GO/RER Details Emerge in Business Case Analysis

Metrolinx has published a set of documents containing the “Initial Business Case” for the GO Transit Regional Express Rail (GO/RER) network.

  • Summary
  • Full Report
  • Appendices A-J
    • A: Corridor Specifications
    • B: Corridor and System Schematics
    • C: Model Assumptions and Results
    • D: Record of Assumptions – Direct Demand Model
    • E: Financial Performance of RER Systems
    • F: Sensitivity Analysis
    • G: Wider Economic Benefits
    • H: Line Speed Analysis
    • I: Environmental Assessment Program
    • J: Fare Structure Issues and Solutions
  • Appendix K:  Station Access Analysis

[Note that except for the Summary, the documents are large PDFs.]

This article begins a review of these documents and of the various RER proposals examined in the Metrolinx studies.

Overview

Work on this review of GO/RER began in April 2014 following the announcement by Queen’s Park of its commitment to the RER concept. Unlike previous reports, this study looks in depth at all of the GO corridors, and reviews the technical issues associated with both increased service and electrification. This is not a final review, and much engineering work remains to be done, but there is a great deal more information now publicly available as the basis for discussions.

These documents were completed sometime in 2015 as is clear from references to future events that will occur later in the year, notably reports from the City of Toronto on SmartTrack. That scheme gets only passing mention, some of it the usual political cover story, because the specifics had yet to be decided. Exactly what the incremental effect of ST will be beyond the proposed GO/RER configuration is not yet known. Preliminary information in City reports implies that ST will amount to considerably less than was foreseen by the Tory election campaign, possibly as little as a few more stations and some sort of TTC/GO fare integration.

Five scenarios were reviewed to compare the effects, benefits, costs and technical issues associated with various possible future networks.

  1. The “Do Minimum” scenario provides only marginal peak period improvements to the existing system in response to projected demand growth, but with no electrification. This is effectively a “business as usual” model for the base case.
  2. The “Two-Way All-Day” scenario expands off peak service, but with diesel operation and no electrification. This is a minimal level of service expansion.
  3. The “10-Year Plan” would provide frequent service on the inner parts of some corridors, but with limited electrification.
  4. The “Full Build” extends beyond the 10-Year Plan to provide frequent service on the inner parts of all corridors, and with full electrification.
  5. The “10-Year Plan Optimized” extends the scope of electrification beyond that contemplated in scenario 3.

This progression implies a certain sequence of events during the study where a full build is impractical and the original 10-year plan was not aggressive enough with electrification, a key component of the announced government direction.

The estimated capital costs rise from $5 billion for scenario 1, through $10b, $12b and $19b for scenarios 2 to 4. The price tag for the latter is well above what Queen’s Park has available, and scenario 5 was developed with a projected cost of $13.5b. All but scenario 4 are said to be achievable by 2024. Given that it is now 2016, and this is a 10 year plan, that date probably requires some adjustment.

Scenario 5 is the 10-Year Plan Optimized, it represents significant progress towards implementing the service levels of Scenario 4. It goes beyond the investments and service included in Scenario 3 (10-Year Plan), with electrification also to Bramalea, Barrie, Stouffville and to Pearson Airport. This scenario and the resulting recommended RER program has been defined to maximize return on investment while mitigating risks. Depending on resolving various challenges, it can be delivered over 10 years for approximately $13.5 billion. It does not preclude, but rather prepares for, services to Milton and Kitchener to be eventually electrified and frequent all-day services introduced when agreement is reached on co-existence of GO and freight on these privately-owned corridors. [p. iv, Full Report]

Annual ridership is expected to go up by a factor of 2.5 over the coming 15 years, but operation costs will not rise at the same rate. The study postulates that an operating profit would be possible, eventually, but that will depend a lot on future fare policies, and on the evolution of trip patterns (length, direction, average fare). The ridership model foresees that “hundreds of thousands” of auto trips would be replaced by GO ridership each weekday comparing scenario 5 to scenario 1. The proportion of trips and its relationship to expected growth is not specified in the Executive Summary. (Possibly in the demand modelling later.)

The rate of demand increase on GO overall is projected at 2.3% which is lower than recent levels, but allows for some leveling off in a more mature service.

One big issue is the problem of getting riders physically to and from the GO trains. Either this will be done with substantially improved local transit services (an option that brings many issues associated with fare integration and cross-system subsidies), or with parking. The cost estimates include $750m for 15,000 new parking spaces, or $50k per space. At that scale, simply paving empty lots is not an option. The study notes the possibility that some of this cost “may not be necessary if service integration and fare integration with local transit services can be improved”. [p. v]

Those 15,000 spaces represent nowhere near the ratio of new parking spaces to existing facilities that the projected ridership growth would entail if everyone arrived by car. Parking charges are listed as a way of raising additional capital for the RER project, and of encouraging a shift to ride sharing and public transit feeder services.

It is amusing to read about the benefits of proven technology, something for which Ontario has not been noted in past endeavours.

Virtually all of the works are within existing rail corridors, so environmental and community impacts are limited mostly to noise and vibration. RER will use proven technology that is working around the world. [p. v]

Descriptions of RER cite similar operations in more than 50 city regions worldwide [page 6], and list a number of factors that simplify implementation [p. 4]. I cannot help thinking of how badly past studies have downplayed the benefits of LRT which bears a family resemblance, but at a local rather than a regional level.

The first electric railway opened in 1883 (the Volks Tourist Railway on the Brighton seafront in the U.K.). Ever since that time, electric traction has increasingly become the default source of power for the world’s more intensively used rail systems. [p. 14]

Finding this statement in a Metrolinx report is quite amusing considering some of the remarks made during community meetings on electrification before Metrolinx and GO “got religion” on the subject. The report skirts that debate by observing that GO is now at the threshold where electrification makes sense:

Until recently, diesel traction has been the appropriate mode of traction for the GO rail operation. However, the service enhancements envisaged in the near future will take GO rail beyond the threshold of service intensity appropriate for electrification. Continued use of diesel traction will become a source of financial and economic inefficiency. [p. 14]

Metrolinx intends to pursue discussions with the railways regarding the upgrades needed on their trackage, and also intends to review “modern, proven technology” with Transport Canada and the railways.

This is an “initial” analysis, and changes are likely depending on the evolution of expectations, changes in provincial funding, and who knows what political meddling that could arise.

A decade is a long time in politics, and the likelihood that the current governing parties or councillors will still be in place at that distant time is minuscule. Moreover, changes could come at any level part way through the project, and only a very strong, unshakeable commitment (i.e. very popular and difficult to derail) is likely to survive. This is not simply a case of showing up for a photo op or two with a gigantic prop cheque, but of supporting the plan for the long haul, including building a constituency that can survive beyond current governments. The arrival of a Ford-equivalent who simply wanted to start over with his own plan would be disastrous.

The Vision of Regional Express Rail

This section of the report begins by recounting the history of transit in the GTHA, of the formerly high transit mode share when more jobs were concentrated in central Toronto, of the rise and subsequent fall in subway construction, and of the growth of GO Transit for core-bound commuting trips.

At one point, there is even a claim that GO carries as many people into the core in the peak as the subway does, but this is hard to credit given that total one-way GO ridership is only about 90k. Possibly a restricted definition of the “core” has been used that omits a wide area served well by the subway, but less so by GO. In any event, growth of GO capacity will increase the commuting load it can bring to downtown Toronto.

Ridership into the core area has been growing by transit, at least during the peak period.

RER2016_Figure10

While “Active Transport” (walking, cycling) is a factor with all of the new housing downtown, it is small compared to overall figures during the peak. Their role is greater during the off-peak period, possibly reflecting a different pattern of trip origins more conducive to these modes. (Beware of differences in the vertical scales used in these charts.)

(The Transportation Tomorrow Survey updates these data every five years, but the 2016 numbers will not be available until 2017. The evolution of Active Transportation numbers will be interesting to see.)

Auto trips are growing outside the peak as anyone now dealing with off-peak congestion will know. GO, a peak-only service, has not seen much of the overall increase.

Between 2006 and 2011, average daily car trips to the downtown outside the morning peak period grew by 16,000, compared with less than 4,000 by GO Rail. Meanwhile, over 55,000 new trips were made by walking, cycling and TTC. [p. 10]

RER2016_Figure11

Trips from “downtown” are also growing strongly after a long period when the numbers were almost flat. Again, this will bear watching in the 2016 data when it is available. However, we must be careful about the definition of the “downtown” area which could very well exclude a good chunk of the central city such as the University of Toronto campus. It will be important to distinguish between “outward” trips that are simply among various locations in the old City of Toronto, and those to suburbs where GO/RER would make a difference.

RER2016_Figure13

Finally, there is the question of commuting that is not focussed on the City of Toronto. The total trip count is very large, and it is almost entirely served by private autos with little sign of growth in other modes. This is a huge challenge for both the regional rail network, and for transit systems within the communities outside of Toronto.

RER2016_Figure12

The challenge for transit in the overall travel market shows up in the proportion of trips by each mode taken within Toronto (the 416) and in the region beyond (the 905). GO rail services only have a tiny sliver of the travel market, lower even than walking. The problem here is that this is a chart of all trips from the most trivial journeys to the corner store to a long regional commute. A later chart looks only at trips over 10km, and this shows a different picture. All the same, transit has a lot of work to catch up with auto travel, and its credibility is hampered by decades in which transit simply was not an option for much travel throughout the city and region.

RER2016_Figure53

GO’s fleet plans include their current diesel-hauled trains with 10 or 12 bilevel cars, but also 4-car EMU sets running in 4, 8 or 12-car consists. The fleet required to operate the basic off-peak service would be EMUs, with electric locomotives hauling existing bilevels for peak service on routes that are electrified. [p. 20]

The comparative operating costs of different train consists are quite striking.

RER2016_Figure14

Although there will be additional costs once RER is operating, the report claims that additional revenue will more than offset this because fare revenue goes up more than operating costs, especially considering the savings available with EMU operations over the current diesel-hauled trains.

Many service options were tested, and the permutations are too extensive for an article here. I recommend that interested readers download the full reports for all of the details. As an  overview, here is a table of the principal options studied (click to enlarge):

RER2016_Table3

For the Lakeshore corridor, as an example, there is a much more detailed look at the options:

RER2016_Table4

These figures show a very high return on investment assuming that one agrees with the methodology. Some points here are worth noting:

  • Although the base 2014 ridership is not shown, it can be derived from the 2029 ridership and the percentage increases this represents. For Lakeshore West, the 2014 number is 17m, and for Lakeshore East it is about 14.5m. The scale of ridership increase has profound implications for the capacity that will be required to and from feeder stations.
  • The revenues and operating costs are Net Present Value (NPV) figures over the life of the model, not one-year data. However, the ratios show that different service models produce different riding and revenue patterns. For example, for LSW scenario 5 has 33m riders/year by 2029, or 57% more than scenario 1. However, the revenues are only 31% higher suggesting that proportionately more riders in scenario 5 make shorter trips.
  • The operating cost increment is small beyond the base case for LSW, and for LSE it is actually cheaper to operate the scenario 5 service than the base case.
  • Capital investments are higher for scenarios with more service, but these are more than offset by the benefits imputed from shifting so many riders onto the RER network from autos.

Similar tables are included in the report for all of the other corridors and service options.

A common thread in all of the analyses is that the more aggressive service options tend to do best on the Business Case Analysis, probably because the additional ridership, revenue and benefits (trip diversion to transit) for well-used infrastructure more than offsets the capital investment required. Each of the lines reaches a point where better service produces proportionately more demand. If this is what might happen looking only to 2029, this has important implications for network growth in the decades beyond when RER really will operate as a “regional subway” rather than an occasional commuter train.

Growth to the full scenario 4 is constrained by the available provincial funding, and the tactic is to get as much value as possible for the $13.5b envelope Queen’s Park has announced.

The service plans for scenario 5 are summarized in the charts below.

RER2016_Scenario5PeakSvc

RER2016_Scenario5OffPeakSvc

The colours indicate, generally, the level of service with red being 15′ or better through blue and green to the less frequent services. The Milton and Richmond Hill corridors remain with only peak period, peak direction service because of constraints on operation over CP and CN trackage, as well as the  need to floodproof tracks in the Don Valley for the Richmond Hill service.

As a point of comparison, here is the “full build” scenario 4 service.

RER2016_Scenario4PeakSvc

RER2016_Scenario4OffPeakSvc

Whether any of us will ever see service at this level (let along just getting to scenario 4) is quite another matter. This will require a sustained commitment and funding, and it will not be paid for with fairy dust schemes such as “tax increment financing”. The Metrolinx report stays away from the “how to pay for it” problem and concentrates on the “what can we build” issue. The obvious variables in the financial picture are:

  • Fare structure: should a higher or lower overall farebox cost recovery be attempted?
  • Subsidies: is the provision of good transit considered a “social good” and the cost seen as a preferable alternative to continued expansion of road capacity?
  • Parking: should GO parking lots charge for this service, and how much can this revenue source contribute to overall financing? The report estimates that parking could contribute $100m annually from 2020 onward, enough to finance $3.8b in capital spending.

Ridership projections for the corridors vary considerably with the largest gains, no surprise, coming in corridors that receive more service.

RER2016_Figure15

Projections for Lakeshore West, Barrie and Stouffville corridors are noteworthy because off-peak values are similar to peak (albeit they are spread over more service hours). This would put GO/RER in the same situation as TTC where off-peak ridership is an important part of overall demand, and many trips have nothing to do with conventional commuting patterns. As with other parts of the evolving regional travel patterns, this change cannot be achieved without substantial investment in local feeder/distributor services.

The projected growth for each scenario is shown in more detail in the following chart.

RER2016_Figure44

“Business Case” analysis is something of a black art, and much depends on assumptions used in the model such as the value of travel time, presumed changes in road congestion, reduction of pollution, and secondary effects such as reduced health care costs. For the five scenarios, the analysis produces the following result:

RER2016_Figure20

The business-as-usual scenario 1 produces a surplus, but only by virtue of minimal investment. There are no “transport benefits” because this scenario is the base against which others are measured. Other scenarios require varying degrees of subsidy, but the elimination of the Milton and Richmond Hill corridors reduces this quite markedly. However, the large decline in transport benefits between scenarios 4 and 5 shows how much network benefit goes untapped in the recommended scenario.

The electrification cost is a relatively small part of scenarios 3, 4 and 5, much smaller than the fleet, infrastructure and property costs. Although scenarios 4 and 5 provide considerably more service, their operating and maintenance costs do not skyrocket because of the substantial savings with an electrified (mainly EMU) operation.

Another way to look at the costs and benefits is to compare the base case with the four scenarios for improvement.

RER2016_Figure25

Again, the much more substantial benefits available with the full build scenario 4 are evident, but the cost is not at a level Queen’s Park wishes to undertake. “Transport benefits” are broken down here by type, and this shows an important distinction in the distribution of notional savings. By far the largest benefit accrues to to transit users whose trips become faster, and to former auto users who save on the cost of driving their cars. Benefits to road users in reduced congestion are comparatively small as are the “safety” benefits that flow from supposedly lower traffic volumes. These can easily be understood in the context that roads are full beyond capacity already, and the improvement of transit merely “buys” room for other drivers (and future growth) by shifting many trips onto transit. The idea that roads will ever be uncongested is a pipedream. In that sense, although GO/RER will make life much better for trips that fit well on the rail corridors, its benefit for off-corridor journeys (orbital rather than radial) will be considerably lower.

Journey times are projected to fall with the new network through a combination of frequent service (and thus shorter waits for a train) and improved speed with electrification. This will make transit more attractive for various trips, although the degree will vary from location to location. The report includes a chart of comparative travel times for multi-corridor journeys such as Richmond Hill to Hamilton where transit times will be substantially reduced. However, it is unclear whether the times used include access times at both ends of the journey, an area where autos have a distinct advantage for many trips. Transit’s ability to serve this type of trip will be constrained by the dispersal of origins and destinations across the region even if frequent trunk services were to fill in an east-west grid.

The uphill battle faced by GO/RER is illustrated below in a chart of mode share today and in 2029.

RER2016_Figure42

This chart would have been more useful if it included other transit modes and autos, but even as it is, this shows the relative scale of GO/RER growth versus transportation demand overall. Although GO/RER will roughly triple in the medium-to-long trip market, a rate much higher than overall trips, it will still be roughly one sixth of the total travel. The breakdown needs to be much better understood by market segment, and the importance of short trips must not be forgotten. The average TTC journey is under 10km, and so many TTC trips do not contribute to the “other modes” values above. Moreover, many of the “last mile” trips required for riders to access the GO system are short journeys on local transit systems.

On the financial side, the report presents a rosy picture of future profitability for the network. This is possible due to various factors including:

  • GO’s existing fare-by-distance structure will generate more revenue as service capacity increases and infrastructure is better-utilized.
  • Operating costs for the electrified network do not rise proportionally to the change in service level.
  • The cost of capital debt service is not included as a charge against operations.
  • Last mile services are borne by local municipal operations and is not counted as part of the GO/RER cost base.

RER2016_Figure51

Whether this unexpected state, a transit service that actually shows a profit, is achievable will depend on many factors including political decisions about service, fares and subsidy levels, not to mention the basic task of simply building out the network to support the proposed level of service. As for local services, the report is somewhat evasive on additional local costs suggesting that all of these new GO/RER riders represent a market that might be tapped, and possibly even at no extra cost, by local systems. That really takes us into the realm of fantasy and shows the degree to which Metrolinx continues to avoid the delicate political question of subsidies to local systems. A further report on this issue is supposed to be in the works.

In future articles, I will turn to more details behind this study.

156 thoughts on “GO/RER Details Emerge in Business Case Analysis

  1. My point is we do it all WRONG. Look at the world, Japan, England, Germany. Sleek low fast trains with a history of doing it reasonably right, considering it is a difficult job mostly due to bureaucracy since the technology is simple enough. We choose double decker trains to make underpasses deep and expensive and the freight trains have these “Automax” trains that are so tall that you have to ask how high up do we need to string the wires if we want to electrify and share with freight? I think these are real critical questions. We should build railroads to save money and time.

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  2. 383onthetree | April 19, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    “My point is we do it all WRONG. Look at the world, Japan, England, Germany. Sleek low fast trains with a history of doing it reasonably right, considering it is a difficult job mostly due to bureaucracy since the technology is simple enough. We choose double decker trains to make underpasses deep and expensive and the freight trains have these “Automax” trains that are so tall that you have to ask how high up do we need to string the wires if we want to electrify and share with freight? I think these are real critical questions. We should build railroads to save money and time.”

    I don’t think double deckers were chosen TO make rail underpasses deep and expensive; rather they were chosen to maximize the amount of cargo that could be carried in a train compared to the tare weight of the train. European countries and Japan are extremely dense and have relatively short lines compared to North American ones. As a result most of their main lines are at least double tracked. Distances in North America are so much greater that the freight companies built single track main lines with passing sidings and run long, and tall, freights to maximize throughput for a minimum amount of double track; thus the railways save time and money.

    In 2 months in Europe I only saw one freight train over 20 cars long. They can do that because the run on mainly double track lines and have a power to weight ratio that allows them to operate on schedule similar to stopping passenger trains. North America is an entirely different operating scenario and we cannot tell the freight companies on whole line [where] some of these passenger trains operate to change their operations. If we want to use the lines we need to follow their rules.

    If you want to completely rebuild the entire rail system, or build a parallel one for passenger, then that is another story but we have to operate with what we have at the moment. Also running smaller trains would require more trains and Union cannot handle that.

    You still have not answered my question as to exactly what you meant when you said to cut the subway back to Islington and run commuter trains through it. What would happen when they got through, would they use third rail, etc.

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  3. 383onthetree said:

    “We choose double decker trains to make underpasses deep and expensive and the freight trains have these “Automax” trains that are so tall that you have to ask how high up do we need to string the wires if we want to electrify and share with freight? I think these are real critical questions. We should build railroads to save money and time.”

    I would point out, that the double decker trains used in Italy for commuter trains are incredibly similar. Rode a train that may as well have been GO into Rome a couple of years ago. I would also point out to you that in Canada especially, but North America generally, the conditions of Europe do not prevail, and hence the choices will be somewhat different. This does not make them wrong, or even less optimal, just optimized to a different reality. Europe outside Russia and Canada are geographically about the same size, but Europe has about 20 times as many people. Paris and London (among others) have the advantage of having been very large cities a very long time ago, they have the further advantage of having their centers being surrounded by land, which means the rail network can and does radiate 360 degrees as opposed to the 180 or so for Toronto. Despite this, there are still instances of double decker commuter trains.

    Even the sleek new ones in Paris come in at over 14 feet (as opposed to 15 for standard GO). I suspect that one of the reasons that we see 2 container high cargo trains here is because the track beds were designed for extremely high weights, and it makes a very efficient use of existing infrastructure and equipment. Why is that bad?

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  4. 383onthetree said:

    My point is we do it all WRONG. Look at the world, Japan, England, Germany. Sleek low fast trains with a history of doing it reasonably right, considering it is a difficult job mostly due to bureaucracy since the technology is simple enough.

    There is a definite tendency to cherry pick the evidence of other systems that we like. I can’t speak from experience about Japan or Germany, but I would not characterize the English rail system as “fast” nor “doing it reasonably right”.

    The state of the system was so poorly maintained that the privatized network needed to be renationalized because the private sector couldn’t or wouldn’t keep it at a level where lives were not being lost.

    383onthetree said:

    We choose double decker trains to make underpasses deep and expensive

    You are confusing the chicken and the egg. We have double decker trains because GO began as a commuter system on freight corridors. The underpasses were already built for the Federal freight clearances, so running double decker trains meant more capacity without extra costs.

    383onthetree said:

    the freight trains have these “Automax” trains that are so tall that you have to ask how high up do we need to string the wires if we want to electrify and share with freight?

    The general term is “double-stacked freight” (DSF) which has a minimal structure clearance of 6.909m (such as built in the western tunnel of the West Toronto Grade Separation) and on the corridors that CN/CP retain emergency running rights, the desired minimum clearance is 7.436m with a standard minimum clearance of 7.206m and an absolute minimum clearance of 7.114m. On sections without DSF, the minimum is only 5.4m, which isn’t much more than a regular road underpass.

    383onthetree said:

    We should build railroads to save money and time.

    Adjusting structures for a 7.4m clearance is saving time and money. The alternative is to spend a billion or so just on buying usage rights and/or building a new freight corridor.

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  5. I always thought that the TTC subway ducks under already, so extend that line further west. Or cut the TTC line off at Islington Station like it was at one time and run the GO main line thru the underpass and run faster longer distance single decker trains further out to Milton or beyond.

    I don’t think I understand your suggestion.

    Your suggested changes at Islington are designed to help things at Union? How exactly?

    How does terminating at Islington help? There is no room to expand the bus portion of Islington station, so where would you connect all the buses that currently connect to the subway at Kipling? How important is the interconnect between the GO Train system, and the subway, at Kipling Station? You abandon it, as well.

    What (new?) underpass are you proposing?

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  6. Look at the world, Japan, England, Germany. Sleek low fast trains with a history of doing it reasonably right, considering it is a difficult job mostly due to bureaucracy since the technology is simple enough. We choose double decker trains to make underpasses deep and expensive and the freight trains have these “Automax” trains …

    Can I ask a question? I actually don’t know, these regional rail services that you see as having done the job right? How many of them have to share their rails? If GO Trains have to share rails and other facilities with other services, then it isn’t a fair comparison, is it?

    I thought GO chose the bilevel trains because it was the only way to transport a large number of riders, per hour, over track that has to be shared with other services?

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  7. @ 383onthetree

    It appears that I am not the only one who doesn’t have a clue as to what you are trying to get across or why.

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  8. OK. First off the original single deckers GO trains were a good design, light and low in profile except the locomotives . They could have bought sleek locomotives in later years. Does aerodynamics mean nothing?

    In North America we have large height clearances which makes double decker look good but how does that equate to over head wires? Japan uses low hung wires and air shields to reduce aerodynamics and energy efficiency. But also very tall pantographs must be awkward engineering. European and (Long Island) has more tight clearances yet in Europe they have a higher standard of passenger comfort in double deckers, at least in some countries compared to the GO trains.

    Germany hauls A LOT of freight that has to mix with passenger trains even as slow freights on HRS routes. 50 mph heavy iron ore trains share tracks with 125 mph passenger trains and have priority when necessary. It can be done.

    UK benefits from having the lowest train weight per passenger due to small train profiles.

    We would have less need for slow heavy double decker trains if we could lighten the trains and run them faster and more frequent either electric or diesel. NA railroads are stuck on maximizing the train size at the expense of service and this has been passed thru to GO Transit.

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  9. The Islington idea is probably the hardest to explain. But assuming we want to save tax payers money …… I have heard rumors that GO and CP want some huge awkward flyunder so that GO trains can cross paths with freight trains. The flyunder exists already as a TTC line!!! Well if we used a sleeker lower faster commuter train designs on the world market the main line passenger train could use this route. The wasteful parking lot a Islington can be partly made into a station for this purpose for relatively little cost . Adding a few tracks (which they need to anyways) over the Humber from Union should be cheaper then a “flyunder” like they’ve done further up the river on the Weston Sub. End the TTC at Islington, who cares if you change train at Kipling or Islington? Nobody ever really wants to change train anyways.

    Steve: Enough already! This is a “tail wags dog” situation where we are talking about a hypothetical restructuring of the subway (including prevention of any westerly extension) simply to solve a GO problem, and adding to the complexity of the “solution” with a proposal to change the fleet style for at least part of GO’s service. Future comments on this subject will be deleted.

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  10. 383onthetree, it is worth mentioning that GO has had to pay the freight companies for EACH time a GO train passed on their track. This meant it was more fare-efficient to use larger trains that moved a massive number of people, with one of the most massive sized commuter trains in North America

    It is only recently that GO now finally owns most of the network.

    You do realize according to the linked docs, GO appears to want to start buying lightweight 4 coach EMUs that can join/split automatically and efficiently? More similar to the German and France doubledecker commuter trains than the heavy BiLevels?

    Also, France has double decker 300kph trains — it is called TGV Duplex.

    Steve: Enough already!

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  11. 383onthetree said:

    First off the original single deckers GO trains were a good design, light and low in profile except the locomotives. They could have bought sleek locomotives in later years. Does aerodynamics mean nothing?

    You are complaining about the aerodynamics of locomotives in the 1970s?

    Consider car designs of the time:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/wilco737/16631925273/
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/that_chrysler_guy/9567027575/



    https://www.flickr.com/photos/24736216@N07/5175053510/
    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/497155246336307875/

    383onthetree said:

    In North America we have large height clearances which makes double decker look good but how does that equate to over head wires?

    Did you read my previous post?

    383onthetree said:

    Japan uses low hung wires and air shields to reduce aerodynamics and energy efficiency. But also very tall pantographs must be awkward engineering.

    Japan uses a contact wire high of 5.0m, France uses 4.95m, Germany uses 5.3m and Italy used 4.85m. Metrolinx would use 6.95m where DSF is a potential and 5.4m elsewhere. The difference between the height of the contact wire and my previous numbers is the depth of the OCS.

    The engineering design is very straight forward. It’s actually more difficult to engineer low wires due to the aerodynamic envelope of passing trains.

    [Post note: Sorry, Steve, I wrote this reply before seeing your frustration (similar to my own for the repetition of the same arguments without considering the facts presented in various responses)]

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Steve said

    “Enough already!”

    Yes the more plausible discussions surrounding the Kitchener line being twinned tracked, and ways of actively supporting all service to Milton are much more interesting. Order of implementation issues, and extent also. Robert, how important would it be to get a clear shot to frequent service to Brampton GO as opposed to electrification to Bramalea? If you could get 15 minute all day service to Brampton, and 8+ peak hour trains, would improving transit access to that station not be more important than electrification?

    Does electrification of the Barrie line really make sense? Yes it would improve travel time, but well, would the primary effect of that not just be encouraging more driving to the stations in the outer portion, in effect spreading sprawl?

    Steve: This is a Catch-22. Barrie and its suburban development exist already, and the challenge is how to serve this. Yes, more trains just encourages more development, but if you think Queen’s Park is going to rein in the development industry, even if the NDP were in power, you are dreaming. The construction industry has the bases covered from right to left.

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  13. Steve said:

    “Yes, more trains just encourages more development, but if you think Queen’s Park is going to rein in the development industry, even if the NDP were in power, you are dreaming. The construction industry has the bases covered from right to left.”

    I was thinking of electrification more in terms of speed. The reason I question Barrie is more of priorities. Preventing development – no way in hell, however, the industry is worried about profit and construction, and if they believed they could be just as profitable on a smaller foot print. However, encouraging development into a smaller area, means higher returns for property, and more construction vertically. So if the money was spent to encourage, say more transit oriented, more compact, closer in development, well the impact for the industry should be the same (although the players who profit would be slightly different).

    Steve: The developers have made it clear repeatedly that they build what sells, and what sells is houses, not mid or high rises. That’s not what folks move to Barrie and environs for.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. 383onthetree wrote:

    We would have less need for slow heavy double decker trains if we could lighten the trains and run them faster and more frequent either electric or diesel.

    Maybe everyone else already knows this… Are you saying that, for a given set of curves, a given set of tracks, a single deck train will always have a higher maximum speed than a double decker train? Okay, that never occurred to me, but it makes sense. If this is the case how much faster would single deck trains be? 5 percent, 10 percent, 20 percent?

    A higher maximum speed only matters on stretches where stations are far enough apart for trains to reach their maximum speed.

    Does this imply that low floor vehicles could have an even higher speed than conventional high floor vehicles? I know the Flexity vehicles have their air conditioning and other stuff above the ceiling, stuff that would be below the floor in a conventional vehicle. Does that alter the center of gravity enough to blow away any speed advantage of the reduced height?

    Steve: At the speed the Flexitys will operate, wind drag from added height is not an issue.

    Now for the last time, can we cut off this comment thread voluntarily?

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  15. Malcolm N said:

    I was thinking of electrification more in terms of speed. The reason I question Barrie is more of priorities.

    The difference is travel time between an electric Barrie and non-electric Barrie isn’t significant enough to determine where people will live. With current travel times, it’s 109 minutes from Union to Allandale Waterfront. If you are generous and say it’s 2 minutes savings per station, that drops it to 91 minutes. Driving times are 97 to 109 minutes depending on route/construction/traffic (67 minutes without traffic).

    It’s double tracking and improving running speeds that will significantly cut down on the travel time, not electrification.

    It might be easier to intensify along a linear backbone at various nodes rather than trying to squeeze everything into the Toronto ‘grid’. You have to look at your underlying priorities to figure out if the principles still make sense when comparing across systems. A 10km drive from Midhurst to Allandale Waterfront Station produces less pollution from congestion the same car journey from St. Clair/Caledonia to Union Station.

    Steve: I might also add that it will become easier to encourage higher density built forms once there is actually service and stations. As long as this is an abstract “promise”, building will continue to be relatively low density. Sprawl has been enabled by the expansion of the highway network and supporting utilities. Rail service can make more of this possible, but it is not practical to expect development patterns to change “on spec”.

    Queen’s Park may talk a good line about focused development, but that won’t happen without the initial investment in infrastructure and service.

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  16. Malcolm N says

    “… Robert, how important would it be to get a clear shot to frequent service to Brampton GO as opposed to electrification to Bramalea? If you could get 15 minute all day service to Brampton, and 8+ peak hour trains, would improving transit access to that station not be more important than electrification?”

    Actually in the long run, no. Electric service, with improvements between Parkdale and Union that would speed up the service would be best. I agree with Mapleson when he says that electrification is not that expensive and the savings from reduced travel time and shorter off peak trains would make up the difference. Start the electrification as far as Bramalea so that it can be extended more quickly once they find out how to add more tracks through Brampton, that is the problem because as a resident of Brampton it is going to create major conflicts, especially with the heritage board who helped to kill the LRT.

    Mapleson | April 22, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Malcolm N said:

    I was thinking of electrification more in terms of speed. The reason I question Barrie is more of priorities.

    “The difference is travel time between an electric Barrie and non-electric Barrie isn’t significant enough to determine where people will live. With current travel times, it’s 109 minutes from Union to Allandale Waterfront. If you are generous and say it’s 2 minutes savings per station, that drops it to 91 minutes. Driving times are 97 to 109 minutes depending on route/construction/traffic (67 minutes without traffic).”

    If we can go to EMU, and that is a big if, then I think that you are grossly underestimating the time savings.

    Like

  17. 8+ peak hour trains, would improving transit access to that station not be more important than electrification?

    Breaking off the comments thread into a subtopic useful RER electrificafion business case:

    When running short headways on the same track, like 8 peak trains (or more, in some of the plans), electrification becomes more important.

    They are related because shorter headways require fast acceleration, which necessitates EMUs.

    You could use DMUs, but with *all* coaches on a long train treated as locomotives from a maintenance schedule perspective mandated by regulation and manufacturer (and Transport Canada, et cetera) … you might as well go EMU to lower costs of short-headway operation, as the maintenance requirements are less onerous. And EMUs also perform slightly better than DMUs … all tight-headway Metros use EMUs.

    It is noteworthy that GO is choosing CBTC for RER ($800M of the $13.5bn) — the very same type of system TTC has currently been installing to achieve 2-minute headways on Yonge. I have a thread on Metrolinx’s desired CBTC.

    CBTC also permits automation options — in GO’s case, it would be supervised train speed automation for precision headway, like a supervised autopilot (“Speed optimizer” is the parlance). It is the only way some of the 4-minute and 5-minute headway scenarios are possible (along with the USRC 30mph/45mph modifications, and other expensive stuff).

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  18. Mark Rejhon said:

    “When running short headways on the same track, like 8 peak trains (or more, in some of the plans), electrification becomes more important.

    They are related because shorter headways require fast acceleration, which necessitates EMUs.”

    Yes but is a train every 7.5 minutes really short enough to qualify? I think that this might be close to the limit on 2 tracks, but it is nowhere near the 4 to 5 minute range. I am not suggesting that electrification not be pursued on Lakeshore West, which has the benefit of many more trains – and while it has additional tracks I suspect it would also be cheaper to electrify an additional set of rails in the same corridor, than adding a corridor.

    Also realistically in Kitchener, extra rails are only required the Airport to Brampton, a relatively short hop. Lakeshore East is already at 7 trains peak, plus Stouffville, service with 3 tracks. Mark, what I am saying is, look at one corridor at a time, and focus more on the benefits available short term. We must get tracks to support service that electrification would provide, we must provide space at Union etc. Long term I agree it will be worth while, but politically it is easy to support a couple of billion a year, especially when the benefits are demonstrable in the here and now. Not only does it reduce the cost side of a net present value calculation, it makes it easier politically. If every project you do, can be tangibly demonstrated to have huge benefits, that could not have been had at a lower cost, and these benefits are highly valued, you can actually build political capital, while building transit. This is why TYSSE (or UPX) and its ilk are so bad, they consume political capital, whereas the original subway built it. If we can get huge benefit for every billion we spend, we can build support while also helping our finances.

    The perception of money is being spent for benefits that may perhaps arrive 30 years from now, is how you destroy support. I think Lakeshore West, would have demonstrable benefits now. Extra track to Brampton – same. Building projects that create a huge benefit today, is building political capital – to make the next easier. Appearing to not pander also helps. The appearance you are electrifying merely to keep a tiny group off your back really hurts with broader support.

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  19. Mapleson said:

    “It might be easier to intensify along a linear backbone at various nodes rather than trying to squeeze everything into the Toronto ‘grid’. You have to look at your underlying priorities to figure out if the principles still make sense when comparing across systems. A 10km drive from Midhurst to Allandale Waterfront Station produces less pollution from congestion the same car journey from St. Clair/Caledonia to Union Station.”

    I am actually more focused on the idea of creating more density where there is already development. Ideally, where we have transit as the dominant form of transportation, and we create, walk cycle capable areas. Cities need to stop endlessly expanding out onto the green space and farm land around them. It leads to less liveable communities, and is environmentally damaging in other ways as well. If we provided a more intense transit grid, we could perhaps start to work on the frequency of trips where the auto was involved at all. I have less issue with high density around existing stations – even as far out as Barrie, that filling the space between with low density sprawl.

    The car oriented development, also creates impersonal neighborhoods, where people see other cars, not people, and the police move around in battle chariots as warriors, not neighbors walking the common street. I prefer mid density, townhouse type, or even low rise type neighborhoods, where there are defined corner stores, local markets, and local schools, close enough to walk to, and where biking is easy. This leads to more human scale, human contact environment, which also has a much lower carbon footprint, and is lower cost to maintain, from a governmental perspective. That is better for us, easier to live in, and easier on the planet, oh and cheaper too. People who have moved back into this type of environment make a point of how great it is when they return from the nameless faceless sprawl, that is created by endless roads and parking lots.

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  20. Malcolm N says

    “Yes but is a train every 7.5 minutes really short enough to qualify? I think that this might be close to the limit on 2 tracks, but it is nowhere near the 4 to 5 minute range. I am not suggesting that electrification not be pursued on Lakeshore West, which has the benefit of many more trains – and while it has additional tracks I suspect it would also be cheaper to electrify an additional set of rails in the same corridor, than adding a corridor.”

    Using EMUs would cut the running time, and the required number of trains, significantly, 15 to 20% on close stop spacing. Also do not forget that we need to accommodate the UP Yours express which could probably drop from 5 sets of equipment to 4.

    “Also realistically in Kitchener, extra rails are only required the Airport to Brampton, a relatively short hop.”

    WRONG; there are already extra rails in place past the airport cutoff. The extra rails, a fourth track, are required from the USTC to Woodbine to allow for bi-directional traffic all day.

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  21. Robert Wightman said:

    “WRONG; there are already extra rails in place past the airport cutoff. The extra rails, a fourth track, are required from the USTC to Woodbine to allow for bi-directional traffic all day.”

    I would be quite happy to use the track in place for the UPX, and no I do not think we need to accommodate it. Drop it, like the waste it is, and re-task the equipment.

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  22. Robert Wightman said:

    “Using EMUs would cut the running time, and the required number of trains, significantly, 15 to 20% on close stop spacing. Also do not forget that we need to accommodate the UP Yours express which could probably drop from 5 sets of equipment to 4.”

    Please note Robert, I am not saying that in the long run, this is not a worthy investment, I am merely asking, it does not make sense to do it now. The reasons being 2 fold, saving equipment, is not material, if we have it in abundance. Moving the trains from Lakeshore West, would provide excess. I would merely argue, that the substantial benefit would come from more frequent trains than anything else. If the incremental cost of electrification is minor great, but well, merely having to buy a substantial number of locomotives is a large cost. I am arguing, step the service out, on thing at a time, and commit close to the time the substantial benefit will flow, and be worthy. That is use the process to build political capital. The issue is today, we have allowed transit to become so politicized, that it is also an easy thing to characterize as a boondoggle, when you can pick off large portions of costs with less demonstrable immediate benefits.

    Being able to say, we could run 12 trains when you are in fact running 8, and they are not full, is easy to make look like a waste. Saying it is faster, if you are saving less than 10 minutes for most riders, also seems weak, especially if there are other projects that would have a substantial impact that went wanting.

    Steve: 10 minutes faster (20 minutes round trip) makes a difference in equipment requirements and operating costs when headways get down to 10 minutes and below. This is at least as important as the benefit/attractiveness to riders because it frees up resources for use elsewhere.

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  23. Robert Wightman said:

    If we can go to EMU, and that is a big if, then I think that you are grossly underestimating the time savings.

    I’m sure there will be more time savings by the point we go to EMU, but that will be mostly due to track upgrades. Electrification itself will only change acceleration and deceleration rates.

    GO’s current locomotive fleet is comprised of the old F59PH (3000 HP), MP40PH-3C (4000 HP), and MP54AC (5400 HP). The dual-mode multiple units (DMMU or DEMU) previously considered were the Bombardier (!) B82500 series. EMUs were from Nippon Sharyo (UPX style), GE Silverliner V, Kawasaki M-8, or Bombardier (!) MR90. Electric Locomotives were Bombardier (!) ALP-46 and ALP45DP.

    You might notice the theme in possible vendors, but that was back in 2011-12. I’ll have to remember my hard drive tomorrow to get the specific acceleration specs, but either the stations are too close together to save much more than 2 minutes (ie Newmarket and East Gwillimbury – 2.1km & 5min or Maple and Rutherford – 2.6km & 4min) or too far apart (ie Bradford and Barrie South – 28.9km & 21 min). Plus adding two new stations is going to add dwell time.

    Ignoring all geometry, deceleration dwelling times, using the SJ X2 acceleration of 0.25m/s², you can get to 81kph in 90 seconds and 1.01 km and after 129 seconds to 116.1kph and 2.08km. With the worst case, the current acceleration is 0.0465m/s² (300 seconds to 50.22 kph and 2.09km distance). That’s an absolute maximum savings of 171 seconds on that section, and obviously both numbers would be closer to the middle.

    So as a maximum I’d go to 30 minutes savings (2.5 min per 12 stations).

    Malcolm N said:

    Yes but is a train every 7.5 minutes really short enough to qualify?

    This is a chicken-and-egg situation. Other parts of the system are bottlenecking service, so we don’t build the features that would enable increased service. June will be an interesting month announcement/report-wise. The Spadina GO Station should allow the potential capacity of the Weston subdivision to be unlocked (4 berth, 8 platforms).

    Steve: If you’re talking about what I think you are, this has important implications for the presumed route of the DRL which, once upon a time, was to serve such a station. However, the Queen alignment, as much as a sop to staying away from Smart Track as it is good planning, makes such a connection much more difficult than King/Wellington.

    Malcolm N said:

    The perception of money is being spent for benefits that may perhaps arrive 30 years from now, is how you destroy support. I think Lakeshore West, would have demonstrable benefits now. Extra track to Brampton – same. Building projects that create a huge benefit today, is building political capital – to make the next easier. Appearing to not pander also helps. The appearance you are electrifying merely to keep a tiny group off your back really hurts with broader support.

    A fourth track through Brampton isn’t so useful if you don’t build the fourth track through Weston. While the Weston Clean Train Coalition have been the most vocal in objecting to corridor expansion, I would dare say it’s a “lesion learned” and Metrolinx is being proactive to keep expansion on track (no pun intended).

    Malcolm N said:

    I am actually more focused on the idea of creating more density where there is already development.

    I understand and agree, but more transit in Toronto isn’t going to stop Toronto gridlock if you just ignore the commuters that prefer single unit dwellings. By making a faster-backbone, you provide an option that living closer to a station in Barrie is the faster way to downtown than living in the boonies near Bethesda and driving.

    I prefer to walk to work, but take transit or carpool from farther because prices are insane. Nodal development gives you price relief. I like the division of city/suburb/rural, and think each needs it’s own support.

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  24. Malcolm N says

    “I would be quite happy to use the track in place for the UPX, and no I do not think we need to accommodate it. Drop it, like the waste it is, and re-task the equipment.”

    Unfortunately that would require Metrolynx and the Government to admit that they made a mistake and we all know that that is beyond the realm of possibility.

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  25. Robert Wightman said:

    “Unfortunately that would require Metrolynx and the Government to admit that they made a mistake and we all know that that is beyond the realm of possibility.”

    This is a big part of the problem, however, with maintaining public and political support. If they could concede that it could be well incorporated in other service, then we could actually start to move. However, by refusing to look at all, it draws into question, in the back of people’s minds, what is driving every transit proposal, as good governance, and the ability to concede error, are not there. Solid GO service both ways, past the airport, with a station, and solid link to the airport, would provide access to more people from more places, especially if it was also a hub for buses from the TTC, MiWay and Zum as well. However, yes, you are right likely will not happen, and will mean spending many more dollars, to achieve the outcome required.

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  26. Mapleson says

    “So as a maximum I’d go to 30 minutes savings (2.5 min per 12 stations).”

    If you are coming from Barrie or Kitchener a saving of 30 min. is quite significant on a trip time of 1h43. It would also save equipment.

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  27. Just to be clear, this is what is happening, according to Appendix A:

    Lakeshore West — electric locomotives to Aldershot, hourly diesel locomotives to Hamilton
    Milton — diesel locomotives
    Kitchener — EMU frequent to Bramalea, diesel locomotives to Kitchener
    Barrie — EMU frequent to Aurora, electric locomotives to Allandale
    Richmond Hill — diesel locomotives
    Stoufville — EMU frequent to Unionville, EMU hourly to MtJoy
    Lakeshore East — electric locomotives to Oshawa

    EMUs are only affecting the core sections of several routes where sheer frequency and contention issues will require CBTC. Given the need of express/allstop tracks (Kitchener expresses) means possibly more than two different 15 min services may be sharing the same set of tracks at various points.

    Based on this, it appears that for fleet requirements of such expanded service, GO likely still needs to keep all or most bilevels (except for retired coaches by attrition — the 1970s and early 1980s coaches will probably be retired) while adding EMUs to their fleet.

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  28. Steve said:

    If you’re talking about what I think you are, this has important implications for the presumed route of the DRL which, once upon a time, was to serve such a station. However, the Queen alignment, as much as a sop to staying away from Smart Track as it is good planning, makes such a connection much more difficult than King/Wellington.

    The concept started from Option 4B from the Union 2031 Study. It’s been costed as a 12-car consist configuration and had a favourable reception (elected for further RTC modelling).

    Steve: I will be interested to see the updated proposal. That “Option 4B” in the USRC study includes a very misleading map showing a long diagonal link from west of the University subway southwest to Bathurst Yard even though there is far less east-west space for this transition. That’s why the Wellington DRL alignment works so well — it’s a relatively easy jog south to Front.

    Malcolm N said:

    If they could concede that it could be well incorporated in other service, then we could actually start to move.

    Unless they pour more money into the pit, it’ll have to remain stand-alone, but they did already announce that UPX would be rolled under GO Transit.

    Malcolm N said:

    Solid GO service both ways, past the airport, with a station, and solid link to the airport, would provide access to more people from more places, especially if it was also a hub for buses from the TTC, MiWay and Zum as well.

    It’s coming. The Woodbine Station has always been floating around at Metrolinx, but the Station Study in June will nail it down and put it as a mid-level priority (completely guessing, I’d say Spadina, Eglinton, Woodbine, Don and whatever they pick in the east, Breslau, and another Hamilton Station).

    Robert Wightman said:

    If you are coming from Barrie or Kitchener a saving of 30 min. is quite significant on a trip time of 1h43. It would also save equipment.

    I’m adding two stations (Downsview and Caledonia) to get to 12, which would raise the start. I forgot my disc drive, so I can’t work out anything more exact, but that’s a firm maximum savings (constant acceleration and instantaneous stopping vs. no dwell time for minimum constant acceleration). My thinking is that so long as you can bring the time-cost below a typical car trip (5-10 minutes shaved off), then you just need to compete on money-cost (100km = ~8-10L = $8-10 vs $11.13 or $12.48 per trip (40 or 35 trips/mo) or $10.65 if you factor in the months with more than 20 working days).

    Hmmm, now I’m thinking of moving to Barrie…

    Mark Rejhon said:

    Based on this, it appears that for fleet requirements of such expanded service, GO likely still needs to keep all or most bilevels (except for retired coaches by attrition — the 1970s and early 1980s coaches will probably be retired) while adding EMUs to their fleet.

    I still haven’t bought into the rationale behind the core EMU roll-out (in so far as it needs more infrastructure before they get to buying trainsets), but regardless the idea has always been new expansion in the core, old to the fringe. Then when RER Phase 2 starts, either the old will retire more or less on schedule or new services will be added (Niagara All-Year, Bowmanville, Cambridge, Bolton, and maybe even reaching out to London).

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  29. The concept started from Option 4B from the Union 2031 Study. It’s been costed as a 12-car consist configuration and had a favourable reception (elected for further RTC modelling).

    I’m unsure of what this means. Does this mean Metrolinx wants further study of the western satellite GO station?

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  30. “It’s coming. The Woodbine Station has always been floating around at Metrolinx, but the Station Study in June will nail it down and put it as a mid-level priority (completely guessing, I’d say Spadina, Eglinton, Woodbine, Don and whatever they pick in the east, Breslau, and another Hamilton Station).”

    I’m not sure that anything beyond Aldershot is currently part of this particular ‘infill’ station study.

    Further Hamilton stations would actually be a Hamilton-Niagara infill station, not located in Hamilton proper. There’s been really good progress on the Hamilton-Niagara GO initiative and there is now a planned path to year-round Niagara commuter service given the recent success of obtaining a Welland Canal priority guarantee for GO trains.

    While not happening in this cycle, but further out — there are hints of a Gage Rd/Tim Horton Field GO station since the city now owns land next to the railroad at Gage (former glassworks) and it was actually mentioned in a Metrolinx document within the 50-station preliminary station list. But I know City of Hamilton isn’t fully aware of this coincidence though I’ve been gradually bringing city councillors and city managers to this attention of a Hamilton Gage infill station in a “Master Plan” POV (25-year view) and there’s now awareness. This could be a good Hamilton infill station for a 2030s electrification extension through Hamilton, especially with integrated north-south bus routes.

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  31. L. Wall said:

    I’m unsure of what this means. Does this mean Metrolinx wants further study of the western satellite GO station?

    Metrolinx does a ton of conceptual and pre-conceptual planning behind the scenes. As part of the ongoing Station Rationalization Study (due in June 2016), all the possible satellite Union stations were considered and a few made the short-list for consideration. These were also compared against improvements at Union itself and against “hybrid” schemes of some of one and some of another to see which parts work together best.

    From my understanding, the best individual performers and best team effort ranked by effective relief of the component is:

    1. Spadina Station – elevated above Bathurst North Yard (at street level) to preserve local storage or at-grade (in the corridor) if that’s not desirable for the incremental cost.
    2. Don Station – elevated above Don Yard with a possible western ramp to connect to Union.
    3. Cherry Station – at-grade station for the Richmond Hill corridor on the north side of the USRC.
    4. South Union – Remove track 15 and do other track work, add a double-berth platform and extend the adjacent two to take 12-car consists.
    5. Simcoe Station – tunnel starting at the fly-under and platforms’ end at Simcoe St. with possible exits directly to the CN tower, Ripley’s, and MTCC.
    6. Bay Station – With or without Don Station, an elevated station that integrates with the proposed development of the current Union Bus Station and other side of Yonge.

    When the study comes out in June (hopefully), any and all of these stations that make it above the line will be built (probably as part of the “SmartTrack” moniker).

    Steve: That would be amusing. Offer no extra service above planned RER, but call the stations SmartTrack so that Toronto gets to pay 1/3 of their cost.

    Operationally, a Spadina Station has the huge advantage that the Barrie and Kitchener services would stay on the north/east side of their combined corridor leading into the new station, and there would no longer be a conflict with UPX or any other frequent service running on the west/south side of the Kitchener and Milton corridors.

    The only remaining problem is how to connect it with the (D)RL.

    Mark Rejhon said:

    I’m not sure that anything beyond Aldershot is currently part of this particular ‘infill’ station study.

    The western most station on Lakeshore West is Walkers Line-Cumberland near Burlington Mall. I was thinking more about Confederation Station and if the “in work” stations and “next up” stations getting lumped in together and some overtake the others.

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  32. Metrolinx does a ton of conceptual and pre-conceptual planning behind the scenes. As part of the ongoing Station Rationalization Study (due in June 2016), all the possible satellite Union stations were considered and a few made the short-list for consideration.

    That was my hang up. It seemed like the discussion was around information that had not been made public.

    Looking at that ranked list of relief stations just underscores the insanity at city planning in telling us plebs the RL should be on Queen and Queen only at this early stage.

    If we had GO satellite stations in the shoulder areas of downtown for multiple lines, the RL would absolutely be required to act as a downtown distributor. A King-Wellington RL could distribute and relieve without compromising either function. That such a RL alignment also supports current and future growth the best is a bonus. Gerrymandering that actually helps the public as opposed to the politicians!

    My disdain for the planners grows with each passing day. They claim they’re coordinating all of their RL efforts with Metrolinx but this suggests otherwise. They say streetcar lanes on King will be enough but that’s only true within their own narrow little silo. They’re still trying to sell me on 5 minute ST service which has already been ruled out by just about everyone. These people need to be put in their place and held accountable for foisting so many lies on the public.

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  33. Honestly, electrification and EMUs on the Lakeshore line from Aldershot to Oshawa has been the obviously-correct thing to do for so many decades that I wish they would get off their duff and just do it. They own the entire route now. It’s been studied at least three times, maybe five by now.

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  34. My disdain for the planners grows with each passing day. They claim they’re coordinating all of their RL efforts with Metrolinx but this suggests otherwise.

    Jennifer Keesmaat was invited to address the St Lawrence Neighbourhood Association, several years ago, where she spoke well, and gained my sympathy.

    In the first four or six months after Tory’s term began I couldn’t help noticing her having a higher profile in the newspaper reports on transit planning. I remember multiple articles speculating that Tory would fire her. IIRC the speculation was that Tory would fire her for not making enough effort to find a way that his SmartTrack plan could be made practical.

    Of course it was never Keesmaat’s fault that SmartTrack could not be made practical.

    I mentioned this story before – in 1975 I attended the monthly public meetings associated with the MetroPlan initiative. The last question of the last meeting was from an angry woman with a cane, who demanded to know when the TTC was going to begin planning to make it possible for those with mobility issues to use it.

    Remember that 1975 was long before Wheeltrans.

    Back in 1975 that planner gave the angry woman with a cane a long, thoughtful, courteous answer. Paraphrasing from memory: (1) The TTC could change how it provided services to accommodate those with mobility issues; (2) those changes would require changes in the TTC’s mandate; (3) changes in the TTC’s mandate would require work at the political level; (4) he and his staff were planners, not politicians, and were only authorized to make plans that fit within the TTC’s current mandate.

    Fast forward forty years – planners still don’t get to over-ride their political masters. When they are directed to develop plans to make certain political initiatives work, they really have only two choices, work on those plans, or resign.

    It seemed crystal clear to all of us that all of the SmartTrack alignments, past Mount Dennis, that the planning staff had identified, were going to be either impractical or unaffordable, or both. I don’t think it was the fault of the planners that they squandered person-years on impractical plans – when they were ordered to do so by their political bosses.

    Steve: I will agree with this but only up to a point. When everyone, including those planners, prattles on at length about how we are now receiving “professional, unbiased” advice backed by good planning statistics and projections, I have to laugh especially when some of the claims for future development patterns contradict other published City data. There is a point at which “professionalism” and “protecting your career” become blurred, and the debate is worse off for it.

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  35. I now to take the Go-Train (Barrie line).

    I of course welcome all improvements and modernization. Just a few of my observations.

    1. Weekdays, it is packed. Go-Trains Southbound are packed. I’ve taken the Bus back on weekdays when I stay late, and even at 11 pm, the bus is reasonably used.
    2. The big gap in my view is weekend service. We have none. No bus. No train. For some reason, only the 404 side, near the Richmond Hill line is served.
    3. Parking is an issue. I walk to the station. It takes me longer, but I hate dealing with the rush in and out. The number of people who walk/bike is substantial at my station; even in winter.

    Better local transit, better parking, maybe even more stations to spread the load out.

    What I don’t understand is the cost here is pretty minimal to make substantial day to day improvements. Adding a second track from York University to Rutherford … 20 million dollars.

    Adding weekend service. The best number I could find is the summer service costs $520,000. So let’s say 2 million per year to operate weekend service all year round.

    To put in perspective, they are paying to STUDY a subway to Richmond Hill that is going cost 50 million dollars. York Region put in about 160 million for its part of the Spandina subway extension.

    Let that sink in to see how cheap they could improve Go Transit service RIGHT now or years ago.

    We could add weekend service.
    We could add a few extra trains throughout the day.
    We could move the train from peak use to bidirectional use.

    I think a part of Go Transit that is often missed is that it needs to run regularly and consistently.

    The RER of 15 min stops sounds amazing. I’m not going to be one to turn it down.

    But looking at use cases, outside of peak hours even a train every hour would be good enough for most of us.

    And yes, run it bidirectional, even if you think the use case is low. Train scheduling is probably not this simple, but off peak, even one train running up and down from union to barrie would be good enough.

    That way staying late, heading home early, catching some entertainment, medical appointments, visiting friends/family becomes very doable.

    This is the part that is the most frustrating. You turn on the news and they are talking about spending in the billions and hundreds of millions of dollars. I really don’t know if the demand is there on the Barrie line for all day 15 minute service. I really don’t know if the subway extension to Vaughan will have the ‘right’ demand given that it cost billions of dollars.

    Meanwhile, real practical day to day improvements could be made in the cost of 10s of millions of dollars RIGHT now. They could have been made years ago for less than the cost of a study. I’m glad they are being done and I think the next 5 years will be interesting and much improvement. It’s just that these cheap; yet big bang improvements have not been made yet. Meanwhile they clearly have enough money to the tune of billions of dollars in other spending.

    Disclaimer, I’m not saying RER or the subway to Vaughan are bad ideas. I think they’re good ideas. It’s just real improvements that would have such minimal cost; yet really had a major impact have not been done today. It’s all been postponed for the big projects and big dreams. I know they’re coming.

    Steve: For many years, the focus at Queen’s Park has been to announce big construction projects (even some little ones), but when it comes to operating more service, particularly off peak when equipment is already available, they have been slow to move. It’s a similar situation with local transit: lots of money for construction, but bugger all for operating service.

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  36. Yamin Bismilla said:

    Adding a second track from York University to Rutherford … 20 million dollars.

    Let’s ignore for the moment the separate costs of building Downsview Station or the grade-separation at Caledonia Road. York to Rutherford is 4.1 miles. Rutherford to Allandale Waterfront is 46.3 miles, so just twinning the track is $225M. The full Barrie expansion (excluding what’s needed south of Parkdale Junction) is around $4.5B.

    The majority of this is grade-separations to keep the local road network connected and station rebuilds (tunnels, elevators, new platforms, parking structures).

    Yamin Bismilla said:

    We could add weekend service.

    Weekend service would be nice and it isn’t operationally restricted. Part of the rationale against it is that it allows for an extended “train-free” construction period. The same goes for evenings.

    Yamin Bismilla said:

    We could add a few extra trains throughout the day.

    The main problem is once you hit the Weston subdivision. UPX eats up a lot of track occupancy and then the Kitchener line has been given priority based on ridership and distances.

    We could move the train from peak use to bidirectional use.

    Unless you’ve finished the track-twinning, you are only running one train on the line; which is 3 hours and 26 to 38 minutes round trip, and so you could run one mid-day train without adding to the peak period, or two mid-day trains by adding one peak-period movement.

    Yamin Bismilla said:

    The best number I could find is the summer service costs $520,000. So let’s say 2 million per year to operate weekend service all year round.

    Weekend summer service is 11 weeks and the cost is net after revenue, so you can’t say it costs the same for summer and winter. Then if you are running more than 4 trains a day, that will also bump up the price. I’d say more along the lines of $10M for 5 or 6 daily weekend trains year round. Likewise, to gain 2 or 3 off-peak weekday trains it’d be a similar quantity.

    Yamin Bismilla said:

    I really don’t know if the demand is there on the Barrie line for all day 15 minute service.

    The shift from one-way peak-service needs some major inputs. Once you remove those bottlenecks, you get a better ‘cost recovery’ by using the infrastructure as much as possible.

    There needs to be more acceptance of lower ‘fare-box revenue-recovery ratio’ in exchange for better service.

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