Union Station & Rail Corridor Capacity

At the recent Metrolinx Board meeting, staff presented an overview of planning now underway for the future of Union Station.  One background report addressed the future levels of GO, VIA and other services at Union and the surrounding rail corridors.  This report makes interesting, if unsurprising, reading because it confirms what anyone with even a modest understanding of railway operations already knows:  there are severe capacity constraints at Union as it is now configured and operated.  Too much discussion focuses on a bright future of frequent service without considering how we will fit all the trains and passengers through the hub of the network.

The full report is not online at Metrolinx, but I have obtained a copy.  Due to its size, I will not link the entire document here.  If you just want the highlights, read the Executive Summary.  For more details including a description of the evolving simulations of various levels of service, read the main report.

USRC Track Study Executive Summary

USRC Track Study Main Report

The study considered various scenarios corresponding to stages in the growth of GO and other services over coming decades:

  • Base Case:  The existing service at Union, including a reservation of two tracks out of service for the reconstruction project.  This was used to calibrate the model.
  • 2015:  Construction at the train shed is completed giving two more tracks for service.  The only new peak hour service beyond the base case would be a few VIA trains and the Air Rail Link.
  • Electrification study base case:  This configuration was used as a starting point for the recent electrification study, and it assumes two-way service on all corridors.  Three variants of this were tested to refine operations and remove constraints triggered by service at a much higher level than today.
  • Maximum capacity:  This configuration attempted to maximise service on all corridors.

The study concludes that significant changes will be required both in the physical plant (track, signals) and in train operations which will have to be managed considerably more tightly than today.

All of the simulations randomised train times from their schedules over a range of 0 to 4 minutes to reflect the actual system behaviour.  A trial expanding the range up to 5 minutes produced a noticeable drop in simulated on time performance (“SOTP”).  Similarly, when each scenario was tested for the effect of additional trains, the SOTP fall below acceptable levels.

Although each increment in train service can be handled with revisions to station plant and operations, the changes never get ahead of the demand and eventually the station runs out of capacity.  More accurately, I should say that the corridor runs out of capacity because the worst constraint is actually at John Street where there is a pinch point north of the CN Tower.  13 tracks approach from the west and there are 15 platform tracks at the station, but there are only 10 tracks at John Street with no ability to add more.

Another problem arises from scheduled bunching.  Although there may only be 29 trains in the peak hour, over 1/4 of them (8) arrive within a 10-minute period.  Because of conflicts between the routes trains take through the station approaches as currently operated, the corridor and station operate at well below the capacity one would expect for a facility of this size.

Passenger movements within the station are not modelled in this study, and that exercise is left for another consultant with the expertise to perform such work.  However, the authors of the track capacity study do acknowledge that some operating schemes may run aground on the difficulty of passenger handling.  Indeed, the movement of passengers, including the dwell time for loading, is an important constraint on overall capacity.

As a trial, one train was added on each of the seven corridors in the Base Case.  This caused the SOTP to drop below 50%.  Even just three trains were enough to bring the SOTP below 90%.  GO’s oft-stated goal is 95% on time.  This means that there is no capacity for additional service into Union during the peak hour as things now stand.

The 2015 Case

The 2015 Case adds four Airport trips and two VIA trips during the peak hour, shifts VIA operations further south in the station, shortens the dwell time of VIA trains, and restores the availability of tracks now out of service.  All but the Barrie and Milton services achieve a good SOTP, but those two routes show the effect of the Airport line’s built-in conflicts with other GO and VIA operations.

The Airport is on the south/west side of the corridor in Malton, but the platform it will use at Union (on Track 1 for easy access to a new lounge in the West Wing) is on the north/east side.  Every Airport train must cross all of the tracks used by other services in the Georgetown corridor, and at a 15 minute headway, the conflict between services is inevitable.

Adding trains to the 2015 Case causes the SOTP to fall below acceptable levels indicating that the corridor is effectively “full” even after the station has been rebuilt to handle far more passengers.  This leads to a failure of the next scenario.

Electrification Case 1

This scenario presumes full all-day service on all corridors with a total of 52 train arrivals at Union in the peak hour, almost double today’s level.  The SOTP value comes in at 84.4% as an overall average with different values in each corridor.  This scenario does not work without further changes to the infrastructure.

Electrification Cases 2 and 3

The John Street pinch point is a severe problem coupled with the fact that the tracks at the south end of the station have only a few access routes shared among them.  This can be fixed by adding crossovers near Fort York on the Oakville Subdivision so that trains can fan out onto other routes before they hit the most congested point, and by changing the layout of switches leading to the southernmost tracks.  A minor change to the access to track 1 reduces a conflict with the Airport service.

There are no problems on the east approach because the number of tracks grows from the main lines through the yard and into the station.

These changes bring the SOTP up to 97.5% except for Lakeshore West, and that problem is resolved with yet more changes to the route through the station.  At this point, the station itself is reaching its hourly capacity.

Alternative Configurations

One alternative that was examined was to shift the Airport service to Track 3.  Leaving aside the effect this would have on access from the West Wing lounge, this would partly remove a conflict between the Airport trains and access to Bathurst Yard.  However, the overall benefit is small.

Another possibility was the creation of wider platforms by removing tracks.  This gives more space for passengers and should allow for shorter dwell times, but it requires much shorter headways to achieve the same capacity.  This would only be suitable for through trains that did not have to reverse before leaving.

Double-berthing was also studied.  In this scheme, trains from the east and west would share the same track each using half of the platform.  If a track is used for through service, the minimum headway is 10 minutes (allowing for dwell time, some leeway for delays and the time for a train to clear the platform before its follower can enter).  That’s 6 trains per hour.  With double-berthing, trains are reversing at the station, and the minimum headway is 15 minutes because of the time needed to set up a train to change direction.  That would, in theory, give us 4 trains an hour each way, or 8 trains in total.  Double-berthing could add capacity, but it poses additional problems.

First off, only four tracks (6-9) are long enough to hold two full-length trainsets.  Second, for frequent service, trains could not be spotted in advance on the platforms, but would have to pull into position with another train already on the track.  This is a safety concern and it affects operating speeds.  Finally, passengers would have to walk to the extremities of the platforms (well beyond the shelter of the train shed) to reach the outer cars.

Electric operations would improve train acceleration characteristics and save a bit of time, but the amount would be small because of speed restrictions within the station and the corridor around it.  This is not to say electrification is of no value, but that value would be obtained in other locations, not at Union.

Yard operations at Don and Bathurst would have to be confined to off-peak periods because moves to and from these yards would interfere with revenue trains.  As headways become shorter and two-way operation grows, the number of peak period yard moves should fall anyhow, but a time will come when such moves are impossible.

Summary So Far …

Each of these cases begins with a constrained configuration, shuffles operations and rearranges some infrastructure to obtain a new workable scheme.  However, each of the new states is “full” the day it is implemented, and the process must be repeated for another increment of service.

Moreover, operating so close to total capacity means there is little room for off-schedule service either through random delays (e.g. weather) or from inattention to on time departures.

Maximum Capacity Operation and Alternatives

The minimum headway a track can sustain is 10 minutes for a through service or 15 minutes for a turnaround.  [Yes, it’s possible to get lower values, but this would require changes to operating rules, removal of recovery time in the schedules and, possibly, problems with conflicts between moving trains and passengers on the platform.]

Operating the system, as opposed to each service, at its minimum headway demands that each route have a direct path to its platform that does not cross over others to the greatest degree possible.  The biggest challenge here lies with the Airport service tethered to Track 1 and the Georgetown corridor operations.

Typically, there is only one path available through the corridor for a service.  This means that the approach track to the station is effectively single track, despite the maze of switches.  This path may connect to a single platform, or to a pair of platforms.

If to a single platform, then the headway is constrained to 10 minutes through or 15 minutes for turnaround, and both the platform and the approach route are single track.  The minimum headway is constrained not just by time on the platform, but by the distance from the platform to the point where an outbound train can pass the next inbound one.

If two platforms are used, then the headway can be cut in half (5 minutes for through, or 7.5 for turnaround) by alternating platforms.  There would still be a “single track” path between the train shed and each corridor, but inbound and outbound trains could alternate in using this while one was always on the platform.

Even with this strategy, the addition of more trains to the peak hour is possible only if more platforms are created.  One scheme is a tunnel under the station for exclusive use by the Lake Shore services, and the other is a new station in place of Bathurst Yard.

Lake Shore Underground Option

In this option, there would be room for 12 Lake Shore trains each way per hour via the tunnel.  Barrie and Richmond Hill would be linked as through services, as would Georgetown and Stouffville, and each route could have 12 trains/hour (48 in total).  Milton would have 7.5 trains per hour as a stub operation.  (The hookups used in this scheme are  function of the north-to-south arrangement of services in the corridor to avoid conflicts on the approaches.)

This has the greatest capacity, but also the greatest cost because of the tunneling.

USRC Track Study_Underground Station Drawings

USRC Track Study_Underground Option 1

USRC Track Study_Underground Option 2

The drawings show views of a new underground station that would serve only the Lake Shore route.  It must be low enough to  be under the existing footings of the building and to clear the LRT tunnel under Bay Street.

There are two options for the station placement:  either offset with the centre of the new platforms under Bay street, or aligned to the existing trainshed between York and Bay.

The alignment has little effect on the design of the approach ramps to the station, and the  greater issue is the gradient.  If the grade is 5%, steep even by subway standards where 3.5% is the preferred maximum, then the western curve down would begin 275m east of Spadina while the eastern curve would begin just west of Jarvis Street.  If the grade is constrained to 2%, the western curve would begin 175m west of Spadina, and the eastern curve at the west side of the Don River.

Although these designs have not received detailed engineering or feasibility studies, one concern already raised is the limited availability of land at the portals which would necessarily be wider than the existing tracks.

Another issue is passenger access because the station would have to accommodate a 2000+ passenger train arriving every 2.5 minutes, and would have to provide circulation capacity for these passengers to reach other parts of Union Station, the PATH network and the surface.

Combined with a $1.3-billion price estimate, this option faces severe, (dare I say) uphill battles for acceptance.

Bathurst Yard Station

An alternative scheme would see Bathurst Yard converted into a station for the Georgetown and Barrie Services.  Because this is a stub-end station, service would be limited to 7.5 trains/hour (15 minutes on each of two platforms per service).

This arrangement eliminates the conflict with the Airport trains.  All services would have a direct route to their assigned platforms without crossing the routes of any other trains.

A “Bathurst” station would lie west of Spadina, but it is a fair hike into most of the business district.  One proposed option is for a “Downtown Relief Line” to connect under the new station enroute to a terminus at Exhibition Place.  This option is beyond the scope of the Track Capacity study, but is included in a separate Corridor Options study that I will discuss in a future article.  Some information already appeared in my summary of the recent Metrolinx Board meeting.

One major advantage of this scheme is that the new station capacity is not underground and, therefore, electrification is not a pre-requisite.  Indeed, nothing other than finding a new location for train storage prevents GO from building this station today.  A connection to downtown is essential, but a new rapid transit line into downtown is long overdue and is justified in its own right.

USRC Track Study_Bathurst Station Layout

USRC Track Study_Bathurst Station Drawings

The drawings show how the station could have a building above it and a rapid transit line below.  Oddly enough, the drawing shows Mark I Skytrain cars, not Toronto subway cars or LRVs.  I could put this down to the artist taking whatever stock illustration he had, or to Metrolinx tipping their hand on future technology selections.  We will see in time.

(The pink structure shown in some of the drawings is a placeholder for the recently installed pedestrian bridge across the rail corridor at the foot of Portland Street.)

VIA Rail

The study allows for VIA and ONR operations throughout, but this is not a major issue.  Most of the VIA trains move to the southernmost tracks in the station where they can be isolated from the more-frequent GO movements on tracks to the north.

One issue is the servicing of trains, and this may have to be done at a separate location east of Union (unspecified, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this in Don Yard).  The location is chosen to avoid conflicts between servicing movements and other trains in the corridor.

None of the VIA changes has been discussed with that company, and it is uncertain whether they would agree to all of what is proposed.

Noticeable by its absence is any provision for a separate high speed corridor.


The study shows that the planned expansion in service at Union can be handled, but the both physical and operational changes are needed.  Track layouts and platform assignments must be changed to eliminate conflicts between trains and at full capacity the station would have dedicated areas for each service.  This is completely different from the service plan GO has discussed for the revamped Union Station with ad hoc assignment of trains to various platforms.

The Don and Bathurst yards may, in time, be replaced with other facilities, and this begs the question of where GO would move these functions.  More trains will stay in service between the peaks with all-day, bidirectional operations, but there will still be a requirement to store some trains.

Train operations must hold to schedules, and platform dwell times must be minimized.  This has implications for passenger flows in the station which have not yet been examined in detail.

Finally, the service level contemplated by The Big Move cannot be achieved without adding more station capacity.  Although two options are presented, the Bathurst Yard scheme is far cheaper and the more likely to be adopted.

47 thoughts on “Union Station & Rail Corridor Capacity

  1. Wow.

    Though, I note that Chicago has a Union Station, the Ogilvie Transportation Centre, Millennium Station (Randolph Street), and the LaSalle Street station, all a few blocks from each other, and all taking train arrivals each day. That’s four stations. For Toronto’s regional rail, all tracks lead to Union. As Toronto’s population catches up with Chicago, we may just have to consider that one Union isn’t going to hack it, and we’ll need satellite stations to the east and west.

    Well, if this helps get the Downtown Relief Line built, so much the better. Though perhaps what we need is a Loop.


  2. I am confused by your discussion of the “pinch point” at John St.:

    “but there are only 10 tracks at John Street with no ability to add more.”

    At Strachan Ave., as far as I can tell, there are 8 tracks—4 on the Lakeshore line and 4 on the Milton/Georgeto… I mean Kitchener!/Barrie lines. If I understand correctly, trains can run at 5 minute frequency on each track, giving 12 × 8 = 96 trains per hour, total. In order to sit in the station, they would need 2 × 8 = 16 tracks there in order to get the 10 minute spacing you mention. Since there are only 15 platform tracks, this seems to imply a maximum of 15 × 6 = 90 trains per hour instead of 96.

    Is the problem that there are additional moves between the yard and the station, that is, moves that are not between one of the 8 mainline tracks and the station? But how many of those can there be—enough that two tracks dedicated just to yard moves isn’t enough?

    Steve: Look at the track diagram on page 32 of the main report (section 9.3.1). This shows the track layout as it will exist once planned construction is finished. The number of tracks per subdivision is, from north to south, Newmarket (2 – Barrie train), Weston (4 – Georgetown + ARL), Galt (2 – Milton), Oakville (5 – Lake Shore). Total 13. Also, the track layout and the current assignment of platforms to services mean that the trains in Union Station are not arranged in the same pattern as the north-to-south track plan, and trains must cross through each other’s paths. Not all tracks west of John connect easily to all platforms east of John although they can wander across the full yard via the ladder tracks and slip switches (I have been on trains that did this). Such a move blocks all other tracks at the train shed and ties up far too much capacity.

    Also, you forget the services coming from the east, and the need to reserve space for VIA trains which sit much longer than GO trains on the platform. Unless the Richmond Hill and Stouffville lines are hooked up with services on the west side, they consume platform space that might not be available simultaneously for west side trains. You can only get 10 minute headways if all services run through rather than turning back at Union. Otherwise, the extra time for a turnaround drops you to 15 minutes.

    You mention equipment moves. Yes, as the report points out, moves to and from the Bathurst and Don Yards during peak periods must stop because all of the track capacity will be consumed with revenue train moves. Both yards are on one side of the main line with Bathurst to the north and Don to the south. This limits non-conflicting access to trains that are on the appropriate side of the corridor.


  3. Steve, I’m struggling to think of a city/metro comparable in population to Toronto/GTA that does with just one central station in the CBD. Los Angeles is the closest I can think of and Metrolink ridership is a quarter of GO’s. A secondary station at Portland/Spadina could make sense but it would take decades of development before it became any more than a transfer point to a tunneled rapid transit system that would take people where they actually want to go.

    What are your thoughts on the probability of more stations in general being added to the system? This study leans to Portland/Spadina, the ongoing transit wonk dream is service along North Toronto sub with a station near Summerhill/Dupont. Is North Toronto feasible? With extremely transit-supportive (by Ontario standards) governments, do you see a larger project putting a hub station where jobs/people are, rather than when they can be dumped off to rapid transit, happening in the next 20-30 years?

    Steve: North Toronto Station (the temple of booze, as it has been called) at Summerhill is a potential location, or the equivalent spot on the Spadina line. However, these would dump passengers onto the subway at a peak point and, also, a location where walking distance development is unlikely. There are big problems with capacity on the North Toronto subdivision as this is CPR’s main route across the GTA. Metrolinx included it in The Big Move, but not as a high capacity route. As for other locations, there’s not a lot of property sitting empty beside rail corridors.

    People point to locations like Paris with its multiple stations, but forget that the rail network was built a century ago before cars existed and rail travel had the already-huge population of Paris as its market. Toronto had a few hundred thousand.


  4. And regarding the drawings of secondary station showing Skytrain cars for rapid transit – the layout JPG also says at one point, and one point only, “TTC LRT station” (along the south edge of Front at Draper). Freudian slips.

    Steve: Yes, I noticed that, although Metrolinx sometimes refers to Skytrain technology as “LRT”. Some of them still don’t understand the difference.


  5. Steve – Bathurst is indeed a hike to the financial district, and the point you made about not requiring electrification for that option was also quite interesting. Judging by the resistance to more ‘dirty diesel trains’ in some circles, I wonder whether the Bathurst North Yard station option would not meet with some community opposition. Not to mention that it would suddenly make the commutes of anyone coming into Toronto from the northwest less convenient and potentially more expensive (i.e. with DRL transfer). Ironic, given GO’s launch of Kitchener/Guelph service on the Georgetown corridor this month.

    That being said, it’s very true that most major cities rely on more than one central railway station, and it may be time for GO customers to accept that splitting core services is necessary as part of growth. If the choice is between a DRL/GO Bathurst Yard station and a new GO tunnel under Union, the former seems like the better solution as it tackles two major regional transit issues.

    Steve: This entire discussion has finally prodded GO/Metrolinx into recognizing that they need to integrate their fare structure with the TTC. They need the TTC as a collector/distributor service, and there are parts of Toronto where we can spend a fortune duplicating capacity that already is or could be on the commuter rail network.


  6. I found it funny to note that one of the renderings, if you look closely, shows two ALRVs both heading north on parallel tracks towards a head-on collision at the loop. Also the ‘SkyTrain’ cars have no front ends – perhaps they intend to save a bundle on air conditioning. Clearly the artist wasn’t much concerned with realism. At least Metrolinx seems to finally be coming to grips with reality though…


  7. Hello.
    Now we are talking big time.

    Transit City had a few flaws.
    Actually more than a few.

    Just as a follow up to ” James Bow’s ” comment

    PARIS has the following stations:

    Gare De L’Est (been there)
    Gare Du Nord (been there)
    Gare Charles De Gaulle (been there)
    Gare Du Lyon (need to go there for some future vacation)
    Gare D’Austerlitz
    Gare Montparnese (been there)

    and maybe others

    Just saying.


  8. My views:

    1) There should not be a problem with the Air Link using Track 1 as the Kitchener Line is on the northwest cut off – thus trains going to or from the airport should be on the northern tracks when they pass under Bathurst Street. Yes they turn south off the Kitchener Line when they get near the airport, but that still gives them several miles to make the necessary track switches – the further from Union that trains can change tracks the better if you want to move trains in an out of Union.

    Steve: Actually this is not as simple as it looks. With the ARL running every 15 minutes, this gives one train crossing the corridor every 7.5, and service may be improved in the future. This will seriously interfere with planned frequent service on the Kitchener line at least as far as Bramalea which is beyond the airport cutoff.

    2) Yes Spadina Ave. is not as close to downtown as Union, but at least there is transportation there (the Spadina streetcar). Not the best option in my opinion necessarily, but based on my experiences with the subway platform at Union, it might relieve the subway a bit. At the same time, if (and the is a huge IF) the DRL line is built then it would help. Then again, a survey could help determine how many people coming off the Kitchener and Barrie Line actually walk to work from Union and how many take transit. Also where do they actually go to (i.e. would the DRL, or the current Spadina streetcar actually get them to work easily.)

    3) If memory serves me correct, GO used to place two trains on one platform until an accident at Union Station and this idea was stopped due to safety concerns. Also, nowadays with the accessible cars, it means that Tracks 6-9 would have to be permanently designed for two trains. Greet during peak periods, but not as much during off peak. Also, VIA requires one of those platforms for the summer consist of the Canadian which is a long consist.

    4) Use Summerhill to help. I do think Toronto needs a second station. Or use a station off Spadina. Or both.

    By the way Steve, thanks for using the “traditional” numbering for the tracks at Union. I still don’t like the numbering system in use now.

    Steve: It’s amusing that the study speaks of tracks while GO customers have to figure out platforms. The distinction is that a track can have more than one platform. However, trains run on tracks while passengers stand on platforms. The craziest part about the new numbering is that “platforms” 1 and 2 are supposed to be the subway, but they forgot to number the Harbourfront streetcar’s loop (which may eventually have more than one loading area).


  9. Paris, London, but also New York and Chicago, even Montreal (though to not as high of a degree). Toronto was smaller, yes, but pragmatically, will we need more stations eventually? Is station- and network-building going to get any cheaper? Should we not, ultimately, start as soon as possible? Sigh…


  10. TorontoStreetcars says:

    If memory serves me correct, GO used to place two trains on one platform until an accident at Union Station

    That’s right. The Richmond Hill and Georgetown trains used to be on Track 1 simultaneously. They collided on November 19, 1997. Here’s the accident report from the Transportation Safety Board:
    TSB report on GO train collision


  11. Also the ‘SkyTrain’ cars have no front ends – perhaps they intend to save a bundle on air conditioning. Clearly the artist wasn’t much concerned with realism.

    It’s called a section cut. The trains extend beyond the cut-plane, so you see inside the cars crossing it. This is standard industry practice.


  12. They keep wanting more tracks for more capacity, but in reality they need less tracks with wider platforms. With a wide enough platform a GO train should only realy need to ocupy a track for two mins while emptying or loading a train. Also if the tracks were block signaled more like they are out on the mainline stations, a train should be able to enter Union Sation at 30mph or greater at the outer ends of the platforms istead of at “restricted speed” a snail and unsafe speed.

    VIA Rail should also learn to load and unload quicker at Union Sation. In Europe even Inter City trains can stop, change locomotive, supply the dining car and be gone in the oppasite direction in a schedualed 8 mins.

    Wide platforms with wide staircases are safer and give more capacity per track it serves. Think very wide platforms and maybe they won’t need so many narrow cramped allyways.


  13. My eyes might be failing me, but did I see single-level railcars in the cross-section for the possible underground Lakeshore section?

    Steve: Two options are shown, one of which looks a lot like single level EMUs to me. A tunnel for such cars would be cheaper than one for double-deckers and electric locos, but there are other tradeoffs to consider such as train capacity, dwell times and compatibility with the existing lines.


  14. A few thoughts:

    Bathurst North Option:

    Only works in conjunction w/DRL; that’s not a bad thing; but it does mean the projects must be bundled together; and you were mentioning price tag???

    Conservatively, I’m guessing a DRL between Bathurst Yard and Pape @ $2Billion or more (and we could all agree on the route being longer, at greater cost)

    That has to be added to the bill for Bathurst, and the station made more complex to allow for efficient passenger movement between modes.

    Steve: With the caveat that for those billions you get a line that performs a new useful function in the network and avoids costs and disruption to the existing Yonge Subway. A Lake Shore tunnel is just that — a tunnel for the GO service and nothing more. I believe the phrase we are looking for is that old Metrolinx canard, a “Benefits Case Analysis”.


    I would also note, as you did Steve that a future High Speed Rail Corridor is likely required and will almost certainly need to serve Union Station, that being the case, is the underground option needed for that project, even if GO did not require it?

    Steve: If we need a tunnel for the HSR, I don’t think it would be shared with GO considering that they want to run 5 minute headways.

    VIA has already stated publicly it will add 3 new runs to Toronto-Montreal (6 if you think of Arr+Dep as 2 movements) and I’m told that is coming in 2012.

    Three more new runs on Toronto-Windsor are contemplated for 2014.

    That’s w/o any HSR issues. I actually expect a few more non-GO runs in there pre-HSR.

    And though we will all believe it when we see it, supposedly ‘Shining Waters Railway’ will have its Toronto – Peterborough runs (2x per day) by 2013 or thereabouts with a termination at Union.


    All of which is to say, we may need to spend a great deal more than a few Billion, to meet capacity needs.

    Steve: And none of it would be spent, physically, in the 905. I think that is one reason we have not seen better planning for Union Station. Every penny goes to keeping long-haul commuers happy at the “home” end while treating Union as a bottomless resource. Surprise! Just imagine what happens as the price of gasoline rises and rises.


    On the subject of train storage. CN used to have 2 large yards at Danforth GO (Main to Victoria Park). The south yard is now a subdivision, but the North yard (previously parking) is just self-storage lockers, which I suspect (don’t know) may only be leasing their land); would it make any sense to put a yard up there? I think there’s probably room for 4 yard tracks (assuming no other mainline tracks are added), long enough to hold at least 2 train sets, maybe 3. The only real building in the way is a one-storey job that houses the St. Clair Ice Cream people, everything else is still parking (includes poorly used mall parking behind Shopper’s World.

    Steve: You want to demolish St. Clair Ice Cream? Sacrilege!! I ate cones from that dairy when it was still actually on St. Clair!

    An interesting idea, all the same.


  15. I should say that the corridor runs out of capacity because the worst constraint is actually at John Street where there is a pinch point north of the CN Tower. 13 tracks approach from the west and there are 15 platform tracks at the station, but there are only 10 tracks at John Street with no ability to add more.

    The stuff on the South side is obviously untouchable, but I wonder how much it would cost to demolish three tracks worth of space through Metro Toronto Convention Centre/Hotel Intercontinental to the north. Is it really more expensive than building a new Bathurst terminal for Georgetown and Barrie trains?


  16. Steve do you ever see a point in the future where some of the congestion could be alleviated by a merger of the operation of the Georgetown line and the Airport link? This would involve building a GO/VIA station on the mainline near the airport with a light-rail type line linking it to the airport? There would be no dedicated airport trains just a new stop on a frequent service Georgetown line.

    This would reduce the number of trains going in/out of Union and standardize rolling stock especially with respect to required platform height (more flexible platform assignments at Union?). It would also also allow access to the airport for VIA/GO passengers coming from the northwest all using a conventional fare structure.


    Steve: I think that if we had not inherited the ARL in its current form from the federal Liberals by way of SNC Lavalin, that’s the sort of operation that would be more likely, combined with frequent service on at least the Eglinton West rapid transit line (of whatever technology) plus, maybe the Finch line and something coming in from Mississauga. The entire fixation with premium fare operations to downtown rather than a truly regional service has screwed up planning for airport service for decades.


  17. It looks very much like Toronto is going to be stuck in a public transit corner that is very much our own making – but let’s give the Federal Government (ok, certain Federal Minister’s of Transport … ok, one particular Minister of Transport, let’s call him David C. … no wait, that’s too confusing, make it D. Collenette) the biggest share of that responsibility.

    After all, he is the one who decreed that the Air Rail Link must happen, not to mention that wonderful principle of “all transit will lead to Union.” It’s great to have one national public transport hub in theory, but when the tracks are too constrained to run enough train services, and the platforms are too constrained for people to move around quickly … well, Union, we have a problem.

    And I have to say, isn’t it a bit weird that, not only all GO train services are going to be affected by the Air Rail Link being a separate service, but also services are going to face delays because of the location of the Air Rail Link on Track 1/Platform 1 and that location is being chosen because they have to have a lounge at the West Wing? Couldn’t they find another place for the lounge? Or just have a “lounge” on the train?

    Looking at the corridor study and the recent proposal for a DRL that is very much a UDRL (Union & Downtown Relief Line), it does seem that a new station at Bathurst yard is the “way to GO” (pun intended) provided that Toronto gets the UDRL that it desperately needs.

    In addition we have to have a serious talk about making GO-TTC integration at Bloor/Dundas West happen sooner rather than later – after all, the stations are already there and the integration could happen much faster than any other potential location like North Toronto/Dupont or North Toronto/Summerville or any of the others.

    Of course, none of that is going to happen without Metrolinx, TTC & GO introducing some sort of fare harmony, and none of that is going to happen until they (and indeed, the whole GTA) decide to sit down and have “the talk” about fare structure, instead of the talk about “Presto” (which glosses over the real issues).

    The other big question now is this: If the Bathurst Yard station + DRL / UDRL proposal best meets the needs of Metrolinx, GO, the TTC and their respective passengers – and it appears to, on the surface – then are there ways in which the proposal can be improved?

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: Yes, we have a very ex-Minister of Transport to thank for the ARL boondoggle. Regarding track 1, it’s intriguing that buried in the study was a variant with the ARL on track 3. Although not quite as easy to reach from the lounge, it wouldn’t be far when you remember the new pedestrian connection through where the Harvey’s used to be. It would be fairly easy to have folks walk around the corner, down the connecting ramp and into a link up to the western end of Track 3.

    Yes, I am sure there are improvements that could be made for the proposed Bathurst North + DRL combination. Some of the schemes that are in the “Opportunities” report (which I have not yet written up here in detail) need rethinking, and of course there is the as-yet unpublished TTC’s DRL study itself. Too much behind the scenes plotting by Metrolinx and TTC, not enough public discussion and education (and I say that in a positive sense) on the various alternatives.

    Dundas West’s problem is that the owner of the Crossways doesn’t want to co-operate with a link to Dundas West Station that must, in part, pass through the building. If Metrolinx really wanted this, they would just expropriate (or at least threaten to do so), and the fact that they have not yet made noises publicly tells me they are not exactly rushing into the project.

    And, yes, we spend far too much time talking about fare technology rather than fare integration, in part because Queen’s Park wants the credit for a made-in-Ontario fare card without the expense of actually paying for an integrated fare structure.


  18. Steve says:

    VIA has already stated publicly it will add 3 new runs to Toronto-Montreal (6 if you think of Arr+Dep as 2 movements) and I’m told that is coming in 2012.

    If you look at p. 12 of the USRC-Track-Study_MainReport that Steve links to above, it shows Phase 1 of VIA expansion plans with 8 trains to Montreal (up from 6 currently) and 7 to Ottawa (up from 5). Some of the eastward trains are combined from Toronto to Brockville, while no westward trains are combined, so you would have a total of 12 or 13 departures (up from 9) and 15 arrivals (up from 11). VIA also has a Kingston-Toronto round trip not included in these figures, but which also needs to be taken into account for track capacity at Union Station and on Lakeshore East.

    I suspect that the start-up of this expansion plan depends on completion of the new third track on the Kingston Sub at various points between Brockville and Oshawa, and the addition of new island platforms and footbridges at some stations. This work is making progress, so it might be done sometime in 2012.

    Phase 2 of VIA’s expansion plans (start date not settled yet) would have 17 departures to Montreal or Ottawa from Toronto and 19 arrivals.

    Three more new runs on Toronto-Windsor are contemplated for 2014.

    The frequency of Toronto-London VIA service on the back route through Guelph is supposed to double from three to six round trips a day at some point, though that will require upgrades to the Goderich-Exeter Railway, which haven’t started yet.

    And though we will all believe it when we see it, supposedly ‘Shining Waters Railway’ will have its Toronto – Peterborough runs (2x per day) by 2013 or thereabouts with a termination at Union.

    Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro, the main proponent of this scheme, once said that the start date would be July 1, 2014, but even he later said that date wouldn’t be met.


  19. The ARL could be removed from the platform equation if it ran under Front St in a single track tunnel from Spadina to a station in front of the Convention Centre. Post DMU world of course.

    Steve: The ARL is already far too expensive as things stand. The last thing it needs is a tunnel. Also, this would not remove many departures from Union in the peak hour and there would still be a capacity crunch.


  20. (Steve) “you forget the services coming from the east, and the need to reserve space for VIA trains which sit much longer than GO trains on the platform. “

    Which trains are longer than a GO L12 at peak? Canadian isn’t timetabled to arrive until 0930. If you mean the one that runs as a pair until Brockville departing 0925 holding on the platform for excessive pre-departure timings, then VIA should be given a financial disincentive to operating excess length trains during peak times at the next renewal of their operating agreement with Union Station with a compensating reduction in charges for shoulder/offpeak over whatever is the current regime. VIA’s financial imperatives then might switch to operating one half of that train as a stopper and the other as a chasing express leaving in shoulder-peak which loads transferring passengers at Brockville. The ONR departure at 0825 is presumably also problematic, but again they should be obliged to justify their need to go at that time and pay a penalty for doing so. Perhaps Metrolinx could co-fund speed improvements on the line between Toronto and Washago to allow ONR to depart later in the morning.

    I really want to support VIA’s (and ONR’s) expansion but if they want to have a share of platform space at Union at times of peak demand that space has to be justified by the amount of passengers they are carrying and the resulting direct benefit to the USRC and indirect benefit to Toronto.


  21. Having lived and travelled in Europe I am always surprised at how long trains (both GO and VIA) sit in stations here blocking through lines. I agree it is partly because our platforms are quite (very) narrow at Union but it would seem to me that both GO and, particularly, VIA could board and unload much faster. (Though VIA does have the problem that one must climb up steps at Union to actually get into the train from the platform. If there was a VIA-only platform could the height of it be changed to fit their trains?)

    Steve: It’s surprising this has not been done already, and I suspect that the reason is related to GO’s desire to maintain flexibility in track usage. If VIA had more trains, they could make a legitimate claim on dedicated tracks. However, I remember doing a tour of Union Station not long before the reconstruction started, and the entire trainshed was empty all the way from Track 1 south. That’s not a busy passenger railway in my books.


  22. How can it be, that for Stuttgart 21 (for example), they plan to run up to 51 trains per hour through a station with 8 tracks and 4 feeder tracks on both sides (track plan), but in Toronto the capacities are so low compared to the number of tracks and the space?

    I have a feeling they should shop around and see the techniques and operational practices used around the world that can result in 24tph operation – possibly involving wider platforms, and probably flyovers (which are still cheaper than the underground option), more level boarding, letting people on platforms, etc.

    Naturally, one cannot reduce dwell times that much for the 2000+ bilevel+loco trains. But with EMUs, much shorter dwelling times are possible. And even with the bilevels I feel one should be able to do better than one train every 10 minutes.


  23. Steve, I’d really have to argue that it’s too soon to conclusively say that the Bathurst option is cheaper given the DRL IS required for it to function properly. Given the way the projects are tied in to each other we really need to be looking at the combined costs for GO and TTC infrastructure downtown and at that point things get more complicated.

    If we get into a situation where both a GO tunnel and DRL are needed the choice is pretty clear, but Metrolinx hasn’t even looked at a GO tunnel off Lakeshore on broadly the route to Danforth that a subway could take. Off hand I could imagine a GO tunnel along the line of the one proposed for Lakeshore with an added portal giving access to Georgetown and a tunnel through eastern Toronto replacing the DRL and eventually linking to the Richmond Hill corridor. If this could have enough local station (three of five would probably be enough) to take up a significant part of the potential traffic of a DRL we could conceivably end up with a project that’s competitive in terms of cost/benefit with a Bathurst station.

    The real point here is that we are going to need more coordination between the TTC and GO studies before we figure out what should be done with Union and the rail corridor. The good news is that that DOES for once seem to be the direction Metrolinx is headed in and that the study would seem to indicate that GO does still have some breathing room to at Union once the current expansion is finished.

    Steve: There are two important points here. Any extensive GO tunnel will trigger the need to electrify service and that has all sorts of implications including the question of tunnel diameter and the equipment to be operated on affected lines. If it’s a DRL, we know that it’s a subway/LRT tunnel (probably subway) which is smaller and cheaper to build. The TTC’s DRL study is, I understand, already largely complete and so we should know the routes they intend to propose. I do agree about the need for and welcome arrival of co-ordination between the two agencies.


  24. If the Bathurst satellite station option is chosen, new platforms need to be built on the Lakeshore line as well. It is pretty ridiculous for passengers transferring between lines to have to walk 15 minutes between Bathurst and Union stations, this will really discourage ridership by suburb to suburb commuters. Also, why are Milton (and the ARL) not proposed to terminate here?

    If the Lakeshore tunnel option is chosen it is utterly ridiculous for it to have a maximum capacity of 12 trains per hour in each direction. With EMUs it should be possible to run 30 trains per hour per direction in the tunnel, as is commonplace in other systems around the world. This would allow very high frequency subway-like service on the Lakeshore line.

    Steve: The limitation on Lakeshore is that it must run mixed in with regular freight and passenger on the outer part of the line that GO does not own. Very tight subway-like headways are not going to be seen under those circumstances.


  25. “Steve: Look at the track diagram on page 32 of the main report (section 9.3.1). This shows the track layout as it will exist once planned construction is finished.”

    Thanks for the explanation, Steve. My main confusion was counting currently existing tracks rather than considering what will be there after the expansion. Looks like maybe they shouldn’t have sold off quite so much of the rail yards space in the 80s after all!

    Steve: That was an issue when the yards were sold, but we were told nobody would ever need all of that space. I’m surprised that the remaining corridor is as wide as it is.


  26. I am intruiged by the Bathurst/DRL idea, but have a variant to suggest:

    a) can the ARL
    b) replace the ARL an LRT with ~1-2km spacing
    c) add a new GO terminus station at Bathurst as suggested
    d) have the ARLRT diverge at Bathurst following the DRL routing to Pape or beyond

    perceived benefits:
    -provides a more useful and accessible airport service
    -provides a rapid transit corridor to the northwest
    -eliminates the need to stub-end the DRL at Bathurst

    perceived drawbacks:
    -much more expensive
    -potential conflict with TC regs (perhaps reduced if extended versions of planned ARL rolling stock were used?)
    -lack of platform space in the Georgetown corridor

    What do you think?

    Steve: You’re not the first person to make proposals such as this and numerous variations on the common theme. We are stuck with the ARL which is unsuited to its task, and which is even competing with future “Transit City” services to the airport for attention and funding. The project is too far down the track, so to speak, to stop and the political egg-on-face for those who have defended it all these years prevents any rational discussion of alternatives.


  27. Why is there such a concern of having lounge access for the ARL to the point that it throws a wrench in the flow and capacity of Union?

    In all my travels that involved using rail service to get to an airport, I never once saw the need to use a lounge before boarding a train. We are typically talking about services with 15-minute headways, but even the 30-minute headways west of downtown Oslo for the Flytoget service never had me wishing I could be in a lounge instead. I don’t believe that there are many rail lounges for airport-express services out there, but someone may correct me on that.

    Lounges for air travelers (once at the airport) typically provide a nice place to wait for significantly longer periods of time because either you arrive at the airport with worst-case time to get through security (and US customs, for US-bound departures) and don’t need the worst-case, or you have an hour or more connection time between flights.

    Steve: The words “ARL” and “intelligent design” do not belong in the same sentence. This project has been the tail wagging the dog on many aspects of the Georgetown corridor planning for years.


  28. Steve: The TTC’s DRL study is, I understand, already largely complete and so we should know the routes they intend to propose. I do agree about the need for and welcome arrival of co-ordination between the two agencies.

    Ironic, not long ago the DRL was off the table, and now two semi-formal proposals are on the way? Last I checked nobody has any money, but I stopped believing that a while ago.

    I’d be curious to know the differences between the TTC’s proposal and GO’s proposal – and how much Metrolinx actually figures into either, or both.

    Maybe, just maybe, the different proposals will be discussed by the public so we can finally determine the best DRL option for the city.

    How soon do you expect that we will see the TTC’s DRL study?

    Also, is there anything that you already know about the study that might make it different from the older studies like Network 2011 (oh, the irony!).

    I personally wonder if the TTC’s new proposal will look at making the DRL an LRT, extend it up to Eglinton and interline with Don Mills in the east/northeast and with the proposed Waterfront West LRT in the west…

    Or is that too crazy?

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: I don’t know when the TTC will issue its study, and it may be tied up in political problems given that it isn’t part of Rob Ford’s Transportation Plan. The last thing he needs is a new subway line competing for attention, a problem the DRL has had for decades with advocates of other parts of the network such as the Richmond Hill line.

    I doubt that the TTC looked at the DRL north of Danforth because they have always tried to minimize the scope of the project. In the process, they limit its usefulness and create a self-fulfilling prophecy that the DRL isn’t cost effective.

    As for through-routing with Don Mills or WWLRT, the first obvious problem is that neither of these projects exist since Transit City was cancelled, and the TTC isn’t going to study an option in direct opposition to the Mayor’s desire and Commission policy. Second, the level of service likely required on the DRL will need trains that are certainly longer than would be operated on the WWLRT given its streetcar-like routing. Finally, the WWLRT is part of the streetcar network and would have used “legacy” vehicles, not “Transit City” vehicles that are (a) the wrong gauge thanks to Metrolinx’ decision and (b) won’t run on the streetcar network due to geometry problems.


  29. Toronto is bush league, as always.

    Here in Tokyo, where I enjoy schadenfreude reading about what is (not) happening in my native Toronto, we have maybe a dozen stations with more, or many factors more, people moving through them, and efficiently. Greater Tokyo has about ten times the population of the GTA, but far more people served by rail, and it works well, apart from rush hour crowding, sarin attacks and earthquakes. I’d love to see Toronto/Ontario/Federal politicians spend a week learning something here; maybe it’s better to have a Tokyo delegation to go to Toronto and face-palm publicly.

    If Wikipedia entries are correct… just over a million trips happen weekdays on the TTC subways and GO, inside the city. You’d expect a per-capita reflection in Tokyo of ten million, though it is factors more than that adding all public and private surface and subway routes. Yet with far more corporations involved, stations and tracks manage to play nicely together.

    Take a look at this map. Is there a reason the Japanese can make a system of this capacity work, but Canadians can’t make one station work? Yes, but none flatter Canada.


  30. Calvin says:

    “Why is there such a concern of having lounge access for the ARL to the point that it throws a wrench in the flow and capacity of Union?”

    Though I too doubt the need for the ARL as it is planned I think that it is not uncommon for airlines to offer baggage checking services – at least to some classes of passenger – before one boards an airport train so I guess space may be needed for a ‘lounge’ to accommodate this service.


  31. In response to Mark Dowling’s comment about the 0825 departure for the ONR…

    The Northlander is a political hot potato that I doubt even Metrolinx has the clout to push. The reason it has to leave Toronto at that time is to arrive in Cochrane at a “decent” time (7:25pm), and Northerns have fought to keep the train for years. Don’t expect any attempt to alter it to go over quietly.

    Now, would someone please explain this to me, I’ve never understood it:

    Why do Lakeshore line trains use the more northern platforms at Union under the current arrangement when they are the most Southern GO line? The new plans certainly make better sense there.

    Steve: Probably because this is the most-used line and the only one, now, with all-day service.


  32. Reading the report, VIA allows 10 minutes for unloading and FORTY for loading. This is far too high, and is a waste of the station’s capacity and of staff time (and hence taxpayers’ money). VIA needs to cut that time down. Even with only one door per car, they should be at the 10min mark for unloading plus re-loading. Maybe then they could run more services without buying so many new trains…

    Separately, with regard to through-running of GO services: I think it would make more sense for Barrie to be the “stub” and pair off Milton/Stouffville and RH/Georgetown. Granted none of these will attract many through trips, but it would be more than linking RH and Barrie!

    Steve: A major issue for VIA, even with its extended loading times, is the queue of waiting passengers in the concourse which can become quite congested when a train is “late” for its boarding time. Because seating is not reserved for all trains/cars, there is a strong incentive for passengers to arrive early to get their desired spots on the train and this generates large queues. Longer loading times effectively transfer the queue onto the train itself, but at the expense of platform occupancy.

    When comparing VIA operations to other cities and stations, it is important to keep in mind whether low or high platform boarding is available and the number of useable doors per car/train. It is not uncommon for VIA to load two cars through one set of steps with passengers turning right or left as appropriate after they board. This further constrains loading times while limiting crew costs. Part of that requirement is a direct result of low platform loading and the need to assist passengers who have trouble with stairs. This begs the whole question of accessibility, something we have heard nothing about from VIA.


  33. At $1.3B for the LakeShore tunnel and presumably $3B or so for the DRL/Bathurst West station; I wonder if the consultants considered adjustments to the current convention centre/hotel/Skywalk.

    If we trade air-rights over the tracks for space within the existing convention centre building envelope, GO may have space for 2 additional through tracks and 2 station platforms with an eastern exit at Simcoe.

    Full replacement value of that hotel is about $250M. A full rebuild of the convention centre over the tracks might be $700M.

    Vancouver Convention Centre West Building was built nearly entirely over water and roughly the same size (if you include outdoor space also built over water), cost about $880M but this includes an estimated $200M of last minute design changes and costs due to the severe time constraints/resource competition caused by the Olympics; $700M for a version over tracks seems reasonable.

    I don’t think this is a solution we would use but at the costs being considered it might be worth evaluating.

    The Federal government, current owner of the convention centre and hotel, is looking for a buyer.

    Steve: I reiterate my point that the DRL isn’t just a multi-billion dollar expense to solve the problem at Union, but also a valuable addition to the rapid transit network in its own right. A billion spent on the Lake Shore tunnel only helps GO. The DRL helps GO and the subway network.


  34. I agree with Steve about the DRL – it is not just about Union Station, it is about transit and moving people. It also provides some relieve for the current interchange stations, especially Yonge-Bloor station.

    As for VIA, it does have some wheelchair lifts, but they are time consuming to use (at least when I have seen them being used.) Part of the the problem with the one door for two cars, remember that VIA’s doors have to be manually opened and closed unlike GO. Unless you want VIA’s costs to increase, it would require more staff to operate more doors.

    Even with reservations on VIA, it can also be a problem as people sometimes take the wrong seats and you have to stop and ask them to move (I have had to do that occasionally.) Again, this slows down boarding. Then there is the luggage that most people travelling will have on VIA, which is not the same on GO. That also takes time.

    As for Lakeshore trains using the northern tracks, it does remind me of one problem with Union at the moment. Some of the platforms, especially the higher ones that GO use have poor stair placements. You have to go all the way to the east end of the platform to get to the stairs. Not good for getting people on and off trains. The old 3A (now “platform 5”) is used a lot for the Lakeshore Line, especially outside the rush hours. This platform also does not have good access from the concourse, especially for the westend of the platform.


  35. I think a Bathurst station probably makes sense long term as redevelopment happens on the north side between Bathurst and Spadina. If a quick and dirty station was made there now it could act like exhibition used to when trains only stopped occasionally. Eventually as developers and businesses see that it is a good location they will start to build there. If we leave it as a giant project that can’t happen without a drl or tunnel or what not it will likely never be worth doing.

    Is there any discussion by metrolinx on what will happen once the Portland development starts? I imagine that will add much more challenge at Union.

    Steve: Metrolinx has been studiously ignoring anything that is not a “regional” service, and Waterfront Toronto doesn’t have the money. It’s a combination of willful ignorance and “it’s somebody else’s job”.


  36. Toronto really needs to enter the modern times and look at what other cities are doing, and they are not building new terminal stations.

    Cities like Philly, Paris, Milano, Sydney, have all built downtown commuter rail tunnels which not only allow through service on trains, but allow multiple downtown subway like stations.

    If we are going to move to a true regional rail network, then trains need to through route. Not end at a terminal station in the middle of nowhere(i.e. Bathurst).

    I was just in Milano, and their city centre bypass tunnel(which operates under the downtown core) is just great. With only two tracks, it moves countless more trains an hour than GO Transit is able to move with 20 tracks.


  37. And what’s the deal with changing all the track numbers ? Just a dirt cheap change with absolutely no improvement in anything.

    I now avoid Union by getting off at Mimico, Exhibition or Danforth to get to Toronto just to avoid the Union mess. But now even GO Transit have made the east and west Lakeshore routes separate timetables and it has become more difficult to tell what trains are through trains. I agree with those who point out how so many other cities have superior train services.

    But even when comparing deficiencies blamed on FRA standards and such , even some other north American cities deal with it better then Toronto. Like Amtrak’s North East Corridor trains have the same layout as VIA trains, and although most platforms at large stations are high level, not all are and they have faster boarding then VIA Rail. Also Montreal still uses the very light single decker GO trains (so does the Northlander) so how do these old light trains pass FRA standards ? Light fast trains make better schedules. Maybe GO should look at more frequent lighter trains instead of such huge trains that can only be filled in at rush hour.


  38. @Michael:

    For the record, the railway tunnel you’re referring to in Milan took 25 years to build instead of the original 10 year timeframe that had been planned – construction started in 1982 and only finished in 2008! The system you’re describing is certainly not a new idea, it’s modeled after that used in several German cities which completed projects of the like in the 1970s (the prototype probably being the Munich S-Bahn). It’s essentially the same network model as seen on the San Francisco BART – suburban trains are interlined in the city core to operate at Metro/subway frequencies. That’s not the same setup that we have here in Toronto, so you’re comparing apples and oranges. I’m not saying that system doesn’t work well or couldn’t work here, but it’s a potentially much more expensive solution than is needed and won’t do anything to address the bottlenecks on the TTC subway.

    Although it can be argued terminal stations are less efficient in some ways than through-running, they are successfully used in many major metropolitan cities around the world (i.e. Frankfurt, London, New York, Chicago) so there is no reason to discard the option just on principle. I’m all for a high frequency S-Bahn style service in Toronto, but any solution has to address problems with the subway network as well, using decidedly finite funds.


  39. Steve wrote about:

    “…a problem the DRL has had for decades with advocates of other parts of the network such as the Richmond Hill line.”

    Kevin’s comment:

    I am an advocate of improving service on the Richmond Hill line and support the Metrolinx proposals to do so. However, I do not see this as competing with the DRL.

    DRL provides local service to the downtown with the proposed line only going as far North as Eglinton.

    The Richmond Hill GO line’s most southerly station (apart from Union) is at the Oriole GO/Leslie Subway station on Sheppard.

    The logic of improving the Richmond Hill line is that right now during rush hour full Sheppard subway trains arrive at Yonge Street where most of their passengers are forced to elbow their way onto jam-packed Yonge trains. The result makes a sardine tin look roomy.

    If, instead, those people got off at the Leslie station on the Sheppard line and got onto a GO train there, this would provide significant relief to the Yonge line.

    This is cheap to do from a cost prospective, because the Richmond Hill line is already there. All we have to do is relatively cheap upgrades to existing infrastructure. Upgrades that can be divided into separate projects that can be done independently of each other as money becomes available.

    One example is to move the GO station 400 metres north up the line to be part of the Leslie subway station. Obviously it costs a lot less to rebuild one station than to build a whole line. The fact that this was not done in the first place is a monument to the stupidity of competing bureaucracies.

    Then improvements to the track and signals can be made to enable more trains to be run.

    Steve: Kevin — I am talking about the Richmond Hill subway extension. I agree that there should be much better service on the GO line, although there are constraints on track capacity and speed in the twisty Don Valley. GO won’t serve all of the Richmond Hill to 416 travellers because many are not bound for the core, but it will lop a bunch off the top of what would otherwise be subway loads.


  40. I remember when the Sheppard Line opened they were talking about how the Oriole GO station platforms would be moved northwards to link to the Sheppard subway at Leslie Station.

    So I went to Leslie Station to see what it looked like – for the life of me, I couldn’t even find any signage directing me to the GO station. So much for the “integration is going to happen soon…”

    I cannot believe that it’s so many years later and nothing has happened. Given the congestion on the Sheppard Line and especially the Yonge Line, a small 400m platform shift (which would cost 100 million or less), a few extra GO trains … well it really seems like a no-brainer.

    So why is nothing happen? Is there a property developer involved like at Dundas W/Bloor?

    Cheers, m

    Steve: No developer. More a case that this is not seen as a major transfer point at the top of GO’s list. More generally, until GO and Queen’s Park deal with the issue of fare integration in Toronto so that people can use GO and the TTC without feeling they are ripped off for transferring, locations like this will not generate much transfer traffic. Also, of course, we have the question of all day service on the Richmond Hill line.


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