Metrolinx has published an update on studies of how the proposed SmartTrack service will be integrated with its own GO/RER (Regional Express Rail) offering. This will be considered at their board meeting on February 10.
This covers several issues, and begins to nail down just what SmartTrack might, or might not, resemble that is beyond the scale of postcard election literature. As we already know, major changes are planned to the western leg where the Crosstown West LRT will take over the function proposed for SmartTrack beyond Mt. Dennis. To the east, SmartTrack remains in the GO Stouffville corridor, but the Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE) has been scaled back to a one-stop line serving only the Town Centre, and the Crosstown East LRT will provide service to eastern Scarborough.
What is GO RER?
This graphic is amusing for its complete contrast with the way that Metrolinx/GO presented electrification of their services during early days of public consultation. That hit a low point when it was suggested that electric trains might not work in snow.
Note that the official line now is that lots of cities use this type of service, and that electrification is an integral part of the package.
Metrolinx owes us all an apology for their initial foot-dragging and misinformation campaign. Now if only they had been more supportive of LRT during the dark days of Rob Ford.
Options for a Consolidated SmartTrack/RER Service
Lest there be any remaining doubts, it is clear that “SmartTrack” is nothing more than GO Trains that stop a bit more frequently, not a fundamentally different service. How much more frequently depends on the option for service levels, and which incremental costs would be chargeable to SmartTrack capital and operating budgets.
In all scenarios below, the service on the Kitchener and Stouffville corridors is through-routed at Union to avoid delays for turnaround time at that busy location.
Option A provides much more frequent service than the basic RER and adds five stations. Notably it does not include the extra SmartTrack stations in Scarborough whose purpose is to offset the need for stations on the subway extension.
Option B runs a mix of express and local services each on a 10 minute headway. Three stations are added over Option A and these provide the SSE-equivalent stops in Scarborough.
Option C operates added service over the base RER proposal only in the peak period with 5 to 10 minute headways. Most of the stations from Option B remain on the map except that there is only one rather than two stops between Union and Bloor.
Option D has the same service design as Option C, but without the extra Scarborough stations.
Through these options, it is worth noting that none of the options provides a frequent (12 trains/hour) service in the parallel-to-SSE corridor. Options A has frequent trains, but few stops, and the other options get down to at best 7 trains/hour at the “local” or “SmartTrack” stops.
The SmartTrack publicity material touted very high ridership numbers based on a service of 10-12 trains/hour just for SmartTrack, never mind for GO services using the same track. This level of SmartTrack service was a dubious claim during the election, and now has clearly been scaled back. The potential ridership of SmartTrack will not reach the stratospheric levels claimed by the Tory election machine.
In all cases, the suggested new station locations are subject to verification by the new station analysis described later in this article. There is no guarantee that sites such as “Liberty Village” are operationally feasible, and it is worth remembering how often Metrolinx has dismissed this as a potential location.
Closely related to the service designs are the many locations where construction will be needed to provide for grade separations (rail-to-road and rail-to-rail), additional trackage, and additional property. Union Station capacity is a particular concern not just for train movements but for passenger handling. The bill for all of this, and especially for any additional works triggered by the higher SmartTrack service levels, will fall on Toronto Council.
At the same time, there will likely be a move to merge SmartTrack and GO fares, at least over the moderate distance where the services co-exist, along with a push for higher subway fares as proposed in the Fare Integration Strategy. This is hardly the deal voters signed up for in the Tory election with higher fares and capital costs just to keep an election promise alive. The Mayor has a lot of explaining to do.
Meanwhile on Eglinton West
As previously reported, the SmartTrack branch to the Airport Corporate Centre has completely fallen off of the map and been replaced by “Crosstown West”, aka the Eglinton West LRT line resurrected from Transit City. The original version of this (with the station layout at Mt. Dennis adjusted to reflect the final north-of-Eglinton alignment) appears below.
Metrolinx proposes five options for this corridor, two of which involve some degree of grade separation.
Option 5 (all grade separated) has few stops and most closely duplicates the function that the SmartTrack spur was intended to fulfill. However, it provides little local service and exists primarily to serve the airport area. Option 4 is similar in stop spacing, but runs on the surface between arterials. Whether this is actually possible given the need to dive under so many of them is quite another matter.
Options 1-3 have progressively fewer stops ranging down from the original Transit City line (1) to a limited stop operation (3) common with the grade separated variants, but entirely on the surface. It has been no secret that Metrolinx attempted to remove stops from the eastern leg of the Crosstown line, but with limited success. Meanwhile, the City’s demand projections for Crosstown West almost certainly depend on more frequent stations, and the distribution of trip origins would make interesting reading as a check on the Metrolinx station options.
Back in Scarborough
Beyond the SmartTrack service options, there is nothing new in this report on the Crosstown East proposal beyond a general observation regarding updating the design and reviewing stop locations. As on the west side, Metrolinx needs to consider the types of trip Crosstown East will support. If this line simply turns into an express operation from Kennedy Station to University of Toronto Scarborough Campus, then all of the fine words about improving travel within Scarborough from Jennifer Keesmaat’s report will be meaningless.
It is not clear whether Metrolinx and the City are really on the same page, yet, as to the function of the surface sections of the Crosstown route.
In a separate report, Metrolinx receives an update on the evaluation of possible station locations. This report shares with the Fare Integration paper a focus on process without tipping Metrolinx’ hand on actual outcomes. However, we can get some idea of which stations on the SmartTrack corridors are considered reasonable simply from those included in the configurations above.
Preliminary work used a long list of 40 attributes to evaluate suggested locations, but this has been winnowed down to 9. Locations that do not perform well in the evaluation will be set aside from further study.
The nine surviving attributes are described in the table below.
Further discussions will occur in coming consultation rounds and we may finally get to see which stations Metrolinx considers as reasonable additions to their network.
In the corridors shared with SmartTrack, several stations in the long list do not appear in any of the options described above.
The Problem of Station Access
The more important section of the Station Analysis report deals with how riders get to GO stations and services.
The “last mile” problem is the biggest challenge facing GO’s ability to ramp up service for frequent all-day and bidirectional travel. If riders cannot get to GO stations, or if the mode they might use is impractical (parking lot is full, off peak transit service is infrequent or non-existent), then all the service GO might run is of little value.
Pedestrian access is important to any transit station because little infrastructure is needed to support it, and there is no time-of-day or directional dependence. For those who are already in walking distance, GO already has a good slice of the market walking to stations. The problem, however, is that as a proportion of total demand, pedestrians are only 10% of the total.
For cycling, the situation is even worse. Only a small proportion of GO users cycle to stations, and the provision of bike-friendly roads is not a high priority once one is well beyond central Toronto. Moreover, for counter-peak travel, a large pool of shared cycles would be needed at stations for riders arriving outbound to complete their journeys.
Local transit does not support GO well especially during off-peak periods. More than one effect is at work here.
First off, many local services drop back to wider off-peak headways or may disappear completely. Moreover, the GO station might not be a major destination on a local transit system when there are no trains present, or even for a lighter level of off-peak ridership. A GO station might distort local route planning if there is no other reason to access a station site than for the train station. (Similar distortions exist in the local TTC network at certain major terminals.)
Better local bus service will not come about simply because it sounds like a nice idea, but because someone is prepared to fund better service. This should be an integral part of the GO/RER operating budget whether the buses are painted two-tone green or not.
GO Transit has a long history with parking, but their ability to grow with this mode is coming to an end. Parking is expensive and it consumes space that could be used for development at stations. Moreover, parking tends to fill up early in the day and serves only the standard suburb-to-core commuting pattern, not the more complex mix of journeys GO/RER hopes to attract. It is self-evident that parking does not address the last mile problem unless there is a large fleet of rental cars, or some type of local jitney service absent good local transit. As the text below notes: “Continually expanding parking at GO rail stations is not a sustainable strategy and does not align with policies and plans.” This will require a major change in the GO Transit culture and the political model that equates building parking structures with transit expansion.
Finally, there is the question of pick-up and drop-off access whether it be with a friend or colleague, or via some type of taxi service operating, in effect, as a demand-driven local transit service. Whether this is financially viable remains to be seen. Metrolinx also talks of self-driving vehicles as a future “solution”, but this is more wishful thinking than a realistic plan.
“Kiss and ride” travel is well suited to conventional commuting where the car stays “at home” to serve suburban travel while the commuter uses transit to reach a centrally located job. Other trip types, notably off peak and counter peak, are another matter because they may not occur at regular times, and because there is no “car at home” a traveller can meet. About one seventh of GO riders use this mode today, but the scope for expansion may be limited by road capacity and by the presumed availability of a vehicle and driver to perform this service.
Even a move to contracted taxi service or self-driving vehicles (presuming the technology becomes viable) implies a greater participation by GO and provincial funding for what is effectively a local transit service. There could be a private sector market, but it will almost certainly require guaranteed demand levels and revenues to provide service at all operating hours, not just the profitable peak hours and destinations.
Option B only has a combined 10-minute frequency: 20 minutes on the express RER, stopping at the existing stations, and 20 minutes on John Tory’s “SmartTrack.” I expect that Option B won’t last long if the City of Toronto-led proposal to run a one-stop Scarborough Subway extension goes forward. Otherwise a Lawrence East subway station pretty much becomes necessary again.
As for Eglinton West, skipping major arterials such as Royal York Road and Islington Avenue doesn’t make much sense – these are important bus routes which would either end up skipping a major east-west rapid transit line, or re-routed out of the way to serve them if if any plan apart from Option 1 and 2 are chosen. Stop spacing would be wider than even the underground section of the Crosstown LRT under construction. I wonder what Metrolinx is thinking here.
I still find it amazing how much the city’s and the province’s transit plans are being manipulated in order to save Tory’s own brand.
Smarttrack seems like a non-starter. I mean 15 minute or less headways put a hell of a stress on Union capacity.
No doubt Metrolinx is going on insist on a higher fare than the normal TTC fare for this service and given the recent failure of the sixty dollar sticker (see Star article) I doubt people are willing to pay more for faster service in Toronto.
I have a bad feeling that this pet project is going to end up leaving us at the mercy of Metrolinx as they have the vehicles and tracks. No doubt Tory will cave when they insist on a premium fare.
In order for this to work they need separate tracks, not to stop at Union and autonomy from Metrolinx otherwise this whole scheme is doomed to fail.
Eglinton Avenue and Martin Grove Road is identified as one of most traffic congested intersections in Toronto. While I would go with Option 1 for an Eglinton Crosstown LRT extension, I would have to put in an underpass at that intersection and a stop in a trench at the southwest corner. If Highway 27 has room for an stop in a trench at Humber College, there’s even more room at that Martin Grove & Eglinton intersection, with room left over for the bicycle and pedestrian path.
The Islington & Eglinton intersection is in a depression surrounded by knolls. The LRT could very easily pass over that intersection, keeping the roadway under it.
Steve: That would obviously be a “knoll bridge”. Couldn’t resist!
The first graphic leaves out the Long Island Railroad, the Chicago South Shore Line, most of Philly’s commuter trains and many other commuter rail lines in America which qualify as RER. Most of which are even electric. Giving it a stupid acronym means that when one of your experts (interns) googles it, they won’t get all the facts.
Steve: The acronym is a leftover from a former Minister of Transportation and we’re stuck with it. The model was clearly European because nothing in North America is worth using as a reference point [sarcasm deliberate].
There’s a lot of low-hanging fruit to improve GO station connections within Toronto. Many of them have limited or no TTC integration and poor walkup access which could easily be improved.
Guildwood, for example, is right along the route of the 86, but is set well back from the road, has no obvious bus stop, and the sidewalks and signage are messy and confusing. Agincourt has a similar problem with the 85. Rouge Hill has good bus connections, but requires you to cross a large and frequently busy parking lot as a pedestrian. Mimico is limited by space constraints, but could at least be served by a larger and better lit TTC stop on Royal York, and like all GO/TTC connections, no effort is made to coordinate schedules. Bloor, despite the longtime stalled plans for improvement, is still subject to that ridiculously unnecessary transfer to Dundas West.
There are ways to fix these things without spending absurd amounts of money that would at least communicate that GO actually cares about transit and pedestrian customers.
I really think in the end ST will end up being a dangerous distraction. GO RER is essential, however, even here, the roll out should be based on load and not a big bang just for its own sake. Lakeshore east and west, need electrification now, and in terms of current spending, these should be a priority, however, making another track available for Stouffville and Kitchener should be a priority over electrification. I do not believe that 15 minute service requires electrification in these corridors, and having space in the USRC and at Union should take priority over electrification, and ST should just be dropped.
The broad service within Toronto, requires capacity and reliability, where demand is. The money that was earmarked for ST would be better spent supporting a DRL and LRT to improve real transit access across more of the city, and would provide better access and much improved support for many more destinations, not just the core. A real plan to address transportation in the GTA cannot focus entirely on modes that go only or even primarily to the core. The DRL would provide more real capacity availability on current subway links, and an LRT network would make transit much more attractive, across a much broader area.
Good point – Ajax is a great example of this. However, there is a lot of hub-and-spoke services in the 905, and if there’s a hub somewhere, it might as well be at a GO station – see Oakville, for example. Then you get cases like Guelph which has had its transit hub next to the station since long before GO service came along.
There’s an eternal conflict between the need for local transit to feed into the regional/rapid transit network, and the need for local transit to serve local trips. As you point out, the TTC has this problem already with some subway stations (Steeles service to Finch station, or Scarborough Town Centre for example).
Maybe I am unnecessarily stating the obvious, but the best thing Tory could do at this point, is walk away, and abandon Smart Track. Wait, he should have abandoned Smart Track a year ago, rather than forcing planning staff to waste a year trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.
I have been weighing in in these discussions for a while now — a couple of years — but I still consider myself a newcomer. In some of those discussions some respondents have written about the good example shown to us in other regions where a competent regional authority has taken over the overall planning for the entire region. Greater London’s overall transit authority was offered as an example.
So, what would be required for well-informed citizens, like us, to trust MetroLinx to make wise and decisive planning decision?
WRT the Crosstown, and its extensions, the underground portions have stations at subway style separations. I noticed the stations went to about half that distance for the above ground portion. I think this means that getting from Dufferin and Eglinton, to the Yonge Line, would take no more time than to get from Dufferin and Bloor, to Yonge. However, the frequent stops would mean a rider at Kennedy would always find it faster to get to Yonge via the subway, than taking the Crosstown.
I attended a high school at MartinGrove and Eglinton. I grew up in that area. If I still lived there, I would prefer to ride a Crosstown that only stopped at arterial roads, if that meant I could get downtown five minutes faster.
Re: Eglinton West LRT stops. The major streets N-S streets (old concession roads) in Etobicoke are 5/8 mile apart (about 1 Km). In between each of the major streets is only one cross street and thus one traffic light. Thus there are lights about every 500m. At two of these “mid-block” streets (Wincott and Lloyd Manor) there are plazas. If you kept the original plan -i.e. surface running- then there would be stops about every 500m in much of Etobicoke.
Steve, could you explain this further, or give more details to where the planners explained it?
Steve: See my article and this report.
This western section of the Crosstown was going to run down the centre of the streets, the same way as east of the DVP, correct? Is it now going to run directly adjacent to Eglinton, like at Queens Quay, and Cherry Street — so it would still share the same intersections and right of way?
Is this change desirable so the Crosstown can diverge north from Eglinton to go to the airport?
Steve: In the original Transit City EA, it was in the middle of the road all the way to the airport. The details of the plan are to be reviewed before construction.
How are the underground tracks, at Mount Dennis, going to rise to the surface, before Jane North station? Are they planning on pressing the TBMs into drilling one more kilometer west?
Steve: Probably cut and cover. The section is far too short and close to the surface for a bored tunnel. The likely configuration would have the LRT emerge in the middle of the road on the hill down to Jane Street in a manner similar to what is being built at Brentcliffe.
With regard to serving the airport… I know it would be more expensive, if it were even possible, but I would prefer to have an underground station directly below each arrivals concourse.
Steve: I very much doubt we would see this because of the construction complexity. Also, my understanding is that the airport security folks don’t want a tunnel under their site.
4-6 min peak service; 7.5 min off-peak
New Stations: Gerrard; Unilever (Don); Bathurst-Spadina (Bathurst North); St. Clair West
20 min express “GO” service and local “Smart Track” service; 10 min combined
“Express” only at existing GO; GO Kitchener through-service beyond Bramalea; GO Stouffville through-service from Unionville
New Stations: Option A; Ellesmere; Lawrence; Finch
5-10 min peak service (Kit 10 min; LSE 5.5 min; Stf 8.6 min); 15 min off-peak
GO Kitchener through-service beyond Bramalea; GO Stouffville through-service from Unionville
New Stations: Option B without Bathurst-Spadina (Bathurst North)
5-10 min peak service (Kit 10 min; LSE 5.5 min; Stf 8.6 min); 15 min off-peak
GO Kitchener through-service beyond Bramalea; GO Stouffville through-service from Unionville
New Stations: Same as Option A without Bathurst-Spadina (Bathurst North)
From this list of options, it’s clear that Option 2 is the Metrolinx preferred outcome. Option 4 is preferred by the City/Mayor, but the reduced costs of Option 2 can pay for some of the enhancements needed for Option A and B. Options 1 and 5 are only included as brackets to be eliminated.
So you can [choose] A2, B2, C3 or D4. The choice between A2 and B2 is between more stations vs higher frequency. The choice between C3 and D4 is grade separation at intersections on Eglinton West vs more stations on Smart Track.
Operationally, the assumption of through-routing at Union is a bad one. Unless they are offloading a lot of trains outside of Union Station itself, the corridor and platforms have higher capacity as non-through routing. However, it might be that “through service” might just mean the GO trains don’t stop within Toronto.
About the last mile:
All these numbers are reported very misleadingly. A “10 minute walk” is 800m, which I’m assuming is counted from the station (property line, station building, platform, or property centre?) in a circle. The full ability to expand is around to 14.3% (assuming 15.6% within walking distance and everyone else using alternatives) if they converted the current park-and-drive users. The incremental ability to add paths to either create a real 10-minute walking network or expand the area within 10-minutes, becomes more expensive per capita as you try to capture a smaller number over a larger area with more infrastructure. It’s sidewalks/trails and pedestrian overpasses.
I want to know what is the 1.5% other in arriving at the station. Is it Uber/taxi?
Presto plus parking gives an interesting idea for “carpool” spots. Users are grouped to a specific parking spot. When they tap-on, the car owner gains a discount on parking (say 5-10%).
I think the “Demand Response Shuttle” is Uber, either contracted to GO or co-fare offer.
I feel these statements are very important.
Toronto Planning removed the Lawrence station from the SSE in the belief that SmartTrack would service the Lawrence bus transfers. SmartTrack does not provide the 12 trains/hour service. They must re-instate the Lawrence station on the SSE.
The Eglinton Crosstown LRT is surface throughout Scarborough. It takes up 3 lanes of Eglinton Ave. Eglinton is a major access route into Scarborough, and removing 3 lanes will have a more detrimental effect than adding service from the LRT.
Steve: Eglinton will be widened where needed, but will gain the capacity of the curb lane now occupied by flocks of buses.
All this looks very good on paper but subway will be better for the Scarborough and Liberty Village areas.
I’m not sure why people (mostly politicians) think that service frequency of up to 12 trains an hour will be needed, especially initially. London Overground, on which a lot of the planning seems to be based, has 15 minute frequencies on most of the network. That barely meets the definition of a turn-up-and-go service, but it’s a whole lot better than the zero trains per hour that the RER/ST routes currently see outside peak periods. If the demand is there, then you can increase the frequency or lengthen the trains later.
Steve: The very high claimed ridership level (hence economic benefit and traffic diversion) for SmartTrack is based on 12 trains/hour. Also, in order to compete with the subway network (particularly in Scarborough), the service on SmartTrack has to be fairly close to subway headways. GO/RER is only shooting for 4 trains/hour except in corridors where they already run better service.
I was able to calculate that Union has capacity for approximately 2x more peak passengers.
(1) Firstly, stare at this basement mall.
Look at the wide TTC-Bay hall.
Look at the wide Bay-York halls.
NONE of this is open yet. NONE.
(2) Next, learn what Mother-Of-All-RERs is: (Paris RER B)
That’s what a regional express rail system is, and we have to understand the mother of all RERs — Paris’ RER lines — where GO RER ideas are “derived” from.
Now, ONLY after reading the two above links, you can be justified in replying to my message.
Once you read my post about the Mother-Of-All-RERs, you now realize the entire electric GO network can be merged into just 2 routes (Paris RER B style). Imagine UPX/SmartTrack/RER/Stoufville/Kitchener merged into one route that is filled with allstops/expresses/spurlefts/spurrights/shortturns — like RER B — and it is STILL simpler route-wise than the ONE SINGLE SERVICE called “RER B” in Paris! Once you have this epiphany, you now realize how inefficiently GO runs our trackage, and that we could rework the whole electric GO network into just a mere two different routes in the Paris fashion, with simplified signage so people know which train to step on.
So now, going beyond this, let’s point out:
Certainly, there are a lot of barriers (mainly financial), but we can pretty much run 5-minute frequencies in our existing corridorwidths if we efficiently merged the network like described.
Steve: I have to jump in here to note that GO Transit had no plans on its own to upgrade signalling to support very short headways. If this is desired, it is an extra cost above the current scope of GO/RER.
Steve’s article illustrates Plan A, B, C, D that combines many characteristics of the Paris RER B unified service — but we can have a Plan E that is a much bigger merger of multiple services into one unified service like Paris RER B. The Kitchener-Stoufville(with UPX/optional Eglinton spurs like Paris RER B spurs) would be one line, while the LSE-LSW (with WestHarbour/HamiltonDowntown spurs service Paris RER-B spurs) would be another service. So at the end of the day, just a mere two routes that run a 5-minute service (Diesel trains, like long-distance Kitcheners, as well as Richmond Hill, are not included). Already today, we run LSE-LSW at approximately 7.5 minutes during peak, even without all tracks open yet, and with longer GO-style dwells instead of shorter Paris-style RER dwells.
For those who missed it, read the “Mother Of All RERs” explanation.
Steve: When the Union Station project was in the design stage, the expected growth in passenger capacity was approximately a doubling, and this is in line with your analysis. There are, however, some physical constraints such as the vertical access limitations and platform capacities which will not grow even though the concourse space is greatly expanded.
You have no evidence that they plan to widen Eglinton.
The center lane and curb lanes act as buffers for cars making left and right turns. The other two lanes permit traffic to flow through, without backing them up. Toronto planning has eliminated many left turns, but any right turn will block one of the two remaining lanes.
They also want to install bike lanes, ha ha.
Steve: There were discussions of widening Eglinton at the point Transit City was killed off, and this must be revisited as part of the design review. Note that by “widening” I refer to taking more of the property that is already owned by the city (e.g. boulevards between roadways and sidewalks). However, you will generally not see four road lanes at intersections (two through, one right, one left), only three.
This is very true that difficult Union bottlenecks will remain, that said:
Instantaneous capacity is not the same as hourly capacity.
Even at 5:30pm, many tracks have very little passenger flows then suddenly massively surges on the GO arrival board announcements 10 minutes prior.
The whole package solution is essentially is several or all of:
— Spread the timetable surges around to solve the instantaneous capacity bottleneck
— Redesign video boards to eliminate visible electronic timetables from high frequency (5-minute) routes to remove the timetable surge effect.
— Open the currently closed tracks
— Single-level EMUs for 5-minute Metrolinx routes. Less people per meter of platform needed.
— Frequent train to empty platform more frequently (USRC in-out is a bottleneck, but throughput will increase after its planned resignalling)
— Short subway-style dwelling (60 seconds or less) rather than GO style dwelling (3+ up to 10 minutes)
And if the above is not enough, level boarding can help increase hourly platform capacity even further. Possibly some specific platforms converted to level boarding for faster boarding/disembark and to slightly widen platforms more flush against trains’ side (like a subway platform) — there’s a wider gap between train’s side and yellow stripe than we use in TTC. This would only happen if we use fairly snagless single level EMUs like Paris RER, and also assuming a way to prevent bilevels from ever entering these specific tracks.
A combination of the above solutions, the platforms will empty faster, limiting platform crowding to today’s levels. Bottlenecks will certainly remain, but the between-surges capacity will be more efficiently utilized, to allow more passenger flow.
There are stations that handle more people throughput per platform, despite pinch points similiar to Union.
I imagine computer-based passenger flow modelling will be required to determine the best solution —
That said, your point is spot-on. My view of this, is we need a different perspective to address this problem properly.
That’s to say, I agree it’s all a money matter, and probably above and beyond the $13.5bn GO RER, for sure.
I do wonder, if the extra “SmartTrack enhancements” pitch-in of municipal and federal funds to Metrolinx’s RER, might be enough to perhaps add more of these suggested elements suggested (including, of course, level boarding). Especially since now the poorly-conceived Eglinton spur is probably sensibly reassigned to an ECLRT extension instead.
The ability to do 5-minute headways was already partially funded corridor sections a budget separate from GO RER / SmartTrack, as far as I know. In other words, we have sections of track already capable of 5-minute headways.
Due to UPX — A GO train driver that frequents urbantoronto (vegata_skyline) confirms the Weston sub (where Bloor GO and Weston GO is on, up to the point of the UPX spur) is already upgraded to support much shorter headways now, with 0.6 mile-long block signalling that is able to sustain 5-minute headways and modernized to have a migration path to Positive Train Control (Ability to stop trains automatically). Now, that brings us to Stoufville and Union sections.
For the Union Station Rail Corridor (USRC), this is ongoing. This includes the ability to shorten headways into Union.
Now, that leaves the Union-to-Kennedy, Kennedy-to-Unionville. There’s a ongoing track expansion (extra track) which includes signalling improvements, but this does not add shortened blocks (yet).
It’s a cost-plus for many sections, to achieve 5-minute headways, however, sections are already upgraded to support this.
Steve: Thanks for the details. Yes, I know some work was already underway, but the question is whether Metrolinx will want to count some of this as SmartTrack-specific and therefore chargeable to that project’s budget. When I have asked about the headway for which signal systems are being designed, the answer I get is “15” although obviously places like USRC will require shorter values.
It is entirely possible that parts of Metrolinx don’t know what other parts are doing.
Outside of maintaining Tory’s campaign plan, is there any decent reason to consider the minimal stop plans for Crosstown West? Scarlett & Kipling seem like peculiar and, frankly, arbitrary choices.
The London Overground does have sections running at a minimum of 4 trains an hour, but most run at a higher level with two core routes running at 10 trains an hour and another at soon to go to 16 an hour, due to levels of crowding they are now girding their loins for a full ATO on the core East London line to get it to 24 trains an hour.
Transit City would have had another LRT running north-south on Jane. Wouldn’t planning to build Jane North station have made sense?
I saw the absence of a Jane North station on Tory’s back-of-the-envelope map as a sign of a lack of any real planning effort.
So how will all this be affected by the eventual implosion of the UPX white elephant ? Does that free up track capacity on the western leg of the corridor to improve headways Pearson-Union ? Dare I imagine the former UPX being rolled into this as “Smartrack West” with Option B style local service?
Tory saves face, Metrolinx saves face, west enders get the service they originally wanted, electrified without any of those “dirty diesel trains” … Sounds like a fantasy.
Though this would mess with through routing I suppose …
Would not be surprised. There’s a lot of old mentality here and there. Some great people, some old-mindsets, etc. We have an lot of patchwork upgrades going on here and there, many planned before the “SmartTrack requirements” added onto GO RER.
I think even the smart people in Metrolinx is guarded too partially — Whac-a-mole the weak links (resignalling, extra track, grade separations, new train traffic control center, revitalize Union, whatnot) and then a new unexpected weak link pops up because of a legacy matter built into the rail network they didn’t computer-simulate properly.
In short: The heavy rail network is only as strong as its weakest point. And not all weakest points is easily known in advance.
Not necessarily a fantasy.
Depending on UPX ridership, electrification of UPX may very well automatically mean UPX is merged with RER, in a style very similar to Paris’ RER B. It’s a route that has spurs where trains take turns going in different directions. If UPX ridership improves beforehand, it might just be pushed out to ‘save face’: UPX electrification might be pushed out to half-life of the trains (e.g. 10-15 years) as part of say, a RER Phase 2. Then UPX is merged into RER. Who knows?
Basically, if “5-minute” is more important than “UPX”, corridor constraints may automatically mean “UPX electrification equals rolling UPX into RER”.
You’ll still get something approximately 25 minutes every approximately 15 minutes (or similar), but as an interspersed stopping plan that occurs on, say, 1 every 2 trains, or 1 every 3 trains, etc.
This is still simpler than how Paris RER B runs (over a dozen different stopping plans, sometimes in cycles of 5, sometimes in cycles of 4, and sometimes in cycles of 3, depending on part of day, and which section of route). You’d have redesigned videoboards, similar to the Paris system (destination station check boxes for current train) to fix the confusion problem of unified train services with highly-varying stopping plans.
Wow, that’s both so conceited and ignorant of the physical realities. Renaming lines won’t give you any more corridor, platform, or concourse space.
First, UPX is physically incompatible with the rest of the system (high platforms, tight turning radii and low clearance on the Pearson subdivision). Thus, you either have to rebuild the Pearson subdivision or rebuild everything else.
Second, level boardings are inhibited by the freight train clearance envelope (127mm between 1.168m to 1.753m from the centreline of track; 1.219m between 1.753m to 2.546m). So if you go with high platforms, you lose circulation width specifically within Union Station you lose approximately 0.26m on each side, which is especially bad in the restricted clearance areas.
Third, the post-revitalization Union capacity is already accounted for within the plan out to 2031. Additional inbound service is beyond the full capacity on the level of trains proposed.
Fourth, shorter EMUs don’t increase capacity. 2-150m single-level trains at 5-minute headways provide less capacity at Union than 1-300m bi-level train.
Fifth, with the new Union concourses, the largest capacity constraint is platform space. Shorter trains don’t add more platform capacity. Through-routing trains don’t add more capacity. Wider platforms don’t add more capacity. All of these scenarios and combinations of scenarios have been analyzed by Metrolinx as part of the wider RER program to find the best way to break the bottleneck. The result to date? Add more satellite capacity by building stations at Bathurst North Yard and Don Yard (now under the SmartTrack umbrella as potential stations).
Breaking news: GO is going to use an all-EMU fleet. Major train fleet purchase, presumably with all the diesels reassigned to expand non-electric service (e.g. Kitchener, Hamilton, Niagara, etc).
Now, I know there are very few appealing low-floor EMU options. That could mean the possibility of platform height raises for certain tracks at Union station. Railbed and shed stays where it is, but the platform gets built-up, a few additional steps added, elevator shaft tops raised, etc. If safer snagless subway-style EMUs are used, that also allows slightly wider Union platforms as one of the whole solution package (that I already listed in my earlier posts) for Union capacity constraints. It is worth pointing out that the UPX platform reach closer above the rail iron, than the other Union platforms.
Steve: Intriguingly, at today’s Metrolinx Board meeting, it was claimed that there would be a mix of EMUs, electric locos and diesel locos, and this from the head of the electrification program.
Thanks for the post and the informed comments.
At times I think the Smart Track was a simpler rebranding of the RER to gain traction on a transit plan that was more than a scheme, but not too much more, as it may have been a calculation that if it doesn’t work, oh, here’s RER. Hence a term, Smart Trick. At least it worked well enough to exit Mr. Ford.
One issue that is of importance to cyclists: the continued existence of the West End Railpath – is it staying or being reclaimed? Many beyond cyclists prize it; yet the murkiness around new tracks or whatever means it’s dubious, especially the proposed Extension now just having gone through an EA process to Notice of Completion and appeal process almost done. We really have a problem with safe biking in the west end of the City, and while it’s a marginal change in some ways, and a costly one compared to some simpler line repaintings eg. Bloor, many would like to have some off-road safety especially for commutings. I can’t imagine the UPX being subject to reworking vs. the Rail Trail – the Liberals won’t be too willing to ‘fess up to the oop$$ of another half-billion let alone whatever to retrofit, and apparently there was a $100M of additional gotta-fix costs to the City in the UPX process.
Is transit scheming so awful in all parts of the world, or is it just here?
If we see an all-EMU fleet on the network (beyond UPX) before 2031, I’d be very impressed, because as it stands, they aren’t planning on building the infrastructure to support it. There is definitely the political currents pushing to EMU, but the reality will be that the fleet will be a 3-part mix as they rebuild the stations from long trains to multiple berthing.
This doesn’t address the fundamental issue of having multiple trains on the same track to access different parts of the platform. Double berthing works because trains aren’t through-routed. Assuming four EMU per platform, you need to arrive, alight and board passengers, and depart within five times your headway (5-minutes is 25-minutes, 2.5-minutes is 12.5-minutes). This assumes both a higher adherence to time tables (it’s a near daily occurrence for a train to be 7+ minutes late) and the ability to clear the USRC in that time.
Beyond that, high-platforms would be narrower than current (1.633m from centreline) due to the freight clearance requirements outside of Union Station (1.753m from centreline).
Parts are required for a fourth track through Bloor Station. However, it is possible that a narrowed trail would remain.
We’re in a particularly rough spot due to the historical factors (mainly Harris in the 1990s and Metro-Toronto before that), but in my experience it takes a long, stable and strong government to turn the purse strings over to a true third party. The UK has some success with it on the rail side, but only after the near disaster of privatization under Thatcher. Basically, the world operates on an emergency response basis, and anything more forward thinking is gravy.
Why can’t Option A include stations at Lawrence E. and Finch E, in keeping with almost the same frequency? Also every second train could be short turned at either Agincourt or Finch E. As for Ellsemere the City Centre stop on the proposed SSE could substitute with a rerouted York Mills bus through that station.
You can give me corrections, but it’s impolite to call me conceited and ignorant —
Many stations move more people per platform than Union does. Also, as one of the leads of the Hamilton LRT citizen advocacy, I also know more about rail corridors internationally, and it’s astounding how inefficiently the GO network is currently utilized. I am a regular writer of the GO mega-articles, including visiting construction sites — see here and here.
Firstly, it’s important to point out that I’m not talking about keeping the UPX diesels and UPX stations. Assuming Metrolinx goes full-high-EMU for the Bramalea-Stoufville section, the opportunity arises to merge the high/low platforms at Bloor/Weston, build the new “SmartTrack infills” to high platforms only.
I read lots of government PDF files. Transport Canada already has shown flexibility in negotiating waivers for fully-passenger-owned corridors (non-FRA EMUs was even mentioned as being negotiable), from some Metrolinx PDF’s that I have been reading, and with Metrolinx ownership. Assuming a Positive Train Control system (PTC) requirement, the ultra-rare USRC freight train can automatically be be restricted from entering the shed and bypass via the south track. This is all “10-to-15-years-out” future stuff, obviously — but given that timeline, all doable in theory.
This may not happen, but let’s pause for a moment, assuming the door is open, treating the Metrolinx-owned passenger rail network, as being open to deviation from FRA rules as the mindset is slowly changing, especially in the light of possible complete grade separations, positive train control, etc.
This is probably all a cost-plus, but it’s doable, and possible, once the mindset of FRA restrictions are removed.
Here’s an example (one of many).
I can come up with more references, if desired. This could also umbrella around other FRA restrictions like platform clearances, if the PTC system automatically also prevents freight trains from speeding in USRC; AND also prevents them heading into a shed track. And possibly in 10-to-15 years, the rare freight train may not even be running anymore in USRC (longshot that may be…).
Now that you’ve read this, please remove your FRA-specific assumptions from future replies. Yes, I realize, we’re only talking theoretically, and a 10-to-15 year timeline. And yes, I’m making a great deal of assumptions, but FRA rules is less of an iron wall here in the Metrolinx owned network, especially after full-network grade separation and PTC deployment, if made as a requirement towards making RER possible.
Yes, you are right, but Metrolinx owns the corridor, and assuming enough safeguards (e.g. PTC), Transport Canada may be able to give Metrolinx a waiver, to allow train-side-hugging platforms for certain tracks.
Yes, I have seen the Metrolinx 2031 document. The merger of all the routes to unified services, (and measures to keep platform crowding to today’s levels) would keep it within the trains-per-hour requirement in-out of Union, more or less. Meaning UPX as a monolithic service is discontinued to free up capacity towards a theoretical 5-minute RER.
What I am saying is not incompatible with Metrolinx 2031 Union capacity requirements, but to simply say that unified service system with all the fast-boarding tricks (e.g. subway flush boarding) is the only way to really achieve 5-minute frequencies for a core service (meaning the Stoufville GO train, the SmartTrack train, the UPX train, the Bramalea train — would all be one single unified through electric subway-style-boarding train service that services some inner 416 stations at 5-minute frequencies, but stops at others at 10 min or 15 min frequency — Paris style interspersed stopping plan). Today you can already sorta do that with Lakeshore West (7.5 minute frequency from 4:45pm to 5:45pm peak), and USRC hasn’t even been resignalled to achieve that today.
I hope Metrolinx is smart enough to computer-simulate passenger flows and USRC train transitions, to find the best RER plans to fit it all.
Also, there is a lot of mentality that is embroiled in old-fashioned thinking that we can’t do it. Come 2018, Union post-revitalization, I think there will be a huge change in thinking towards achieving 5-minute peak frequencies on a unified service of some kind.
This is true, but let’s consider we’re merging multiple hourly and 30-minute services into one 5-minute train. The sheer frequency compensates. This is why some countries’ efficient RER systems move more people per platform during peak than today’s GO bilevels do, without being more crowded.
How does that conflict with what I am saying? We may need Bathurst too, but Metrolinx 2031 still projects a doubling of peak passengers at Union. So, obviously, they think they can double passengers.
This is a completely separate problem than train frequency (e.g. lower capacity trains running higher frequency). I’m just saying if 5-minutes becomes a political requirement, it requires merging services.
It’s only impolite if you were being conceited. Telling people how and when they can reply to your comments is conceited.
Steve: OK, children, we have had the tit for tat. Now please concentrate on the issues.
So a $500M redo to start, ok.
How exactly would that work with the remainder of the Kitchener and Stouffville lines? That’s an additional 13 stations to rebuild, or will you have special trains that operate at both low-platforms and high-platforms?
First, freight is already restricted from the USTS. Second, Metrolinx is considering removing Track 15 to add an additional four train berths. Third, CN and CP maintain emergency running rights, so the corridors are not fully passenger-owned and time-limiting is off the table. Do you have any specific examples where a non-FRA-compliant EMU was allowed to operate in a mixed environment?
RER/SmartTrack are all 10-to-15-years-out time frame, and probably even then won’t be fully built by 2031. Rebuilding the system is another generational investment in the 20-40 year timeframe.
Case one is status quo; case two is off the table unless CN/CP can be convinced by a few billion to reroute in an emergency; case three is both very expensive and relatively unproven (it has about 5 years of implementation in the US).
Assuming you go with PTC, you still need to fully redo the signaling/switching system.
Yes, it is. Through-routing trains will reduce the peak capacity.
Yes, so many RTC model permutations have been run, it’s hard to keep track of all the losing combinations. They’ve looked at rebuilding everything (fewer wider platforms for better circulation), removing tracks, adding tracks, adding platforms (above, below, and to the side), double berthing, through routing, removing switches, and optimizing alignments.
If it’s physically possible and within a reasonable price range (under $5B), it’s been considered and simulated.
RER would have 6 trains per hour on the Weston subdivision and 7 trains per hour on the Uxbridge subdivision (11 per hour on Kingston subdivision). You would have 12 trains per hour on each, so your increased frequency is at best a factor of 2. The increase in capacity is marginal (10-15% depending on the actual EMU layout).
The conflict is in where the bottleneck in providing increased capacity lays. This issue is wanting to double the doubling beyond Union 2031. It won’t be not passenger flow that’s restricting the system, but train flow. If you can’t get more trains in and out of Union, smaller trains just reduces peak capacity.
Only John Tory’s pie-in-the-sky ridership numbers for SmartTrack request 5-minute service. I’m not sure he’d be too happy to admit getting there would double the cost of his “no new infrastructure” project.
Ok, this is a good reply.
It can theoretically be rolled into the electrification of UPX and when one consider ~10-15 years they will need to retire (sell) the diesels and replace with electrics. The airport spur could be kept with station modifications there. The interim stations Bloor and Weston could get unified platform heights, in a theoretical platform height change.
Steve: The problems with that spur are (a) physical limitations to platform (and hence train) length at the YYZ station, and (b) tight curves that are difficult even for the UPX equipment. It’s a very bad design.
I read some interesting comments by drum118 (construction) on UrbanToronto Forums was sent to the UPX station to see what the options are for lengthening the UPX station (that sounded like a hint some research is going on about rolling it into SmartTrack someday) and it didn’t look promising.
This doesn’t account for merging UPX into RER. If all the possible optimization necessary are unable to achieve 5min on two merged routes, then it would seem that the Bramalea-Stoufville merged RER/UPX would probably end up being prioritized.
Steve: Given limitations on the trains that can operate the airport spur, UPX trains are not suitable for integration with RER because they will be too small.
I did mention already it may not fit in the budget allotment, so I agree with you on that aspect.
Care to explain this? I’d be interested in an explanation why.
Yes, some stations would need a rebuild. My view is that diesels would go express past these stations except key stations (e.g. Kennedy), so dual platforms would not be required at most. Of course, this is a big “if”. But we see the infills and the Metrolinx plan to purchase EMUs, so we definitely do need to think long and hard about platform height before committing the infills.
Metrolinx is eager to roll out PTC:
– Weston has been resignalled (0.6 mile blocks) and already has PTC migration path.
– USRC is about to be resignalled, with upgraded automation and dispatching that can tie into this.
– RER is mentioned as needing PTC in the Metrolinx PDFs I have reviewed. One example is this slide. And another example is page 18 of the Metrolinx 5 year plan.
All to say, this may all not be enough to do 5 minutes in the budget allocated. But from this Steve’s article, they have an actual brand new Metrolinx PDF (Feb 10) that claims they can do 4-6 minute peak headways, so it seems they were able to simulate an “expensive infrastructure” upgrade scenario to pull it off, and they even admitted the expense that you are suggesting.
My response was also originally to rebut Richard White’s post that better-than-15min is impossible.
Excuse me. I don’t know what “multiple berthing” is, and googling the term didn’t help.
Steve: It refers to having more than one train loading on the same track so that service to the east and west with shorter trains uses half of one platform on a shared track.
When I said “merging UPX into RER”, I meant its timetable, not the physical trains themselves. In all likelihood, the electric version of the UPX train might berth like a GO train.
This is a good point, and would need to be solved if it was rolled into RER as part of electrification.
…Of course by then, UPX may be reduced to a timetable subset of a unified-service unified-trainset system, like the Charles de Gaulle leg of Paris RER B.
One technique train stations do, including Metrolinx, is to pre-position trains inside the stations just right before peak. Assuming you preload Union (before peak) with 150-meter trains via double-berthing multiple tracks, the 5-minute service can temporarily be achieved on more routes, for a surge. Perhaps this is what you meant that “through service” reduces peak capacity. If this is why, then I now understand.
Essentially, they’ve borrowed USRC train-throughput from the previous hour to preload Union with peak-hour trains, so you now mostly only need to worry about trains getting OUT of Union, without worrying about many incoming trains. Incoming service could temporarily be at a reduced frequency during peak — and GO already does this (one LSW train is skipped — so if you’re leaving Aldershot at peak, you sometimes have a 1-hour-long wait). This is a ‘compromise’ but if 5-minute ended up being a requirement, I can see them heavily using the double-berthing technique (for services in opposite directions) during peak, and through-trains during off peak.
On the subject of 150-meter trains (half length of traditional GO trains)….
Check these Metrolinx promo art:
I recognize the train — it’s the Stadler KISS. Although this is just clipart, this is clearly a wisely chosen EMU. Bi-level and low-door capable, and arguably one of the best plug-in EMU replacement for Bombardier BiLevels. While this may not be the trainset Metrolinx ultimately chooses, it’s an European bi-level EMU typically sold in 6-coach sets, and would be an ideal double-berth choice, since two of these trainsets can easily fit in one platform to achieve the desired 5-minute peak service on multiple routes — but the 5-minutes wouldn’t be sustainable beyond peak for the reasons you’ve already explained.
I suspect this is why Metrolinx is eager to roll out PTC, so they can introduce non-FRA EMUs like the ones pictured in their recent art… Or at least is trying to “keep the door open” to that option…
(in respect to high platforms / level boarding).
Some interesting stats I know about the Stadler KISS. It is has a migration path to all-wheelchair-accessible low-floor boarding. The floor height is 17 inches above the rail (between the height of today’s low platforms and the accessible GO platforms), which is roughly one stair step higher than current Metrolinx platforms which is approximately ~8 inch above the rail iron, roughly one stair step lower than current Metrolinx accessible platforms.
Height above rail:
Platforms: 8 inches
Stadler KISS: 17 inches
Bombardier BiLevel: 25 inches
I’m thinking: In theory, this provide great flexibility in keeping existing platforms with only a simple compact wheelchair ramp (maybe even, theoretically a custom designed deployable ramp to access either floor height — might not be possible, but there seems to be precedents). And optionally provides an “at-Metrolinx-leisure” non-urgent gradual raising of GO platforms, for a long-term accessibility expansion towards all-door wheelchair boarding, and subway-style level boarding while not being dangerously high above the rails.
With the eventual gradual migration to accessible-platform elimination, you can choose to double-berth (at peak) and single-berth (off-peak, train entered under glass atrium), without needing to aim the train precisely.
There are cons though. Not saying this Stadler KISS will be necessarily chosen (or if Transport Canada necessarily lets them choose it) — and does it has lower per-coach capacity than a BiLevel (though sheer frequency can compensate quite a bit).
But I am now realizing, this EMU seems to provide a lot of attractive long-term RER migration path, regardless of 15min, 10min or 5min frequency.
And for single-berth of 6-car train not necessarily needing to be exactly centered under glass atrium — it could overhang the Bay Concourse slightly more (e.g. at least 1 car overhead the west most Bay concourse stairway accesses) to provide a punctual TTC connection.
I rode the last Kitchener train to Union on Wednesday. This train had about 25 standees in my coach from Malton so there is clearly unmet demand on the line. The train took just over 4 minutes to unload and almost 6 minutes to clear the platform. The problem in unloading is that there is only a single stream of passengers coming down each stair well so once the bottom level empties the double width doors are not being used to capacity. If the system had high platforms (which is VERY difficult with FRA/TC rules) then two streams of passengers could exit from each door for the full time and reduce the time required to empty the train by about 50%. Using doors on both side really has little effect because of the constraints put in by the width of the stairs.
While our train was unloading the train on the other side of the platform left the station. This results in people being in the space between the moving train and the shed for the stairs which is very narrow. One person has already died because of this and it is going to continue to be a concern until they install platform edge doors on all the passenger platforms at Union.
Please tell me how the basement mall increases capacity of Union Station. Unless I am mistaken it is below the level of the York and Bay Concourse and the exit to PATH so who would use it except to get a coffee or do some shopping. It has no effect on the fact that you still have to come down those narrow stairs off those narrow, and dangerous, platforms.
I have read the above two links so I assume that I am now justified in replying to your message.
Even with signalling the USRC will not be able to handle all the service because of the flat throats that require trains to cross over several tracks which blocks them from use until they are cleared. All the new out of service trains from the west come from the North Bathurst yard on the north side of the throat while all the ones from the east come from the yard on the south side of the tracks. I believe the maximum speed through the switches in the yard is 15 mph, 22 feet per second. As a 12 car train is about 1100 feet long it will take 50 seconds to pass any single point. To this must be added the time to travel through the slip switches which ranges from 60 to 900 feet. At 22 fps this varies between 3 and 40 seconds. Then we need to add the time to re-align the switches which I will assume to be high speed and use 5 seconds. This movement then takes between 58 s to 95 s during which time the tracks being crossed are unusable. Shorter trains reduce this but increase the number of trains required. Running trains half the length does not mean that you can run twice as many trains because the time between trains and the time to clear and align switches does not change.
I know that with PTC or automatic computerized train control the timings can be optimized but you still cannot defy the laws of Physics which says that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Union Station does not have the track or platform capacity to run an RER/SmartTrack service on the headways heeded.
• “The total width of PATH entrances/exits is doubling post-revitalization. That’s a much wider vomitorium in/out of Union”
This does not improve passenger flow off the platforms.
• “GO concourse is tripling in total square footage, but this doesn’t even include the mall (additional loiter/waiting space)”
Neither does this.
• “There is level walking between PATH all the way to underneath both the Bay and York concourses, no stairs or circuitous.”
Irrelevant to passenger flow off the platforms but nice once you are there.
• “There will be the equivalent of a bypass freeway directly between Bay GO concourse and York GO concourse. Look at the wide hallway between TTC-Bay, and Bay-York.”
Which level is this on? If it is not on the same level as the exits stairs from the platform then it is almost useless.
• “Commuters can easily head directly to York if paths to Bay are overloaded.”
Again which level is this on? If it is through the old VIA concourse there is going to be a lot of conflicting pedestrian traffic.
Steve: It is the space under the Great Hall, some of which is open now, but a lot of which was occupied by non-public functions such as baggage handling. This is being opened up as part of the renovation. It is, however, on the same level as the upper concourses. This contributes to circulation space at the concourse level, but not to the capacity for movements to/from track level.
• “Shorter dwelling of electric trains will empty platforms faster, allowing 2x passengers while maintaining crowding to today’s levels”
Dwell times for train are almost irrelevant in emptying platforms. It is the ability of the stairs to handle passengers than is important. Dwell time does not affect flow rate of passengers down those narrow stairs.
Steve: There is a good analogy on the TTC subway where very short headways would overload some platforms because departing passengers would not clear before the next train pulled in. Only additional capacity off of the platform can fix this.
• “Shorter trains is also being discussed as an option for ultrahighfrequency service (i.e. 150 meters) which will reduce platform overcrowding too.”
Again running shorter trains on a higher frequency does not in itself reduce platform overcrowding. Some people may walk down the platform a ways to find an under used stair well but those in the middle of the train are stuck.
The only way a “Paris Style Mother Of All RERs” can be built is by making a new station for it at Union and taking it off the USRC.
You are confusing passenger flow within Union Station with the time required to clear platforms. Nothing is being done to improve this that I can see. Also you are mixing up train frequency and length with the ability to clear platforms. If you run twice as many trains with half the capacity you still have the same number of passengers per hour.
Accounting for UPX trains is just going to reduce the delta in frequency. Instead of 6 trains, it’s 10, so you are only running an extra 20% trains (although the UPX trains would be 6-cars long in comparison to the current 2-3 design).
It depends on the specific RTC model parameters, but in general terms, through-routed trains are impeded more by waiting for contra-direction trains to clear switches. In a double-berthed west/east west model, each corridor can have it’s own service with dedicated tracks and platforms. This improves capacity as far as trains per hour as well as reliability (a late Lakeshore train doesn’t affect delivery of Barrie service).
If Kennedy is a ‘key station’, does that make Bloor (Kipling, Oriole, Downsview Park) and Eglinton key too? You’ll either need a new diesel fleet or to keep clear of the bi-level envelope with your high platforms.
Nothing is impossible, if you throw enough money at the problem. Improbable or implausible are better terms. A complete rebuild might improve the system efficiency, but it’s outside the current generation of transit planning.
There is a definite disconnect in Metrolinx amongst Infrastructure, Electrification, and Public Relations. Electrification wants EMUs, but doesn’t want to pay for the changes; PR is listening to the Electrification Group; Capital Infrastructure is trucking along with the status quo; Operations & Maintenance want to maximize capacity per train.
Steve: I might also add that illustrations such as you cite are little more than clip art, and do not necessarily reflect what will be operated. They are picked to look pretty, not to be accurate.
In the next year or two as they do their Preliminary Design and pre-consultation TPAP work, Metrolinx will get their head around the requirements for EMU and realize they can’t roll it into the Electrification/RER timetable and budget.
In generally, Metrolinx is pretty good in opening doors for themselves, just need time and money to actually pass through them.
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Not sure where you are getting your measurements. Standard platform heights are 127mm (5″) above Top Of Rail (TOR) and the bi-level doors are 289mm (11.38″) above TOR. The platform edge is 1.632m from centreline of track.
The bi-levels are 1.5m wide from centreline of track or 781mm from centre of rail.