During the Metrolinx Electrification Study, those of us who attended various workshops became aware that there was a parallel study of capacity issues at Union Station. The electrification plans are, among other things, in support of operating better service on GO generally, but if that service won’t physically fit through Union Station and its approach corridors, there’s a big problem.
That problem is independent of electrification per se because The Big Move from Metrolinx depends on substantially improved commuter rail service. No capacity, no additional service.
At the recent Metrolinx Board meeting, GO’s President, Gary McNeil, presented an update on GO operations and construction activity.
The report includes a reference to Union Station capacity:
… Retaining wall construction is well underway to allow for an additional track in this corridor. The Union Station capacity study has been completed, with the result that in the near term, there is capacity at this station to meet needs. With the start of design of double berthing and new south platform, this will provide access required for service expansions. This work is anticipated to be completed in the next five years. [Page 8]
After the meeting, I requested a copy of the study to learn what conclusions it might have reached. Various working papers from the study had been leaked, but they were neither definitive nor entirely coherent on how to deal with the problem.
Metrolinx has now replied that:
At this time, a detailed public component of the Union Station study is premature as we are undertaking on-going research. Specific information will most likely be available for the public when future potential projects develop from this study.
The purpose of the study is to assess the Union Station Rail Corridor (USRC) train capacity at four time points:
- completion of planned infrastructure in 2015 and implementation for service improvements, including the ARL;
- Electrification Reference Case (ERC);
- and 2031 (Big Move planning document).
In doing so, we hope to identify opportunities to increase capacity by making more effective use of existing and planned infrastructure. We also hope to identify the infrastructure needed to address any capacity shortfalls. This study provided only a technical analysis, and Metrolinx will consider its opportunities after further assessment.
However, there is a good deal of material to get started on.