Metrolinx Shifts Responsibility for Improvements to Future 3P

In the comment thread on the article about GO Transit Service Changes, two readers asked about the status of expansion projects that were supposed to be “in the works” – the addition of track capacity from Don to Scarborough Junction and from Guildwood to Pickering, as well as a contract for signalling upgrades.

I wrote to Metrolinx for comment on these issues, and have received a reply from Matt Llewellyn in Media Relations.

1. Someone left a comment on my blog today claiming that the projects to add a fourth track from Don to Scarborough, and a third track from Guildwood to Pickering, have been cancelled. Is this true, and if so, why?

Through our new rigorous analysis of potential investments we are prioritizing the infrastructure needed right now, giving communities the transit system they need and deserve, while making taxpayer dollars go further.

As part of that process, it was determined it is possible to reduce the entire three-mile three track section while still achieving the current service levels needed between Rouge Hill GO Station and Durham Junction. We’re able to delay these major improvements now thanks to a stronger working relationship we’ve developed with our Railway partners. By finding smarter and better ways to work together, we’re significantly accelerating service improvements to these areas.

Any future infrastructure needed in this area will be determined through the OnCorridor Program that is currently in procurement.

We will continue to work closely with the impacted stakeholders and community as we work towards upgrading transit and adding essential regional transportation capacity to our network.

On a related note, has the scheme to build the “Ontario Line” above grade, possibly in the rail corridor from Gerrard west to Parliament, had any effect on the four-track plans for that section of the corridor?

Metrolinx Initial Business Case indicates the Ontario Line will have a portal east of Cherry Street, crossing over the Don River and continuing along the GO Rail corridor, along a widened embankment or elevated structure.

We are currently reviewing the work that is needed to advance the infrastructure necessary to provide more GO service on this stretch of the corridor, alongside the infrastructure needs for the Ontario Line.

What is the status of a project to re-signal GO corridors to allow more frequent headways and better safety control? There was a consulting contract let to Parsons in late 2017 but is the project actually progressing?

Parsons is supporting Metrolinx as a technical advisor for the Signal and Train Control program under Go Expansion.

The signaling and train control program, which will allow for more trains at a lower headway and improved safety, is progressing under Go Expansion.

The Go Expansion program is currently in the procurement phase.

Through the GO Expansion program, we will be leveraging the worldwide expertise of the private sector to drive contractor accountability for delivering on the required service outcomes.

From these answers it is clear that Metrolinx has decided to shift responsibility for any infrastructure upgrades to whichever consortium wins the GO Expansion program bid and takes over responsibility for this work. This could bring a level of expertise to GO not seen before (if the comment above is to be believed), but this could also add yet another layer of opacity and frustration to any meaningful public participation in a review of what might or might not be built.

5 thoughts on “Metrolinx Shifts Responsibility for Improvements to Future 3P

  1. “We’re able to delay these major improvements now thanks to a stronger working relationship we’ve developed with our Railway partners.”

    What happens when economic signals require more freight train operations and the Railway partners decide to change their minds on service?

    Also, what happens in future when they return to the project but material costs are higher, not only because of inflation but because of a post-recession* rebound?

    I’m assuming a recession in mid-2020 and a recovery that begins sometime late in 2022.

    Steve: Metrolinx is doing everything it can to limit spending and push this off into the supposedly more productive, efficient, etc etc fairytale land of their future private sector partner.

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  2. In a 2016 public sessions for Smartrack (ST), before Verster, the representative from Metrolinx (Mx) had explained the Mx priorities in order, – double tracking for RER, electrification, Union Station and signalization upgrade. Only two were vaguely dated, double tracking to be completed in the mid 2020’s and study of signalization to commence after that with tentative start of implementation mid 2030’s.

    During the city debate on ST, Verster had remained consistent that headways were 15 minutes. Mayor Tory had campaigned that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for ST has more frequent service but the infamous MoU has never been made public. It seemed to me that the Stouffville track still operated the old railroad signal system (it is single track, hardly worth upgrading). It currently runs trains of 12 double-decker coaches which is probably longer than any Via train. At Kennedy station this is the front and this is the rear. My understanding is that it takes a minimum of 5 blocks to bring the long heavy passenger train going 60 mph to a stop.

    Metrolinx is only accountable to its Master not the public. The “the projects to add a fourth track from Don to Scarborough, and a third track from Guildwood to Pickering, have been cancelled.“ and “The signaling and train control program… is progressing under Go Expansion…(which) is currently in the procurement phase.”

    The electrification project looks dead.

    How about Union Station and all those switches in the Don yard?

    Metrolinx is truly a waste of money.

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  3. What a joy to find the bullshit non-answers provided by Metrolinx before the election of Premier Pork Barrel have become even hollower since his reign of terror and retribution have descended on all provincial agencies and their minions.

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  4. These answers make as much sense as those from Trump. The prases “rigorous analysis of potential investments”, ” By finding smarter and better ways to work together,” and “We will continue to work closely with the impacted stakeholders” sound as if they came from a buzz phrase generator designed to sound good but say nothing.

    I seem to recall that rebuilding the double ladders slip switch leads on either side of the station cost around $50 million and would have be great if it were 1920. They should have done a full sensible evaluation as to how they were going to operate the service before spending so much money on those switches and the station platforms which are too narrow.

    The one smart thing Verster said was there are too many platforms, they are to low and too small. There original plan to operate 6 trains per track per hour for through operation or 4 trains each way per track for double birthing was stupid. They never contemplated running the system as 21st century transit system but stuck with 19th century railway operation.

    Metrolinx is incompetent at project management. Burlington Station took 2 or 3 years longer that necessary to build. The condo beside started a couple of years after it and finished first. The south platform at Bramalea has been partially built then torn out at least 2 times. The Brampton station took at least twice as long as originally planned. There is no through track at Harbour West for the Niagara trains.

    There will be no electrification for a while now. The best we can hope for is more tier 4 diesels and perhaps some Diesel or Diesel Electric Multiple units for lighter service.

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  5. The Toronto Star reports “Ottawa is giving Toronto money for SmartTrack, but the mayor’s rail plan is still uncertain”.

    The article does not report:

    1. The Smattrack Memorandum of Understanding between the city and province is not public and looks like a memorandum of misunderstanding.

    2. The Provincial government has cut the fare integration subsidy making transfers between GO and TTC full fare.

    3. Metrolinx has cancelled the fourth track from Don to Scarborough making Smarttrack very questionable.

    By the way, the TTC Lawrence East ST stop is suspended on the top of the bridge above the track as a cost saving measure (cost $160 million) to help pay for the Liberty Village ST station (cost $660 million).

    Steve: The Don to Scarborough expansion is, I suspect, a victim of the desire to keep room for a surface Ontario Line. This could severely constrain combined service on LSE and Stouffville in years to come.

    The Lawrence East ST stop is a particularly horrible design. With a subway station at Lawrence & McCowan, why anyone would use the ST stop with its very inconvenient transfer connection and infrequent ST service is beyond me.

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