Updated April 2, 2011 at 6:30 am: Additional details about the plan have been provided by Metrolinx. The dialog below has been slightly edited from email exchanges, but preserves the sense of the conversation.
Q: The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) refers to both Black Creek and Jane as western terminals for the Eglinton line. However, these are over 1km apart. Where will the line actually end? How will the line connect with the GO corridor if it ends at Black Creek?
A: The exact terminus for the Eglinton line, which is in the Mt. Dennis area, will be determined through a future additional study due to the vertical and horizontal alignment (how steep the grades can be climbing out of the tunnel and which side of the road we will be on to approach the yard) between Black Creek Drive and Jane Street. The objective is to make the connection to the GO rail corridor.
Q: When does Metrolinx expect to have a preliminary design proposal for the section of the line east of Leaside that will now be substantially underground?
A: We are meeting with the TTC now to discuss the timing for the preliminary plans and profiles for the underground segment.
Q: The SRT replacement is described as ending at STC. Does this mean that McCowan will be abandoned as a station? Will the proposed right-of-way beyond McCowan to Sheppard and Malvern be protected to allow for future extension of the route? Is there any plan for an eastern yard so that trains would not all have to be based at the Black Creek yard?
A: The Scarborough LRT would follow the same route as the existing SRT and will include McCowan Station. At this time, there are no plans to close McCowan Station. We do see value in potentially re-using the McCowan yard for at least a layover site and we will need to study this further.
Q: Although the MOU states the number of stations on the Toronto projects, it does not mention this with respect to Eglinton. The press release specifies 26 stations. When will Metrolinx produce a station plan for the new line?
A: The exact number and location of stations for the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT project will be finalized as part of the environmental assessment amendment process.
We expect the Eglinton project will have about 26 stations along a 25-kilometre stretch, and we’re pleased to provide this as a single-seat trip for residents from Scarborough to the Mount Dennis Area.
Since the new Eglinton project has changed from the previous concept, the working assumption now is that the station spacing across the route is approximately at 1 kilometre.
We want to make certain that residents get the best use from the Eglinton line, so we are taking more time to study the specifics of the project to determine the exact number and best locations for the stations along the Eglinton line.
The finalization of the Eglinton line and the locations of the station will be part of the preliminary engineering and Environmental Assessment, which is expected to be completed in the coming months.
Comment: The 26-station count includes not just Eglinton but also the SRT. There were 26 stops on the Transit City version of Eglinton, not including Kennedy, and 6 more on the SRT. The new combined route will have to go on a diet, and the roughly 1km average spacing implies that some stations will be dropped. Throughout the Transit City debates, Metrolinx consistently wanted fewer stations on Eglinton, although at the time the underground section was shorter.
Q: Although the MOU makes reference to “LRT”, for certainty does this mean “Light Rapid Transit” as in the Flexity cars recently ordered from Bombardier, or is Metrolinx contemplating a return to ICTS Mark II technology once proposed for this route? This is an important decision as it affects the ability of the line to be extended.
A: On June 14, 2010, Metrolinx announced a $770M purchase of Light Rail vehicles from Bombardier, which included vehicles for the SRT upgrading project. We expect that we will need about 130 LRTs for the adjusted plan, but we will have to sit down with Bombardier and discuss the details. At this time, we do not plan to change from LRT to ICTS MARK II technology.
Comment: “At this time” are three little words that could do a world of damage to future LRT expansion in Toronto. Metrolinx owes us a definitive answer in the context of their Big Move plan.
Q: The Sheppard East LRT’s costs to date are chargeable to Toronto, but one piece of work already underway is the Agincourt Station grade separation. Is this going to proceed independently of the LRT project as a GO improvement? If so, will it be built with room for a future LRT right of way if that scheme is resurrected?
A: At this time, there are no plans to change the current design for the Agincourt grade-separation. The grade separation construction work that is currently underway at the Agincourt GO Station to separate the GO tracks from Sheppard Avenue will proceed independently of the former LRT project.
It is important to note, though, that this grade separation construction work is an important safety improvement for GO commuters and drivers that use Sheppard Avenue. This grade separation is a project that has benefits to GO’s operations and traffic.