Sheppard Subway Inches Along (Updated)

Updated November 9 at 11:20pm:  The Toronto Star reports that Queen’s Park has told Mayor Ford that it will not advance any provincial funds from a possible “surplus” on the Eglinton project to jump start the Sheppard line.  This leaves Ford’s camp having to find money on its own if work on a first phase to Victoria Park were attempted.

The original article from November 8 follows:

The Toronto Star reports that Rob Ford’s Sheppard Subway proposal might creep eastward from Don Mills Station rather than bounding in one leap to Scarborough Town Centre.  An initial push east to Victoria Park might be a target for 2014, in time for the next municipal election, although the opening date would come later.

Considering that Ford was going to finance and build the entire Sheppard line in that time, this is a tad slower than promised during his election campaign.

The big problem, of course, is money.  Ford doesn’t have much and, as the Star points out, the engineering difficulties for an all-underground Eglinton line won’t leave much unspent of the provincial fund earmarked for that route.  For a route that was going to be financed by the private sector, Sheppard, or what we may see of it, is turning into a traditionally funded public sector project.

The specifics are no surprise.  Don Mills was always an odd place to end the Sheppard line, and this choice was dictated by available funding, not by network planning.  The proposed LRT connection into Don Mills is less than ideal, and a tunnel under the DVP would be required regardless of the technology.  The extra cost lies in continuing east to Victoria Park.

What we don’t know yet is whether this extension would include a Consumer’s Road Station, or just go straight through to the new terminal.

During the debates over possible adjustments to the Transit City network, a subway extension was one option proposed by some.  The typical reaction to this (and to any other schemes that would add to the cost of Transit City) was to reject the idea out of hand because the overall budget was already very tight.  However, now that Queen’s Park has decided that no price is too high to keep Mayor Ford happy, it’s much harder to argue against rethinking some Transit City options.

Victoria Park could be a good terminal for a Sheppard LRT, but there’s a problem of timing.  The “interim” subway terminal should be designed with provision for an LRT rather than subway continuation.  I suspect that no one at the TTC will be allowed to even discuss, let alone design such an option.  This will be a challenge for Councillors thinking ahead to a post-Ford era when LRT plans can be resurrected.

According to the Star, Gordon Chong should be reporting on a scheme to get the Sheppard line underway “before Christmas”.  Will Santa have a nice shiny subway train for little Rob’s stocking, or just a lump of coal?

Meanwhile for comic relief, Matt Elliot’s Ford for Toronto site reports how that pesky Don River just won’t get out of Ford’s way.

49 thoughts on “Sheppard Subway Inches Along (Updated)

  1. The Star article raises the possibility of the whole line being built station-by-station. Hopefully the insanity doesn’t carry on that long, but if it did, would there be noticeable extra cost if every station built had to serve as an interim terminal station? (I’m thinking crossover tracks, washrooms, crew facilities, etc.)

    Steve: I suspect this will depend on how many stations the line actually has. If they are few and far between, they will all have crossovers anyhow. Once the line veers south from Sheppard, there’s no point in opening it incrementally anyhow. The greater expense could come from providing interim termini for all of the Sheppard East bus service.


  2. Steve: The Sheppard Stubway had the same issue with the same Don River for Leslie Station (or east of it), one of the Don Rivers passes through Sheppard Avenue East/Leslie Street intersection.

    Steve: The Sheppard line crosses the east branch of the Don on a bridge, although the structure is closed in and you don’t know you are actually above the valley.


  3. “The greater expense could come from providing interim termini for all of the Sheppard East bus service.” Probably best not to shoehorn all that bus service into the nearest station then, but perhaps continue routing express branches westward past the outermost stop to the nearest station with enough bays not to mention escalator, elevator capacity.


  4. I think ENDING the Sheppard Subway at Victoria Park Avenue might be a good place for a START of the Sheppard East LRT. Wasn’t that one of the proposes or options for the original Sheppard East LRT?


  5. In most places around the world subway lines are opened incrementally and not decades apart in long chunks. Just look at how the subway in St. Petersburg (Russia) has progressed once the original lines were opened. They either increase the line one/two stations at a time or build a long tunnel with a station in the end with an allocated space for an intermediate station to be opened later.


  6. Is this the same as stop-and-start construction? If so, has Chong ever heard of “construction cost overhead”?


  7. Hi Steve
    As a further point to Matt’s concern about cost, it seems to me that the Fordites are setting themselves up for a St. Clair like situation of cost escalations by stretching out the construction times. The one good thing about this is that the subway could be stopped once and for all if it only goes one station by 2014.


  8. While we can all (I hope) agree there are higher priorities than this (Sheppard extension) …

    I am one of those who have said that the current terminus is idiotic and barring conversion of the line to LRT which doesn’t really pass the value-for-money test either, it has always made sense to me this line should be extended to Victoria Park in the east.

    East of that the value-for-money declines quite a bit, and I think there’s only one arguable break-point other than Vic Park, (prior to Scarb. Ctr) which is Kennedy and/or the Stouffville GO line. But there is little question in my mind, we will be well into the future before that can be rationally justified, by even the biggest subway fans.

    I would be rather insistent, however, that if we’re going back in, to bring Sheppard up to a subway, from a stubway, we really must build Willowdale Station. Aside from permitting significant new densities along both Sheppard and Willowdale; this would (I would argue) allow for no bus service between Yonge and Leslie as stations would all be 1km apart or so, similar to B-D. It would also shorten the Willowdale route, producing further useful savings.

    Steve: The Willowdale route runs once in a blue moon, and at times it doesn’t run at all. The savings would be quite small, certainly nowhere near the cost of a new station, not even for a bus bay for the shortened Willowdale bus to stop at.


    Oh Steve, I know Eglinton is only tangentially related to this thread, but can we not get Metrolinx to just agree to build the western 1/2 first, since it really has changed design much, and worry about the east, AFTER the next municipal election?

    Steve: They have to start in the west anyhow because that’s where the carhouse is. The part east of Laird Station must be completely redesigned to suit Ford, and there must be an EA amendment. This will all take time. We are in a catch-22 where waiting three years may rid us of Ford’s opposition, but without something concrete on the table, we would wait even longer to build the rest of the line.


  9. Hopefully, this will play into the hands of those of us who wanted to see the subway extended to Victoria Park with the transfer to LRT occurring there. there is the distinct possibility that Ford will get shown the door, if we’re lucky, and someone new will have different ideas for Shepperd. I’ve always liked the idea of building a little at a time like Ford’s proposing anyhow, figuring that it’s better to do things that way than not to get anything at all.

    Steve: The problem with incremental construction is that it still presumes a plan for a subway as the end state. If we are going to make a transition to LRT, then that must be the goal.


  10. Is extending the subway to Victoria Park really a good idea? I means people coming from the east will have to transfer twice if they are going on to Don Mills bus/future LRT/far future subway (or going to Fairview). Fewer people will transfer to Victoria Park service.

    Steve: Many people coming from the east will still have to transfer twice if the subway is completed — once at Scarborough Town Centre, and again at Don Mills. The underlying question here is whether the cost of a full subway east of Vic Park can be justified. Transfers will happen somewhere for many riders inevitably.


  11. “Ford doesn’t have much and, as the Star points out, the engineering difficulties for an all-underground Eglinton line won’t leave much unspent of the provincial fund earmarked for that route.”

    That’s why one of the biggest concerns I have over the agreement between him and McGuinty is that he’ll treat the $650 million “unspent” as an absolute and demand cuts to things like stations along the Eglinton line to ensure he gets it as costs continue to increase.


  12. I have to agree with James that a Willowdale station makes sense. Rapid transit stop spacing tends to be in and around 1 kilometer, which a station located there would achieve. Also, Willowdale and Sheppard is relatively dense, and could support a station much better than some other established stops. Whether if it is cost effective I cannot say (the Sheppard line itself isn’t cost effective), but it does make good planning sense.

    On topic, I think IF we were to build a Sheppard extension, we should make the transfer at Victoria Park outside the station to avoid a costly bus terminal. The second phase of the extension should be to Warden-Birchmount-Kennedy, with a large bus terminal located at the Agincourt GO Station (underground walkway connecting the two stations). The final phase would be Progress/Elesmere-Scarborough Centre.


  13. I’m highly doubtful that Ford and company can even pull off extending the Sheppard subway to Victoria Park. I’m also doubtful that the Eglinton line will get built. It’s more likely that we’ll be left with the status quo. No transit improvements, increased travel times and a lot of talk from our elected ‘leaders’.

    Steve: Considering that Premier McGuinty held a press conference this morning at the launch site for the tunnel boring machines, and touted the Eglinton project for its job creation role, I think you will see something built.


  14. Can Rob Ford just admit he was wrong and go back to the Transit City plan, PLEASE!!

    Give me one VALID reason why we shouldn’t build Transit City, just ONE!

    Steve: Transit City needs adjustment and shouldn’t be built “as is”, but it’s a lot better than Ford’s plan. The differences are in the underlying philosophy about the function of the routes and of a transit network.


  15. Subway advocates say “Build it and they will come”. Two examples of applying that philosophy to the Sheppard extension were: (1) there is low density on Bloor/Danforth yet ridership is high due to feeder buses and (2) condo development on Sheppard is gradually pushing up ridership on the Sheppard line.

    The only counter arguments I can think of are: low future projections of future ridership on Sheppard (which subway advocates don’t believe), and the difficulty of funding subway construction. Are these the only counter arguments?

    Steve: The Bloor-Danforth streetcar service was already carrying over 8,000 passengers per hour before the subway opened, in part from feeder routes. The Sheppard bus is nowhere near the same level. Another problem for Sheppard is that many people who live in the corridor do not commute to downtown (itself a very large attractor of ridership for BD), but to points that are not well-served by transit. The further out one goes, the more diverse the travel patterns become and the harder it will be to concentrate them on a single line.


  16. Should the DRL ever be planned for and built, it could have the east arm be the Don Mills LRT part of Transit City. Which would make the Don Mills station an important terminal hub, making the area a new downtown or destination.

    Steve: One can construct similar arguments for any configuration one might like. Indeed, if we want to take everyone to one interchange point, we might very well route the “DRL” to Bloor and Yonge. Every network design is a tradeoff. If we presume Don Mills Station will always be a major hub, then we would never extend the subway, or we would build the subway to somewhere near Oshawa for fear that we might force someone to transfer. I’m deliberately exaggerating here, but it is impossible to place a few “hubs” that will be ideally located for every possible future development and travel pattern.


  17. I don’t understand why everyone thinks Victoria Park would make a better Sheppard Subway terminus, aside from that the line would reach a significant location (i.e. a defunct municipality border). All I can think of is that it would force inconvenient transfers to passengers from the Don Mills route trying to head east (and vice-versa).

    If we were currently in the process of constructing the Sheppard line, yes, I would agree that it would make sense to reach Victoria Park, to prevent the 85 buses from mixing with congestion from the Don Valley Parkway, but that opportunity has long passed. As the Sheppard LRT would have been underground across the Don Valley Parkway to Consumers Road, there isn’t an advantage to having that connection as an HRT subway.


  18. Curious, what would you change about the core Transit City projects, Steve? And by core, I mean Eglinton, Sheppard, Finch West and SRT.

    Steve: This really deserves a post of its own, but in brief:

    Eglinton: Stop screwing around and put the line underground through Weston. This was always a budget decision, not a technical one. Run on the south side of Eglinton from Laird Station at least to the west portal at Don Mills station. Review the alignment through Etobicoke for side of road running (this is now complicated by the city’s decision to sell off lands on the north side of Eglinton that were reserved for the Richview Expressway).

    Sheppard: Improve the connection between the subway and the LRT. The proposed LRT stub at Don Mills station is less than ideal, and extending the subway may be a way to get a better link since we have to tunnel under the DVP anyhow. Confirm the extension to UofT Scarborough Campus as part of the base project (this was on the verge of happening when the scheme was cancelled).

    SRT: Confirm that it would be LRT. Don’t forget that the TTC was not planning the Scarborough line as LRT until the very last moment, and has consistently misrepresented the cost and merits of an LRT conversion. They wasted a lot of time continuing to design and run an EA for an ICTS extension to Malvern. Improve the connection at Ellesmere Station, or close it.

    All: Seriously reconsider the intersection treatment and left turn lane schemes. Get rid of any remnants of the farside U-turns as the left turn implementation. Ensure that “transit signal priority” actually means what it says, not that the LRT gets to wait interminably.

    Airport access: Rethink coming into the airport from the southwest. The only purpose of this alignment seems to be to avoid extending the Mississauga busway further east. The alternate alignment via Dixon Road would make a better shared approach with the Finch line, and would actually serve an area many people want to get to. Stop the foot-dragging on LRT airport access and recognize that it’s an important part of the network, probably more important than the express route to Union Station.


  19. Hi Steve:-

    If the west end of the Eglinton line is built first, what becomes of the white elephant to the Town Centre from Eglinton and Kennedy? Thought it was on its last legs. It is such a useless bit of technology I don’t even think crazy glue, baling wire and bubble gum can keep it going like they could the trolley buses. Those were far more robust vehicles, and older too!


    Steve: Conversion of the SRT won’t start until after the Pan-Am Games, presuming that it’s still working by July 2015.


  20. As admirable as this tough stance against Ford is, Chiarelli’s position risks antagonizing the entire Conservative movement, and may encourage Harper to spite Queens Park by granting all the money for the Sheppard Subway, no matter how expensive it is.

    I just wish Queen’s Park would have the patience to wait for the official word from City Council, if it comes to vote.


  21. Ford either regrets his Sheppard subway promise, or he believes subway is the best solution and that’s what the people want. If the former, he could easily just backtrack – a common occurrence by our current and successful Liberal government. If the latter, here is what I would do if I were him.

    1. Dig the tunnel all the way from Don Mills to STC at 1/3 to 1/4 of the cost. Once this is dug, he will be assured that it will be built as subway. There will then be public pressure on the higher levels of government to fund the stations and tracks to get the line finished.

    2. After STC is reached, Ford can argue that a tunnel from STC to Kennedy station would be cheaper and less disruptive than having SRT out of commission for 3 years. Again the stations would come after.

    If Ford serves 1 term, he may have forced the Sheppard subway to be built and if he wins the next election he could force Sheppard to be tied in with Bloor-Danforth.

    Steve: There’s a teensy problem here. The tunnel is more than “1/3 to 1/4 of the cost”.


  22. Chiarelli’s comments are quite concerning. Damn Liberals. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 200 times, shame on me. I knew I shoudn’t have voted for them given their track record.

    Suddenly the $600 million allocated for cost overruns is off the table. $600 million? Really? Is that amount really needed for emergency funds in a city that is starving for action? That is what…5 St.Clair syle LRT lines? An expansion of one subway stop? Why can’t it actually, you know, come in UNDER budget? Why is that impossible?

    I know they should have some say in how it is spent but I really don’t look at as “their” money, it is OUR money and this city is desperate for transit invesment but now that they have been delivered back into power they feel they can hold on to it and do what they want. It’s very disheartening.


  23. I was using $100M /km for tunneling and $350M /km for the finished line – the DRL Now site was my source. I was not imagining a working line, just enough so that Ford’s plan would have to be followed through in the future.


  24. JW said: Why can’t it actually, you know, come in UNDER budget? Why is that impossible?

    The fact of the matter is that they actually don’t have anything to base the budget on; all they’ve done is drawn a line on a map, measured its distance, and multiplied it by a certain value to get a rough ballpark. Emphasis on “rough.” To their credit, they have come out and said, point blank, that they don’t know what it is actually going to cost yet. They don’t have a design yet, it is impossible to know how much it will actually cost at such an early stage in the game.

    David Miller and Adam Giambrone fell into the the trap of just drawing lines on a map, measuring the distance and multiplying by x, and because they had no design at the time were off by several orders of magnitude. It doesn’t work when you run on an estimate with a design to base it on because the design has to respond to site-specific conditions that don’t necessarily conform to abstract averages.

    The way it should work, by law in my opinion, is that no estimate should be provided before reaching 70% detailed design (obviously this means funding detailed design separately from the rest of the project before deciding whether or not the project will actually be built). This is the only way to get a reliable estimate, and by extension, the only reliable way to have a project stay within its estimate/budget without cutting huge chunks out of the project like what’s been going on with the Spadina Extension among other projects.

    A line on a map doesn’t tell you anything meaningfully useful about what a project will actually cost.


  25. “As admirable as this tough stance against Ford is, Chiarelli’s position risks antagonizing the entire Conservative movement, and may encourage Harper to spite Queens Park by granting all the money for the Sheppard Subway, no matter how expensive it is.”

    If Harper were to spite anyone by fully funding the Sheppard subway, it would be Ford. After all, Harper did promise to give individual Canadians tax cuts once the deficit was under control and I doubt the rest of Canada would appreciate that promise being broken due to the 4-5 billion dollar pet project of one man.

    Steve: Especially for one man who, according to some Tories, cost them the election in Ontario. Ford will be yesterday’s news before a full Sheppard subway could be anywhere near complete, and nobody in Ottawa is going to risk funding and political capital on someone who won’t be there when it comes time to open the line.


  26. Karl said

    “David Miller and Adam Giambrone fell into the the trap of just drawing lines on a map, measuring the distance and multiplying by x, and because they had no design at the time were off by several orders of magnitude.”

    An order of magnitude is a factor of 10. So you’re saying transit city was off by a factor of 100? I wouldn’t say Transit City was perfect in it’s schematic plan or estimated cost, but your exaggeration is worse than Ford’s typical style of remark!

    Perhaps Steve can comment further on how much analysis was done to support the route choices?

    Steve: The routes were chosen based on a combination of factors including location of priority neighbourhoods, level of existing and likely future demand, practicality. The network isn’t perfect, especially for the supposed millions who claim they want to travel from Scarborough to Etobicoke without a broken journey at Yonge. I’m not going to make any excuses for the land use plan that Mel Lastman cobbled together with Finch West and Sheppard East misaligned so that low rise neighbourhoods on Finch East would be protected from redevelopment. We’re stuck with that for at least the medium term.

    The north-south routes Jane and Don Mills are compromises and others might have been used. If, however, Victoria Park had replaced Don Mills, it would have missed Flemingdon/Thorncliffe Parks and would have intersected the Danforth subway too far east to be of future use for a downtown extension of any kind. Similarly, if Jane were further west (say at Kipling), it would have been on a less-well-used route and missed priority neighbourhoods along Jane. There are obvious issues with the south ends of both routes that we have discussed here at great length before.

    On the costing side, I don’t think that the full cost of the fleet was included (partly due to underestimation of ridership) nor of the carhouses. Some civil works were also underestimated in the original scheme.

    The TTC was low, but not by an “order of magnitude”, let alone two orders. Looking at things another way, an order of magnitude change would build a subway system of quite generous proportions.


  27. @AL: When they originally said they could build the whole network for $6B, they were off by a factor of somewhere around 4. That’s in the range of a $16- to $20-billion error. That’s an incredibly large sum of money to be off by. “Order of magnitude” is different, error on my part (I wanted to say just “factor”), but the point, which you missed, is the scheme was off by an ENORMOUS margin because they had nothing substantial to base the estimate on, and that you cannot get any reliable estimate for a project before detailed design is at an advanced stage.

    Had Transit City not married itself to a budget it didn’t have a hope in hell of ever sticking to, and impractical excessively anti-automobile ideologies (that were ultimately self-defeating) set aside so that practical solutions could move forward, there could have been a lot less push back from the very suburbs that the Transit City network was supposed to serve. The homework wasn’t done on how the infrastructure would fit in these corridors’ narrower areas especially.

    It was a politically-driven budget because there was a heads-up that MoveOntario was being announced soon, and it was by far impossible to do the level of work needed for a realistic estimate in time for that. That was stupid, irresponsible politics, and the result was vastly raising expectations beyond the ability deliver. Combine that with the conclusion of St Clair that followed a couple years later, and that leaves a really lousy image problem, an image that Transit City was being pushed by people that don’t get it and/or can’t do it as promised/advertised. All because some politicians had to pull a reckless fast one. However phrased, $16-$20-billion is not to be taken lightly. There’s a lot of repair work to do to fix a lot of damage that was ultimately avoidable.

    Steve: Where do you get $16-20-billion as your estimate? Be sure to state this in 2008 dollars. I agree that we actually build things with current dollars, but we need to put the two estimates on the same footing as a starting point, then add inflation.


  28. Steve: Where do you get $16-20-billion as your estimate? Be sure to state this in 2008 dollars. I agree that we actually build things with current dollars, but we need to put the two estimates on the same footing as a starting point, then add inflation.

    The original $6B figure is from the early 2007 announcement.

    The first 4 projects had spiraled to just shy of $10B as the EAs wrapped up. In escalated dollars, the cut-back Eglinton alone costs $6B, but ignore that for now as the $10B doesn’t include escalation. When half the network is getting close to twice the original budget, something is very seriously wrong.

    There were still 4 projects left, not in the funded group, 3 of which had varying stretches of underground operation, 1 of which was a very long distance – I’d expect 3.6km bare minimum, but the consultant was studying a tunnel as long as 8km, up to Wilson, for Jane. At that rate, the remaining 4 lines of the network would cost another $7.5B easily (before escalation), and then there’s vehicles on top of that (somewhere between 0.75B and 1 billion needed for the remaining vehicles not yet ordered), which would take that up to about $8.5B or so. $10B + $8.5B is $18.5B, all before escalation, and that’s still with many unknowns because we don’t have EAs for the last $8.5B (except the Morningside line) that could see that figure go markedly higher. I wouldn’t be surprised to see another few billion creep into the picture (for example, what would be the final word on Don Mills at Sheppard, at Eglinton? We both know these two areas (among others) are problematic).

    The snap decision to push the SRT off to 2015 saw a cool $0.6B or more added to its budget, an impact of escalation you were alluding to. The escalation from the provincial cutbacks, and the consequences of which were disclosed in a Metrolinx presentation in May of 2010 have added billions more to the network cost. It’s clearly beyond $20B now for the whole network. How far beyond depends on escalation, but we know funds are extremely tight for the next 3-4 years whatever happens and shouldn’t expect much in the way of new funding. So that’s where the $16-$20B comes from.

    Escalation is a real cost that politicians should see coming. They have to provide a range, not a hard figure as is too often thrown about – a figure that’s always changing (upwards) as time goes on. The worst-case scenario should be included in that range. I don’t think this is unreasonable, it is just due diligence and securing informed debate in place of conjecture and blind ideology.

    I’m not trying to suggest that LRT is unaffordable; it is affordable. The point is that a select few politicians, most of whom are no longer in office, have muddied the waters to such an abhorrent extent by being fast and loose with the estimates (and escalation) that the public doesn’t know what to believe anymore.

    Politicians should put ideas forward, but should not give costs prematurely – and they must account for escalation.


  29. To be quite honest Sheppard was orginally planned to go to the STC as a subway. They partly built the line, and then all of a sudden it was supposed to be a part subway, part LRT route. To me either convert the whole route to LRT or complete it as a subway. One way or the other.

    Personally, I’d take it as an LRT if it would get the line done.

    Steve: It wasn’t sudden at all. When Mike Harris killed transit funding, the money available would take the line only to Don Mills where it stopped. Transit City didn’t come along until over a decade later. Also, there is a big difference between a subway that ends at STC and leave the Sheppard corridor proper somewhere around Kennedy, and an LRT all the way to UTSC campus, connecting with an SRT/LRT extended to Malvern.


  30. My view is that we should either build the subway or build nothing. Toronto is a big and rapidly growing city, and its traffic problems are legendary (the 401 is bumper to bumper westbound in AM peak west of Morningside all the way to Milton practically). Cheap but ineffective surface light rail will not be adequate in the long term.


  31. Only GO rail has a shot at easing 401 woes by a meaningful margin since most of its traffic originates quite a ways into the 905. This is especially true for the Durham side of the equation, but Peel, too, only affecting the Gardiner/QEW (& maybe 427) more than the 401.

    Electric GO rail has at least as much capacity potential as a Toronto subway; more if you get into multi-track layouts per direction – but has to be run with EMUs to realize.


  32. A few thoughts… I was surprised to see the front lights are both LED and incandescent. I thought incandescent ones were on their way out. The seats felt like really uncomfortable – no padding? It was interesting to see the pulleys and gears exposed over one door. I like the paint treatment. Some form of posted system map, even a “one line diagram” showing major cross streets, would be helpful.

    Steve: This may be related to visibility at a distance, and the LED lights may be aimed more at the roadway immediately in front of the car.

    The seats have no padding because of fire codes. Any vehicle that operates underground (as these will at a few locations on the system) is subject to stringent codes regarding flammability and toxic gas production. The padding is a big culprit.

    The issue of a route map has come up on occasion and this is related to a more general problem of available space, and how it would be displayed. A streetcar route map would be mode-specific, not location specific and should really include bus routes in the service territory. This gets messy considering the streetcar network reaches to the southwest corner of Etobicoke. To display a route-specific map would require a video display with operator selected maps. Nice idea, but there was no provision for such a display in the car design.


  33. @Andrew

    The problem with that line of reasoning is that every form of transportation is ultimately inadequate in the long term when faced with a growing population. To put it another way, the Yonge line has been proven to be inadequate for that very reason. Does that mean we shouldn’t have built it in the first place?


  34. Karl Junkin says:

    “Electric GO rail has at least as much capacity potential as a Toronto subway; more if you get into multi-track layouts per direction – but has to be run with EMUs to realize.”

    GO does not have the same capacity potential as a subway if they keep the stupid operating rules that require 10 minute separation and enough strength to survive a
    1 000 000 pounds, possibly going to 1 200 000 lbs, of buff loading force. I believe that the TR cars have a buff loading capability of 220 000 lbs. This extra strength that the FRA and Transport Canada require for main line rail vehicles, along with their 92 day inspection for all vehicles with motors or controls and the major brake test required every time the crew changes ends makes the operation of EMUs cost prohibitive. Though if they would do a full analysis and and look and the time, crew and equipment savings they would find it less prohibitive.


  35. @Robert:
    Between Pickering and Oshawa (1 track in each direction for GO) there are trips closer together than 10 minutes. That said, signal system absolutely needs to be mordernized, no argument there. With that in place, the system can handle far busier operations safely. Build certain infrastructure workarounds in areas where there are known traffic conflicts between rail operators to allow coexistence in corridors, most of the network can run very aggressive headways, at least at a technical level (whether TC recognizes technological capabilities may be another matter, but it is not at all a technological barrier).

    As for the buff load, an EMU based on the existing cab car GO uses would meet those requirements, so that’s not insurmountable.

    Turnaround management is more important than the time turnarounds actually take (and includes avoiding turnbacks at Union Station).

    I don’t buy the EMUs are cost prohibitive argument because the difference in quantity of cars per fleet for GO has never been properly analyzed in any publicly available publication to date. I’d argue the cost prohibitive technology is diesel (especially Tier 4), not only because a larger fleet is required to man and maintain, but also because more infrastructure is required to run service with less nimble vehicles (and in some places, the required infrastructure needed for long-term diesel operation wouldn’t fit within existing corridor property lines). Depending on what the outlook is on future energy price trends, there could be quite a chasm of a difference energy cost 20 years from now. EMUs are not cost prohibitive, and they can carry more riders than the subway with an appropriate signal system.


  36. Karl:

    I agree with almost everything that you say but the problem is the mindset of the people who will operate it. They have a mainline railway mindset and the only multiple units they remember are the Budd cars with their world war two tank engines and hydraulic transmissions that were always needing repair. They refuse to give any serious consideration to MU service, electric or diesel and use the 92 day rule and buff loading requirements as justification for their intransigence.

    The cab cars weigh about 3 000 kg more than the coaches because of the collision post at the cab end. It would be more efficient to have lighter vehicles as less power would be needed to accelerate them. The buff loading requirements are not insurmountable but are unnecessary if they were to segregate the GO and mainline services.

    Metrolinx owns the USRC, the Weston Sub to Bramalea, the Newmarket Sub, the Uxbridge Sub, the Kingston Sub to Pickering, the GO Sub and the Galt Sub to West Toronto. GO should electrify these lines and with 3000 V DC not 25 kV AC as this would save 2 tonnes in transformer weight per car. The Montreal Deux Montagne line cut running time from 55 minutes to 35 one way with EMUs instead of electric locomotive hauled trains and motor-trailer-cab car sets.

    I would convert some of the existing bi-levels for emu service, probably in 3 or 4 car sets to cut down on the number of cab cars required. Future equipment could be built that only ran on the segregated lines at a lower weight.

    The Lake Shore West, Milton and Georgetown trains beyond Bramalea would need to still meet TC regulations but GO could run a frequent electric service to Bramalea and the airport with diesel hauled equipment beyond to Georgetown and Kitchener.

    I don’t think we disagree on what could be done with a rational agency, but we disagree on just how rational the current agency is.


  37. 3000kg is about 6% of the existing coach (no cab) weight, less than that for the cab car weight itself, and less still for an EMU version of a cab car. Given the challenges that exist for segregating operators to an extent satisfactory to TC, I’m a bit skeptical as to whether that’s worth it. Just take the extra 6% (or less) weight and avoid a lot of hassle. Corridors can be organized to minimize (possibly even eliminate) conflicts without segregation. No doubt that GO needs their own tracks, but putting x extra distance between tracks just to shave a relatively small amount of weight off some of the GO cars is a waste of space that isn’t always even available depending on how many tracks need to be in the corridor.

    3kV DC? I’m surprised, and don’t follow; why 3kV DC?


  38. Karl Junkin says:

    “3kV DC? I’m surprised, and don’t follow; why 3kV DC?

    Three reasons:

    1) It reduces the mass carried on the cars, no 2 tonne transformer; that’s what it weighs on most EMUs.

    2) It reduces tunnel and bridge clearances. I think 25 kV requires 40 cm above the wire and between the wire and the car. 3 kV is a lot less.

    3) It keeps the 3 phase loads balanced all the time and does not require major changes to the electric distribution and transmission network .

    As to segregation, the corridors that GO owns see at most one way freight a day so it is not really a problem and as to the lines shared with mainline freight I agree that TC would probably not be conducive to reducing standards though is Canada implements PTC then temporal segregation becomes a lot easier to ensure.

    The main problem that GO has with MUs is the 92 day inspection. It adds much to the maintenance costs and a proper brake test when you change ends adds to terminal time, though you would probably want a cushion for recovery time on long runs.

    I am not suggesting widening the three lines shared with freight to get a segregated route but that still leaves Weston Sub to Bramalea, Newmarket Sub, Uxbridge sub and Lakeshore east to Pickering then the GO sub.


  39. (Robert Wightman) “I agree with almost everything that you say but the problem is the mindset of the people who will operate it. They have a mainline railway mindset and the only multiple units they remember are the Budd cars with their world war two tank engines”

    Hopefully the Sumitomos (which will be diesel-hydraulic initially) will be good enough to bring MUs into favour. The biggest problem at GO is their dogged insistence on a homogeneous fleet — AMT have all sorts of odds and ends running through their system (including diesel/electric dual mode locos now) and they seem to get on with it.

    Steve: Presuming the Sumitomos even get here. There are rumblings that they are saying they might be “delayed” due to earthquake/tsunami related damage. Sounds like someone trying to get out of a contract to me.


  40. I don’t disagree with the principle that there are advantages associated with lighter vehicles, but I do question the value of vehicle weight reduction compared to the alternatives available when the difference in weight as a percentage between trainsets that involve a 50/50 mix of powered an unpowered cars would amount to less than 5% per train.

    The two other points are well-taken, but should be looked at in context of coexistence with future electrified operations outside GO. As the jury is still out on what the future trends are on oil (not on whether it will go up in price, but how fast the price will rise), this is a door that should be left open if its cost implication is marginal. This includes the possibility of electric cross-border traffic in the very long-term where 25kV systems that already operate are extended, as well as the possibility of HSR sharing a corridor through Toronto (today’s news on Quebec-Windsor HSR notwithstanding). 25kV is an established standard that would likely need a compelling argument to dismiss. Bridge height issues are a one-off cost, even though they aren’t necessarily cheap one-offs.

    Does anybody know how often TTC rail vehicles get inspected?


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