Mission Accomplished: Metrolinx beats the clock on major upgrades during rare Lakeshore East Weekend closure

They were up against Father Time and Mother Nature, but more than 150 workers completed 31 projects in the span of two days over the recent weekend (Oct. 26-27) closure of the important Ontario rail line. Here’s a recap of the enormous tasks tackled, and how, amid crappy weather, they got it all done.

The station platforms were empty and the tracks were quiet of traffic. There wasn’t a GO train in sight and if you didn’t know any better, you might have thought Lakeshore East line was abandoned last weekend (Oct. 26-27)

But the rail route was far from neglected. Along the line, crews were busy during an historic stop in regular GO train service, putting all their attention and energy into major infrastructure upgrades.

A tractor hauls material as crews work nearby.

Heavy machinery could be found along the line in place of trains as several major infrastructure upgrades took place.

The pause of trains on the Lakeshore East line was an inconvenience for customers who had to take GO buses or the TTC. But it was also needed for crews to dig into heavy work.

The shutdown allowed crews of more than 150 workers to complete upgrades that will now enhance safety, reliability and create a more comfortable commute.

Some short term pain for long term gain – an entire weekend closure was needed in order to avoid dragging out the work and inconvenience customers over a much longer period of time.

Crews work at night along a section of track.

Crews working around the clock, performing various upgrades including track rehabilitation along the Lakeshore East line.

But the weekend was no stroll along a quiet line.

Crews worked around the clock and at times, in some difficult weather conditions. Toronto saw 35mm of rain over the weekend, along with gusty winds.

“This past weekend was exceptionally challenging given the heavy rainfall experienced on Saturday evening and through the overnight,” explained Alan Britton, director of Rail Corridor Maintenance.

“This extreme weather made it difficult to keep the work on schedule, however with the exceptional planning delivered by our crews, we were still able to complete all work in time.”

Crews work on a bridge, as heavy machinery moves nearby.

This was the scene on the Danforth Bridge as crews braved the elements with included cold, gusty, cloudy and raining conditions.

The primary reason for the closure was to allow major bridge rehabilitation efforts on the Danforth Bridge, between Warden Ave. and Birchmount Rd, on the Lakeshore East Corridor. Over the weekend, crews replaced ballasts and waterproofed materials on the tracks. That work was completed on schedule and has now added 20 years to the structure’s lifespan.

Crews also worked on the rehabilitation of two rail crossings at Beechgrove Drive in Scarborough and Rodd Avenue in Pickering, early station improvements, track rehabilitation, platform improvements as well as signal upgrades. All this work was delivered effectively and safely and was completed on time ahead of Monday morning service.

“This past weekend was a huge success for Metrolinx and is a direct result of the exceptional planning and involvement by so many Metrolinx teams over the past few months and throughout the weekend,” said Britton.

But it wasn’t just crew who worked throughout the weekend. Station attendants were on hand at various locations answering questions and supporting customers, helping them get around with alternative transit options.

The 90B GO bus service ran with little to no reports of overcrowding for customers. Buses did experience delays over the weekend due to traffic, but overall customers did not have long wait times at stations.

A GO train moves across a repaired bridge.

As the work finished up on Danforth Bridge, GO trains began to move again.

Jessalynn Selby, vice president of Customer Service Delivery at Metrolinx, said work was completed on time. Although customers had less travel options along the line and travel times were longer than normal, she’s grateful for how the work was received.

“We try to avoid service adjustments whenever possible, but we know the long-term benefits will make the short-term inconvenience worthwhile,” says Selby.

“We appreciate the patience and understanding of our customers as we worked on improving safety and service along the corridor.”

To see our original feature on the work, click here.

Story by Nitish Bissonauth, Metrolinx bilingual spokesperson, media relations and issues specialist.