Image shows new track set beside the existing rail.

An important rail line gets its due – Stouffville sees advances in installation of second track

A transit route that predates British Columbia’s entrance into Confederation is seeing fresh new rail stretching almost 15 kilometres. That sets the groundwork for important changes for thousands of passengers who daily count on the line.

A line that stretches back further than our current map of Canada has now been shifted.

As part of the effort by GO Transit to offer two-way, all-day service on the Stouffville line, up to Unionville, crews have been making major headway in creating a new train line, next to the existing track.

Image shows new track set beside the existing rail.
A new section of twin rail on the Stouffville Line – and upgrade that will improve service in the future.

Imagine – in the worst weather Ontario can offer across every season – laying just short of 15 kilometres of a new, twin line of rail tracks through the heart of the busy Stouffville transit corridor.

It’s been no easy task. First, the existing track was carefully shifted to make room for the new rail. Then a new track bed was laid and prepared. Once the track bed was ready, the new line was constructed, and trains shifted to operate on the new line. Then, the existing track was removed.

“We continue to work closely with our construction partners to get the track work completed in preparation for GO expansion with as little impact to the neighbouring communities as possible,” said Ahmed Hussein, manager of Non-AFP Early Works for Metrolinx.

A man walks alongside of the new rail.
Walking the line – a supervisor inspects the work being done.

Meagan D’Agostini lives on Lord Roberts Drive, located along the line and just northwest of where Eglinton Avenue East crosses Brimley Road.

“We are proud to be part of such exciting development and happy to know it’s progressing with such care and attention to the community and all of its members,” she said of the work.

Tyler Magee, an operations manager at Fermar Paving agreed, and noted: “From moving required pieces of equipment, to track access, and everything in between – it’s like a big jigsaw puzzle – but with the amazing teamwork between the constructors, Metrolinx, and the community, it’s been fairly seamless.”

Men hamer away to install the new rail
In this construction image from September, 2019, crews do some heavy lifting to install the rail line.

Now, remember how many parts you had to juggle for that bookcase, and how complicated the plans looked? To give you an idea of the logistics of the double-track project, here are a few numbers to consider as crews toil and we prepare to offer a giant leap in local service.

  • 15,005 concrete railway ties have been installed.
  • The weight of every kilometre of rail is approximately 242,000 pounds (roughly equal to 21 adult-sized elephants).
  • 25.16 kilometres of track have been laid (actual rail used for the two tracks), which is equal to approximately 45 CN towers being laid down back to back, or long enough to drive from Union Station to Pearson Airport, and then back.
  • Six million pounds of rail has been laid.
  • 41,042 tonnes of ballast has been used.
  • The Stouffville Rail Corridor, originally referred to as the Uxbridge Subdivision, was built in July 1871.
  • At bit more history for perspective – four years after Confederation, John A. Macdonald was still serving as Canada’s first Prime Minister in July 1871.
  • The corridor pre-dated the entry of five provinces (besting British Columbia by a week) and two territories into Confederation.

Currently 95 per cent of the second line of track has been laid from Sheppard Avenue to Steeles Avenue – along with a shift of the original rails. As well, the original track from Sheppard to Eglinton Avenue has now been shifted, and will be completed in November 2019.

Crews work on the new second rail.
In this official construction image, used to keep track of progress of the GO Expansion project, you can see the two lines, side by side. This one is from late August, 2019.

GO Expansion will increase the frequency and number of GO trains across the rail network, reduce congestion and connect a growing region with fast, reliable transit options.

Lines can shift on a map over time. For this stretch – and the customers it serves – it’s the right time.

Story by Stacey Kenny, senior advisor, Communications and Stakeholder Relations for Metrolinx.