Metrolinx New Track and Facilities Trans Planning Assessment Process

Converting to electric power means faster, more frequent, and environmentally friendly rail service for the Greater Toronto Area

One of the largest and most complex railway upgrades in the world is transforming how people get around in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area. The conversion of GO Transit’s rail network from diesel to electric power is part of an overall $13.5 billion Regional Express Rail program to create a more convenient and integrated transit network. The region’s premier public transit service, GO Transit, which is currently operated by the provincial transportation authority Metrolinx, carries more than 70 million combined rail and bus passengers a year.

Gannett Fleming is providing program management, engineering, environmental, construction, design, and simulation services for the electrification of five of seven GO Transit branch lines. Electrification allows GO Transit to offer faster and more frequent service to and from dozens of stations throughout the day, including evenings and weekends. It will increase passenger capacity to approximately 127 million by 2029, representing a 142 percent increase from 2014. It also will reduce GO Transit’s greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 94 percent.

What We Did

A crucial component of the team’s work was completing an extensive Environmental Assessment of the electrification project for review by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. To accomplish the largest environmental assessment in Metrolinx’s 50-year history, the team conducted 32 public meetings, held more than 100 stakeholder/public meetings, and responded to thousands of comments from review agencies and other interested parties. The report incorporated an electrification design that included solutions for key regional concerns. The Ministry granted Metrolinx Notice to Proceed with the undertaking in December 2017.

The team negotiated with Canada’s largest power transmission and distribution company to determine the location of six traction power substations. The facilities convert 230-kilovolt (kV) electricity to 25 kV for the railway’s Overhead Contact System (OCS). The team sited 11 switching and paralleling stations that ensure 25 kV compliance along the full length of the OCS. The scope of the project includes bridge clearance and structural analysis, railroad operations simulation, and the design of systemwide signaling upgrades, as well as the integration of electrification standards into other network projects.

Key Features

  • 160 miles of electrified corridor infrastructure along a 265-mile rail network.
  • Electrification of Toronto’s landmark Union Station and its 27 platforms.
  • Six traction power substations to provide 25 kV power to the OCS.
  • 11 switching and paralleling stations to ensure 25 kV compliance along the OCS.
  • Utility and bridge agreements permit electrification of the rail network.
  • Contracting package including a technical specification and reference concept design, developed for alternative financing procurement.

Sustainability Features & Outcomes

  • 94 percent projected reduction in transit system’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Cleaner alternative to diesel systems improves local air quality.
  • Regenerative braking capabilities will allow railcars to offset energy usage.
OUTCOMES

Weekly railway trips will increase from 1,500 to 6,000 by 2025.

142 percent anticipated growth in rail passenger capacity by 2029.

$3 dollars in economic benefits generated for every $1 of program spending.