What’s been happening as Union Station GO platforms have changed? And are they being extended? Here’s what’s new for the Toronto transit hub

Despite size, history and almost constant use, Union Station sees modernization features added.

One determined bite at a time.

That, philosophers and an Internet search agree, is how you eat an entire elephant.

But what if that particular pachyderm is the size of many city blocks, is universally valued, historically protected and is constantly busy working to daily support hundreds of thousands of people in the community?

You still get out that fork and start digging in.

Union Station is the nation’s most important passenger rail centre. It serves about 350,000 people each day. So renovating its 80-year-old train shed – the rail shelter and platforms at the core – is not easy. Especially as the area is usually in motion, with all those people.

The train shed rehabilitation project – one of four separate programs underway at Union Station – is a precision exercise. For GO customers, each stage can seem like it’s all about opening and closing platforms and staircases – which often means new arrival and departure routes to get used to.

Image shows a platform with new lighting above, as well as a fresh yellow line with tactile bumps.

Even on the darkest winter morning, GO customers will find their Union Station journeys helped along by improved lighting and tactile yellow lines. (Scott Money photo)

Behind the scenes, however, there’s much-needed improvement being made to platforms while they are closed, including updated wayfinding signage, modernized lighting, new public address (PA) systems, new closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems, and installation of customer information monitors.

Metrolinx is also installing tactile warning platform edge tiles to improve passenger safety, repairing structural and architectural elements at stair locations and refurbishing heritage structures – Union Station is a protected, national treasure.

As well, cable conduits have been installed within the platform to connect the new systems being installed overhead.

A concrete extension is shown jutting out from a Union Station platform, as a GO train arrives.

New platform extensions have been added to Union Station for future use. (Scott Money photo)

And here’s an interesting detail customers can, while pointing out their train windows, share with fellow travellers. Metrolinx is extending some of the platforms by installing new concrete curbs and asphalt surfacing outside of the train-shed for future service needs.

A platform extension is shown on a Union Station platform, at ground level.

The extensions, for future use, are shown at customer level. (Scott Money photo)

You can see these extensions as they push out from beyond the normal ends.

During the most recent construction “stage change” in September, Platform 4/5 was reopened and Platform 12/13 was closed. Work will be done around the clock so the platform can reopen as planned on October 30.

Enda Murphy, project manager of Union Station Rail Corridor explains that construction teams work at all times of the day and night, in the rain, and in the cold.

“Construction on in-service platforms is done overnight after train service is finished for the day and platforms are closed to the public to complete our work,” Murphy adds.

Customers walk along platforms, which feature bumpy yellow lines.

New signage and tactile yellow lines on platforms 6 and 7. (Stacey Kenny photo)

Crews have also made improvements to in-service platforms that are under construction by pulling fencing back from the edges to maximize platform space and reduce trip hazards to make it as safe as possible for customers.

It’s a lot happening over a very large area – that’s almost always in motion.

So perhaps there been more than a single fork at work.

Story by Stacey Kenny, senior advisor of Metrolinx’s Communications and Stakeholders Relations.