GO expansion could lead to huge changes

In November, Metrolinx published its plans for improving rail service in the GTA. If they were to go ahead, they would revolutionize train travel in the GTA and greatly change commutes in Weston.

By 2031, if the plans are implemented (that’s a big ‘if’) GO service in Weston will be:

  • Electrified
  • Every 10 minutes
  • Faster, with a 13-minute trip between Weston and Union
  • Less expensive, because it will use electric trains much of the time
  • More accessible, with station improvements.

The plan would also improve Union Station, allowing the UP Express to run four-car trains, and GO to double train capacity.

The GO Expansion Business Case does not say what will happen to the UP Express in Weston. It seems likely, however, that it would be axed. The UPX will also be stopping in Mount Dennis and Bloor, slowing the train en route to the airport.

But improved GO service, would, in some ways, make the GO train even better than the UP Express. It would be as fast, but more frequent in the rush hour. The trains would be larger, and riders may have a better chance of getting a seat. The locomotives would also be electric, instead of diesel, allaying concerns about pollution and noise.

On the downside, it is not clear how long the trains would run every day. I love that the UPX runs late and early. Nor are GO trains as fancy as the UPX, and we’d have to bring your own in-ride magazines. (Has anybody seen an On The UP lately?)

Service would be improved between Union and Bramalea on the Kitchener Line

Metrolinx forecasts that GO ridership in Weston would nearly double, as it would system-wide. Perhaps optimistically, they also say that the increased ridership would pay for the system expansion. Your correspondent has his doubts.

These are the same people who built the UP Express, which was supposed to be a  premium-fare, deluxo trip to the airport for the world-weary traveller willing to pay $29 one-way. It got rolling at exactly the same time as Uber, and ridership was dismal until the province forced Metrolinx to slash fares and let the proles ride. The UPX still loses about $20 million (by my conservative calculation) every year—about $6 for every rider.

 

Uber teams with UP Express

Uber and UP Express have worked a mutual deal so that Uber will have a designated pick-up spot at Weston Station. Logically, it makes sense for Metrolinx to provide alternatives to parking at the much used station. The plan all along has been for Metrolinx to eventually sell much of the current parking space to developers.

Read more here.

Mount Dennis Station latest videos

Metrolinx has released two videos, one with some lovely drone footage of the old Kodak building which is being incorporated into the new Mount Dennis Station. The second video is a walk through of the actual station.

Metrolinx Update

Here’s a couple of new videos from Metrolinx regarding the Crosstown Line that will speed up public transit along Eglinton and connect to GO and the UP Express lines at Mount Dennis. The first shows some nice drone footage of the new maintenance buildings as well as the Kodak #9 building that will serve as the station entrance.


The second video shows a station mock-up that apparently is a full-size example of a typical station on the Crosstown Line. I asked Metrolinx’s community relations people about the station, if visits could be arranged, where it is and so on. I began my inquiries last Friday but as yet, have yet to get an answer. I had to send their CR people a link to the video as they hadn’t heard of the station’s existence.

Look for an update once details are provided.

Update, Monday June 25: I received an answer from Suniya Kukaswadia, Metrolinx’s Senior Advisor, Media Relations & Issues Management answering my questions:

1)     Where is the replica?

The purpose of the mock up station is to test materials and building methods prior to the actual build of the stations. The mock up is located at the Crosslinx warehouse and staging facility at Caledonia and Lawrence.

2)     Will you we be offering media tours of it?

Currently the mock up build is still a work in progress, and is not available for media visits. We would like to start media visits in the near future when the mock up is complete.

3)     Will members of the public be able to see it?
We are not currently in a position to provide public access but hope to be in the coming months.

Fuel Cell Technology Turn Around?

Readers may remember a couple of  WestonWeb articles here and here  skewering the fuel-cell technology proposal championed by former Minister of Transportation, Steven Del Duca. Mr. Del Duca for some reason had fallen in love with fuel cell technology and wanted to see if it could be used instead of catenary (overhead) power lines when diesel trains such a GO and UP Express are replaced. A trial budget to check feasibility was originally set at $200,000, now it’s expanded to $3 million.

Now that the Liberal government has been given its marching orders, (precisely for stupidity like this) it will be interesting to see the reaction of Doug Ford to  spending millions on this complete waste of money. Already, one Metrolinx Board member and CEO Phil Verster are publicly distancing themselves from the boondoggle. Look for more people at Metrolinx to claim they always thought it was a very bad idea.

Here’s a flow chart comparison of the two technologies. (Click to enlarge)

It would be far better for Metrolinx to investigate battery technology for powering trains as Bombardier is doing in the U.K.. The cost savings could be considerable in the long run. It would also eliminate the need to build an extensive catenary wiring network which is expensive to build and maintain.

VIA does 121 through Weston Station

A reader alerted me to a danger at the Weston Station: twice daily, the VIA train goes through without slowing down—and boy, is it going fast. According to a  spokesperson, the VIA train is going 121 km/h (75 mph)–a speed that was “determined by the railway owner”.

At this speed, the train generates a lot of slipstream, and it is passing close to passengers. Our reader said it leaves “a huge swirl of dust, newspapers, and plastic bags. A child, or pet [could] be hurled against the platform columns or on to another platform”.

The spokesperson said that VIA has not received any complaints about the trains’ speed, but concerned residents can leave a comment and contact VIA Rail’s customer relations department at [email protected]

From Wikimedia

 

 

 

 

UP Express to start earlier from April

The UP Express at Weston Station. (file)

The UP Express is Weston’s rapid portal to the Airport (11 minutes) or downtown (14 minutes). Metrolinx has announced that beginning in April the service will begin earlier by adding two trains to the beginning of the current schedule. The first train to the airport will leave 35 minutes earlier at 5:09 instead of 5:44.

Likewise, trains to Union Station should begin earlier with the first leaving Weston for downtown at around 5:03.

The service has become wildly popular with an average of 300,000 trips per month thanks to a dramatic fare reduction in March 2016 and a subsequent $1.50 fare subsidy announced last October for transfers to or from transit agencies such as GO or TTC.

Incidentally, in a 2013 report produced for Metrolinx, passenger numbers were never anticipated to reach their current levels. The report predicted it would take until 2031 before numbers would rise to 245,000 monthly trips.