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.”.

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.

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!

Look inside the Kodak building

I don’t have a lot of nice things to say about Metrolinx, but I will admit that they moved heaven (figuratively) and earth (literally) to save the Kodak building at the Mount Dennis station.

About a month ago, they posted a short look-around inside the refurbished building on their blog. It’s worth a visit.

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.

Metrolinx building elevated tracks at Eglinton Flats

In June, Metrolinx announced their plans for the Crosstown West branch of the LRT around the Eglinton Flats and Fergy Brown Park: They are planning to build a long elevated track from west of Scarlett to east of Jane.

The ‘elevated guideway’ will be 1.5 km long and about 5m (16′) off the ground. (The remainder of the tracks will be underground out to Renforth.)

It’s sure to be controversial, since the LRT will cut through Mount Dennis’ largest area of parkland.

Metrolinx says that they are concerned with minimizing “the visual impact on the surrounding park land, development and streets” and “overlook, overshadowing, noise and vibration, and physical obstructions”. In the presentation, Elmira Moghani said they considered “how it can nicely fit into the environment and the context of Eglinton Flats.” She says the preferred design is a “smaller structure which has less visual impact in the area [and] less constructibility challenges.”

The Mount Dennis Community Association, however, recently detailed several cases where Metrolinx has removed trees, not replaced trees, and allowed erosion in the neighbourhood.

Planning meeting on Eglinton LRT

Metrolinx will be hosting an online meeting to discuss the Eglinton LRT expansion on March 16. Metrolinx is planning to extend the LRT from the new Mount Dennis station to Renforth.

You can ask questions in advance about the project and vote on the questions the members will address.

There are already a number of good questions posted on the site:

• What mitigation strategies will be used to reduce noise and vibration from the elevated section of the along the Eglinton flats section?

• What will the elevated section look like?

• How long do you anticipate construction to take place in the Mount Dennis section?

• What are you doing to protect the green space at the Humber River? Are you going to build on it?

• What are your plans for expanding/improving cycling infrastructure between Mt Dennis and Renforth?

The Mount Dennis Community Association has raised some concerns about the plan to remove many trees; and about noise, visual impact, and parking at parks.

Finally, MDCA expressed concern about the visual appearance of the new Jane overhead station, which will be right in the centre of Eglinton Flats.

The MDCA also said that “Metrolinx is committed to minimizing impacts on both wildlife and water quality, and to making sure the new Humber bridge has minimal impacts on the river and valley.”