Metrolinx talks Crosstown

CEO Phil Verster is featured on a ‘year-end wrap up’ Metrolinx video in which he talks about the Eglinton Crosstown Line’s progress to date and where it is heading next. The video has lots of dreamy drone footage and overhead shots of Mount Dennis and other stations.

“Our goal remains the same: to deliver modern rapid transit to Toronto’s Eglinton Avenue. 2021 saw us make strides in delivering upon that goal with significant progress made to the 19 kilometre transit line.”

Phil Verster

While Mr Verster claims that construction crews are nearing completion on a number of key locations, he fails to give many details or indeed when exactly the public may begin to use the line.

If it was good news, no doubt he would have told us. As one wag noted in the comments, “Even the year end video is late.”.

GO Schedules reduced.

Visit gotransit.com

According to Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins, temporary labour shortages are coming to GO Transit. She describes the cause as ‘absenteeism’ which I always thought meant deliberately staying away from work. Perhaps that is what she means.

Anyway, I digress. GO service is being reduced by about 15% so it might be wise to look at the schedule or sign up for alerts before leaving. UP Express service is unaffected.

Weston then and now.

Toronto and Weston had electric-powered transit many decades ago and not just street cars. The TTC ran trolley buses from the 1940s and Steve Munro’s excellent blog on transit has some crystal clear photos of trolleys towards the end of the trolley era. The article has couple of photos taken locally – here’s one from 1971 of a trolley emerging from Church Street onto Weston Road. The photo is contained in a blog post on trolley buses from Steve Munro, the authoritative voice of all things transit and the politics of moving people.

Weston and Church in 1971 (Steve Munro. Used with permission). Click to enlarge.

Weston and Church half a century later. (Google) Click to enlarge.

Read Steve’s article here. More on trolleys here.

Metrolinx news

Weston Go Station:

Work at Weston GO station continues in order to complete the link to a fourth passenger rail line and create a fourth platform. This will allow the UP Express to use separate platforms at the station and enable all-day GO service in the future. The track was already in place but was missing the section at the station. The new platform will be fully accessible, heated during cold weather and have a warm waiting area. It should be ready next year.

Perhaps Metrolinx will re-visit the idea of VIA trains stopping in Weston to allow passengers from south-west Ontario the option of hopping onto the UP Express to the Airport. To quote Mike Sullivan,

Via desperately wants to stop in Weston. Their trains come from Sarnia, London and Kitchener, and patrons who want to go to the airport have to go all the way to Union and double back, adding about an hour to their trip.

Metrolinx refuses to let them. There are 4 trains per day (two in each direction) and Metrolinx says their dwell time (the time it takes to unload and load passengers) is too long and would interfere with the UP express schedule. They did suggest that when the 4th track is in place maybe things would change.

It may also have to do with the Kitchener part of the trips. Metrolinx wants to be the train of record from Kitchener, and VIA is in competition.

Mike Sullivan speaking to Weston Web in 2018.

Eventually the Kitchener line will either be electrified or hydrogenated. For some reason, after studying electrification for more than a decade, both the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives have wanted to throw some money at investigating whether or not converting the Kitchener line to run on hydrogen would be a good idea. Weston Web had the answer four years ago in 2017. It still stands.

Looking north at the new platform under construction. Metrolinx image. Click to enlarge.

Read the station upgrade details from Metrolinx here.

Eglinton Crosstown Line westward extension:

Further south, the Ford government seems committed to an extension of the Crosstown line to Renforth and eventually, Pearson Airport. The line will follow Eglinton, mostly underground apart from a stretch over the Humber which will be on an elevated section away from traffic. Metrolinx is asking interested parties to make themselves known. Actual approval and construction is many years away but the Ontario Government seems eager to show local voters that it still taking steps to support the project. Those who think that the Scarborough Subway is a good idea will agree that this extension is pure genius and well worth the billions to be spent on it.

The proposed Eglinton Crosstown westward extension showing the elevated section of the new line in blue. From Metrolinx. Click to enlarge.
Artist concept of the elevated section with the existing Eglinton bridge behind. Those look like catenary wires to me. From Metrolinx. Click to enlarge.

Read more details from Metrolinx here.

Castlepoint Weston issues video

Based on recent development proposals, Weston is about to undergo dramatic change. One proposal deals with the buildings at 1871 and 1885 Weston Road, which are currently occupied by the former Scotiabank branch and the current Weston Park Baptist Church. Read more background here, here, here and here.

The first public consultation for the development was a love-fest, with the church and developer promising a partnership with the community. The second meeting (held virtually) fleshed out the results of the public input and it emerged that in exchange for some goodies such as a performance hall / church, better station entrance, gym, ground floor retail and meeting place, the price of admission would be two very tall apartment towers at 28 and a new precedent-setting 38 storeys.

Perhaps as a result of some negativity and disappointment concerning the height of the apartment towers, Castlepoint has issued a YouTube video video called ‘Weston Park, a Centre for the Community’. The video was created as part of the Official Plan Amendment (“OPA”) and Zoning By-Law (“ZBL”) application submitted to the City of Toronto on October 29, 2021.

Readers can view the video below and comment on the content if watched on YouTube directly.

VIDEO NO LONGER AVAILABLE.

On the one hand, the video is compelling animation of the artist concept images. On the other, there’s no doubt that even the best laid plans can go awry.

In an article published 5 days ago in Renx, a real estate publication, Castlepoint Vice-President Elsa Fancello, said in regard to the Weston project, “We likely won’t do traditional affordable housing on that site. What we’re looking to explore further with WoodGreen (Community Services) is affordable workforce housing that’s almost like rent-geared-to-income for professionals who work at the airport or other nearby industries.”

Follow up: Local blogger Hans Havermann tells me that On December 2nd, he wrote a comment on Castlepoint’s YouTube creation (above) suggesting that the proximity of the development to the upcoming Crosstown Line had been exaggerated on the map used in the video.

Today, (December 5), comments (including his) were turned off.

Can we hope they were exaggerating about the height of the towers too?

Screenshot from Castlepoint’s YouTube video. (Click to enlarge.)

In the latest development (December 7), Hans tells me the map has been amended to show the station in a more realistic location.

The updated station location.

The original video has been deep sixed but the ever alert Mr Havermann has tracked down a version with the updated map.

Oh what a tangled web they weave methinks.

Your move Castlepoint.

Did you know….?

An UP Express train at Weston Station (file).

Metrolinx has just published news of increased GO Train speeds along the Kitchener Line, specifically through Guelph. Speeds will be increasing from the current snail’s pace to slightly faster. What caught my eye was that the changes were given in miles per hour. Apparently all railways in Canada must measure their speeds in the old Imperial system – which might explain some of their other idiosyncrasies.

In the same blog article was a warning that trespassers can be hit with a fine of $5000. Cor blimey mate, that’s almost £3000 in old money!

Metrolinx meeting on Thursday

Metrolinx will be hosting a virtual meeting to discuss the Eglinton Crosstown West this Thursday, August 19.

The Eglinton Crosstown West extension will run from Mount Dennis Station to Renfrew Drive. As we mentioned last week, it will lead to substantial changes along Eglinton, including in the Eglinton Flats, where a raised train will be installed.

You’re asked to register in advance if you’d like to ask questions.