This article is a follow-up to Ontario Line Design Changes Again including material from a new Metrolinx blog post.
As previously reported, Metrolinx has changed the track configuration between Corktown and Gerrard Stations on the Ontario Line so that both OL tracks are on the same side (north/west) of the rail corridor rather than straddling the four-track GO corridor.
When the Ontario Line was announced with much fanfare, a great deal was made by Metrolinx of the across-the-platform transfer connections possible at both Exhibition and East Harbour Stations with the GO Lakeshore corridor. The explicit benefit was to offload of GO/TTC transfer traffic from Union Station.
This design fell off the table (quietly) last year at Exhibition Station, but until quite recently, it was still advanced as the rationale for the OL’s configuration in this segment.
Now it too has disappeared and both OL tracks will be on the same side of the corridor. This actually makes life easier for Metrolinx designers including:
- only one shared centre platform rather than two would be needed at stations, and only one set of vertical accesses (stairs, escalators, elevators);
- electrification of GO will be relatively isolated from that for the OL which will run on a different voltage and probably a different height of overhead above the rails;
- only one bridge rather than two will be required to carry the OL across the Don River;
- only one tunnel portal will be required at Gerrard rather than two;
- no tunnels under the rail corridor will be required to shift the eastbound OL first to the south side at East Harbour and then back to the north side at Gerrard;
- there is room at East Harbour for platforms for all four GO tracks, not just the two outer ones, permitting this to be an express and local station as befits its location at a major development node.
Considering that Metrolinx is all about building projects more efficiently, one has to wonder why they didn’t pursue this configuration from the outset unless that cross-platform transfer was a holy grail untouchable until now.
The change is promoted as the result of listening to the community where more than a little opposition to the OL came from its intrusiveness and potential effect on buildings and open spaces. Until quite recently, Metrolinx defended their original design against all criticism.
Their tune has changed:
Re-positioning Ontario Line tracks at East Harbour means all Lakeshore East and Stouffville GO train services can stop at the station – something that wasn’t possible with the previous design. With a shared concourse providing easy access to all of the rail services that will serve East Harbour, more customers will be able to transfer between more trains, and travel to more places.
Customers who will be boarding the stations at Queen and De Grassi and at Gerrard and Carlaw will also see more benefits because, no matter what entrance they use, they’ll arrive at a centre platform that serves trains in both directions. They won’t have to worry about getting to platform level just to realize their train is on the other side of the rail corridor, accessed through a different station building. This will create a simpler, more accessible experience for everyone who uses the station.
But the improvements to the track positioning means teams can cut down on the amount of station buildings needed as well, which means even fewer impacts to the parks that have been developed around the active rail corridor over the years.
The line now occupies slightly less space than before, although the diagrams above are not engineering drawings showing the exact scope of work before and after the redesign.
Metrolinx is still silent on the need for or absence of crash walls between the GO rails, the Ontario Line and nearby buildings. These would add to the total width of the corridor.
Metrolinx would do well to show more detail for their new plan all the way from the Don River to the portal(s) at Gerrard.
Another round of community consultation is planned in coming weeks.