Metrolinx is moving forward with the construction of a second track on a five-kilometre section of GO Transit’s Stouffville to Union Station line, as Toronto city council adopts a motion to add specific elements to the corridor.
"We are integrating our activities and our planning with the City of Toronto and Mayor John Tory’s plans for SmartTrack," said Bruce McCuaig, president and CEO of Metrolinx.
"Mayor Tory has indicated a commitment to having frequent rail service on the Kitchener and the Stouffville corridors between Unionville down to Union Station and over to the Airport Corporate Centre on a new rail corridor."
A tender was issued earlier this month to expand and improve 17 kilometres of corridor on a section of the Stouffville line between Scarborough Junction to Unionville GO Station.
The first phase of a multi-year project will start this spring between Kennedy Road north of Milliken GO Station and Marilyn Avenue just north of Agincourt GO Station.
"We are working hard with the city in terms of how we can integrate our planning for the Regional Express Rail (RER) and embed in that plan their aspirations for SmartTrack," said McCuaig.
"In particular, we will look at the definition of the level of service, because mayor Tory and the city’s plans have an even higher level of service proposed than we have been contemplating for our Regional Express Rail with the addition of more stations and the addition of a new rail corridor."
McCuaig recently released more details about Metrolinx’s plan for the design and construction of a RER system that will integrate the transit network across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. The RER plan is moving into the implementation stage, after the service concept was defined.
At the same time, Toronto city council has asked the provincial government and Metrolinx to include Tory’s SmartTrack plan as part of the design and construction of the RER.
In particular, council passed a motion to include additional elements on the Stouffville/Lakeshore East GO corridor from Unionville to Union Station, and on the Kitchener GO corridor from Mount Dennis to Union Station. The request includes seven additional stations on the Stouffville GO/Lakeshore East GO corridor for a total of 14 including Union Station.
It also includes four additional stations, including one south of Bloor Street between Queen Street and Dundas Street West, as well the planned new station at Mount Dennis on the Kitchener GO corridor.
Double-tracking for the remainder of the 17 kilometres and additional station upgrades on the Stouffville line are still in the planning and design phases, with construction expected to begin in 2016.
The city’s executive committee has also approved funding of $1.65 million to undertake a feasibility study of SmartTrack options in partnership with Metrolinx and the Toronto Transit Commission.
The study will focus on the Eglinton Avenue West corridor, from Mount Dennis station to the Mississauga Airport Corporate Centre.
The additional funding is for $750,000 in 2015 and $900,000 in 2016. This is in addition to another $750,000, which was already approved for 2015.
The SmartTrack plan proposes a 53-kilometre, all-day two-way frequent service operating within the Kitchener and Stouffville/Lakeshore East GO Train corridors, as well as a new heavy rail corridor along Eglinton Avenue West to the Mississauga Airport Corporate Centre.
The regional line from Markham to Mississauga proposes 22 station stops, which includes 13 new stations. The proposal indicates the project is to be delivered within 7 years.
Metrolinx has a work plan for RER which includes developing the service concept, identifying infrastructure needs and developing a phasing strategy to deliver RER to all GO rail corridors. Preliminary estimates suggest that the implementation of RER will cost around $12 billion.
The Ontario Legislature passed the 2014 Budget in July 2014, which included a $15 billion commitment to funding transit expansion in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.