Metrolinx: Merge UPX into GO.

The UP Express in Weston Station (file).

A Toronto Star article published today sheds light on a leaked internal Metrolinx document from February of this year that proposes huge changes to the UP Express. The document proposes that when the Kitchener line is electrified in 2025, the airport train would become part of the GO system and use the same new rolling stock. The current UPX stop at Union Station will also be relocated because of increased numbers – at the cost of at least $77.4 million and some inconvenience to passengers – according to the planning document.

The plan leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Where will airport travellers store their luggage on commuter trains built to maximize numbers of people? What will happen to the separate UPX and GO platforms at Weston Station? What will become of the existing UPX trains which were designed to be converted to electrical power? Will the UPX airport platform need revamping to accommodate the new and larger trains? When will the changes take place?

It’s clear that the change won’t happen for at least five years. On the bright side; there’ll likely be two changes of the provincial government between now and then so anything can happen. My bet is that Doug Ford’s austerity regime will modify it severely or put it (and electrification) firmly on the back burner for a future government to tackle.

Read more here.

Update: According to CP24, Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Akins has stated that the $77.4 million needed to enable relocation of the Union Station platform is no longer ‘necessary’. The money would have been spent on a pedestrian bridge initially proposed thanks to the platform’s southerly relocation.

The austerity prediction didn’t take long to be borne out. Read more here.

Update #2: The UPX platform specifically designed for UP Express trains will become redundant once the move is made to electrified GO trains. According to the Globe and Mail,

“…the Union Pearson Express will load in a different part of the station – leaving the soaring Zeidler-designed wood space where the train now stops to find a new use – and its unique rolling stock will be replaced gradually by regular GO trains.”

It’s hard to imagine what that new use would be – unless it’s re-purposed as a museum dedicated to the follies of GTA transit decisions. There could be sections devoted to David Collennette, Mike Harris, Mel Lastman, Rob Ford, Frances Nunziata and Glenn De Baeremaeker to name but a few.

3 thoughts on “Metrolinx: Merge UPX into GO.”

  1. Very interesting insights here and some good questions.

    One obvious point is how totally inept the design and planning of the UP was. Obviously there was huge latent demand for rapid transit along the airport corridor (Metrolinx’s Weston Subdivision). The government of the day determined it was better to spend millions for a ‘premium’ service that priced out local demand, required separate infrastructure and rolling stock, and eliminated the possibility of interoperability with existing GO service. Within four years of opening, the system has already proven itself inadequate and needs to be redesigned. This is no way to run a railway.

    Fortunately, the required changes and infrastructure improvements dovetail with plans to expand local commuter service. Whether the 2025 timeline is remotely achievable in view of Metrolinx’s track record is open to question.

    The article suggests a dedicated platform will still be used for airport service. I have always thought the easiest way for Metrolinx to accommodate airport passengers was to have one or two cars dedicated to that purpose with additional space for luggage. This is one possible solution.

    If interoperability is a goal for Metrolinx, the existing train-sets will probably be taken out of service. There are only seven UP train-sets in operation. Resale is one possibility – the market is out there. Even VIA might be a potential buyer, given the poor state of their rolling stock. My guess is that the high-level platforms will go with them and existing GO platforms will be used. Again though, we can only speculate.

  2. I’m sorry, how much was that pedestrian bridge? Eighty what? Million?

    Only Metrolinx would think floating that was a good idea. I’m glad it’s been shot down, but will they never learn?

  3. It should be a proper subway line, with the TTC. I can’t believe ford govt is wants to extent the Yonge line into Richmond Hill.. Imagine subway line airport to Bloor or even downtown, they might be new hotels along the line, bring people from other parts of the city into Weston. Very wasteful stupid urban planning the UPexpress was.

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