Metrolinx Plans Major Grade Change on Lakeshore East Corridor

Metrolinx quietly slipped a major change in its joint Lakeshore East / Ontario Line corridor plans by way of a web page update with no accompanying announcement or explanation.

Current version of webpage

Archived copy of webpage from May 14, 2021

Metrolinx plans to raise the existing GO Transit tracks by 0.9m to 1.6m in order to increase clearances under bridges on the corridor. The west and east limits of this work along the corridor have not been announced, and there are illustrations only for the area north of Queen Street.

The previously published layouts assumed tracks would stay at the same elevation as today, with the new Ontario Line to the west and north of the GO corridor at the same level. The new layout shifts everything higher. Note that the top drawing here is a cross-section where the Metrolinx right-of-way is at its widest with open space on either side buffering the mass of the corridor.

There are significant challenges in this scale of work on a busy, live rail corridor. One does not simply bring in loads of fill overnight and jack up the tracks. Bridges are a special concern particularly in any location where all tracks occupy a common structure rather than separate spans for each track that could be individually replaced or raised.

I posed a series of questions about this to Metrolinx, but they will not be responding until Monday, June 21 at the earliest.

  1. When was the decision made to regrade the rail corridor?
  2. Why is this being done?
  3. What is the extent of the work, ie between what locations will the track be raised from its current level?
  4. By how much will the track be raised?
  5. What are your staging plans for maintaining GO service during this work?
  6. What are the effects on the bridges in the affected area?

This change provoked me to review the entire web page to see what else might have been updated. The remainder of this article does a section by section comparison between the June 18 and May 14, 2021, versions of the page. Why May 14? Because that is the most recent copy of the page in the Internet Archive and it shows the “old” version of information.

Each section is set up in a side-by-side gallery allowing readers to swap back and forth between comparable segments of the page.

An important issue about “stealth” updates like this is than an unwary reader might assume that this content was always present when it fact it has been changed, in some cases significantly. Only by actually reviewing the page can someone discover changes, while Metrolinx might say “but we told you” when no notice was given.


The version on the left is from May and shows the original proposal with the OL tracks straddling the GO tracks. The version on the right is from June, but the illustration still shows the original plan.

LSE Joint Corridor

In the May version, left, only the original vertical alignment is shown. This has changed in the June version. Another update is the disappearance in the illustration of the landscaped embankment because a higher corridor requires a wider embankment. However, it is still mentioned in the text.

Lower Don Bridge

The only significant change from May (left) to June (right) is the addition of a start date for the bridge and Don Yard early works in 2022.

East Harbour

The June version (right) drops the reference to across-the-platform transfers at East Harbour Station as the new design precludes them, but now talks of the concourse level that will link all tracks, including the inner Express tracks that previously did not have a platform. The description of the transit-oriented community has been considerably expanded.


The Leslieville section is much revised. In the May version (left side, first two pages) the platforms are shown on the outside of the tracks and there is little additional information. In the June version, the change in platforms is illustrated. Note that the layout with the existing vertical alignment is shown first in the June version, but later without explanation comes the new alignment.

Alignment Considerations

This section is unchanged between May and June.

However, it suffers from a major problem: the request to underground the line within the rail corridor does not match the alignment that the community has proposed. All of the objections about the effects it would have and the constructability of such an alignment are moot because this addresses the wrong alternative.

Note that the vertical alignment shown does not include raising the rail corridor, and so this is out of date. A related issue is the height of noise walls to shield from the now-higher corridor.

The section on park spaces partly duplicates text used in the June version of the previous section.


The description of Gerrard Station had not been updated to reflect the new alignment with both Ontario Line tracks on the north side of the corridor.

Gerrard Portal

The illustration of Gerrard Portal has not been updated to reflect the move of both Ontario Line tracks to the north side of the corridor. The illustration of Vancouver’s Canada Line was deleted in the June version. The description of the space for the portal being “currently paved over for parking” has been removed.

Pape South

This segment has not been updated to reflect the new alignment of the Ontario Line tracks on the same side of the corridor and therefore the portal is not correctly illustrated. The numbers on the map refers to the notes in the May version that have been deleted in the June version

24 thoughts on “Metrolinx Plans Major Grade Change on Lakeshore East Corridor

  1. Don’t tell them about Atlas Snap and Flex Track or they’ll go berserk with changes daily, as happened on the Wynne-era high-speed rail fantasy. Its tracks were miraculously going to be “wiggled” around minor impediments, such as quarries and protected wetlands, which its guru (now a Metrolinx strategic rail advisor) had missed when drawing on his cocktail napkins across The Pond in his London consulting office.

    Steve: The same strategic advisor planned a mainline railway along Eglinton Avenue West as part of Smart Track. When Metrolinx talks about their international experts, I have my doubts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very curious indeed.

    I’ve studied the ‘before’ and ‘after’ for close to half an hour, Besides maximizing the use for Metrolinx of their existing ‘footprint’ max….there has to be something else going on, or has become apparent to them.

    Note that even though the drawings are ‘illustrative’, the retaining wall footings are more shallow in ‘after’ view, as well as the ‘landscaped embankment’ now absent, albeit that may be expedient for the same footprint to be utilized. But there’s something huge not being stated…

    A supposition: The present embankment isn’t stable enough to widen to the present need w/o some lateral infrastructure (e.g. metal lattice) laying on top of it to not only lash the retaining walls to each other, but also to spread the load of various trains passing any given spot at the same time equitably across the width of the embankment.

    The cost of this ‘raising’ of the track beds will be considerable, let alone the interruption of the eastern aorta into Union.

    I keep looking at this, being as neutral as possible, to envision what it could possibly be that has forced this change.

    Examining the logic in reverse, one has to wonder if tunneling the OL wouldn’t have been the best option for this stretch after-all?

    What was touted as being a (gist) ‘huge simplification and saving of costs’ is suddenly getting very complex.

    Something’s missing from this story, something huge…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. According to Metrolinx the underground route they costed (and never released to the public) running beneath & along the corridor is too complicated to execute as they’d have to ‘raise Queen Street and the bridge,’ and this would be too costly at 800M – and yet now- this raising up/regrading plan is somehow feasible and necessary when applied to their above grade planning – that they can not only disassemble 3 GO tracks and re-grade the entire 2km stretch of corridor – moving one track from the west to east side to make room for the 2 OL tracks to the west side, but wait for it – also replace and regrade not just one bridge at Queen/DeGrassi but all 5 bridges in the Joint Corridor – a massive and complex construction undertaking at best. The Riverside-Leslieville community must demand to see a cost comparison of this new plan versus their proposed underground route. This plan is not less ‘impactful’ on our community in anyway, and probably just as costly.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Steve’s eagle eye has flummoxed my evening!

    Question: Metrolinx have a walled and elevated six track RoW open to the elements at top. In heavy snowfalls, how are they going to dispose of that snow? With a blower over the wall?

    You’ve built the wall, you now have underpinnings and subterranean infrastructure robust enough to keep catenary and platforms stable, let alone the track…why not roof it over?

    I offer Rosedale Valley Road subway bridge as an example, as well as other TTC stations and infrastructure.

    It cancels noise, shelters from the worst of the weather, and one wall barriers are up, the loss of view outside is pretty much complete anyway, at least for the stretch of RoW affected.

    Immediate problem: Diesel locos, but note Metrolinx does all of their promo with catenary in place now.

    Could this ‘after’ plan be about that? Planning for ‘covering over’ once the line goes all-electric?

    Admittedly I’m reaching on this, but there’s *something* missing from the ‘raising the trackbed’ story.


  5. With such a major change being slipped under the radar, it greatly concerns me about the transit corridor zones which can span over 100 metres.

    I just have a feeling that Metrolinx will try to perform additional expropriations to try and speed along construction by enlarging their staging areas around the station sites.

    Also, a part of me feels like the Pape North section might be moved slightly to try and save on costs with considerable impact to residents on either side of the corridor lands.


  6. If the Waterfront West LRT and East Bayfront LRT needed resets then dare I say this project needs to be nuked from orbit.

    Steve: The problem with these projects is that they have not had a sponsor in the same manner as the suburban subways, and that each chunk of the waterfront project has been rather small. The eastern line to Cherry and Villiers Island will go ahead some time this decade. Stay tuned for an update next week on the plans. On the west side, the extension to Dufferin will not add a lot because streetcars from southern Etobicoke will still have to fight their way through the congested King-Queen-Roncesvalles intersection. The Dufferin extension will be fairly cheap to build because it is short with the major civil work being the new bridge at Dufferin Street, something that is required anyhow.


  7. Metrolinx secrets on the LSE

    1) Is the Metrolinx 4 four plan to Whitby Maintenance Works still on?

    Never any public announcement. Informal answer is no. Secret executive decision by Verster stopped the 4th line at Rouge Point, putting doubts about the utility of the Whitby Maintenance Works.

    2) Was the Scarborough Junction grade separated junction designed for an HFR route down the Stouffville line and onto the LSE and could the HFR be the reason for the changes?

    There is no accountability and too much secrecy at Metrolinx. Let’s see if the Libs or NDP make this an election issue.

    Steve: That’s tricky because the idea of expanding GO has strong appeal in the 905 and outer 416 (subject to lower fares), and “everybody” loves subways. The issue of community relations and shifting plans, not to mention the degree to which land deals have been done with pals of Ford under the guise of “transit oriented communities”. Corruption is something that’s easy to understand.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Well, let’s just assume for a moment that the regrading has nothing to do with the Ontario line but rather something that the engineers and city planning saw the need for after the fact and hey . .. “could we fit this into the plan?” In other words the clearances on some of these bridges needed fixed anyway. Just the timing of it all seems suspicious.

    Steve: First the timing is suspicious. Second, if the City asked for it, Metrolinx would tell the City to pay for it. Third, there seems to have been no discussion of “meeting in the middle” partly by lowering the road and partly by raising the tracks. As usual, Metrolinx has no detailed plans and the change just appeared out of thin air on their website.

    And Metrolinx wonders why nobody trusts a word they say.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Does Metrolinx actually say they are doing this to increase the clearance under the bridges. That seems rather magnanimous seeing how they normally act. Normally they would lower the road because this is easier and less costly.

    Steve: This is what the community was told during a recent consultation. Note that the before and after drawings show the track being lifted. Of course they could also have the roads duck under the bridges, although in some cases they do this already and the dip would have to be deepened and extended (e.g. the underpasses on Dundas and on Logan).

    Could the real reason be to reduce the grade of the hill up to Main street? I used to teach in a portable at Monarch Park Collegiate on Coxwell. Every day at 10:00 a.m. there was a freight from Stuart Yard in Hamilton to Montreal that went by. It was working so hard that everything in the room shook and you could not talk to anyone more than 3 feet away even if you were yelling.

    In steam days CN used to assign pusher locomotives to get trains up this grade. VIA had a train stall out on it once due to black rail but the fact they don’t have sanders also helped. I think that this is part of the old Lake Iroquois shoreline that the trains are climbing. By raising the track level in Riverside and Leslieville they could reduce the grade and make it easier and faster for trains to climb the hill.

    Steve: Er .. ah .. electrification anyone? What’s this about steep hills?

    You might be able to join the CP Belleville sub to the Uxbridge sub where they cross West Highland creek by expropriating some industrial land. This would probably be cheaper than rebuilding the condemned CP bridge in the Don Valley If VIA ever gets their HFR stagnant waters railway through Peterborough and the Moose pastures off the ground. It would add a lot of trains to that corridor though if VIA gets it running.

    CN and Metrolinx have experience widening bridges as they did on all the rail overpasses between Bramalea and Mt. Pleasant on the Halton Sub. They just cut off the south side of the bridge, put in a new section to match what was already there, and then laid the new track. I think the just widened overpass on Bloor St in a similar manner. They cut off one side of the bridge, lay a wider and higher new section in, raise the trackbed, and lay the track over this section. Then they remove the track and the other side of the bridge and do it the same way. It is quite an easy thing to do.

    The big question is why did Metrolinx suddenly decide that vehicular traffic needs more clearance. It sounds like an excuse for “Oops we forgot something.”

    Steve: Given the change in grade, as much as 1.6m, that’s a lot of work to change the adjacent grade and just swap out the bridge. Also, some of the bridges are close together and may have to be done as pairs. An alternative, given that they are also shifting the tracks, is to build two new GO tracks on the east/south side of the corridor at the new elevation, then shift traffic to them, and then rebuild the third track and add a fourth at the new elevation. All of the bridges except the one at Logan have individual spans that can probably be plucked out and replaced. Logan is a single structure.

    An “oops”, maybe, or GO might have been planning this and forgot to tell the OL project. It will be interesting to see what the “official story” is.

    The interesting thing about noise that Metrolinx does not mention is the ringing of the bell every time a passenger train enters or leaves a station. Just ask those who live near Bloor or Weston Station and get 6 off-peak trains every hour.

    Steve: Wait until they have frequent service after midnight. They will be ecstatic.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Well done, once again Steve, and thanks to you and the commenters, as the collected wisdom shows the transit/rail complexities, such as laws of physics, which we’ve tended to ignore on the climate change front, oops. And with that pressing need to reduce emissions, one aspect of this latest change is – more concrete and ‘work’ and emissions vs. a reset/re-think that looks at what the demands are, and what needs relief, and what already exists – like a wider linear RoW not too efficiently used in terms of people that already heads downtown to near Union. Yes, the DVP and the Gardiner, just to be a bit ‘roadical’.

    We still need a large reset of these ‘plans’, and resolve from the federal level to ensure a level of quality of plans, and presentation of options in a rational filtering process, which is largely not around with the current ‘carservative’ and often ‘carrupt’ processes, which tend to include all parties of all levels, as votorists are everywhere.

    Federal level shouldn’t be financing anything either until there’s that EA done as per last Metro OP that wanted an EA for linkage between Oriole GO and top end of Eglinton that fell between the shards after ‘amanglemation’ using Don Harron’s great term. The Yonge and N/S corridor is in greater need of Relief than anything west of University Ave, and we shouldn’t necessarily be coughing up a billion or whatever to ensure a developer has a subway station/service as not only is that a good subsidy, it takes much time from transit passengers and time theft is an important thing, or should be.

    It sure does feel that – with the proposed start of any OL in the Ex area – that it’s to make the core pay, and get us all pregnant with whatever folly/scheme is doug jour, instead of squeezing those billions for more surface-oriented triage transit via Don Valley to core from combining existing older plans. And yes, we likely really need a good robust subway, modelled after 1957 plan, but perhaps more eastwards now vs. I think it was Donlands, especially as it goes north.

    But as dire as the climate crisis is, take the time and remove the scheming from the pollutricks to develop a plan or three, and yes, eggs will still have to be cracked, and much $$$ spent.


  11. Robert Wightman said: Could the real reason be to reduce the grade of the hill up to Main street?

    This deserves careful consideration. We must separate opposition to the Ontario Line (OL) from benefits to the community of a reduced grade to Main with a 4 track Go line. The noise level in this section is 80 db for trains to climb the hill. Legally Metrolinx (Mx) does not have to erect sound barriers because of the existing ambient noise level. Residents learned this when RER and the 4th track raised the noise level and Mx refused to erect sound barriers. Mx could argue the same case for the OL.

    There are no laws to enforce the recommended noise level of 56 db. If Mx cared about the community it would build noise mitigation for all residential areas to 56 db, though not legally bound to.

    The reduced grade project would be of benefit to the community because it will reduce noise. GO will always be building the 4th track and train frequency will increase. In addition the HFR train may be passing through. Opposition should be directed against the Ontario Line not the reduced grade.

    The best outcome to me, would be the reduced grade project and a cancelled Ontario Line.

    Steve: There is a continuous uphill grade from the river eastward along the line. Lifting existing rails near the south end of the LSE corridor will simply transfer the grade change from one place to another. Metrolinx has not published a gradient profile, nor have they said anything about a revised EPR for the LSE upgrade project. According to the EPR on their website, the new bridge spans for the fourth track will be at the same elevation over roadways as existing ones, and this implies no change in grade. Moreover, if they change the grades, this affects the noise and vibration study results.

    At a minimum, they have to issue an EPR amendment to cover the effects of this change.

    I should mention that the lion’s share (but not all) of the trains in the corridor will be electric although the Bowmanville service is projected currently to be diesel. Service on the Stouffville branch, any HFR service and the OL trains will all be electric.


  12. Steve: Er .. ah .. electrification anyone? What’s this about steep hills?

    With electric locomotives, you get increased power thus higher top speed. But you need tractive effort to get acceleration and to climb hills. Tractive effort is a function of “Weight on Drivers.” Using electric locomotives does not increase the tractive effort but using multiple units does as usually up to half of the axles are powered. The TTC powers more axles than normal on its new electric rail vehicles so they will have enough tractive effort to push a dead car or train in front of them up a hill.

    Steve: Yes, but it’s an electric locomotive and therefore quieter than a diesel. That has to be taken into account. It is not the electic motor within a “diesel” loco that makes the noise.

    By sticking with locomotive-powered vehicles Metrolinx is losing half of the time benefits of electric operation compared to MUs. Also, the whole idea of electrification does not seem well-thought out. Unless Metrolinx knows something new CN and CP seem unlikely to give permission to electrify any of their tracks. This means that any trains that go east of Oshawa, west of Burlington up the Galt Sub, or past Bramalea will still need to be diesel locomotive hauled. Why is Metrolinx making all these plans to electrify the Kitchener line from Georgetown to Kitchener if the electric trains cannot go past Bramalea? Either Metrolinx has more tricks that they are not revealing or they are totally out to lunch, take your pick.

    Stadler makes a version of their FLIRT, Fast Light Inter-City and Regional Train that can run under overhead or of internal diesel generators. They do this by putting a small diesel power unit in the middle of the train that generates electrical power for the traction motors on the EMUs when not under overhead. Metrolinx could also do this with Bombardier (now Alstom) bi-levels.

    Steve: I think Metrolinx is pinning its hopes on some sort of dual mode, or off-wire capablity to navigate trackage they cannot electrify. However, until there is some sense that their demand will actually return, they may be pinching their pennies on the capital side, foolish though this may be in the longer run. Again, as usual, they have published no discussion paper on this. Part of the problem is their business model which says “we will contract out everything and let the private sector operator decide on motive power”. Unless their contract includes a performance spec that could only be achieved with EMUs, you will probably see existing coach stock pulled by a mix of electric and diesel locos for the foreseeable future.


  13. I wonder if it is as simple as a strategy to kill two birds with one stone: 1) moderate the grade of this section of track, and 2) dispose of the spoils from the U/G section of the Ontario line?

    Steve: The regrading would be an “early work” and would occur before there are any spoils to be recycled. Also, I am not convinced that this would moderate the grade at all. It’s uphill already all the way from the Don eastward, and so the only thing a regrading would accomplish is to rearrange where the steeper parts are.

    It’s worth noting that although this change appeared on the Ontario Line site and has been discussed with community groups, there is no reference to it on the GO Expansion site. That project wold obviously be affected by regrading, and at a minimum the existing EPR will have to be redone. I am not convinced that the OL folks are actually talking to the GO folks.


  14. Robert Wightman said: By sticking with locomotive-powered vehicles Metrolinx is losing half of the time benefits of electric operation compared to MUs.,,,Unless Metrolinx knows something new CN and CP seem unlikely to give permission to electrify any of their tracks. ,,, Why is Metrolinx making all these plans to electrify … Either Metrolinx has more tricks that they are not revealing or they are totally out to lunch, take your pick.

    In my editing, I am emphasizing how the Metrolinx’s (Mx) electrification project is an exercise of misinformation. I’m sure electrification in the minds of most people implies MU transit, (subway like cars).

    Wightman is sending a reality check.

    Critical sections of the Mx service run on CN and CP tracks. This has always posed two major problems. Mx can not run modern train signalling systems to provide more frequent service and cannot convert to conventional MU equipment. Service that we expect can only be done on a wholely owned rail network.

    Steve said: you will probably see existing coach stock pulled by a mix of electric and diesel locos for the foreseeable future.

    That means our lifetime and your children’s lifetime.

    Thanks to Robert Wightman and Steve.

    Steve: Just so that everyone is clear on this, I have known Robert Wightman for a very, very long time, well over 50 years.


  15. Steve: Yes, but it’s an electric locomotive and therefore quieter than a diesel. That has to be taken into account. It is not the electric motor within a “diesel” loco that makes the noise.

    I am not talking about the noise of the locomotives, electrics are quieter but I am talking about their tractive effort, which is dependent on the weight of the locomotive. Using that wonderfully accurate planning tool, Google Maps, along with Ontario Topographical maps – Elevation, which I think give the elevation of the land around the track and not the track itself, the average grade from the Don River to Main St. is 0.9% with the maximum appearing to be 1.25% from Coxwell to Main. Paper topo maps would really help.

    Looking into noise sources for trains the locomotive bell has to produce a minimum of 85 dB at 50′ (15m) which is 79 dB at 100′ (30 m). Train horns have to produce 96 dB at 100′ (30 m) or 102 dB at 50′ (15 m) Sound measurements are to be taken at a perpendicular distance of 30 m from the track at a height of 1.6 m. I am looking for sites that explain the cause and types of noises made by diesel locomotives versus electric ones. I can only find one from Victoria Harbour Australia that has electric hauled trains louder. I have to re-read that one.

    Steve: I was looking at the detailed corridor plans in the GO Expansion EPR, but they do not show track elevations, only plan views.


  16. Prevailing grade has not been a problem to date for Mx, with a few odd exceptions, the underpass at Bathurst being an early one.

    It doesn’t even have to be EMU for tractive effort to be more than suffice for electric passenger haulage. TGV and many other electric examples literally go over the hills, rather than around them, with loco haulage. The US Great Northern electrics hauled massive freight for their day over mountains that steam couldn’t do.

    There’s certainly something odd afoot with the latest Mx bait and switch, but it’s not to do with gradient.

    Steve writes:

    I am not convinced that the OL folks are actually talking to the GO folks.

    This has a lot of credence, not least as this has been the case with many GO projects in the past, and associated ones, like Presto.

    The OL line appears to be an orphan in a number of ways, not least that it was stolen at birth from the TTC.

    I suspect something like a massive engineering glitch due to the lack of linear planning and communication. And as much as I have no direct reference to buttress my suspicion, I question the stability of the embankment when widened to six tracks.

    Assume that is the case, and it’s happened in many other cases where embankments have failed, what would/could Mx do? They’ve already sold the public on their latest perfect theory. Can they then be honest in revealing that the embankment there isn’t up to scratch, and has to be reinforced? Driving piles into bedrock might be a solution if this is the problem, along with retaining walls.

    Or laying infrastructure over top of the embankment to ‘lock it into place’ (including driven piles in critical spots) and also allow the building of stations and other later structures over top without ‘floating’ the present one in later densification that Mx and Overlord is putting great emphasis on.

    I smell a massive oversight. As to what the exact story is remains to be outed.


  17. From Transportation Engineering
    Volume 2, December 2020, 100028

    Failure analysis of widened railway embankment with different reinforcing measures under heavy axle loads: A comparative FEM study


    • FE models for predicting stability of widened railway embankment were established.
    • Analysis of the effectiveness of various structural countermeasures is performed.
    • Relationship among safety factor, deformation and train load were established.
    • It is concluded that piled constructions demonstrates a better reinforcement effect.


    It’s a must read. I started to copy critical paragraphs to post, there’s so many pertinent to the present Mx situ it was impossible to choose one.

    Reduced to the lowest logic equation for the possible embankment ‘oversight’ is what I mentioned in an earlier post: Mx has planned for electric EMU, the catenary in their drawings is the give-away.

    Diesel locos have too high an axle load and vibration to conform to the engineering of what’s now being promulgated. What they’re not showing in their ‘illustrations’ is the strengthening needed to keep that filled embankment contained in a solid and stable form.

    This is essential.

    Skimming through the above study, and the annotations, lo and behold:

    [2] I.G. Caverson, D. Lowry
    Case study-railway embankment widening for CN rail & GO transit
    Geotech. S.P., 211 (2011), pp. 3296-3303, 10.1061/41165(397)337
    CrossRefView Record in ScopusGoogle Scholar

    I’ll try and find that tomorrow and post a link if possible.


  18. Ms. Shelley Kline began asking the very relevant questions about how much will all of this cost? This is likely not answerable as a 7th question of Steve’s until there are ‘answers’ to his first 6. But do we pick a number between $1 and $4 BILLION? Or is that too low, and will it ignore the costs to communities and riders for all the disruptions/noise etc.?

    Steve: That is entirely speculative until we know the scope of work. Considering that Metrolinx has fought back any attempt to make changes that would add costs in the hundreds of millions, it is hard to believe that we are looking at billions here. Let’s not get carried away and try to spend all of this “found” money too quickly.

    With the great drop-off in GO riderships, and some options available for the east-west transit, we should be insisting that we focus on improving only the north-south Relief, and in a much much better set of processes that include full-spectrum options (eg. conversion of some of the DVP to a subway; avoiding the Don Mouth, and insist that we begin the study of linking the GO at Oriole to any Relief that is up to Eglinton ie. extend the work north, though the well-off voters of Ms. Robinson’s ward may not like being included, and we may have to bury any needed transit on that spurline/railtrail as well as insist on RoW protection through the Celestica site to link to Don Mills and Eglinton/OSC area, and is that a site for a train yard? (Extending the City’s Relief project up to Eglinton was a good move by Mr. Ford’s government, yes).

    Steve: Ford did NOT extend the city’s project. The Relief Line was always intended to go to Eglinton, and study of the northern portion was already underway by Metrolinx who dragged their feet on the process, and then stopped cold before the last election and never restarted. Metrolinx hijacked the Relief Line scheme for their own purposes, but the only extension in scope was westward to the Exhibition, probably to support future development there by Ford’s cronies.

    Again, we should have a full stop to the OL proposal – especially west end beyond University – until we get clarity on the why of all of this change, which Steve should get a medal for noting, and what are the range of extra costs. If it’s a mere $2B, there’s an easy fix – not burying the Eglinton LRT. If it’s $4 or 5B, there’s another easier fix – avoiding the Suspect Subway Extension in Scarborough to work on surface-oriented options, which haven’t been honestly explored eg. re-use of the SRT corridor, though Scarborough needs more than that. And with having a good network function done sooner with a triage Relief, we might avoid another Bill+ money pit at Yonge/Bloor, and we shouldn’t be letting the Yonge line be extended north until there’s an actual built Relief project, or a development freeze in most areas near the Yonge subway N of St. Clair or Bloor.

    With the climate emergency, and the dismal record of Canada where transport tends to lead the GHGs, (with a sad possibility of a permafrost methane pulse), the federal level really should be coughing up 2% of all the tax money they’re offering for ‘help’ to these Ford follies to get them independently reviewed – with full disclosure of results – plus a help to the shitizens trying to discern what’s being proposed to be done to them, or their resources, including the Don Valley.

    The federal Liberals also don’t deserve as much Toronto support given how they’ve tended to avoid defending Toronto/taxpayers/democracy against most all of the Ford changes.

    I’m very glad that there are many folks out there watching all of this, and being suspicious etc.

    Steve: I certainly agree that the Feds have not been making any effort to validate the usefulness of the projects they are funding when all they seem to care about is that transit shifts riders out of cars. They don’t get into alternatives analysis of what the same money might buy otherwise.

    That said, do we really need a federal equivalent of Metrolinx with some tinpot dictator in Ottawa telling us what we can build? The Feds do not have a strong history on transport projects, only studies and occasional dribs of money to maintain a presence.


  19. Thanks again Steve, and commenters. WIth regards to extension of Relief N of Eglinton, glad to be corrected on City having both phases in contemplation, as that’s needed.

    Steve: There was also a review of a Relief Line all the way to Sheppard, and its effect on Line 1 and the Bloor-Yonge interchange would have been dramatic. But the money to build that far was not available. Metrolinx has protected for such an extension in their design at Science Centre Station.


  20. I wrote:

    [2] I.G. Caverson, D. Lowry
    Case study-railway embankment widening for CN rail & GO transit
    I’ll try and find that tomorrow and post a link if possible.]

    Haven’t had time to read yet, it was with pot-luck I checked for a Google cache, even though I am subscribed to one of the academic sources showing on Google.

    Here’s a Google cache link.

    Note who the authors are: Professional Engineers, not on staff at Metrolinx. I had typed further comment on that, but erased it. I’ll choose my words carefully later. Metrolinx have made it clear they’ve ‘outsourced’ what was their in-house expertise on such matters. With that goes some of the ‘corporate memory’, if not all of it.

    Steve wrote:

    I am not convinced that the OL folks are actually talking to the GO folks.

    And that’s resonating louder each time I’m perplexed by “What’s wrong with this picture?”

    It’s not just the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. It’s the left hand doesn’t even know what it did a decade prior.

    A wild guess to which I invite Steve to add comment: Verster and the Overlords had this brilliant plan. (Verster is on record of bragging as to what great ideas he comes up with.)

    (gist) “Why tunnel when we can just use the surface alignment that’s already extant?” Of course, it was only after the fact that Professional Engineers previously retained by Metrolinx sent desperate messages to ‘The Chief’. ‘It’s nowhere near that simple! Read the studies!’

    If this is even only true in part, Mx has a massive challenge ahead of them.

    Steve: I am not convinced Verster is the underlying architect, but rather Michael Schabas who, although he is a consultant, describes himself on LinkedIn thus:

    “Currently he is Senior Rail Expert for the $28.5bn subways program and $20bn GO RER project in Ontario, Canada.”

    Schabas was also a consultant to John Tory’s mayoral campaign and was responsible for SmartTrack, including some of its more ludicrous, and now deleted, components. But, yes, Verster’s ego is too often on display in much of what Metrolinx does, and this does not help their credibility.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. @ Stephen Saines,

    The TGVs have a power to weight ratio of 23 kW/t and 8 powered axles to 18 unpowered ones under the coaches. Twelve car GO trains are about 4.3 kW/t. They have enough tractive effort and power to go up Bathurst Street. Diesel Locomotives have an axle weight for MP 40 AC of 33 t/axle with a starting tractive effort of 378 kN and Bombardier’s electric locos are 22.5 t/axle with a starting tractive effort of only 316 kN Their train sheets say trains with 1 Electric locomotive and 6 coaches or 2 electric locomotives with 12 locomotives. Perhaps their electric locos cannot handle 12 fully load coaches up the grade fully loaded by themselves. An MP 40 certainly can.

    Axle loading and pounding could certainly be a problem on the raised embankment but VIA and GO will, plus the odd wayward CN freight can still go up the hill. I am told that the embankment CN expanded a few years ago to put double track on the Halton Sub from Peel Memorial Hospital to Brampton Station is showing signs of slippage and had some emergency repairs done to it. I will have to find the exact location and take a look at it.

    I read that Transportation Engineering article and found it only slightly more riveting than a treatise on Glacial and Fluvial Geomorphology, but still quite interesting on what can happen to unstabilized new embankments. We just had one come down at the Portal at Berwick and Eglinton. Perhaps if they do most of their additional embankments on the north side with on Ontario Line trains they can get away with it, perhaps.

    I would like to see their plans to tie the two retaining walls together to keep them from spreading and how the plan to raise one side up to 1.6 m while running trains on the lower side, then switch the trains over. Hopefully, they hire qualified civil engineers to design and build this.


  22. Steve: You saved me having to write that. In the event, Verster has proclaimed himself responsible, so I don’t feel too bad not naming other obvious participants in his stead.

    What I can add from what I’ve already pored over is from the reference (2) posted above to Transportation Engineering Volume 2, December 2020, 100028, in which the paragraph notation (2) (Case study-railway embankment widening for CN rail & GO transit, Geotech) is reference for, and readers note, this occurs right at the beginning of this study, second para, Introduction. No wonder it’s so relevant:

    One of the most cost-effective ways to increase the carrying capacity of railway lines in the organization of heavy traffic, is to widen the existing roadbed, in particular embankments, for additional tracks [2,3]. The main condition that must be met in this case is to ensure a good conjugation of the soil of the new part of the widened roadbed with the packed soil of the existing embankment. This is necessary for ensuring their reliable joint operation. However, the experience in operating such railway sections shows that it is very difficult to achieve sustainable long-term joint work of the new and old parts of the embankment [4–7]. Differences in the properties of soils and the degree of their compaction aggravated by external power (rolling stock) and climatic factors (rainwater, freezing-thawing cycles, seismic activity, etc.) can cause active development of the deformation processes. In many cases, uneven subsidence and swelling of a roadbed soil take place, and the cracks between old and new parts of the structure appear. This can lead later to local or overall loss of bearing capacity of the embankment or to the stability of its slopes [[8], [9], [10]] (Fig. 1).]

    I’ll have a chance to slowly absorb the latter Geotech study later, and will add more informed comment at that time.

    This is compelling…


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