- Oct 25, 2014
- Reaction score
From the Metrolinx 2031 plan (big PDF, small powerpoint), I really think the 4-track GO RER underground tunnel is targetted for ~2031 or beyond. We don't need it for Smarttrack yet as there's Union station capacity (after Union refurb done) to accomodate Smarttrack for a decade. A lot of Union tracks are already shut down right now during the refurbishment (platforms 14-21 are closed right now) so once those extra tracks and extra platforms open again, and with a new signalling system for quicker train dispatching -- it appears I would think there is actually plenty of room for a doubling of trains during peak, especially with the station GO concourse tripled in square footage after the Union revitalization quagmire is finished.While that is under construction, begin the planning for a GO RER tunnel under downtown.
As a comparision at how much more Union can actually handle: New York Penn has something like three times the traffic in almost the same space and trackage as Union (Union pushes 70M people per year on 16 tracks and 11 platforms (limited to ~7-8 during renos), not including the new UP Express platform (with that, we have more platforms than New York Penn!!). While Penn pushes 230M people per year on 21 tracks and 11 platforms). Also, another additional capacity-expanding trick is double-berthing appears to be planned at Union at some of the platforms (this is quite useful for trains that terminate at Union from opposite directions) well before the tunnel becomes critical. Double-berthing isn't an option at Penn due to track length limitations. NY Penn is also bottlenecked as a terminus open only at one end (so trains have to reverse direction) while Union is a pass-through station with more capacity potential. Yet they push 230M/annum through that eye of a needle. And our Toronto Union conveniently has a few platforms long enough to permit double-berthing, given space available for central platforms to west of Union, so Metrolinx is apparently planning that. Google Map Satellite confirms room for double-berthing on about 4 or 5 tracks (Side observation: We'll probably also need a few Simcoe Street teamways. Imagine that!). Right now Union uses an old signalling system, which slows down the pace of train arrivals/departures. Union should easily be able to handle >200M per year, after the revitalization, if ALL platforms are reopened, plus better signalling, plus electrification, plus a few double-berths (3 or 4), so that should take care of GO RER needs quite easily till ~2030s.
Yes, it honestly feels like Union can't handle it, but we're replacing the tiny GO concourse with two massive GO concourses (triple the square footage total). They're shutting down Bay concourse in early 2015 when they open the supersized York GO concourse (Already much bigger than the current Bay concourse), then redoing the Bay concourse to be supersized too. Then of a sudden, we got 3 times the square footage of GOtrain concourse. Yes, we'll eventually need the extra underground trackage and platforms, but I don't think it figures even into a delayed Smarttrack plan timescale. Unless the plan gets accelerated.
With the Union refurbishment and some of these tweaks, Union can definitely handle about 2-3x peak train traffic without needing a tunnel.
From this, I feel I doubt the GO RER tunnel something that they'll do actual shovel-planning for until the thirties (2030s) unless they accelerate the whole multi-phase GO electricification (all the way to Kitchener, Barrie, Hamilton, Oshawa, etc) into just 10 years, then we badly need the tunnel. But this is doubtful, as the existing Union after refurbishment and tweaks, can swallow the Smarttrack traffic, even in conjunction with some electrified GO RER lines such as Lakeshore.