when it was first proposed because this simply undermined the credibility of LRT.
Putting Don Mills and Kennedy Stations underground isn’t cheap, and I would not be surprised if these change are worth $300-400m between them.
Sheppard East: went from $555 M to $1,130 M. The only additions are the 0.5 km extra tunnel length under 404, and 1 km of surface tracks from Morningside to Conlins. (For the record, underground Don Mills Stn connection was planned for SELRT from the very beginning, but the line was to emerge west of 404. Later, they decided to move the portal to the east of 404.)
Steve: The Sheppard estimate in late 2008 was $1.078b, of which $454m was vehicles and carhouse (again, without inflation).
I don’t know what is wrong with this city, TTC, and Metrolinx. The original TC estimates were not cooked. They were based on the cost of LRT projects in other cities that manage to build their lines for a reasonable price, and sometimes with a decent running speed as well. But somehow, we are unable to replicate their success.
Steve: Actually, they were cooked because elements were omitted. For this I fault the TTC.
JT said: “I still fail to see how capacity can be a problem on Eglinton. Right now the corridor moves about 2-3000 people per hour. The estimated number in 2031 is only 5,400! Even if the 2031 ridership somehow triples, it is still within the upper bound of what an LRT system can handle.”
If Eglinton line is long, fast, and reliable, I can see quite a few riders switching from Bloor line to Eglinton. Given that Bloor’s peak ridership has already reached 24,000, the predicted split of 24,000 for Bloor vs 5,400 for Eglinton looks somewhat suspicious. A split of 1.5 : 1 or 2 : 1 would be believable if there are factors that still favor Bloor; but 4.5 : 1?
Another point to consider is how the connecting routes influence the ridership of the given line. Eglinton’s demand might never go above the LRT’s capacity limit under normal circumstances. But what if oil spikes, public transit ridership spikes, and at the same time, TTC has difficulties buying enough diesel fuel that spiked as well? With spare capacity in place on Eglinton, TTC can direct more buses to Eglinton and shorten the total length of diesel-fueled trips.
JT said: “The two technologies carry the same number of passengers for the same length of train. The only major difference between them is that HRT trains cannot run in mixed traffic, while LRT trains can run both underground and in mixed traffic. Otherwise the two technologies are exactly the same. What is wrong with having the flexibility to run trains in two different modes?”
That flexibility comes at a cost (otherwise, everyone in the world would be using LRT vehicles even for fully grade-separate lines).
First of all, TTC’s subway cars are about 1 m wider than streetcars and the future Transit City light rail cars. For the surface operation, narrow cars are better because it is easier to fit the right-of-way. But in the tunnel, you need to use either longer trains or shorter headways to reach same capacity.
And, you might not even save on narrower tunnels for LRT, because the tunnels need to be higher to accommodate the overhead catenary.
Secondly, light rail cars cost significantly more than subway cars of the same capacity, since the former have to be street-worthy.
Ridership would be much higher on Eglinton without the chaotic horror show of multi-branch routes and uneven spacing we have now with the buses. On top of that is a major lack of service between the two subway stations caused mainly by short turns by 32 Eglinton West buses that don’t get past Eglinton West station. I’ve routinely waited 10 to 15 minutes when the headway is 2-3, and up to half an hour between the two stations. I also had the misfortune of having to ride that stretch when the Yonge Subway was down between Bloor and Eglinton. Lots of people were smart enough to take the Spadina Line north, but the Eglinton bus didn’t have a hope of keeping up to this demand.
The value, perceived or otherwise, of a continuous line over the entire Eglinton East/West service and zero interference from traffic in the underground section is being dramatically understated. From day one of the LRT there will be a major jump in ridership that will likely grow well beyond projections very quickly. It will be a subway with a certain level of captive service that will make it reliable, quick and comfortable. Everyone is going to clue in to this real fast.
Current Finch West station design is for four bus platforms to accommodate Keele buses as well as those serving Chesswood and Sentinel, I believe. Property is tight as it stands. The original EA envisioned an island terminal which nobody within the City wants. Finding room for Finch buses will be a challenge.
Further, I’m intrigued as to how exactly the Finch LRT turnback facility is going to be handled, given the conflict between property / road network constraints and bylaw restrictions.
Steve: The Finch LRT will be underground at Finch West Station, and the plans in the EA document show a three-track section on the surface east of Tangiers Road. The EA document discusses reasons why the turnback cannot be placed underground. Whether this design would be modified, or simply built as planned with the line dead-ending at Alexdon Road pending completion of “Finch Middle”, I don’t know. This is the sort of thing that is sorted out in “detailed design”. In any event, the line already has a provision for a turnback so that service originating west of Keele does not all have to go through to Yonge Street.
See detailed drawings at pages 7 and 8.
M. Briganti wrote, “Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think they can run LRT trains with more than 3 cars. That’s the limiting factor.”
For on street operation, that is correct. Anything longer than that, for our streets, can be awkward, though not impossible. I believe there are issues with longer platforms in some locations, though longer trains in deadhead moves will still be possible.
Eglinton will be the only line initially built with 90 metre platforms, making it 3-car ready. The other lines will be initially built with 60 metre platforms, so the platforms will have to be extended for 3-car operation.
In a totally isolated environment (tunnelled portion of Eglinton, and the SRT – at least the portion already existing), longer is perfectly possible. Edmonton built their underground stations for 5-car lengths to accommodate this possibility in the future (three is the maximum used at this time).
Having station boxes 150 metres long in the underground portion of Eglinton can permit implementation of 5-car trains if they are ever needed. The issue becomes the trains that run beyond the isolated section. They will only be able to be 3-cars long and their presence lowers the maximum capacity of the isolated section. The existence of differing length trains should not be a big issue – people tend to wait for subways so they will be on the car nearest the exit at their destination, so waiting for an LRT at Yonge on Eglinton will dictate similar habits.
My real concern about Eglinton is that the isolated section should extend 100% of the way from Jane to Don Mills to protect for up to 5-car trains between these points of proposed north-south connections. I don’t mean that this entire distance should be tunnelled, but other alternatives are possible, such as a south side-of-the-road alignment at the east between portals.
To be clear, the EA to which I was referring when speaking of the island bus terminal was the SSE EA, not the FWLRT EA. (Say that 5 times quickly!)
Steve: The FWLRT EA is the more recent of the two documents and, therefore, it reflects current thinking on the link between the Spadina Subway and the FWLRT.
The Toronto Transit Commission has received the Minister of the Environment’s ‘Notice to Proceed’ for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. Why am I not jumping with joy?
Oh, I know of two good parties to vote for …
The 5 years quoted for SRT rebuild need not be 5 years without service. A major amount of work can be done while retaining the current service (if it will hold up). Kennedy station changes will not interfere with the existing service until it comes time to build the connecting tracks. The McCowan yard to Shepherd section will have no impact on current operations, and much of the work to extend the existing stations can be done without interference with service.
Intersting comment from Kristian about how to change between low and high level platforms. Quite applicable to most of the SLRT stations. Raise the existing roof and fill in the track bed.
Unfortunately, voting a mayor to be a transit saviour is not enough. We need saviours or disciples in the provincial and federal governments as well, to form a triad or triumvirate with the same transit goal.
Neat tidbit to check out while the RT cars are still operating:
Gordon tying my comment about changing platform vs roadbed height to the SRT/SLRT reminded me of an odd structural quirk at Kennedy Station. Keep in mind that the SRT was already under construction with low-level platforms (and loops) for CLRVs at the time of the technology change to ICTS-ART trains. If you look below the high-level platforms down to the track bed you will see another finished (tiled) platform that was actually built over. (They are also the only remaining platform edges that didn’t get replaced with the yellow safety treads, other than I believe Bay Lower.) Plus this means all the stairwells had to be lengthened after they were already completed. Imagine the ridiculous cost and the surprised/frustrated faces of the construction workers (until they realised they were getting paid twice for the same job).
One thing I find ironic is that after the installation of loops at Kennedy Station and McCowan Yard and their virtual abandonment, the future conversion of the line back to LRVs will also see the return of a huge brand-new loop in active service at Kennedy. This despite the use of double-ended cars and a design policy that has done away with loops in all other new parts of the system (yards excluded, of course).
Steve: Changing the platform height also require that the escaltor specs be modified to handle the longer rise between the bus and RT levels. When the line opened, the sign over the escalator to the RT platform had an LRT graphic, not an RT car.
Woah, I sure touched off a firestorm. If I may respond…
I had stated earlier in this very thread that I don’t dispute the plan to run LRVs in 2031, it’s a couple of decades beyond 2031 that problems could be expected creep up if the same average rate of ridership growth continues beyond 2031. The two technologies do not have the same capacity; the metrics you referred to work out to ~7.34passengers/m for HRT vehicles, and ~4.33passengers/m for LRT vehicles, which is a big difference. More importantly, however, the design of the tunnel very much locks in 3-car consists, max, no exceptions, and nobody seems to care about this. They cannot run longer trains than that because the pockets are too short.
That would apply and be true if every LRT is always at-grade 100% of the time, but this unfortunately isn’t realistic.
The point with Eglinton is that when you’re building underground, especially with bored tunnels, there’s very little difference in cost between HRT and LRT. This is why Eglinton’s tunnel is a very poor, very short-sighted investment with its LRT-exclusive design.
Fortunately, the tunnels are bored, meaning that they’re not only taller, but also wider than necessary for HRT.
From what I understand, even for deadheading, Transportation Services staff don’t want LRV consists longer than 3 cars because they argue it causes safety problems for turning movements, and possibly also are concerned with the time it takes to clear an intersection if crossing from a standing start. While it is not physically impossible, it has been argued by staff to be practically impossible.
Even in the tunneled portion though, 5-car trains will still be impossible because the pockets are too short. Lengthening the pockets isn’t a simple matter, because it involves re-engineering vertical alignments as pockets cannot be on slopes steeper than 1% (according to TTC design standards). So the capacity of the Eglinton line with its currently-proposed design is very much finite at 13,000ppdph, and while not a problem in 2031, I don’t think it will be looking too confident in 2051.
There’s actually a capacity reason for that new Kennedy loop due to the high demand projections between Scarborough Centre and Kennedy stations. The capacity of a turnaround operation through a loop is much higher than through a cross-over. How much capacity is actually required on the SRT is of course a point of debate, as TTC’s projections do not include GO Rail service expansions, and Metrolinx has 35% less demand on the SRT than TTC. This is a dispute that has not been resolved, to my knowledge.
Karl Junkin wrote, “The point with Eglinton is that when you’re building underground, especially with bored tunnels, there’s very little difference in cost between HRT and LRT.”
It depends on how one defines “very little difference.” To be sure, there is not a 5:1 cost difference, but there still is a lower cost (1.2:1 to 1.5:1 is a more realistic ratio) to placing LRT in a tunnel over HRT with the added advantage that it can continue beyond the tunneled section into a non-isolated section. While we can’t provide everyone with a one-seat ride everywhere, we all know how much value the public places on not having to change modes. So the question of value becomes: do we build HRT in a tunnel from Yonge to Brentcliffe at $250-300 million per kilometre and have a mode change to LRT for eastern travelers, or do we put LRT in a tunnel for that portion for up to $200 million per kilometre to have the benefit of through-running for eastern travelers?
Karl Junkin also made two points on 5-car consists:
“Transportation Services staff don’t want LRV consists longer than 3 cars because they argue it causes safety problems for turning movements, and possibly also are concerned with the time it takes to clear an intersection if crossing from a standing start.”
“Even in the tunneled portion though, 5-car trains will still be impossible because the pockets are too short.”
While it would be ideal to design and build pocket tracks for 5-car trains, I can understand the grade issue making this difficult. At the same time, I would argue that though having pocket tracks to hold an out of service train is ideal, we are not talking about round-the-clock operation of 5-car trains, just rush hour service. Thus, longer trains to provide extra capacity at peak times could operate over the tunnelled section and can be turned back through a shorter pocket track without issues.
As rush hours begin to taper off, the 5-car trains could have two cars taken off and deadheaded to the carhouse while the rest of the train continues in service for couple of more runs as 3-car trains to handle the shoulders of rush hour service before going out of service.
I’m not saying this is the most ideal situation, nor should we fully anticipate the need for such operation. My earlier point was that the need for 20k PPHPD is far less likely if other parallel routes are later built, and if by chance that something unusually high may actually be needed, even if only waiting for another line to open, 5-car trains are feasible if the station boxes are built for it.
You are suggesting that there is a large, $100-million/km average difference between HRT-compatible tunnels and LRT-exclusive tunnels. I would ask you to justify how that could be the case given the following:
Tunnel construction method: Bored tunnel (compatible)
Tunnel diameter: 6m (compatible)
Station box length: 150m (almost compatible)
The biggest differences would involve:
– Gentler grades (no real cost impact, same tunnel boring machine does very similar work on an adjusted vertical alignment)
– Gentler vertical curvature (as above)
– Station box expanded by a few meters in length and width, (negligible cost as construction method is generally the same, some additional material)
– Longer pockets and cross-overs (added expense, but only in limited locations)
The longer cross-overs and pockets would probably be the biggest cost increase between the two (yes, moreso than the expanded station boxes, as the size differences for the cross-overs and pockets is substantial, whereas the station box difference is negligible). Those don’t add up to an average project increase of 50%. I think we could be looking at something as low as a 7%-12% mark-up to make this LRT tunnel HRT-compatible. Underground is underground, there’s no reason there would be a 50% cost difference between the two. Even a 20% mark-up (1.2:1) is difficult to justify given the scale of the differences.
You cannot turn around a 5-car train through a 3-car long pocket track “without issues.” That kind of a turn around operation would interfere with service in one of the two directions, defeating the entire purpose of turning a train around through pocket track (you’d likely want to use a cross-over instead, but then you wouldn’t have ATO available).
Moreover, it might not even be safe to have 5-car trains running through infrastructure with only 3-car long pockets because if a 5-car train breaks down for whatever reason, you can’t take it off the line by putting it in a pocket (you’d have to get it to the yard immediately).
If you have a station box that can fit a 5-car LRV consist, which is actually longer than a 6-car HRV consist by around 13m or so, and the tunnel diameter is wide enough for either vehicle type, why should the tunnel be engineered to exclude HRVs when the cost to make it compatible is a small percentage?
The answer to Eglinton is not 5 car trains. The answer is DRL to Eglinton relieving pressure on the midtown parts of the Eglinton line. Every time that demand threatens to bust 3-car on some part of the line, it’s time to divert that demand elsewhere.
Karl Junkin wrote, “You cannot turn around a 5-car train through a 3-car long pocket track ‘without issues.’ ”
The natural extension of this comment is that it is not possible to turn around a 5-car train through a standard crossover ‘without issues’. My point was that the turn-back can be done without using the pocket track as a holding track.
Karl added, “…if a 5-car train breaks down for whatever reason, you can’t take it off the line by putting it in a pocket (you’d have to get it to the yard immediately)”
Regardless of how long a train is, when there is a problem, it must be moved somewhere by some means, and even three car trains will not necessarily be a station away from the nearest pocket track.
I am not talking about intending to permanently run 5-car service on a line originally built for 3-car service, just suggesting that for an interim provision could be possible.
As for the costs, of course tunnelling is tunnelling, especially when the method is a bored tunnel. However there are other infrastructure costs that make some difference in the bottom line, depending on what options are used. My rough ratio is based on what has been done in the past in other projects, adjusted for inflation. This does not specifically take into account any over-engineering which I will concede is a distinct possibility here in Toronto.
Mark Dowling wrote, “The answer to Eglinton is not 5 car trains. The answer is DRL to Eglinton relieving pressure on the midtown parts of the Eglinton line.”
Absolutely, and that ‘network view’ is an extension of my earlier suggestion of parallel lines. Any system that distributes the load is better than one that concentrates it. There is far too much over-thinking about routes on their own that leads to this “fifty years from now…” thinking about what that one line will need. For fifty-years in the future thinking, we need to be thinking about how the whole network will function together.
To expand on a DRL’s effect on Eglinton, a significant part of the load from Don Mills over to Yonge will be people heading downtown. I would argue that not only will most of that component originating east of Don Mills would transfer to the DRL, but some of the load joining as far west as Leslie would find a jog east to Don Mills to hop on the DRL beneficial over heading west to Yonge, thus further lightening the peak load on the line while making use of a little extra capacity on counter-flow trains.
Steve: A related issue here is that if we actually did have subway-level demand on Eglinton itself, I would hate to think what this would do to the Yonge subway. A new route intercepting Eglinton-to-downtown traffic is essential to the overall plan.
A 5-car train can turn around through a crossover without issues, but the service cannot be run with ATO on just crossovers, ATO requires pockets to be enabled or it simply doesn’t work. That impacts capacity to a significant degree.
While an ATO-enabled line with 5-car LRV consists could break 20K (as you said earlier), no ATO changes things entirely. Without the longer pockets required for ATO, you’re likely down to around 15.5K (on 2.5-minute headways), or less given the problems that would be likely to crop up with blended services with different terminating points along the line using just cross-overs. It pretty much works out roughly to what a 3-car train with ATO would achieve, maybe slightly more if it runs like clockwork (not likely). So you really do need the longer pockets to run 5-car trains, otherwise it’s a self-defeating exercise.
Steve: There is no reason that longer trains require pockets for ATO to work. The most obvious counter example is the planned headway reduction on the Yonge subway with ATO.
I think what you are talking about is the issue of how a turnback would be operated in the middle of a line without having some place to stash a train (think St. Clair West Station turnback). If only a crossover is available, the turnback would routinely block service in both directions especially if there was an attempt to keep cars in scheduled sequence.
@Steve; Yes, exactly, but the ATO for Yonge requires pockets as well. They will not get shorter headways without this, as you yourself are well-versed in from past posts you’ve done on the limitations of termini design currently in operation. The ATO on Yonge is dependent on a) turning half of trains back at the Finch pocket if the line is extended north, or b) turning some trains back at Eglinton or York Mills pockets if there is no northern extension of Yonge.
Karl Junkin says:
May 25, 2010 at 10:20 am
“@Steve; Yes, exactly, but the ATO for Yonge requires pockets as well. They will not get shorter headways without this, as you yourself are well-versed in from past posts you’ve done on the limitations of termini design currently in operation. The ATO on Yonge is dependent on a) turning half of trains back at the Finch pocket if the line is extended north, or b) turning some trains back at Eglinton or York Mills pockets if there is no northern extension of Yonge.”
Isn’t the York Mills crossover and pocket track on the south side of the station? This will make it very difficult to turn northbound trains as they would have to run the wrong way on one of the platforms. This would either confuse the hell out of the passengers or totally screw up the new tight headways. If they are going to run closer headways then they should extend to Steeles where they could build their fancy underground station for their buses and GO buses and place a couple of pedestrian tunnels leading off to the north so York could build whatever they wanted to connect to the subway. Yonge south of Steeles is a real mess with all the buses running to Finch Station. This could be one of those 1 or 2 km externsions that so many people want. It actually makes some sense.
@Robert; Agreed on Steeles extension, but with York Mills pocket: A train would presumably be taken out of service at Lawrence and then turn around in the York Mills pocket without entering York Mills station. Not at all an ideal arrangement, but without an extension to Steeles or further north, which has no money, Finch cannot recieve all traffic on its own at tighter headways. Gotta make do with what we got in the mean time, which isn’t easy.
You know, I’ve been following the debate over whether the tunnelled portion of the Eglinton line should be a subway or LRT and I’ve recently began to ponder if we’re overlooking something. With the need for the DRL bordering on desperate, the surface portions of the Eglinton LRT not being able to justify a conversion to a subway for decades, the issue of how to construct the southern portion of the Jane LRT, and the future need for a western DRL at some point; perhaps we should be looking at the idea of a subway belt line. Basically, we would take all of the tunnelling that would be needed for those 4 lines and use it to form one continuous subway line.
Now, I’m not suggesting that it be done all at once. In fact, I suspect that the western segment wouldn’t be built until after 2030. However, it might be worth considering the impact that a second “direct” line downtown through Eglinton station might have once the Richmond Hill extension is built.
What is so funny about Transit City (such as the SELRT) is that it might actually increase the number of cars on the road. No one in my neighbourhood in Northeast Scarborough is planing on giving up their cars to ride slow streetcars.
Costs will always be an issue.
It’s easy to promise everything. Canadians will have to start making choices.
Healthcare, education, transit… These are not cheap.
I tire of hearing Miller and others rant about the great transit in Asia. Well, if we paid our laborers pennies on the dollar, we could probably have a subway to every part of the GTA. China might spend billions upon billions on high speed rail and transit, but they certainly don’t have the healthcare and entitlement costs we do.
We can’t have everything. My own view is we have significantly underinvested in infrastructure and we need to adjust our budgets… lowering healthcare and education spending and ramping up infrastructure.
Either that… or cut back on immigration if we’re not willing to spend the money to support the incoming population.
Steve: You have not been paying attention. Miller and Giambrone are talking about the fare collection systems implemented in several Asian cities, and not just in mainland China. Indeed, the whole concept of Transit City was to start building infrastructure at a scale we both need and can afford rather than trying to build subways everywhere as some would-be mayors would prefer. The fastest way to get an infrastructure deficit is to become dependent on the most expensive form of transit.