GO Transit Expansion Plans & Meetings

Metrolinx will conduct a series of public meetings at various locations to present information about their plans for the GO Transit network.

Location Date and Time
Markham Village Community Centre
6041 Highway 7
Markham, ON L3P 3A7
Tuesday, February 18, 2020
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Southshore Community Centre
205 Lakeshore Drive
Barrie, ON L4N 7Y9
Wednesday, February 19, 2020
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Aurora Community Centre
1 Community Centre Lane
Aurora, ON L4G 7B1
Monday, February 24, 2020
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Scarborough Civic Centre
150 Borough Drive
Toronto, ON M1P 4N7
Monday, February 24, 2020
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Evergreen Brick Works
550 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, ON M4W 3X8
Tuesday, February 25, 2020
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Central Recreation Centre
519 Drury Lane
Burlington, ON L7R 2X3
Wednesday, February 26, 2020
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Metropolitan Centre
3840 Finch Avenue East
Toronto, ON M1T 3T4
Wednesday, February 26, 2020
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Lucie & Thornton Blackburn Conference Centre
at George Brown College
80 Cooperage Street
Toronto, ON M5A 0J3
Thursday, February 27, 2020
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Vaughan City Hall
2141 Major Mackenzie Drive West
Vaughan, ON L6A 1T1
Saturday, February 29, 2020
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Abilities Centre
55 Gordon Street
Whitby, ON L1N 0J2
Saturday, February 29, 2020
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

For the full set of documents, go first to the list of “participation opportunities”, then click through to an individual project page, and finally select the “Important Documents” tab. The same set of documents appears on every project’s page.

An important note here is that electrification is still officially an important part of the overall plan. The provincial flirtation with Hydrogen Trains seems to have disappeared at least for the projects on the major GO corridors that Metrolinx owns.

This is intriguing because Metrolinx has been sidestepping the decision on technology by saying that the private sector partners in the expansion plan would make that choice. Now, their literture is full of electrification including one document about effects on vegetation along the rail corridors to provide clearance for the infrastructure, and another on electromagnetic fields.

Several key documents are online as I write this on the morning of February 18, 2020.

  • Station Overview : Despite its title, this document covers many other topics, notably planned service levels for the GO corridors.
  • Station Studies : The title of this document is misleading because it contains little about actual stations, but a lot about environmental issues and a catalog of “cultural heritage” features which are bridges on the Richmond Hill and Lakeshore West corridors.
  • Infrastructure : This is the most extensive of the documents with information about bridges, stations and yard expansion plans.
  • Don Branch Storage Area Roll Map : The only detailed map of proposed infrastructure online at this point (February 18, 2020 at 5 pm) is a map showing the proposed use of the Don Branch as a three-train storage facility northeast of Union Station. There are no detailed maps for other projects.
  • Vegetation Removal Program
  • Electromagnetic Fields and Interference

Station Overview

This document begins with a map and list of all of the planned changes within the expansion program.

Two new grade crossings have been added on the Barrie corridor beyond the currently approved plans. These are at McNaughton Road in Vaughan and at Wellington Street East in Aurora. These are shown as “D1” and “D2” in the map above.

The junction at Scarborough where the Stouffville corridor branches off from the Lakeshore East corridor will be grade separated. As currently designed, eastbound trains turning north cannot do so without crossing over the westbound tracks, and this will not be a feasible arrangement as service levels increase on both lines. The Stouffville line will also be grade separated from Danforth Road. (This is described in more detail in the Infrastructure section below.)

On the Stouffville corridor itself, there will be seven new grade separations between Scarborough Junction and Unionville.

Double tracking of both the Barrie and Stouffville corridors is already underway in places.

There is also a map of the planned electrification. The section of the Richmond Hill corridor shown below is actually not on the west side of the Don valley used by the existing train service, but on the east side on the unused Don Branch (last used by the Peterborough commuter train) which will be upgraded as a storage area for three trains. (See Infrastructure section below.)

Metrolinx has included charts showing the service levels planned for GO operations on the four affected corridors. This is an odd choice because some of the information is out of date or does not match other announced plans. However, this is what they chose to publish.

I have been trying to get a definitive statement out of Metrolinx for two years on service plans that include SmartTrack, and as recently as February 5, 2020, their reply was:

A decision hasn’t been made on service levels.

The issue here is that the plans for new infrastructure along affected corridors would be affected by addition of stations, not to mention any extra service above what GO Transit has already planned to operate. Equally, if the Ontario Line is expected to offload demand at Exhibition and East Harbour stations as a downtown distributor, the demand placed on it depends on how many trains will actually stop there. Also there is the effect of large volumes of transfer riders arriving infrequently to meet much smaller, more frequent trains on the Ontario Line.

On the Lakeshore West line, there is no mention of the proposed Park Lawn Station, nor of service beyond Confederation to St. Catharines and Niagara Falls.

On Lakeshore East, there is no mention of the Bowmanville extension, nor of proposed stations at Gerrard (SmartTrack) or East Harbour.

On Stouffville, there is no mention of proposed SmartTrack stations at Finch and Lawrence, nor any indication of whether trains from this line will stop at stations in the Lakeshore East corridor other than Danforth. It is also unclear how the peak service every 7’30” (8 trains per hour) from Unionville will fit into the overall Lakeshore operations.

On the Kitchener corridor, the most glaring omission is all day service to Kitchener itself with trains shown only from Mount Pleasant eastward. Also missing are the proposed SmartTrack stations at St. Clair and Liberty Village.

Finally, on the Barrie line, new stations are shown at Caledonia and Spadina-Front, but not at Bloor.

Station Studies

This document is a collection of information which has nothing to do with stations despite its title.

It begins with several pages on natural heritage, species at risk, tree removal for electrification, archaeology, and cultural heritage (primarily bridges). Several of the bridges on the Richmond Hill corridor are beyond the scope of proposed work, but they are included in the list.

The section on air quality and electrification states that Metrolinx will “Electrify system to the maximum extent possible”, but that “Service on rail corridors not currently owned by Metrolinx will continue using diesel locomotives”. This is not exactly news, but it is useful to have the explicit statement that electrification will not extend onto trackage owned by CN and CP. Where diesel locomotives remain in service, they will be upgraded to Tier 4 emission standards if they are rebuild, or replaced at end of life with new Tier 4 engines. There is no mention of Hydrogen as a power source.

An updated air quality study is in progress, but the results will not be available until future public meetings.

Metrolinx is also revisiting its noise modelling to take into account planned service patterns as well as technology changes in noise abatement.

Of course if the service plans shown above are not accurate, then the air quality and noise studies will not be accurate either. This is particularly important for portions of the corridors that will see very frequent service including the addition of more trains than the GO Transit expansion project itself foresees.

Infrastructure

Stouffville Corridor Grade Separations

Seven grade separations are proposed along the Stouffville corridor:

  • Denison Street road under rail
  • Kennedy Road road under rail
  • Passmore Avenue road under rail
  • McNicoll Avenue road under rail
  • Huntingwood Drive road under rail
  • Havendale Road crossing replaced by pedestrian/cyclist bridge or tunnel
  • Progress Avenue road over rail

What is striking about the design renderings for all of the road/rail crossings is the significant amount of infrastructure and the gap this creates in the surrounding area. This is only possible because the crossings are in locations that have little or no need for access to the lands immediately adjacent to the streets crossing the rail corridor. These are areas where pedestrian demand is likely to be quite low because the circulation pattern is designed around auto access.

Scarborough Junction Grade Separations

In previous discussions about the future of the Stouffville corridor, Metrolinx has tried to keep grade separation at Scarborough Junction off of the table because of its cost and complexity. Clearly they have reached the point were this is no longer possible given planned service levels.

Two grade separations are require: one for eastbound trains to pass under the Lakeshore corridor and turn north on the Stouffville corridor, and the other for the Stouffville corridor to pass under Danforth Road.

Other changes planned here are the widening of the rail bridge over St. Clair Avenue East to make room for an additional track as part of the junction’s reconfiguration, and a pedestrian/cycling crossing bridge or tunnel at Corvette Park.

The discussion of facilities required in the Stouffville corridor and at Scarborough Junction makes no mention of the possible addition of hourly VIA service as part of their Montreal High Frequency Rail project. With the allocation of the Don Branch as a storage yard (see below), the option of leaving downtown via the CP trackage has been foreclosed.

Don Branch Storage Yard

The single track Don Branch leaves Union Station parallel to the Richmond Hill corridor on the west side of the Don Valley, but swings to the east side north of Gerrard Street running alongside the DVP. Roughly at Pottery Road, opposite the Brick Works, the line crosses on a high bridge and then turns east to join the CP mainline just west of the former Leaside Station.

The track was purchased from CP by Metrolinx in 2007 and has sat fallow ever since with many weeds and small trees growing along the right-of-way.

Metrolinx proposes to convert a portion of this branch from near Bloor Street as a three-train storage area with a small service building directly under the Viaduct. All storage would be on the east side of the valley which is not subject to flooding. The Don Branch would be electrified from Union Station up to the end of the storage track. This design leaves the existing roadway and cycling/pedestrian paths in the valley intact.

Beach Layover Facility in Burlington

The largest of the planned new train storage areas is in Burlington at the proposed 16 train Beach Layover Facility. This would be an electrified yard at the western limit of electric territory on the Lakeshore West corridor. (Burlington Station is out of frame to the right, northeast, of the photo below.)

Access to the yard would split off from the Lakeshore corridor just east of the point where the CN freight line connects in from the north (at the top right of the picture below) so that there would be no conflict between CN and GO electric operations. The land is currently occupied by industrial businesses and would have to be acquired by Metrolinx.

Unionville Storage Yard

A two train, single track storage facility is proposed in Unionville in the existing corridor just north of Enterprise Boulevard.

This would be the northern limit of electrification on the Stouffville corridor.

Thickson Road Bridge Expansion

The Lakeshore East corridor bridge at Thickson Road to provide a third track linking the Whitby Maintenance Facility to Oshawa Station.

Kitchener Corridor

There are no meetings nor new documents for work already underway in the Kitchener corridor in this round of public meetings.

25 thoughts on “GO Transit Expansion Plans & Meetings

  1. Aside from environmental impact, do Hydrogen trains even provide the same operating performance like acceleration and speed as electrification? If not, I fail to see why hydrogen technology was even considered.

    Steve: It was considered because a lobbyist whispered in a Minister’s ear. I think it’s a dead issue at least for the central, Metrolinx-owned part of the network.

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  2. Steve writes: An important note here is that electrification is still officially an important part of the overall plan. The provincial flirtation with Hydrogen Trains seems to have disappeared at least for the projects on the major GO corridors that Metrolinx owns.

    This is intriguing because Metrolinx has been sidestepping the decision on technology by saying that the private sector partners in the expansion plan would make that choice. Now, their literture is full of electrification including one document about effects on vegetation along the rail corridors to provide clearance for the infrastructure, and another on electromagnetic fields.

    This is absolutely logical, but I’ve long ago realized that Metrolinx doesn’t work logically.

    Someone’s made an offer, and needless to say, it’s the tried and trued off-the-shelf 25kVAC one. This is actually very good news, even if it is by stealth.

    As to the radiated field stats, the (roughly half) level for European system comparator is odd, until considering many older systems still exist at lower voltage DC in Europe, and as much as DC doesn’t irradiate to the degree that AC does, it’s still ‘unfiltered’ DC, full ripple content, and in some parts of the spectrum it emits ‘hash’ as anyone with an AM radio near streetcar catenary knows. 25kVAC it will be, and rightly so. AC is far less problematic in almost all ways. Those figures are misleading.

    Steve writes: The discussion of facilities required in the Stouffville corridor and at Scarborough Junction makes no mention of the possible addition of hourly VIA service as part of their Montreal High Frequency Rail project. With the allocation of the Don Branch as a storage yard (see below), the option of leaving downtown via the CP trackage has been foreclosed.

    Very interesting. I wouldn’t have thought they would have closed their option on that, but perhaps, just perhaps, VIA has made a motion to doing it another way.

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  3. This seems… surprisingly reasonable?

    Of course more stations in Toronto and a regional fare union would be nicer, but of what’s being discussed here, I’m not seeing anything terrible.

    That’s suspicious. What sort of horrors is GO hiding now?

    Steve: Occasionally they do produce good work. It’s a shame that they are so much less forthcoming about the Ontario Line plans.

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  4. Metrolinx seems to ignore history, two big factors for ridership:

    1 integrated fare – too expensive, unattractive to riders forgotten about UPX already?
    2 frequency of service – too infrequent, no riders

    They can build it, but who will come?

    I believe we should be spending money on things we need, like addressing over-crowding on the Yonge subway, crowding on the Bloor/Danforth subway and redundant lines to address the disruptions when they derail monthly.

    Mx doesn’t listen to local problems, they are reckless, unaccountable spenders with no customer satisfaction.

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  5. I like the GO expansion plans but I would just like to add that Toronto should have to pay for the stations, double tracking, and electrification costs for the Toronto portions of ALL lines just like York Region was forced to pay for the York Regional portion of the subway extension.

    Steve: Poor downtrodden York Region. They don’t pay a penny toward operation of the subway. The expansion of the subway fleet and yard facilities to have enough trains to run to Vaughan was paid for by Toronto, not York Region, because this was separate from the subway project. Plans to expand the fleet to improve service with Automatic Train Control are all on Toronto’s dime.

    There is an annual charge on all municipalities served by GO Transit, and Toronto paid HALF of the total under an arrangement that dates to years when the 905 population was much lower. These payments were stopped in recent years because Toronto was going to pay for new stations as part of the SmartTrack program. With ST gradually disappearing, Toronto may be on the hook again for the annual fee.

    And I won’t even mention that a lot of that double-tracking and electrification is intended to bring 905 residents into Toronto.

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  6. Does Metrolinx have sufficient numbers of shuttle buses if native / aboriginal / first nations protesters take over GO / UPX tracks? Does TTC have sufficient numbers of shuttle buses if native / aboriginal / first nations protesters shut down the subway system?

    Steve: Although it depends on what is meant by “shut down” (selected lines, locations vs entire system), the answer is “no”. However, I do not believe that protesters would be dumb enough to undertake a shutdown on that scale as there is a point where they would lose all credibility.

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  7. If I’m reading the Lakeshore West diagram correctly, it appears Hamilton will have two-way hourly service in the off-peak, but only Toronto-bound service during the AM peak. This seems illogical and also a huge missed opportunity. Having even a couple of Hamilton-bound trains in the AM peak (and Toronto-bound trains in the PM peak) would spur much-needed economic development in Hamilton by making it easier for people from Toronto, Mississauga, and Oakville to commute to downtown Hamilton. Is this a case of transit folks and economic development folks not working together? Or is it just physically impossible to move counter-peak trains through Bayview Junction?

    Also, it looks like AM peak service from the Hamilton GO Centre is actually going to decrease. What’s the logic behind that?

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  8. I’m surprised there’s nothing on a third track beyond Whitby depot to just past Rouge Hill are the top 5 busiest stations on the Lakeshore East are on that part of the line is only 2 tracks the part between Pickering Junction and Rouge Hill are the worse because it’s congested with Go and VIA.

    Also there’s nothing about the Bomanville extension which is a little surprising.

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  9. John writes: I’m surprised there’s nothing on a third track beyond Whitby depot to just past Rouge Hill are the top 5 busiest stations on the Lakeshore East are on that part of the line is only 2 tracks the part between Pickering Junction and Rouge Hill are the worse because it’s congested with Go and VIA.

    IIRC (I’ll try and reference later, or Steve or someone else might be quicker to reference this now) Verster et al had resolved to not add the third track due to cost/complexity, a discussion in itself, but it flies in the face of what ML had stated a few years back as to the necessity as you state.

    There’s some glaring holes in what’s now being presented that lend themselves to various scenarios. Perhaps some of them are abject oversight, others might be due to factors they’re keeping close to themselves, and being secretive is certainly their norm.

    I add your comment to my earlier one on what Steve had stated re the Lower Don storage tracks:

    Very interesting. I wouldn’t have thought they would have closed their option on that, but perhaps, just perhaps, VIA has made a motion to doing it another way.

    There’s more than a couple essential pieces missing from the larger plan…if indeed there is a plan.

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  10. Looking at the list of grade separations for the Stouffville Corridor I see no mention of Finch Ave East. Is there no plans to create a bridge/underpass for this rail crossing?

    Steve: The crossing at Finch would be part of a SmartTrack station, and as SmartTrack may or may not be a real thing, this location’s design is still an unknown.

    There have been separate public meetings to look at designs for the ST stations. The Stouffville corridor proposals were covered in my article here. What will actually get built remains to be seen. Even without an ST station, there is still a need for the grade separation.

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  11. Is there any place where there are details about the various numbered items in the Station Overview? I’m curious what A3, Track upgrade by Long Branch station, actually means. I assume that anything major enough to be called out on the map isn’t simply rail replacement or ballasting.

    If the location of the A3 on the map is actually meaningful, that’s about where the Canpa sub joins the mainline.

    Steve: Part of the problem is that there is a detailed map only for the Don Branch work. Presumably these exist for other projects but they have not been posted by Metrolinx.

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  12. @ Stephen Saines;

    I think that most of the interference near street car overhead was caused by the choppers and motor power units and not the DC ripple. The DC is made from two separate 3 phase AC feeds which are out of phase so that there is very little ripple compared to rectifying single phase AC The peak to valley separation is only 15 degrees compared to 90 in single phase AC to DC.

    @ John Oke;

    Bowmanville Extension, what Bowmanville extension? It will be a long time before they build that.

    @ Roy;

    GO has just over 700 buses and assuming an average capacity 65 between the double and single deckers GO could move about 45,500 passengers by bus during a blockade. Since a 12 car GO train seats about 2000 passengers and during the peak with standees I bet gets to 3000 they have the ability to replace 15 packed trains with buses, but then what would carry the people who would have been on those buses.

    I find it interesting that GO is doing an electrification study on the Guelph sub from Georgetown to Kitchener. Does this mean that CN is willing to let GO electrify the Halton sub from Bramalea to Georgetown or if GO going to use diesels between the electrified sections? Nothing is beyond comprehension when dealing with Metrolinx.

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  13. I think that most of the interference near street car overhead was caused by the choppers and motor power units and not the DC ripple. The DC is made from two separate 3 phase AC feeds which are out of phase so that there is very little ripple compared to rectifying single phase AC The peak to valley separation is only 15 degrees compared to 90 in single phase AC to DC.

    “Choppers” are a very recent development that take reformed DC or or pure AC, rectify it, and then control the yet again reformed AC (at a much higher freq than line 60 Hz) with ‘pulse width’ control.

    Good debate here.

    But there’s a very good reason harsh unfiltered DC is used: Motors display vastly more torque, theoretically an infinite amount on peaks, those very same peaks that radiate as ‘hash’ to adjacent receivers. The motor noise reintroduced on to catenary tends to be a ‘whine’, not a buzz.

    Since modern motor control is by reconstituted power, any advantage of performance from unfiltered DC is lost in the wash, and all the disadvantages of distribution (which are huge and expensive) are greatly reduced by HV AC. It also means the catenary doesn’t need a ‘rectifier house’ every ten kms or so, supply can come directly from the general distribution network.

    I’ve been involved in transformer design, mostly toroidal audio: I’m a tech nerd.

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  14. @Hamiltonian re: service to downtown Hamilton

    Unfortunately Hamilton GO Centre is between a rock and a hard place. As you mentioned, Bayview Junction is a problem – Metrolinx is putting in more tracks there, but it is nevertheless a large, busy crossing.

    You might know that Hamilton GO Centre is accessed via track owned by Canadian Pacific. This is their only line between New York state and Canada, and just before Hamilton station the Hunter Street tunnel is, I believe, still single-tracked.

    CP has been generally fairly hostile to passenger traffic on their line – the Milton line is another case where there is not as much passenger service on a CP line as we’d like, and potential service to Peterborough or Cambridge also have this problem.

    I don’t fully know the history, but I suspect CP has at some point in the past economically-optimized their lines to minimum necessary for their operations at the time, leaving no capacity for things like passenger service to downtown Hamilton (or Cooksville). CP’s tracks in southern Ontario seem to be generally less than CN’s so they have less options and no extra bypass capacity. They’ve had the in-retrospect bad luck of not building a Toronto bypass like CN has near Highway 407 and now all of their east-west Toronto traffic goes via densely built-up North Toronto and Mississauga.

    Service to West Harbour can increase because that’s on a wider CN line – lack of a tunnel helps, though of course part of the reason for no tunnel is that it’s far from downtown.

    Aside from solutions like nationalizing or expropriating tracks in Golden Horseshoe to make them publicly owned and managed, we need economic development folks, transit folks, and politicians to put pressure on CP to allow more of this service – and also to give CP options to run the service they need via other routes (including pressuring CN to share their lines with CP where needed).

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  15. I’m not sure it’s completely true to say that the Don Branch storage project necessarily forecloses it as a potential through track in the future. It has been pointed out in a different forum that trains can be and are being stored on mainlines at present.

    As an alternative to reinstating the bridge to Leaside Yard for through service on the Branch, it would be possible to continue the alignment around, hugging the DVP to the Leaside Bridge and joining the current Richmond Hill line, but the Bayview-DVP cloverleaf stands in the way (and of course who knows how the Ontario Line will end up crossing the Don in that vicinity). What remains unclear to me is what the specified works on the ex-CN alignment as far as Pottery Road are intended for.

    I think building a 7-10km (depending on where) Stouffville line – Havelock sub connector makes sense since it would facilitate not only VIA HFR, avoiding yard traffic in Agincourt and Leaside, but in the event that Pickering Airport ever happens and has a significant passenger market (personally I’m not a big fan) an extension of the Stouffville service might be the logical way to bring transit passengers to and from. But then the trackage between Scarborough Junction and Union becomes a major pinch point not just for capacity and serviceability, but also securing against intrusion.

    Steve: The proposed storage on the Don Branch includes mid-day layovers, not just overnight. Also, there are gradient issues attempting to connect the former CP and CN trackage. It’s not as simple as it looks.

    As for Scarborough Junction to Union, it will have zillions of trains on it with the GO service, not to mention the Ontario Line as proposed southwest from Gerrard. Intrusion will be an issue whether or not the Montreal service is added to the mix.

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  16. @Jarek:

    The tunnel on Hamilton’s CP line was double track but the advent of double stack containers caused CP to remove the double track and replace it with a single track in the middle IIRC because of the shape of the tunnel roof.

    CP has not been hostile to operating passenger traffic, just to paying to run it themselves. They dedicate the north track of the Galt sub to GO during the morning and evening rush hours. I have heard CP dispatchers telling crews and foremen that they have to get off the North Track for GO.

    Nationalizing the track is a non starter because they are federally regulated and the province cannot do it. There is, I believe, the Federal Railway Relocation And Crossing Act.

    @Stephen Saines:

    Choppers started in the late 60s with Silicon Controlled Rectifiers, so are not that recent. There biggest problem was that they had to be shut off 400 times a second, the source of the 400 Hz hum that you hear behind CLRVs and other chopper controlled rail vehicles. Silicon controlled rectifiers would only shut off when the current went to zero which doesn’t happen on DC. The complexity of the circuit to do this resulted in their characteristic hum.

    If you remember being behind a CLRV as they took off the hum started out a lower frequency and ramped up to 400 Hz. When there were only PCCs there was almost no hum from the street car overhead on AM radios.

    Do you know what the signal on rectified DC looks like? For single phase you get two peaks per cycle as the negative peak is flipped to the positive side, so 2 peaks in 360 degrees. Put in 3 phase and you triple the number of peaks to 6. Add in the out of phase 3 phase from the fact they use two sets of transformers, one a wye-delta connection and the other a wye-wye connection you now have 12 peaks per cycle or 12×60 = 7200 per second. The note you hear is not that. Draw the wave form for that and you will see that there is not much of a drop from the peak before the next up cycle starts. Actually if IIRC the large pulses from using single phase AC to make DC is not good for DC traction motors.

    The DC is not the harsh unfiltered DC that you suggest but has a very low ripple compared to what you see in the supply side for audio which usually comes from single phase AC. Before choppers the induction of the DC motors would help to reduce the ripple in the overhead.

    DC motors were used for traction motors because they were variable speed where AC motors had to run at or near the supply frequency. There were some motors called universal motors that would run on AC that were basically DC motors with the addition of an extra winding to reduce transformer effect losses. In the early part of the last century a lot of AC systems were at 25 or even 16 2/3 Hz as the losses in these motors varied directly as the frequency. Ontario Hydro was all built to 25 cycle AC for a system of radial electric railways that were never built and converted at great expense in the 50s to 60 cycles to reduce the amount of iron needed in transformers. Using this AC feed the speed could be controlled using taps on the output side of a transformer.

    DC motors have a big problem because their back EMF (effective resistance) drops if they lose their grip on the rail. This causes the current to increase and the motor runs even faster. This wheel slip is an inherent problem with all DC traction motors and if not caught and stopped can result in burned out wheels and rail head. The worst example I saw of this was a CN freight starting up in the Yard in Fort Erie when the third unit had the wheels on a truck lose adhesion and the wheels burned off the rail head all the way down to the ties.

    Once solid state high power fast switching semi conductors became available that could be turned on and off easily the switch was on to AC motors which weigh significantly less than DC motors of the same power output and have a lot fewer parts to wear out, mainly brushes and commutators. AC motors get the current to create a magnetic field in the rotors from induction caused by the slight electrical speed difference between the rotor and stator. If the AC motor starts to slip this difference decreases along with the induced magnetic field causing the motor to slow down. AC motors are inherently more stable than DC motors.

    This is the reason why AC powered locomotives have a coefficient of friction up to .4 while DC stays around .2 to .25 because of the difference in stability.

    While I am not an engineer, I do have a degree in electrical engineering with a major in motor controls and power distribution. I did my thesis on ways to reduce switching losses in DC choppers at low speed which resulted in ramping the frequency of the chopper up to 400 Hz instead of starting at 400 Hz. I have also designed and installed a 24 channel sound system in a church so I have some familiarity with high power low frequency electricity and low (relative to traction motors) power high frequency audio systems.

    Steve: And to complete the credits, I typed Robert’s thesis. It was in the days before computer word processing, and I was a better typist.

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  17. Robert: See: DC railways and the magnetic fields they produce—the geomagnetic context

    The choppers are on the vehicle or other device load, not the supply. It’s the *supply* that generates the buzz. In fact, the greater the load, the less the peak differential that produces the buzz unless the source is of an extremely low impedance (“resistance” as is used incorrectly by some).

    For the sake of this string, the point remains: AC in the purest form possible is the choice for modern traction power supplies, and due to the solid-state devices in use in reformation and other control (even simple SCRs as you mention) the smoother the supply, the better. Solid state, as I’m sure you must know, doesn’t take kindly to over-peaks, thus the need for clamping/clipping protection.

    Metrolinx gets the 25 kVAC choice right, as it is now the de-facto international standard. The only difference is the line freq internationally and the vast majority is either 50 or 60 Hz, in almost all cases, totally within the same specs for traction transformer core size. (By default, it’s spec’d 50Hz, and when run on 60, it’s even more efficient, especially under full load).

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  18. Mark writes:

    I’m not sure it’s completely true to say that the Don Branch storage project necessarily forecloses it as a potential through track in the future. It has been pointed out in a different forum that trains can be and are being stored on mainlines at present. …

    Steve replies:

    The proposed storage on the Don Branch includes mid-day layovers, not just overnight. Also, there are gradient issues attempting to connect the former CP and CN trackage. It’s not as simple as it looks.

    As for Scarborough Junction to Union, it will have zillions of trains on it with the GO service, not to mention the Ontario Line as proposed southwest from Gerrard. Intrusion will be an issue whether or not the Montreal service is added to the mix.

    As things stand, as presented, it really is an enigma. I’ve leaned towards considering Mark’s stance on a ‘run-through’ of a mainline through the storage tracks, problematic as it might be.

    Walked down the Belt Line with Big Black Lab yesterday from Heath Street, incredibly icy in parts, so ended the trek at the Brickyards, too dangerous to continue south through Rosedale, but waiting for the bus, had a really good look at the ‘CP Viaduct’. It may not be in the greatest of shape superficially, but the structure itself *appears* solid. Other than just being single tracked (not a problem with modern signalling systems at least for short stretches, and HFR is only touted to run hourly each way) I’m struck with what an incredible waste of opportunity that it is.

    Steve: The structure has to be replaced before trains can run on it. The piers may be ok, but the deck is another matter.

    HFR entering from any other way, as discussed, is also highly problematic, as even GO itself is constricted to the two tracks they swore a decade ago that they’d triple.

    There’s one glaring omission in the possibilities: The Ontario Line. Build it to mainline specs, with 25kV catenary, albeit it might have to be single-decker EMU only, but integrated with the RER network, with VIA HFR using it as the ‘entrance’ to Toronto core and through to the Airport.

    Steve: There is a single track constraint on the area planned for storage on the Don Branch. You cannot “run through the yard” because there is no yard, only one track. The problem is not at the bridge which isn’t part of the plan anyhow, but further south, notably where the line passes under the Viaduct.

    As for the Ontario Line as part of RER, I have to chuckle considering that the author of the OL is the same person who thought it was possible to run SmartTrack trains built to mainline standards along Eglinton West to the airport. His whole pitch for the OL is the idea that is light and can be built where conventional transit, never mind mainline rail, structures could not go.

    I can’t see the present QP regime financing/funding *anything* at this time, contrary to all the hype. Someone else will have to build it, and Metrolinx would be a tenant sharing it with VIA HFR and perhaps others.

    Is that a ‘long-shot’? Not when foreign investment (perhaps CRCC?) is considered to build it, and presuming the buy-out is approved, Alstom-BBD building rolling stock for it. It would have a number of ‘sweeteners’ to get the Feds to buy in, either directly, or via the Infrastructure Bank.

    But as things stand, what Metrolinx is presenting is short a few bricks…

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  19. @Jarek:

    That all makes sense and aligns with everything I know about the situation. But it still doesn’t explain why peak service from Hamilton GO Centre is actually going to decrease. I just noticed the same is true for Kitchener as well: current AM peak service is 45 minutes, and the diagram says every hour after “GO Expansion.” I would really like to hear an explanation for why this multibillion dollar “expansion” plan is going to mean a decrease in rush-hour service for two of the biggest cities in the region!

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  20. My apologies to CP if they are not in fact hostile, but looking at a map of current GO service (especially off-peak) and who owns the lines it runs on, it is difficult not to see patterns. Perhaps I was being influenced by the stories of how the Milton line only started as part of settlement between Hazel and CP after the big derailment but I acknowledge that was a long time ago.

    The fact that railways are federally regulated if anything makes nationalizing some of their lines more likely than less, given the current governments. Call your MPs and MPPs… (he says, only half seriously).

    A connection between Havelock Subdivision and Stouffville line suggested by Mark Dowling would probably have to be south of Centennial station as the right of way seems really tight through Markham north of Unionville (see also the “planned” service plan with much more frequent service from Unionville)… so along the 407?

    Regarding the service decreases from Hamilton and Kitchener, yeah that’s fairly hard to swallow. We don’t have a lot of information about things like what GO considers “GO expansion AM peak” so we don’t know how many trains that actually translates to. Currently Hamilton has 4 trains in the morning and West Harbour another 4 – I don’t know how busy these services are – if not very busy from Hamilton, maybe that’s used as justification (though of course that’s a chicken-and-egg argument). More pragmatically, the reduction in services from Hamilton might be “needed” to fit new trains on higher-use parts of the line that GO owns, from Burlington. GO’s love for stations surrounded by parking might also a factor as that will be easier at West Harbour and Confederation. (Call your MPPs.)

    Same for the Kitchener service. There, the lack of alternative like West Harbour or Confederation makes it sting a bit more. On the other hand, an almost 2 hour trip from Kitchener isn’t going to attract _that_ many commuters, so regular service in off-peak would arguably be more useful anyway.

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  21. @Stephen Saines:

    I read the article you listed but it seemed more about the effect of stray currents and magnetic fields than buzz on A. M. radios. It does point out the problem that is caused by stray electrical currents from the ground rail of street railway lines. Cincinnati eliminated most of the problem by using dual overhead wires, one for positive and one for negative in their original street railway system.

    Steve: It is worth noting that at the point Cincinnati did this, they were not using equipment with any type of solid state control.

    I still say that most of the noise you hear under street car lines comes from the chopper controllers and not from the ripple on the D C. IIRC a city in Germany started a new LRT transit system with Siemens U-Bahn cars and had to shut it down within a couple of hours of starting on the full day of service because the transients completely shut down the telecommunications in the city. They had to install all sort of harmonic filters on both systems before they could start up again. I think that they had never run a large scale test to see what would happen.

    We both agree though that main line railway electrification will be at 25 kV AC. An interesting thing to note is that they have a 50,000 volt system with the track and ground level 25,000 volts away from the high or low line. This apparently makes it easier to eliminate stray currents.

    @Jarek: If you think it will be easier to nationalize rail lines because they are federally regulated you are dreaming. Both have significant foreign investment and it would be in court for years. GO has done the smart thing and bought unneeded lines and cooperating (read being screwed) by mainly CN to get improvements.

    @Frustrated Hamiltonian: GO has consistently operated headways that are better than what they say the new system will bring. I don’t think the planning department talks to the operating one.

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  22. Robert writes:

    We both agree though that main line railway electrification will be at 25 kV AC. An interesting thing to note is that they have a 50,000 volt system with the track and ground level 25,000 volts away from the high or low line. This apparently makes it easier to eliminate stray currents.

    I stand by my earlier claims, but digress to move this forward. Anyone in the audio or music business knows only too well the plague of being too close to tram catenary or subway DC feed.

    On the ‘split’ 50kVAC feed, (termed loosely ‘2X25kVAC’) there’s a much more balanced system that I had proposed in some technical forums, only to discover that Sweden uses it (as to whether anyone else does is an interesting question) and that’s for dual track medium or long distance stretches, to feed one direction track catenary one phase cycle (all distribution is single phase, contrary to the misaccreditation of many engineers who should know better, extremely rare instances of polyphase do still exist, however), so that’s 25KVAC to ground or earth (there’s a difference!) one track, and the other phase cycle to the other track, thus there being 50KVAC from one track’s catenary to the opposing one.

    For true radiated field cancellation of inductive or hysteric losses, the conductors would have to be as close together as possible and twisted. In practice, that’s not possible, but this is the next best thing. This configuration also has the benefit of much less line loss in regenerative mode to feed into the other direction’s cat. Other factors reduce that somewhat, (line booster transformers, for instance, etc) and some stray ground currents as the difference product from the two potentials does result in spurious interference, but minimally.

    This may sound hopelessly technical to readers, but suffice to say that in my reading Metrolinx’s own studies (ironically some of the most detailed and recent are on UPX electrification) *even 25KVAC* has implications for the airport, and according to my last reading (I don’t have the link or exact reference handy, study was a number of years back) approval for UPX to run electric into the GTAA was ‘under review’ due to ‘interference issues’ (my term) needing to be addressed.

    A trifling point? Normally, yes. But as is becoming more apparent by the day, *anything* that Metrolinx wishes to twist to its own otherwise determined ends will be twisted! And then they’ll deny stating what they have in the past.

    Steve: It would be useful to catalogue existing rail links to airports and their power arrangements, including how close to airport operations the lines are. There certainly are lots of examples around the world. We could be dealing with an airport that has never seen electric trains just as so many professionals in Toronto have little experience with that or with LRT.

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  23. Here is indirect reference to the ‘UPX’ approval point I raised in my prior post. (I read it buried deep in one of the technical annex to an electrification report through links Steve provided earlier in this forum)

    Perhaps this has been approved, I’ll Google deeper later, some readers might be much more adept at it than me. but a cursory Googling shows this:

    The 2009 Georgetown South Service Expansion & Union-Pearson Rail Link EA did not study electrification and therefore did not include MOE approval for electrification of the UP Express service. The UP Express Electrification Environmental Assessment is targeted for submission to the MOE in 2014. Then the project will require approvals and funding. Depending on the decision date, the estimated construction phase would be approximately 3 years from that date. Based on this, we have estimated 2017 for the operation of an electrified UP Express Service. These assumptions were also presented as part of the 2010 Electrification Study.

    Source here at p 11.

    If anyone knows the status of this, please respond…

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  24. @Stephen Saines:

    I believe that the elevated section of the UPX has mounting bases built in for catenary. I think Anne Marie Aikins mentioned this at a meeting. IIRC you can see them from the trains.

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