According to the Globe and Mail, the CPR plans to redevelop surplus lands in many cities. Among the land that is up for grabs is the Obico Yard near Kipling Station in Etobicoke.
Why does the TTC need more yard capacity?
For starters, they have more trains than will fit within existing yards and the problem will only get worse with the construction of any new lines such as the Scarborough extension or the Downtown Relief Line. The yard at Keele Station has been pressed back into service to hold the overflow from Greenwood Yard that was triggered, in turn, by the T1 car fleet at Wilson Yard being pushed out by the new TR fleet.
The Scarborough project includes budget room for a new yard, but exactly where the TTC would put this in Scarborough is a bit of a mystery.
A west end yard on the BD line would allow service to be split between both ends of the line, and it would free up space at Greenwood. The property is already a railway yard, and it sits in the middle of an industrial area.
Toronto talks a lot about preserving industrial lands, but if this property turns into a new subdivision, this will be a major failure by the TTC (or GO Transit) to grab an ideal spot for expanded system capacity.
Steve would this not also represent an opportunity to increase the turn capacity, and ability to insert additional trains as required into the Bloor-Danforth line? While it does not appear needed yet, would this not in effect allow the TTC once they have done the resignalling on the BDL and demand grows to a point that it is required permit running service similar to what is required on YUS, but cannot be supported without resignaling being complete and a Steeles extension?
Steve: There is some capacity already to insert trains using the storage tracks at Kipling Station, or even at Keele, but, yes, having a yard west of Kipling would give more options.
With it’s ready made access to both GO’s Milton and Lakeshore lines, it might be more use to GO than TTC. Or both! But yes, it would be a major screw up if it ends up in a non railway use.
Two other areas GO should look at is the CP yards along Dundas between Keele and Jane, and space beside the Milton line curve at West Toronto. The latter could accommodate daytime storage of trains, the former even a station.
Also Metrolinx should protect CP’s mid town freight line so that no bits are hived off which would preclude a GO route one day in the long distance future.
Passing up such ‘opportunities for the future’ is a danger with Metrolinx, who need to bolster their long term planning capability, develop some vision and bank these assets when they cannot see an immediate use.
CP will be thinking it can more money selling the lands to a developer for residential uses. Of course, that requires City approval. The danger is that a developer already owns it by the time TTC get round to wanting it, and hence the developer wants to recoup their residential-orientated purchase price.
What needs to happen is the TTC should make serious noises about aquiring the land, to reduce the interest from developers.
Obico would be ideal as it is at the end of the line, unless it gets extended to Square One and this means that trains at the start of the day can start in service and those at the end of the day can finish up in service until the end. Going out of service after the a.m. rush and into service before the p.m. rush would require more trains than necessary for a while but at least they would be doing something useful instead of dead heading. The TTC should have demanded a small yard at Vaughan City Centre and at the end of any other line they are forced to build into the 905.
Can’t a yard be placed at the CP Agincourt closed hump yard located just north of Sheppard in the East end?
Steve: Maybe, but we need a subway to reach that land first, and, by the way, that is still a very active yard.
That land should NOT be used for any yards and should be used for the extension of the subway to Mississauga City Centre PERIOD.
Steve: Look at a map. The land runs north south below the alignment any extension westward would take.
The TTC/City of Toronto would be foolish to not leap at this opportunity. It frees up space at Greenwood for the Downtown Relief Line. And since I’ve now become resigned to the ill-advised Scarborough extension of Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth), the additional capacity will be needed even if SmartTrack becomes that magic solution to all of Toronto’s transit woes.
Does CP still require the tracks connecting its Galt Subdivision and the Metrolinx-owned Oakville Subdivision? I could be wrong, but I thought that freight trains routes through Hamilton via the former TH&B all connect to the Galt Sub at Guelph Junction now, not via the old CN line.
Looking at the size of the property, it’s about 3 times Greenwood. Maybe 4-5 times depending how much of the adjacent property belongs to CP.
Could easily have a TTC yard, a GO yard (though Willowdale is nearby), and new residential.
There’s tons of land around the 407 that could be used for this purpose. The opportunities for development are extremely limited and the dead people across the street won’t mind the noise 🙂
Steve: Ideally the TTC needs to have yards at the outer ends of all of its routes. Concentrating everything on the west leg of the YUS creates severe problems for building service up and down at the start and end of the day.
I’ve thought for a while that a west end yard is not only desirable but should be a prerequisite to any extension – east or west – of BD line. Getting a connection under CP Milton to those lands is gonna be interesting though.
Obico IMS terminal was closed years ago and very little remains in railway use. The site is the LAST large property in an industrial area with _no_ residential anywhere nearby. (Complete lack of NIMBYS). Access to the Milton GO line and GO Lakeshore line plus GO Willowbrook yard and shops via the Canpa Subdivision which is very little used for local industry (through freight trains to/from Hamilton is long gone) is an unequaled opportunity.
It could be used to expand GO facilities which will always be in an expansion mode. It would also be of use by the TTC as there is lots of land (74 acres?) and would suit not only subway trains it would be useful for streetcars via a connecting track to Long Branch loop allowing relief for Roncesvalles even its eventual closing and sale for BIG bucks to developers. Possible future extension of St.Clair streetcar along Dundas might also be a choice. Even lots of room for a bus garage possibly replacing Queensway which is old and small. More land to sell for industry.
What is not needed is another shopping mall/plaza/outlet mall etc. etc. nor more highrise.
Metrolinx needs to buy it NOW.
None of the proposed extensions go anywhere near Agincourt Yard and when was it abandoned? It is CP’s main yard in southern Ontario.
This is another idea that would remove capacity from riders in the city of Toronto to benefit riders coming from the 905. The City above Toronto has impacted the capacity of the University Spadina Subway, Richmond Hill wants to destroy Yonge now you want to overload Bloor. The TTC and Toronto should not build subway lines into the 905. This is the job for Metrolinx and the provincial government. If you want subway service move to the 416 or take a bus in.
I believe that you are correct, much to the chagrin of people who live in Campbellville and Waterdown who want that line abandoned, but CP still retains the right to run on the Oakville sub and I think that they still do some switching with Ford but I haven’t been out there in a LONG time.
Since the TTC subways can easily handle a 5% grade, especially for car house moves, this should not be a problem. I would still like to see the TTC get back their old lands north of the right of way east of Kipling, but that is probably not going to happen.
Steve: No it is going to become the centre of the (western) universe as part of the Six Points redevelopment.
I can’t see the TTC wanting Obico Yard. The Scarborough subway doesn’t require very much extra yard space. GO would probably be a more suitable use for this property. I can’t see the DRL requiring this because the DRL would probably use an automated system that is incompatible with the current subway and a new yard in the Portlands rather than Greenwood. I suspect though that CP is thinking about converting this to big box retail. This property is unsuitable for residential because it is entirely surrounded by industrial areas.
Steve: The Portlands does not work as a yard space as is too far south of where a DRL would cross into downtown. Scarborough will need more yard space than may be provided for in the plan if anyone gets the idea of making the TTC run all of the trains to Sheppard (the budget only provides for half of the service going there). Meanwhile there are plans for more service on the existing BD line but no place to put any trains.
And is Bombardier still hoping to build a “DRL” with ICTS technology (no matter what they call it today)? The moment we change from subway technology, they lose their edge as a vendor. Just look what happened in Vancouver.
If it’s anything like the seizing of transit opportunities in the lower west end core ie. something vs. the car-based Front St. Extension and the milk run WWLRT, we’ll see housing sprout soon.
Sigh; though one has to hope, and at least there was a hint of rationality with Mr. Tory Mon.
I hope TTC gets to use part of the Obico Yard for a new subway yard; that makes a lot of sense.
Regarding the yard for GO RER / SmartTrack electric trains, Obico may not be the best location. Milton line is not the first in line for electrification. Access to Lakeshore West line (via Canpa sub) will be indirect and the trains coming out of the yard will be heading west rather than towards Union; many of them will have to reverse to reach Lakeshore East, or the SmartTrack route.
I would look into lands surrounding the Weston sub, west of the Etobicoke North station. This is a vast industrial area. The land is not vacant, but a parcel can probably be purchased for a reasonable price.
The electric trains yard in that area will be perfectly positioned for SmartTrack service. Together, the Etobicoke North yard and the Whitby yard could provide the needed redundancy for the electric train system. Even if one of the yards gets temporarily cut out of Union by an overnight / early morning technical problem or accident, at least half of the normal amount of trains will still come to service.
To clarify, it’s a former intermodal yard and thus closer to a parking lot than a railway yard.
Frankly, when you consider the size of the property, there’s enough land available that there can be room for both redevelopment, which anyone who is familiar with the area knows it won’t be turned into residential properties, and a subway yard which can have the air rights sold at a future date.
If the TTC or Metrolinx are interested in buying Obico, it will be interesting to see what CP is willing to accept as a purchase price. The G&M article talks about the CP/Dream Unlimited partnership seeking maximise returns for shareholders. A second article in today’s G&M talks about CP playing hardball with the City of Vancouver over an unused, but not officially abandoned rail corridor:
The TTC’s only hope to get a decent deal might be to get a bid in quickly before any developers can get plans together and crowd the market in CP’s favour.
I have to agree with Raymond’s argument that there is a long term opportunity to gain access to larger yard space and consolidate operations by purchasing the Obico yard.
An extension of the Lakeshore streetcar tracks via the Canpa sub and/or Kipling Ave could also have a logical extension of the line further north along (or parallel to) Kipling which benefits more users.
It should be added that this is one of those opportunities where Metrolinx purchases the land and leases it to the TTC for yard uses. I don’t know if the TTC is interested in being a landowner or developer but the benefits of being able to sell yard land for development is very interesting.
The Globe and Mail article to which Steve linked is as fine an example of corporate bovine effluent as I have had the misfortune to read in a long, long time.
Some specific examples:
So just how does selling off unused real estate make the operation of the company leaner and more efficient?
Another example, from the very end of the article:
So is the company going to grow or is it going to become leaner? And just how is selling off real estate assets going to grow the company?
I can respect the honesty of a company that says “We’re going to sell $2 billion in unused real estate and pay out the money in executive bonuses and a special dividend to the shareholders. So the company shareholders and executives will get a big fat wad of cash in their pockets.”
But this type of BS article I really cannot respect.
Steve: The move converts unused real estate into cash eliminating whatever cost is associated with keeping the land on corporate books, and freeing up capital for investment elsewhere without the need to borrow or use operating profits. If it just becomes a one-time dividend or bonus, then yes, this is simply asset stripping. If the value is reinvested, then it is good business. CPR is no longer in the real estate business.
Ontario municipalities are forbidden by law from amassing land for development (i.e selling at a profit). I’m not sure whether that would apply to TTC (being an organisation of questionable legal status), but I can’t see them wanting to take on the risk. I can see them working what they need, and buying no more than that.
Steve: If the City were doing this at all, it would be done through Build Toronto, not the TTC.
Obico Yards would be perfect for a subway yard. Looking at the layout, it would be a bit of a challenge to build access tracks across the mainline tracks, but doable.
The city or Metrolinx needs to take advantage of this opportunity.
As noted, the property is pretty big – I’d wonder about whether Queensway garage could be relocated onto that footprint or just as additional extra bus storage space to the current garage.
I’d also wonder whether a downsized yard – just the nearest tracks to Canpa sub – would be useful to a smaller operator than CP/CN should trackage rights be obtained – we’re growing as a city but pushing our rail facilities further out into the burbs seems like it will hurt in the long run. Given the lack of a curve onto Oakville sub facing Union I’d question how useful it would be as a GO yard.
CP’s doggedness on its assets shouldn’t be underestimated – ask anyone at City of Vancouver about Arbutus, which CP wants to redevelop, Vancouver wants as a transit corridor and the locals planted community gardens on before CP bulldozed them.
Steve: If this turned into a Metrolinx project, I think Queen’s Park has a bit more heft than the City of Toronto.
The suspicious part of my mind makes me think this announcement was meant to exclude the public sector from the bidding. Normally public sector agencies negotiate the purchase of properties in secret to avoid having private developers submit competing bids that would jack up the price.
The Transport Canada rules on line abandonment don’t apply to rail yards, so CP is under no obligation to see if there are others who can use the property as it is.
As valuable as this property might be for the TTC or Metrolinx, the more I think about I doubt they’ll be able buy it.
The thing to remember is that CP is a federally incorporated and regulated company and that the provinces, or their creations, the cities, cannot expropriate their assets. Toronto will have to pay what CP wants in order to get the land.
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Here is an idea.
Metrolinx acquires CPR Obico Yard (by expropriation if necessary.) Metrolinx uses yard for GO trains including expansion and builds a main repair shop for GO equipment _and_ Metrolinx LRT and Streetcars taking these over from the TTC so that all rail operations are under Metrolinx. Hillcrest shops are closed with work relocated at Obico and the land sold off for a bizillion dollars which then pays for major upgrading of City and TTC infrastructure.
Hillcrest residential might well be townhouses rather than highrise condo/rental or a combination of all of these. Extension of Bathurst Car between Bloor and St.Clair to serve this development and other riders.
TTC Roncesvalles car barn is either closed or downgraded to routine servicing only with repair work done at Obico via Long Branch. Some or all of Roncesvalles car barn is sold for high rise residential redevelopment resulting in big dollars for the City same as Hillcrest property.
Steve: Metrolinx/Ontario cannot expropriate property from CP because as a railway, it is federal, not provincial.
Moaz: Add to this that Metrolinx finds a way to give Bombardier the maintenance contract in perpetuity (which makes sense since Bombardier is already building GO train coaches, LRVs and subway cars and operating trains on 6/7 GO train corridors … and may even bid to operate the Hurontario-Main LRT if built) for all its vehicles. Bombardier also gets a seat on the Board in recognition of all the new jobs they have brought to southern Ontario.
Moaz: A parcel of land the size of Hillcrest, with its own streetcar track connection to Bathurst and St. Clair West subway stations … and if we are lucky, a strong push to get passenger service back on the CP corridor just south of Hillcrest.
This could be a positive future for Toronto. Much better than ferris wheels and football stadiums.
Steve: Hillcrest is only partly a streetcar maintenance facility. It is also the main shop for bus repairs. The streetcar work here will shift to Leslie Barns, and there is no need to think of a new Etobicoke shops as a trigger for this.
In light of the constraints at Union Station would Metrolinx consider running and terminating some of the Lakeshore West service up to Kipling (or any other potential station short of Union like Jane, Bloor or Summerhill)? It would probably either involve building a new platform or two or reconfiguring/relocating the existing station in order to be able to access those tracks.
From the sound of thing here, there’s enough room to go around for both Metrolinx and the TTC to share. If the Dundas LRT heading west ever becomes a reality, this would make for an ideal yard as well.
As for the redevelopment potential, the neighbouring transformer station and hydro lines would probably preclude big box retail. It would probably bring in more people over a longer period of time than they would like with the proximity. If another commercial/industrial user doesn’t come up I could see it being used for more studio space similar to Cinespace across the street, which would have to be built from scratch. A tempting offer as it would allow for something purpose-built rather than converting an existing structure.
Steve: There is no link between the CPR line at Jane, and coming over to Summerhill, even if CP allowed it, would require that passengers transfer to the Yonge line where it is already full. As for the Dundas West LRT, don’t hold your breath. I don’t think it was a very good idea when Howard Moscoe proposed it, and it has not shown up on anyone’s map for years.
If Metrolinx uses the Canpa sub from the Lakeshore West line to get to the Galt sub then on to a new Jane station or even Bloor. If CP will grant the midtown service then perhaps a station at Dupont to prevent overloading the Yonge Line and displacing the LCBO at Summerhill.
The Dundas West LRT is the one that got a Benefits Case Analysis done running initially to Hurontario and long-term as far as Burlington. Moscoe’s LRT plan would have gone east to connect with either St. Clair Ave. or Dundas West station wasn’t it?
Steve: Displace the LCBO at Summerhill? A new Jane Station? What are you smoking?
The Big Move gave a BCA to Dundas St rapid transit (most likely buses) rather than LRT. Given that demand on the Dundas corriodor drops sharply at Hurontario (and again at Erin Mills Parkway) and the MiExpress bus to Trafalgar road was unsuccessful, I doubt there will be an LRT on Dundas anytime soon.
As for the Moscoe proposal, if I recall correctly that was going to start with an extension of the St. Clair streetcar to Scarlett Rd. with reconstruction of the rail bridge to take place before the extension to Dundas St and out to Kipling.
Steve: And the modifications to the Scarlett Road bridge for LRT have been dropped from the plans.
Steve: And the modifications to the Scarlett Road bridge for LRT have been dropped from the plans.
Is the reconstruction of the rail bridge still happening?
I was following the project for a while because I used to walk under that bridge on the way to and from school for 4 years, and the small wooded area just south of the bridge was my fort and playground. That intersection is really challenging for drivers and pedestrians, so the improvements to the rail bridge would have made a huge difference.
Steve: Yes the bridge project is happening, but without provision for the LRT.
What a lot of people don’t know is that Obico is short form for Ontario Bituminous Coal company. I don’t think you’d have to dig down very far on that property to find out that it is very contaminated. Might preclude building residential lots on that property, I wonder if anyone has bothered taking soil core samples at that property. Do some research of old maps, you’ll see…
Might also be a useful GO RER yard once that’s up and running on the Lakeshore Line, assuming they’ll be using different rolling stock an supplementing rather than supplanting the existing GO fleet.