Laying the tracks for better rail service

GO Transit’s railway corridors have sufficient space to accommodate two sets of tracks to implement my plan of two-way, all-day GO Train service. Photo credit: Chin Lee.
GO Transit’s railway corridors have sufficient space to accommodate two sets of tracks.  Work to install a second set of tracks along the Stouffville corridor will occur in the next 2 years.  Photo credit: Chin Lee.

In February, Metrolinx announced that they would spring into action this spring by installing a second set of tracks along the Stouffville GO Train corridor. The construction area stretches 5 km from just north of Agincourt GO Station to just north of Milliken GO Station. Double-tracking the rest of the line will occur in 2016 and is a critical first step in realizing the City of Toronto’s own transportation plan, SmartTrack.

Riding the rails from Milliken to Union GO Stations currently takes 32 minutes. The same trip with SmartTrack may take slightly longer because the line has more proposed stations but it is still significantly faster than taking the bus and subway. To learn more about this project, one of my staff took the opportunity to ask Metrolinx a few questions about this project. Here is what you need to know:

Q:        Toronto is embarking on a study of Mayor Tory’s SmartTrack proposal, which has many more stations. What considerations are being given to these studies? Why are contracts being given out when these studies are still underway?

A:        There is extensive coordination with the City of Toronto and York Region, facilitated by the join RER-SmartTrack Program Committee and various working groups that include staff representation from Metrolinx, the Ministry of Transportation and the affected municipalities. Implementing RER within a 10 year time frame requires carefully coordinated processes in which planning, design and construction for the various elements that make up the overall program must proceed concurrently. We have identified infrastructure needs that are common to all potential future scenarios that we can begin building before all planning for the overall program has been finalized.

Q:        In the design and construction phase, when will the sound barriers be finalized and when will they be installed, especially around the Agincourt community as per Figure 10.3 (page 79)?

A:        We plan to complete the various infrastructure improvements along the corridor in multiple steps. The result will be that individual sectons of noise walls will be installed on a rolling basis over the next several years. In Ward 41, noise walls north of Marilyn Ave. will be installed by the same contractor who will build the railway infrastructure. South of Marilyn Ave., the noise walls adjacent to Agincourt GO Station will be finalized and built in coordination with planned work to expand the station and add a new east platform. This means that noise wall construction is expected to occur in 2 phases in our community.

Q:        Page 85 of the EA identifies the possibility of Steeles Ave. E. being grade separated from the Stouffville rail corridor. Has any decision been made on this point since the publication of the EA or are grade separations still in the planning stages?

A:        No decisions have been made at this time.

Metrolinx is looking at ways to implement the Government of Ontario’s transportation plan within an aggressive 10-year timeline but they haven’t taken into consideration the disruption multiple rounds of construction will have on our community. The construction schedule as currently planned means our community faces a decade of ongoing construction. I am currently working with Metrolinx to mitigate the impact of construction on our neighbourhoods. I would like all of the work scheduled for our Ward to occur concurrently to minimize disruption to our community.

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