Finch West LRT – drone flyover video and spring progress recap

Crews made significant progress on the Finch West light rail transit (LRT) line throughout spring 2022, including vehicle testing work, installation of tracks and other key railway infrastructure and the final electrical substation delivery. Metrolinx News is here to recap these exciting developments that show just how far this landmark transit project has come.

Spring was a busy season for the Finch West LRT.

Located in northwest Toronto, the transit project extends from Humber College to Finch West Station. Throughout this past spring season, the team made many advancements on the project – see below for some key highlights.

Drone flyover video

Nowhere is progress on the Finch West LRT more visible than from a birds-eye view of the line:

LRV reaches 60 km/h testing on Finch

While the first vehicle tests on the Finch West LRT’s main tracks occurred in February, testing didn’t really ramp up until May.

At this time, light rail vehicles (LRVs) emerged from the maintenance and storage facility (MSF). They began running daily on the 1.8-kilometre section of test track between Sentinel and York Gate Boulevard.

Although tests started at low speeds, they quickly built momentum. As of early July, LRVs were reaching top speeds of 60 km/h – the speed limit on Finch Avenue West.

A look at the overhead electrical wires, also known as the catenary system where vehicles are being tested. (Metrolinx photo)
Track and overhead electrical

The Finch West LRT will run along a 10.3 kilometre stretch from Keele Street to Highway 27 (known as “the mainline”), for a total of 20.6 kilometres.

As of spring 2022, crews installed four kilometres of rail on the mainline, as well as all secondary sections of track at the MSF and the connection down York Gate Boulevard. Altogether, 35 per cent of rail is now installed, with progress continuing every week.

Meanwhile, the team is making great progress in installing the overhead catenary system (OCS) that provides electrical power to the LRVs. 263 have been installed, with 214 still to go – meaning 55 per cent of all OCS poles are now in the ground.

Traction power

750 volts are surging through the OCS at any given time.

But it’s the nine traction power substations (TPSS) dotted along the Finch West LRT that will do the heavy lifting, converting raw power from the electrical grid into a form usable by LRVs.

A traction power substation being installed along Finch West Avenue. (Metrolinx photo)

TPSS’ arrive on-site as a pre-built structure, and a crane lowers them onto concrete foundations.

As of early July, all nine TPSS structures are now installed, with testing and commissioning work already complete on a few. The remaining units will be tested by the end of the year.

While TPSS structures are perfectly safe to live and work near, they harness potentially dangerous amounts of electricity inside. Individuals who work in them are trained professionals; members of the public should never attempt to enter or interact with a TPSS.

Multi-use tunnel construction

The Finch West LRT project is more than just a transit project. Nowhere is that clearer than in the public realm improvements the team is making alongside Finch Avenue West.

A key improvement is the installation of a multi-use tunnel under the southbound Highway 400 on-ramp. This 32-metre tunnel provides a safe and easy route for pedestrians and cyclists that avoids intersecting with vehicle traffic.

A section of the multi-use tunnel being installed – it will open later this year for pedestrians and cyclists. (Metrolinx photo)

In June, construction crews closed the on-ramp for a weekend and performed rapid excavation and installation of concrete segments that form the tunnel’s structure. They were able to complete the structure’s assembly and reconstruct the road above well in advance of the Monday morning commute, minimizing the impact on local traffic.

While the structure is complete, work is still ongoing to outfit the tunnel and get it approved for pedestrian use. Construction is expected to be complete this year.

Major progress at Finch West Station

On the far east end of the Finch West LRT sits Finch West Station, one of two underground stations on the line and the interchange with the TTC’s Line 1 subway.

This spring, teams at Finch West Station focused on building up the station’s structure. They completed numerous concrete pours within the main entrance, the station box itself, and the connection slab that bridges the gap between the existing TTC subway station area and the Finch West LRT station area.

The underground work happening at Finch West Station is impressive. (Metrolinx photo)

Concrete pours will continue through the year as the station crews work towards structural completion. 

There’s lots of exciting progress being made on the Finch West LRT. To keep up with everything that’s happening, follow the project’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds.

Story by Alex Iantorno, Metrolinx communications senior advisor