Metrolinx’ Ill-Considered Don Valley Layover (Updated)

Metrolinx will be holding an online consultation on Tuesday, June 29, for its Don Valley Layover scheme. There is a lot of misinformation on this proposal coming from Metrolinx, but as with so many of their schemes, they are bulling ahead.

Full disclosure: I live immediately adjacent to the proposed storage and servicing facility on the east side of the Don River north of the Prince Edward Viaduct. I have a direct interest in the effect of Metrolinx plans and the effect they will have because of the potential for noise and light pollution.

First, it is important that readers understand Metrolinx plans and the supposed function of what they wish to build.

Updated June 29, 2021 at 8:00 am: Additional drawings regarding sound level measurements have been added as well as a commentary on peak versus averaged sound levels.

GO Transit New Facilities

The plans are part of the GO Transit New Track and Facilities scheme which includes new layover yards in various locations around the system. This plan already has Ministerial approval and could proceed at any time to detailed design and construction.

GO Transit plans two new facilities in what they broadly refer to as the Richmond Hill Corridor. The purpose of the two are sometimes confused in Metrolinx presentations with the result that the debate becomes tangled thanks to one plan’s being confused with the other.

As the corridor leaves Union Station, it runs along the north edge of the rail embankment and then swings north along the west side of the Don River. This corridor actually contains two separate railways as they then were.

  • One is the former Canadian National Bala Subdivision. This takes a meandering path north and is owned by Metrolinx to the point where it crosses the CN York Subdivision, the east-west freight route parallel to Highway 7. North of that junction the line is still owned by CN. The Richmond Hill GO service uses this route.
  • The other is the former Canadian Pacific Don Branch which linked Union Station to the CPR’s main line at the former Leaside Station. The line was abandoned decades ago for rail service, but it was bought by Metrolinx. It splits off from the rail line on the west side of the river roughly at Rosedale Valley Road, crosses to the east side, and runs beside the DVP to Pottery Road where it crosses on a high bridge.

The map below shows the corridor from the south end of the Don River (left) to Pottery Road (right). (For a high resolution version of this plan, click here.)

The West Side of the Valley

From the point where the Don Branch splits off northward, there are two tracks on the Bala Sub, one of which is a long siding and not in as good condition as the main line beside it. This trackage will be upgraded so that both tracks are in good condition. In the image below, the Bala Sub is the upper of the two lines. The Brick Works is the complex of buildings in the upper right.

This is an area where Metrolinx has previously done work to reduce the effect of the Don River undercutting the rail line during high water events. The shoreline is reinforced at locations both north and south of the Prince Edward Viaduct where the river meanders close to the rail line. The famously flooded GO Train was marooned a few years ago at the north end of this segment.

It is ironic that whenever electrification advocates have asked about the Richmond Hill corridor, one of the standard excuses has been “it floods, and that’s not good for electrification”. In best Metrolinx style, their tune changes when it is a project they sponsor themselves.

Metrolinx plans to electrify the two rails as far north as Pottery Road so that this area can be used for two functions:

  • Storing trains between the peak periods.
  • Using the Bala Sub as a turnaround area

The idea behind the turnaround is that many eastbound trips now end at Union Station, but the trains occupy platform space while the crews set up to return westbound. If all trains ran through Union and reversed somewhere out of the way, then more platform time would be available. The Bala Sub upgrades and electrification will allow trains from the west, from the Barrie corridor for example, to arrive at Union, offload and then continue east onto the Bala sub where they would reverse for the westbound trip.

It is self-evident that a single GO train does not stretch from the Union Station Rail Corridor to Pottery Road. The extended electrification will allow storage of trains between the peak periods, effectively as an expansion to the existing capacity on the Lake Shore corridor west of the Don River.

The East Side of the Valley

GO Transit had originally proposed that the existing single track on the Don Branch be expanded to a fan of three tracks ending at the south side of the Prince Edward Viaduct. This scheme ran into intense opposition because it would involve building in the river’s flood plain and would undo years of work to re-naturalize the area.

The tracks on the Don Branch are at a higher elevation than those on the Bala Sub, and much less prone to flooding. However the access route to these tracks from Union Station does flood and could trap trains in the Don Valley Yard.

Metrolinx shifted their plan then to use the Don Branch up to the south end of the bridge at Pottery Road which has not seen trains in decades, and which would have to be rebuilt for active service.

Here is the bridge when the line was active with the VIA Peteborough commuter train and the Brick Works (when it was still an active business) in the background. The north end of the proposed storage yard would be just south of this bridge.

The facilities would include a building and parking lot just north of the Viaduct and a service road parallel to the existing railway along its length from Pottery Road south to the point where it crosses to the west side of the river.

That plan would require the removal of many trees on land that Metrolinx does not now own, as well as regrading of the railway to provide for the access road. It is important to note that although only one “access road” is labelled on the drawing, there are actually two and the unmarked one runs the length of the storage area beside the railway with provision to turn vehicles around at each end.

The structure in grey in the middle right centre is a Toronto Hydro substation. At the bottom of the image are the western edges of three high rise apartments. I live in the middle one.

When Metrolinx conducted noise and vibration studies, they established a “receptor” at the senior’s home, Broadview Manor, on the corner of Danforth and Broadview (bottom centre in the image above). They did not study the effect on the residential area north of Danforth and much closer to the proposed yard.

Update: The commentary and drawing below were added.

Receptor R07 is the senior’s home which is further away from the proposed layover area than buildings along the valley’s edge and is buffered from any noise originating in the valley by the valley wall, effectively a large sound barrier.


A further problem comes with the projected noise level from the layover. The sound contours clearly show locations where the locomotives on both ends of the three 12-car trainsets will be parked. The central “bubbles” are larger because there are two locomotives at these points versus one at the north and south ends.

The sound contour represents average values over a period, not peak levels. This is important for a location that will be empty much of the time and where the trains will be connected to wayside power. However, for a period after arrival and before departure, the locomotives will be running and this is particularly a problem before am peak departures. This has already been a problem for residents near GO’s Don (aka Wilson) Yard east of Union Station where, despite Metrolinx claims, diesels are left running for extended periods in the yard.

Average sound level projections do not reflect these variations.

They are big on noise walls, but those are useless for people who live above the corridor, not beside it.

Although the area above looks barren, this is a winter photo and probably several years old. Here is what it looks like in the summer as seen from my personal vantage point. For reference, the substation is just out of frame to the right and it links to the hydro lines that pass above the Metrolinx site. This is an established forest that is the product both of natural seeding and deliberate work to reforest the valley floor. (The photo was taken on June 27, 2021.)

The Don Branch, hidden under a lot of greenery, runs immediately to the west of the DVP behind the Jersey barrier.

The drawings show only a plan view, and a major problem is created by Metrolinx need that the entire site be at the same elevation as the railway line.

Here is the plan view of the service building and parking lot just north of the bridge.

Source: EPR APPENDIX A2 – Conceptual Layover Facility & Storage Yard Plans

The corresponding cross sections show the height of the retaining wall needed to build up from the valley floor to track level.

Source: EPR APPENDIX A2 – Conceptual Layover Facility & Storage Yard Plans

Metrolinx presents a future view of the yard as seen from the valley floor where the structure would, in the fullness of time, be hidden behind greenery. They completely omit consideration of the view from above.

When Will the East Yard Be Active?

Metrolinx is rather evasive on the subject of the hours during which trains would stored and serviced in the Don Valley Yard.

In the presentation deck for an April 15, 2021 public meeting, Metrolinx claimed that the yard would only be used to store and service three trains between the peak periods.

This directly contradicts information in the EPR Traffic Study which clearly shows that overnight operations are planned.

On a site visit, Metrolinx was challenged about the hours of operation and replied thus:

When asked regarding the concerns of residents west of Cambridge Ave as to hours of operations, noise and lighting, the response was ‘night operations are not planned’…at this time, but it was vague and there is no assurance that these folks will not be living above a 24/7, fully lit service operation in the future.

Source: Floyd Ruskin on Facebook

“At this time” is a killer phrase that leaves Metrolinx in the position of operating overnight whenever this fits into their service plan.


This is clearly anticipated by an 11pm to 7am shift as shown above and the traffic at the 7 am and 11 pm shift changes.

The traffic study, speaking of the Don Valley Layover, states:

This Traffic Impact Study has been developed to inform the City of Toronto and Metrolinx of the potential transportation impacts associated with the Don Valley Layover facility. The layover facility operates as a storage site for temporary rolling stock [sic]. Only minor inspections or deliveries are expected at this facility. The proposed facility will operate 24/7 throughout the year with three shifts of employees.

New Track & Facilities TPAP – Final Don Valley Facility – Traffic Impact Study, p. 11

Even if trains are only stored on the Don Branch during midday, most of the works needed for a full 24-hour facility will be required including an access road along the rail line and some provision for staff quarters and parking. The real question is why this facility is needed at all.

Metrolinx discounts use of space on the Bala Subdivision (west side) in a recent blog article saying that this track is already in use despite the fact that they plan to establish a storage and turnaround area there without benefit of supporting buildings and roadways. It would appear that the project team for the west side of the valley is not talking to the team for the east side.

What Are The Alternatives

The first thing Metrolinx must do is to establish when they will require additional storage. What are their service plans and the build-up of the various corridors around Toronto? Are there storage areas elsewhere? Why would they store and service trains overnight downtown when they are needed at the far ends of their route to begin morning service? Will future service extensions open up new possibilities for yards?

The Don Valley Yard will probably host diesel trains from the Milton corridor which is not planned for electrification. The Bala Sub storage area will probably host trains from the Barrie corridor which will be electrified. From a servicing point of view, electric trains do not require wayside power as an alternative to running the diesel engines. However, that only eliminates one of several problems with the Don Valley Yard plan.

Metrolinx does not address any of this, and indeed with an approved study already in hand, they do not have to. Construction crews could appear any day without notice.

28 thoughts on “Metrolinx’ Ill-Considered Don Valley Layover (Updated)

  1. Why does the section show such a large regraded area? It looks to me, from the drawing, like the single track plus the adjacent driveway more or less fits on land that is already at pretty much the required elevation. What is the additional 13m of almost-flat land for?

    Steve: Check the chainage numbers on the plans. The cross section corresponds to the location of the service buildings and parking lot that are built at the same elevation as the railway. That’s why there is a large adjacent section.

    Also I’m a bit confused about the noise concerns. The site is right next to the Don Valley Parkway. Even in the middle of the night, there must surely be significant noise from that — I find it hard to imagine a few employees moving around occasionally would be noticeable by comparison. And obviously the noise from trains moving is just an expected result of being next to a railway line.

    Steve: As someone who lives beside the valley, yes there is traffic noise including the ^&*%^%^*%& racers, but the sound of a diesel engine idling will be above this. Remember that trains spending the night here will be revved up about 5 am to go into service. There are also their damn bells. If it were only midday trains, this would be less of an issue at least for noise, but they would still deforest the valley.

    The sound maps clearly show an affected area that includes the high rises, but Metrolinx didn’t put a “receptor” there as a reference point, let alone allowing for sound propagation through the air where a noise wall is useless. There is also the question of uplight from a facility that operates all night. At least the lighting on the DVP is designed to shine down. The basic point here is that Metrolinx fundamentally misrepresented what they planned to build and the range of residences that would be affected.

    That being said, if the proposed activities can easily be handled at another nearby facility, why build two facilities? Slightly expanding the plans on the Bala Sub and forgetting about the Don Branch seems like a pretty reasonable suggestion.

    Steve: It depends on whether one views this trackage as mid-day storage or overnight storage and servicing. Metrolinx cannot make up their mind on this, but as daytime only storage with minimal servicing capabilities, it could all go on the west side.


  2. Latest (during Covid) stats show 423 average daily riders use the Milton line. Ridership continues to be down and by over 90% and the average cost to ride is about $300 – $141 of which comes directly from the taxpayer, about the same on deferred amortization of the initial cost.

    Metrolinx needs to redo their ridership demand numbers. The data is old, pre-covid, it’s not clear when ridership will get back to 2019 numbers let along growth. Meanwhile it’s full speed ahead on building capacity now regardless of the damage done to the potential for an urban park space.


  3. “As the corridor leaves Union Station, it runs along the north edge of the rail embankment and then swings north along the east side of the Don River. This corridor actually contains two separate railways as they then were.”

    Does it not run first on the west side of the Don?

    Steve: Yes, fixed. Thanks!


  4. I’m sure there’s an obvious answer to this, but why can’t Metrolinx use the old CN rail storage track on the east side of the Don River, parallel to Lake Shore? That yard hasn’t been used in years and I don’t think there are any rail users further along the line anymore.

    Steve: That property is partly slated for development or road widening. There is not much, net, available for train storage. Also, Metrolinx wants any new capacity on the north side of the corridor so that trains from the Barrie and Milton corridor do not have to cross over to the south side just to reach their yard.


  5. “There are also their damn bells.”

    Ugh. I put these in the same category as the truck backup beeps, most of which are now so incredibly loud that they resonate out in all directions for a whole kilometre or more. Sometimes the source vehicle is so far away it is not even visible. If you happen to live near any place where these are commonly used it’s a nightmare. Even with all windows closed they come through,

    And by “truck,” I am not necessarily saying construction site vehicles, because these have proliferated so far and wide as an insurance crutch that even the small grocery and food delivery vans have them, and for some reason theirs are often double or triple as loud as those on actual construction vehicles.


  6. Given Metrolinx’s plan for all-day service, with paired routes on the east and west, why is there such a pressing need for more storage space downtown, now with two full-service train maintenance centres (Willowbrook and Whitby), along with the Bathurst North Yard, the Don Yard/Wilson Yard.

    Was there really a proper cost-benefit for this space, for three measly trains?

    Steve: This started out as an all-day facility, and threatens to become one. I don’t think that they ever bothered to rework the numbers based on daytime only storage, nor on the fact that if it’s just between peaks, they do not need full servicing facilities and staff.


  7. As climate emissions begin to truly bite and bring excess heat, we should likely be resisting too much development at the Don Mouth lands for reasons of having a cleaner air corridor flush up the Don Valley to dilute the polluted air inland, as lake breezes tend to be cooler air. As we can see a spike in ozone in Peterborough etc., even Conservative ridings might be affected, not just Toronto.

    But ecological planning is even worse than transit planning – it has within it a word that may as well be four letters – ‘logic’. As we’ve hit 420ppm, without that making ‘news’ it seems, surely there’s another place for the needed storage, especially with the GO ridership being literally ‘decimated’, to only 10% of former levels, though it’s essential.

    With existing Don Valley lines, I’d suggest again that those may well be the key to an effective, faster-done but still robust Relief project, though it’s complex, including Thorncliffe, and it would almost certainly be multi-billions cheaper than what’s proposed, though we do need large spendings. (Some hints of using the Don for sub-regional transit are in Ed Levy’s book; and that DVP isn’t that effective a people mover either compared with a transit line or two, but the road is a ‘free’way, and transit must be having cost recoveries, because).

    So – since there’s one of these rail lines right along the DVP, although a height difference, any thoughts of taking out a lane of this road for train storage, and even transit use above?? The climate emergency requires some ‘roadicalism’, and we should also start measuring concrete usage/abusage in GHG accountingss, and also in EAs.


  8. If/when VIA gets the go ahead to invest in High Frequency Rail (HFR) it would likely run from Ottawa through Havelock/Peterborough to Leaside and then downtown Toronto. This avoids the major spatial and speed conflicts with the busy CN freight line between Pickering and Brockville. My understanding is Peterborough commuter service (and previous CP passenger services) used to use the CP high level bridge to head to/from Union Station.

    What does this GO / Metrolinx storage facility do to the ability to rebuild the high level bridge and use the fairly straight CP Don route? As there an alternative non-curvey entry into Toronto.

    Steve: Given Metrolinx’ plans for the Don Branch, it appears that the HFR route via Leaside is a dead issue. The route that appears likely now (and has for some time) is via the Stouffville corridor. One big problem HFR would have going up the Don Branch is that CPR does not want any electrification on their territory (this is a problem for GO on the Milton Line). Using Lakeshore East and Stouffville (Kingston and Uxbridge Subs) avoids this problem. Also, Scarborough Junction is getting a full grade separation.

    As for the former Peterborough service, there is a photo of it in the article.


  9. The Don’t Valley Layover is a bad business decision. It costs money to build and yet incremental revenue to the Province is years away. Even expansive calculations of the project benefits are based on highly dubious math, mostly time savings for daily commuters.

    Instead the old CP line, a provincial asset, could be developed as rail trail. As an active transportation link from Thorncliffe park to the main Don Valley trail it would serve as a very cost effective alternative and addition to the Ontario Line for those inclined to bikes, walking or the increasingly popular and highly efficient e-bikes. The rail trail would require fixing up the Half Mile Bridge ($) but would generate significant tourism revenue quickly.

    If we don’t explore alternatives (not just alternative sites), asking ourselves what else can the Province do with this asset then we are not truly “Open for Business” nor is the Government being fiscally conservative.


  10. The slide deck indicates there will be sanitary flushing at the site, is there plans to bring city servicing to the site as well or will it be a large holding tank that requires frequent servicing?

    Steve: I will have to dive into the background reports to see what is planned. A big issue here is that if this really were only between-peak train storage there would be no need for sanitary flushing as that would be done at the trains’ “home” yard overnight.


  11. As Steve and a few others know, I do like bikes, (not always the riders), and we really need to do far far more for us/them. However, in order to get that political buy-in for slower speeds and even a car-free area in the core, or a congestion charge zone, we HAVE to improve the transit. So, as with the west-end Rail trail, the highest-best use of both it and the CP spur line is to have some form of transit on it, speaking of having a full range of options, and being fiscally conservative, (not ‘carservative’, which is very generous to mobile furnaces/private cars).

    And one other option that’s still top-down, as per our Dougtator and this agency, builds on what was in an OP of the last Metro ahead of ‘amanglemation’ as the late Don Harron aptly put it. That OP called for an EA to ensure connection between Oriole GO and Eglinton/Don Mills as per a Relief Line plan, but nope, not done. Especially if the Richmond Hill line is electrified, we could think of digging out that Rail Trail to begin to bury it and ensure both connectivity to what might be built up to Eglinton and Line 5/Eglinton itself, and at the Celestica site, (not yet built over) put in a larger rail yard, with provision for building atop it, not unknown as a practice,. To do this EA would be an act of courage of course, as the well-heeled and well-connected up there do like their ‘public’ amenities, including the peace and quiet of only active transportation, not an active rail corridor. But there’s a good difference of levels, so I’m pretty sure there’d have to be a longer ‘approach’ on the downhill, so atop it could be a restoration of rail trail function.

    There’s also thus a need to be tough with a developer, but having a superb network connection should be a very good value proposition, which yes, public money should reap part of the benefit of said investment, which is far better than say, the Suspect Subway Extension, as just one example.


  12. Mark Dowling: “There is a nice big rail yard right over that bridge – instead Metrolinx want to build one in a ravine…”

    If you are talking about the old Leaside facility that bridge is condemned and needs to be replaced and the yard is gone but there is space on the north side of the mainline but that means GO would have to cross it so no electrical overhead. It is also not a short distance from Union Station. Also, Metrolinx is going to build the Ontario Line Maintenance facility in that area.

    From reading all the Metrolinx posts I wonder why there will still be diesel hauled trains on the Stouffville Line as it is wholly owned and can be electrified to the end. To the west, there is the Barrie Line which is also wholly owned and can be electrified. These would be the obvious ones to through route or are they planning some weird and wonderful combinations.

    There is nothing like a well-thought-out plan – and this is nothing like a well-thought-out plan.

    Steve: The train count projections show all service on the Stouffville corridor converted to electric. It is the Lakeshore East service to Bowmanville, about half of the trains, that will still be diesel.


  13. I live in the same building as you, on the same side, and shudder to think about any additional noise pollution beyond what we already get from the DVP, especially after a few months of watermain replacement on Cambridge and now urban forestry trimming trees. The noise is already so loud there are times when we have to close our windows for our sanity. Can we have a Melbourne-style sound tube?


  14. If you move right next to a busy highway, airport, train station, ferry terminal, helipad, etc… expect noise

    Like people moving in the Queen’s Quay / Bathurst area then complaining about plane noise from the Island Airport.

    People want transit but complain about when putting storage/garage/yard.

    Anyone moving near a transportation hub or near a busy highway can’t really complain about the noise.

    The you above is a general you not you specifically.

    Do you get any noise from the DVP? Was the DVP there when you moved in to your house, condo, apartment, etc…?

    Steve: OK you dumb ass, I’m going to get nasty. The DVP was here when I moved here. I have never asked for it to be closed down, although the maintenance weekends and cycling events are quite a pleasant change. The biggest problem is the racers, a recent addition about which the cops do bugger all. I secretly wish for a loud crash as they pass, but know this would probably involve people who don’t deserve to be hurt. Unintended consequences. Why don’t we have photo radar on the DVP? Why do cops hang out on Bayview north of Pottery Road where they can catch speeders like fish in a barrel, but racers on the DVP, oh no, we can’t touch them.

    The rail line, with a few passenger trains and an occasional freight, was here too. But the trains came and went. The morning passenger train used to be my “second alarm clock” saying “it’s really time to get up now”.

    What was not here was a well-lit rail yard with trains being serviced overnight and prepped to depart for service early in the morning. Metrolinx claims trains will only be there during the midday, but their traffic analysis clearly shows overnight operations, and that’s what the storage area was designed for. I can assure you that I will be able to hear them working. When the TTC works on the east end Prince Edward Viaduct, which is further away, I can hear them in the middle of the night. But the subway was here first, and they do this work rarely, often in seasons when my windows are closed.

    There’s also the small matter of how Metrolinx misrepresents the effect their facility will have on the forest whether they store one train a day here or dozens.

    As for the storage yard in Thorncliffe Park, there are alternatives, but Metrolinx doesn’t want to consider them. In Riverside they actually had the gall to reply to a city reqiest that they had studied five alternative alignments, but NONE of them was the one suggested by the community and supported, at least for study, by Council.

    This sort of analysis is the classic tactic of saying “Nimby” as if that invalidates any objection.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Let’s keep that Don Branch available for a thru route to Belleville sub going east toward Peterborough.


  16. Currently flooding in the Don Valley only puts service on the Richmond Hill line at risk. By developing both the west (electric) and east (diesel) sides of the Don River as layovers/turnarounds/service for trains of other lines that means a flood risks the service to all of those lines. Metrolinx says these layovers facilitate the bottleneck at Union Station that will come from GO Expansion. What happens on the day a flood is predicted? Do they reduce service on all the lines reliant on Don River valley facilities to avoid trains being stranded there? What happens when the flood comes? Where is the alternative area and why not build the facilities there in the first place?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Cutting down a small forest to store a few trains during the day seems like a poor trade off. That’s if you believe what Metrolinx says and you’d be dumb to take their words at face value.

    Steve: Another galling part of Metrolinx standard line is that many trees they want to cut are either “invasive” or “non-native” species, as if somehow this makes them less valuable. It’s not as if the forest will be replaced with “acceptable” trees, but Metrolinx will plant more trees somewhere else. As for the green buffer around their new structure, it will take years to grow, and I am willing to bet will be nowhere near as dense as Metrolinx shows in their drawing. Somehow or other they will discover that the trees interfere with their operations.


  18. Perhaps I’m stating the obvious, but I think the problem Metrolinx have for themselves with GO Expansion is the asymetry of the network. Even with 100% through running of the obvious routes, Lakeshore and Barrie-Stouffville, that least Milton and Kitchener paired with Richmond Hill.

    The morning Union bound Richmond Hill trains can through route up one of those lines, but the Milton and Kitchener Union bound trains will pile up needing to be turned around. I buy the need for some additional layover/turnaround space needed to handle this.

    What I don’t see any need for is overnight operations. I can’t imagine the need for a morning northbound trip needing to start at the same time as the morning southbound trips. Without that, all the morning northbound trips can be served by through running and turnarounds.

    Steve: And turnarounds can all be handled on the west side of the valley without creating a new servicing area and widening the rail corridor on the east side. But Metrolinx is never, ever wrong and I expect to hear the sound of saws in the valley any day now. Vandals!


  19. @ Rail613 (@rail613)

    The VIA HFR through the old line to Havelock and back to the Toronto to Montreal Mainline was abandoned years ago for a reason. It had hideous curves and grades, it didn’t go near the major population centres along the Lakeshore route, and it was slow because of the curves and grades. The entire line, abandoned and still intact, will need to be rebuilt and upgraded from non-existant to high-speed rail which will require complete rebuilding from the sub-ballast section or the bare ground on the abandoned section. It will need to get onto the Belleville sub east of Agincourt Yard then go down the old Don Branch line to Union. This will require the acquiescence of CP, the rebuilding of the high-level bridge over the Don, 1150 feet or more in length, and a ton of money to completely rebuild the line from Toronto to Montreal. It would probably be cheaper to send it onto the Stouffville line at Agincourt yard and then down along the Lakeshore East line from Scarborough, if it ever gets built. I am not holding my breath for this to happen.


  20. I’m with Sean Marshall on this one. Where’s the business case? That’s a lot of money to spend to just store 3 trains without even assigning a cost to environmental impact.

    Those 3 trains could be stored at the platform at Union. And if Union is too busy to take a couple platforms out of service off-peak, well then off-peak storage isn’t really needed then.


  21. @ Sean Marshall

    Verster decided to stop the 4th track project at Rouge Point on the Lakeshore East corridor. There will be limited access to the Whitby maintenance centre to tow inoperative trains. Apparently, GO staff were not pleased.


  22. Does consolidation of the OL tracks on the north side of the rail corridor reduce the need for train storage at all?

    The straddle configuration would have consumed a lot of space within the existing Don Yard for the OL’s curve, portal, tracks and second bridge, which would surely have affected the number of GO trains that could be held there.

    Steve: I suspect that was another contributing factor. As with so much of Metrolinx’ planning work, if they would only publish their draft operating plan, we could see where they expect to be storing trains and why. They now claim they need the Don Valley Layover very soon because construction at Union will reduce yard capacity.


  23. Was any consideration given by Metrolinx to use the site of the former Toronto Harbour Commission Keating Yard for a layover facility?

    This land lies on the east side of the Don Roadway on the north of Lake Shore Blvd. E. where two tracks remain for CN. Keating Yard had about a dozen tracks 6 of which were 1200 feet long. This is just past east end of GO Don Storage Yard and away from any main track. The land appears easily restored for rail use.

    Steve: That space is already spoken for.


  24. All of the GO trains should be electrified!

    Steve: That is easier said than done because there are substantial portions of the network that Metrolinx does not own, and neither CN nor CP wants to allow electrification on their territory. Only the Barrie and Stouffville corridors are owned end-to-end by Metrolinx. That said, as the technology for battery power storage on trains evolves, Metrolinx could extend electric operation “off wire” with trains charging while in Metrolinx territory under overhead, and running on battery power beyond.

    Even if the whole network is electrified, one way or another, this does not change the need for train storage and servicing areas.


  25. The facility is to store, clean and service 3 (12 passenger car trains), how do they intend to move and shuffle the trains so that each can be cleaned or serviced? Back to back to back that is almost a km of rail vehicles?

    Steve: The servicing equipment will have to be mobile and drive up and down the service road they plan to build west of the existing track.


  26. It seems obvious that this project is not justified by storage of three mid day trains. The value is in the flexibility to do more, and Metrolinx should be honest about it. But since they have extraordinary powers and government support, they have no need to be honest…except when it suites them. This is bad governance, and while it may help get things done quickly, they will often be the wrong things, and we will be stuck with them (and the related debt) for decades.

    Steve: I constantly swing between thinking that Metrolinx is utterly dishonest, or that so many people work on different things that they don’t know how it all fits together, let alone the history of how we got here. They think are telling the truth, at least this week’s version of it, when they’re way off base, and take great umbrage at being called out. I suspect each of those explanations applies accurately, but to different people. Either way, it’s hard to trust what they say.


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