Category Archives for "Latest News"

Jun 16

GO Transit – Extension to Bowmanville takes next steps

By Transport Action Ontario | Latest News , Urban Transit

The Ontario government has awarded a contract to Bowmanville Construction Partners (BCP), a general partnership between Ledcor CMI and Dragados Canada, to advance the planning to extend GO’s Lakeshore East rail service from Oshawa to Bowmanville (18.7 km extension). In 2022, Ontario had pledged $730M for this project. The planned service level is all-day two-way.

Due to substantial changes in the project since it was originally conceived in 2011, an amended Environmental Project Report (EPR) was required, and was unveiled at a public meeting in June, 2023. The project highlights were:

  • New alignment. Immediately east of Oshawa station, the extension will turn sharply north to cross Highway 401 and the General Motors spur line, using two new bridges, to connect to the CP Belleville Sub at Thornton Corners.
  • Construction of one or two new GO tracks in the CP corridor immediately south of CP’s single track. About 9 km of the GO line will be double tracked, allowing for ample opportunities for east-bound and west-bound GO trains to pass each other
  • Install wayside power at Bowmanville station so two trains can be stored overnight

The project has a couple of interesting features:

(a) Four new stations (Thornton Corners, Ritson, Courtice and Bowmanville) are planned, but are not part of the extension project. The Province is pursuing station construction to be delivered through its Transit Oriented Communities program, and active discussions are underway with local developers.

(b) Based on the drawings in the EPR, there are no planned connections between the CP and GO tracks. While this has the advantage of operational simplicity (neither operator affects the other), it greatly reduces flexibility during any incident such as a stalled train. Transport Action Ontario has recommended that “jump frog switches” be installed between the CP and GO tracks.

Jun 14

Hamilton LRT Project likely to choose Alliance Contracting Model

By Transport Action Ontario | Latest News , Urban Transit

In 2021, both Ontario and the Federal Government jointly committed $3.4 billion for the construction of the 14 km Hamilton LRT, to run from Eastgate Square through downtown Hamilton to McMaster University. The project also includes investment in public infrastructure, including roads and utilities through this older part of the City.

Metrolinx has now recommended that this project be contracted using an “alliance model” rather than the traditional Design-Build-Finance-Maintain approach. An alliance contract forces owner and contractor to work together to resolve unanticipated problems, share in any cost escalation and complete the project. This revised approach is likely due to the probable complexities of the Hamilton project (running through old Hamilton) and the poor experience with DBFM projects for the Ottawa LRT Phase 1 and Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

This is the second alliance contract that Metrolinx is engaged in – the first being Union Station revamp which also is a project that likely has many unanticipated changes.

Although the jury is still out, Transport Action Ontario is hopeful that alliances may provide a better model than DBFMs for complex transit projects.

May 31

Progress is Steady on Yonge Subway North Extension

By Transport Action Ontario | Latest News , Urban Transit

Metrolinx continues to advance this $4 to 6 billion, 8km project to extend the Yonge Subway northward into York Region.  The activities over the past 2 years provide interesting insights into major transit project management and execution. 

As readers recall from our last posting (June, 2021), there was extensive controversy and resident anger about the chosen route in the northern segment through Markham/Thornhill (“green route”).  Residents were concerned that this ran under dozens of residential properties.  In mid-2021, Transport Action Ontario (TAO) suggested an alternate route (“yellow route”) using cut and cover under the vacant Langstaff lands.  This was much more popular with the community.  Metrolinx studied the yellow route extensively, and finally concluded in early 2022 that it was technically feasible, but not preferred due to higher cost, complex construction, technical constraints (tighter curves, steeper inclines, slower train speeds), and impacts to future development.

Possibly in an attempt to placate local residents, Metrolinx announced that a 40 – 50 meter deep station at Royal Orchard Blvd would be added to the project, with station costs borne by the Province’s Transit Oriented Communities program.

In February, 2022, York Region Council approved the green route. The amended Environmental Project Report was completed by Metrolinx one month later.

In September, 2022, a contract was awarded to complete early upgrades to Finch Station to accommodate the extension (electrical and fire connections).  Construction is underway.  Work is also underway for advance utilities relocations along Yonge St.  Agreement has also been reached with CN for use of their corridor for the at-grade portion of the extension.

The procurement plan for the project will involve two major contracts:

  • Advance Tunneling contract, planned as a Design-Build-Finance.  The RFQ was released in April, 2023. Release of the RFP is planned for late 2023 with contract award in 2024.  Excavation for the launch shaft is expected in late 2024, and arrival of the tunnel boring machines in late 2025.  Two twin bore tunnels are planned.
  • Stations, Rail and Systems contract, likely to be a Progressive Design-Build.  Timing TBD.

Metrolinx is also engaged in corridor protection.  Under the Build Transit Faster Act, lands in the corridor have been designated as Transit Corridor Lands (TCLs).  Both TCLs and lands within a prescribed distance (eg 30 meters) must obtain a Corridor Development Permit prior to construction (eg pool, building, shed).  This restriction is registered on title in the Land Registry Office.  To date, there have apparently been no issues with designations or permits.

Metrolinx is also negotiating with property owners for temporary or permanent property acquisition.  In some cases, only subsurface acquisition will be required. No information is publicly available on how this is working out.

Finally, workshops are being held with municipal staff on station design.  No information is yet available to the public on this topic.

In conclusion, following resolution of the controversial routing issue, progress on this project appears to have been steady.  TAO looks forward to a continued smooth path. 

May 14

Passing of Dale Wilson, former President of Transport Action Ontario

By Transport Action Ontario | Latest News

Dale Wilson, author, railway historian and passenger rail advocate, died  in Sudbury on Friday, May 5. He was 86 years old.

Dale was an active member of Transport Action for many years and in fact had just renewed his membership one month earlier.  He was president of Transport Action Ontario (TAO) in the late 1990’s.  Dale was a hard-working president – travelling down to Toronto for each and every board meeting.  Dale was a strong leader with a wealth of rail knowledge, and much was accomplished under his leadership. 

In 2000, Dale received a Distinguished Service Award from TAO and he was designated President Emeritus by TAO in 2005. 

Dale wrote numerous excellent books and articles on Canadian railway history,  many of which are in the C. Robert Craig Memorial Library.

Dale was also  involved with the Northern Ontario Railroad  Museum and Heritage Centre in Capreol since its beginning, and was a current member of its board.   Transport Action Ontario and Transport Action Canada have both made contributions to this museum in memory of Dale. 

TAO members have offered to assist the family with sorting and archiving Dale’s railway records, if needed.

Our condolences to Dale’s wife, Freda and Dale’s family.

Apr 19

Federal Airport Study Casts Doubt on Pickering Airport

By Transport Action Ontario | Aviation , Latest News

In a surprise announcement on April 18, 2023, federal Transport Minister Alghabra kicked off a study on airport capacity in Southern Ontario. A prime focus appears to be the Pickering Lands, where it was stated: “We have no intention to proceed with building an airport on the Pickering Lands in the near term and the conclusions of the study could lead, for example, to a determination that an airport on the Pickering Lands is not required in the long term”.

Transport Action Ontario (TAO) has long opposed the Pickering Airport. We believe that improved passenger rail service can provide more than enough capacity for medium distance (< 800 km) trips, so that the existing Pearson Airport could handle all future long-distance needs.

TAO will monitor this study closely. In addition to Pickering, there are other questions that should be studied, including

  • Future role of Toronto Island, Hamilton, London and other airports in Southern Ontario
  • Adequacy of ground connections to airports, i.e. rail and bus