Get a glimpse at the latest design of a transit system that will deliver 15-minute two-way, all day service on core segments of the GO rail system. And also learn how to have your voice head, in the latest round of public input, from now until Dec. 11.
It’s time to zoom out a bit.
We often write in this space about many of the individual pieces of the developing GO Expansion project – the interesting engineering feats and cool advances in communities that will lead to improved service for transit customers.
But there are times, including now when plans are moving ahead and the project has entered a new phase of public consultation – you can find out more about that deeper in this story – when we need to update you on the proposed track ahead.
So this is a bit of a lay of the land for those interested in the project details and business vision.
The change will be seismic in how commuters will travel through the region. Imagine trains every 15 minutes, not just into the downtown, but in all directions. Customers will have more choice in transit than ever before. All of this, plus a revamped Union Station, with wide open platforms, level boarding, and additional stairs and elevators to increase accessibility. These changes will expand on the long list of improvements made to the Union Station Complex in recent years and will accommodate the planned service increases and new electrification infrastructure and improve the customer experience.
With an increase from 1500 weekly rail trips to 6000, many more trains will travel on the network, and all trains currently travel through Union Station. To ease the bottleneck at Union Station and facilitate train movements, layovers, which provide train storage and light maintenance, will be located throughout the system. These facilities will allow a quicker start to service each day and reduce the need to move empty trains through the system.
A total of three new layovers have been studied, and after consultation throughout this year – Midland and Don Valley in Toronto, the Walker’s Line layover in Burlington, as well as the Unionville train storage facility in Markham.
Grade separations are another key element that will help to unlock new service levels and increase safety and convenience for both transit and road users. Grade separations allow road users to travel seamlessly over or under the rails, without needing to stop for passing trains. With 15-minute service levels in both directions on core lines, grade separations ensure level crossings are not closed every seven to eight minutes.
Beginning in early 2020, Metrolinx has been consulting with the public and stakeholders around the region on local grade separations. Throughout the process, feedback has helped to develop a preferred design that satisfies the needs of impacted properties and businesses.
The last piece studied in this round, is electrification of the Metrolinx-owned rail corridors. Electric trains run up to 29 per cent faster with 60 per cent lower operating costs per kilometer. The service levels envisioned for GO Expansion are not possible without electric trains.
While electrification has been studied before, since 2017, Metrolinx has developed a detailed design and service plan for how increased passenger service will be delivered for the GO Expansion program in the future, including a mix of diesel and electric propulsion. According to the service plan, some locations will be served almost entirely by electric trains, some by a mix of electric and diesel trains, and others by diesels. These proposed changes required a reassessment of potential noise, vibration, and air quality effects as part of an addendum to the 2017 environmental project report. The findings of the updated noise, vibration and air quality assessment reports can be found here.
GO Expansion consists of many different projects. The largest piece represents all the work that is required to enable service levels identified in the GO Expansion Full Business Case, including new trains, facilities, signals, systems, as well as the maintenance and operation of the system for years to come. This transformation will bring fundamental changes to GO Transit’s seven operating rail corridors. It will result in the implementation of over 205 km of new rail and 680 km of electrified track that will be laid to allow for the more frequent and efficient movement of trains.
That leads us to the a ‘Transit Project Assessment Process’ – or simply ‘TPAP’. A TPAP is a focused impact assessment process created specifically for transit projects.
Two TPAP addenda are also taking place, for which there are two rounds of public consultations. They are Network-Wide Structures Project – an addendum to the Barrie Rail Corridor Expansion TPAP 2017 – and an addendum to the GO Rail Network Electrification TPAP 2017. The proposed changes to the Union Station Trainshedv, are being addressed through a heritage approval process.
All the infrastructure studied in this round of the TPAP can now be viewed on interactive maps. Scroll in to see the proposed layovers, grade separations, noise walls and other infrastructure nearest your home or business.
For an overview of the TPAP process, please read our story for the last public consultation, held in Summer 2020.
While public consultation will continue throughout the GO Expansion project, this is the last public consultation during the assessment phase. The results which will solidify the design of infrastructure across the region. The consultation begins on Friday, November 27 and continues until Friday December 11, 2020.
It’s a vast project, and we’ll continue to update you on the many elements, and important phases, as it rolls forward.
Story by Patricia Pytel, Metrolinx manager of Capital Communications, GO Rail Expansion