FAQs

Q: What is the GTS Project?

A: The Georgetown South (GTS) Project will provide infrastructure improvements to meet existing GO Transit ridership demand and future growth. This project is one of the key elements of The Big Move. Through track sharing, it also allows for the new Union Pearson Express (formerly known as the Air Rail Link) between Toronto’s Union Station and Lester B. Pearson International Airport. This includes a 3.3 kilometre rail spur to the airport.

Q: When will this project be completed by?

A: The GTS Project is expected to be completed by 2015.

Q: What is Metrolinx?

A: As part of its plan to deliver long-term sustainable transportation and better transit, the Province of Ontario created the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority on April 24, 2006. Now known as Metrolinx, it was created to play a critical role in planning and delivering a seamless, integrated transit network allowing people to use public transit to travel easily from Hamilton to Newmarket to Oshawa. It’s the final piece in a three-part approach by the Province to prepare the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area for growth and sustained prosperity.

Metrolinx is developing a world-class transportation system alongside the work of the Greenbelt, which protects more than 1.8 million acres of environmentally sensitive and agricultural land in the heart of the region, and the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, a plan that coordinates population and job growth.

In 2009, Metrolinx merged with GO Transit, the regional public transit service. The organization grew further with the addition of two more operating divisions – the Union Pearson Express in 2010 and PRESTO in 2011. When complete, the Union Pearson Express will be a premium express rail shuttle service between Union Station in downtown Toronto and Pearson Airport. PRESTO is a new electronic fare card that allows riders to transfer seamlessly across multiple transit systems.

Q: What is The Big Move?

A: The Big Move is more than a transportation plan – it is a solution to traffic congestion, transit backlogs and reducing what are currently the worst regional commute times in North America. Launched in 2008, The Big Move is a 25-year, $50-billion plan for coordinated, integrated transportation and transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Its vision, goals and objectives are rooted in creating for the GTHA a high quality of life, a thriving, sustainable and protected environment, and a strong, prosperous and competitive economy.

Work is underway on several projects. More than $16 billion in investment of the $50-billion Big Move vision has been committed to and visible improvements and signs of progress can be seen all over the GTHA, including the Mississauga Bus Rapid Transit Project, the York Region vivaNext Bus Rapid Transit Project, and the Union Station Revitalization.

There is still much to do. The Next Wave projects equal $34 billion in investment that will increase capacity where it’s needed most, and improve regional connectivity. These projects were identified in The Big Move, and have been refined and confirmed as next-step priorities for achieving The Big Move’s vision.

Q: What is GO Transit doing to improve air quality?

A: GO Transit is completing the installation of three new air quality monitoring stations along the Kitchener rail corridor for the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) to draw data from. This will assist the MOE and other interested parties in assessing the air quality in this corridor as well as the GTA.

GO Transit is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and minimizing the impact on the environment by removing vehicles from the highways and roads and by utilizing the most efficient technology available for its locomotives.

We will continue to work with our partners to collectively and collaboratively find solutions to improve the regional air quality.

Q: Will the increase in train traffic significantly impact air quality?

A: GO Transit uses the most efficient diesel technology available. We are moving to using next generation Tier 4 diesel technology which reduces airborne particulate emissions by 90% and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 80%. We are testing a Tier 4 GO locomotive prototype in 2013/2014 and refurbishing 10 GO locomotives for Opening Day 2015. The rest of the GO locomotive fleet will be refurbished soon after. The Diesel Multiple Units for the Union Pearson Express (formerly known as the Air Rail Link) have been ordered and will be delivered as Tier 4-compliant.

As per the Minister of Environment’s request, we have conducted more analysis about any human health impacts from emissions following the implementation of Tier 4 emission standards. We were also asked to draft a revised human health mitigation plan to address residual health risks, if any, after moving to Tier 4-compliant locomotives. The conclusion was that Tier 4 engine technology is an effective mitigation. To review the draft mitigation plan and the accompanying analysis, please visit the public consultation section.

The Environmental Assessment (EA) used the maximum possible theoretical levels (train volume, speed) to predict future environmental impacts. Even using this long range assessment of future impacts, the proposed project was within the acceptable limits for almost all of the emission categories evaluated. Cases that were slightly above emission limits occurred only on the worst modeled smog days. The EA did not account for future improvements in engine technology: for locomotives or vehicles.

On opening day in 2015, the volume of train traffic is well below the long range plan which was modeled in the EA and the impact will therefore be well below that calculated in the EA.

Q: What is the Ambient Air Monitoring and Reporting Plan?

A: The Ambient Air Monitoring and Reporting Plan will monitor a group of pollutants from three reporting stations along the corridor to confirm the current levels as outlined in the environmental assessment, and to monitor changes as service levels increase in the corridor.

Typically, the calculations in an environmental assessment are based on existing air quality monitoring stations. The additional three air quality monitoring stations will provide additional background data on existing conditions – and will be used as a check against assumptions in the environmental assessment. It also checks against the calculated effects of additional traffic on the rail line.

Q: What is the status of the Ambient Air Monitoring and Reporting Plan?

A: The Ministry of the Environment approved the final draft of the Ambient Air Monitoring and Reporting Plan on June 2, 2010.

Q: How does GO Transit intend to minimize the impact of increased noise and vibration?

A: The Operational Noise and Vibration Study was completed in February 2012. It outlines the noise and vibration mitigation required for certain sections of the rail corridor due to the increased train service. We are installing noise walls to mitigate average noise increases of 5 decibels or greater and installing vibration mats to mitigate increased vibration.

Q: What is GO Transit doing to minimize noise and vibration during construction?

A: We will minimize disruption to our neighbours by mitigating excessive noise and vibration from construction. This includes depowering equipment and putting up hoarding where necessary. However, there will be construction noise and vibration that is to be expected from construction. We will monitor noise and vibration during construction and implement additional mitigation measures where necessary.

Q: Why are noise walls necessary?

A: The 2009 Environmental Project Report identified the need for noise mitigation as a result of the proposed Georgetown South Project service expansion. The 2012 Operational Noise and Vibration Study completed a detailed analysis of the noise and vibration impacts of the Georgetown South Project service expansion. It identified the exact locations and heights of noise walls required as outlined in the Ministry of the Environment and GO Transit Noise Protocol.

Q: Why can’t GO Transit install sound barriers during construction?

A: Noise barriers will not be installed until the construction is complete to ensure that they are not damaged during the construction. In some cases, building the noise barriers before construction would restrict access to the corridor to complete the construction work. Where necessary, construction hoarding will be installed  to reduce noise and dust before work begins.

Q: Why are some noise walls required for Opening Day 2015 and others for the Full Build?

A: The Full Build scenario is a future level of service when we achieve two-way, all-day service on our rail corridors which translates into 400 or so train trips per day. There is no set time for this expansion. The Opening Day 2015 scenario reflects the 185 to 211 daily train trips (depending on the location) and corresponding noise walls required to mitigate for this service level. These noise walls are required to be installed for 2015.

Q: Why is Metrolinx installing the Full Build noise walls for 2015?

A: Given the uniqueness of the Union Pearson Express service (every 15 minutes) and community feedback, Metrolinx decided to install the Full Build noise walls for Opening Day 2015 as an additional benefit for the community. However, if after participating in the noise wall community advisory committee process, a committee reasonably decides that the noise wall design options do not address identified community issues or concerns, Metrolinx will revisit the decision to install the Full Build noise walls for 2015. A process will then need to be developed between Metrolinx, the community and local elected officials to get feedback from the entire community on whether the Full Build walls will be installed or not.

Q: Why is Metrolinx installing noise walls and not considering other types of noise mitigation such as green walls?

A: Noise walls are typically used to reduce the noise coming from transportation corridors. Metrolinx reviewed other noise mitigation options, such as green walls, but these options were determined not to be feasible. The Ministry of the Environment and GO Transit Noise Protocol reviews mitigation feasibility based on operational, economic and technical considerations. Noise walls approved by the Ministry of Transportation are the most effective and comprehensive method to reduce noise.

Q: When will the Kitchener Rail Corridor be electrified?

A: The Metrolinx Board of Directors has recommended electrification of the Lakeshore and Kitchener GO Transit rail corridors, with the new Union Pearson Express as the first phase. The year-long study revealed important transportation benefits associated with electrification, including shorter travel times for riders and lower operating costs. These benefits would increase over time and as service levels increase.

The Province of Ontario has approved an Environmental Assessment to electrify the Union Pearson Express (formerly known as the Air Rail Link). The final electrification study report, staff report and associated appendices are available online at www.gotransit.com/electrification.

Q: Why is GO Transit moving to Tier 4 train technology? What is Tier 4 technology? Does Tier 4 technology exist at the moment?

A: Tier 4 is an emission standard set by the US Environmental Protection Agency that will be adhered to in building the next generation of diesel technology. It is projected to reduce emissions of airborne particulates by 90% and nitrogen oxides by 80%. We are testing a Tier 4 GO locomotive prototype in 2013/2014 and refurbishing 10 GO locomotives for Opening Day 2015. The rest of the GO locomotive fleet will be refurbished soon after. The Diesel Multiple Units for the Union Pearson Express have been ordered and will be delivered as Tier 4-compliant.

GO Transit has a long history of using the most efficient technology available. In fact, GO Transit was one of the first to move from Tier 0, and is currently using MP40 diesel locomotives that use the most efficient, ultra-low sulphur fuel available and meets all US Environmental Protection Agency Tier 2 Emission Standards.

Q: Why is GO Transit using diesel technology in the interim?

A: Comparable commuter rail systems in major urban centres use diesel, especially if operating in a mixed-use rail corridor as GO Transit does. GO Transit has a long history of using the most efficient technology available. In fact, GO Transit was one of the first to move from Tier 0, and is currently using MP40 diesel locomotives that use the most efficient, cleanest diesel technology available and meets all US Environmental Protection Agency Tier 2 Emission Standards.

Most electrified rail commuter trains exist where the rail corridors are exclusively dedicated to commuter train traffic and not mixed with freight traffic. This allows for the trains to be lighter and smaller.

Because GO shares its tracks with freight and other commuter rail traffic, federal regulations require that GO commuter trains meet acceptable crash worthiness standards. This results in a much heavier train requiring more horsepower to operate. Diesel is typically used for these types of mixed-use train corridors in North America.

Q: Why is GO Transit moving ahead with construction prior to the completion of the electrification environmental assessment?

A: All infrastructure in the Georgetown South corridor is being built to accommodate potential future electrification. The extensive design and construction work for grade separations, bridges and additional track will be undertaken over the next four years, and as such must commence now, and in accordance with the approved Environmental Assessments.

Q: What is being done to accommodate the West Toronto Railpath?

A: We are engaging with the West Toronto Railpath group, the City of Toronto and other community organizations to help accommodate the Railpath’s plan to build its path adjacent to GO’s Kitchener corridor, where possible.

Q: Will GO Transit replace the trees that have been removed within the corridor for the GTS Project?

A: In preparation for adding new tracks to expand the GO transit Kitchener rail corridor, we are removing vegetation overgrowth and trees within the corridor. We are expanding the rail corridor to the edge of our property line, adding 3 to 5 tracks along different sections of the corridor. To maintain the existing tree canopy in neighbourhoods along the rail corridor, we are complying with the City of Toronto Private tree by-law and we will be replacing any trees that are 30 cm (12 inches) or greater in diameter on a 3 to 1 basis. If there are community members who wish to have a tree re-planted on their property adjacent to the rail corridor, please contact us at 416-581-1300 or gts@gotransit.com.

Q: Why is there no plan for a GO Transit or Union Pearson Express stop at King Street?

A: The Georgetown South Project needs to balance demands for increased regional service with local needs. Both the Kitchener service and the Union Pearson Express (formerly known as the Air Rail Link) stop at Union Station, Bloor GO and Weston GO stations within the City of Toronto limits.

The current GO Transit stations link with the TTC, which provides frequent service along King Street West and Queen Street west, and connects travellers to GO Transit at both Union and Bloor Stations.

Q: What did you do during the Environmental Assessment to ensure that community engagement was transparent?

Metrolinx held 18 public open houses, welcoming over 2,000 attendees who submitted over 600 feedback forms. Metrolinx also hosted several roundtable meetings, a community design charette and Metrolinx also offered a 24/7 Virtual Open House - an on-line consultation site where members of the public could review the project reports and materials, send comments, suggestions or questions to gts@gotransit.com for response back from the project team.

Q: What can the community expect from GO Transit in terms of engagement and communication?

A: GO Transit is committed to transparent and responsive communications with our neighbours, elected officials and our partners. We have opened GO Transit community offices in Liberty Village, The Junction and Weston. Community relations staff working at these offices are on the ground to answer community questions and resolve issues during the detailed design and construction phases of the Georgetown South Project.

Q: Does GO Transit have to close any roads to complete the Georgetown South Project?

A: GO Transit is committed to reducing the impact on the community as much as possible. Our priority is community safety and that is why we are working with the City of Toronto, elected officials and community members to ensure that we come up with the best possible solution.

In order to create a safe underpass at Denison Road in Weston, we need to cul-de-sac Sam Frustaglio Drive. If the road were to remain open, it would create a very steep, unsafe intersection at Denison Road. Also, several homes along Sam Frustaglio Drive would have to be purchased and the residents displaced. The safest option is to cul-de-sac the street which offers new green space and reduces through traffic in the neighbourhood. A new traffic signal will be installed at Wright Avenue to allow motorists to safely turn northbound on Jane Street.

We also require closing the John Street rail crossing to vehicular traffic. A pedestrian bridge will be built to maintain pedestrian and bicycle access across the rail corridor.

There will be temporary road closures along the corridor for periods of time to accommodate construction. We will inform the community in advance of any road closures.

Q: Will any more pedestrian bridges be built over the rail corridor?

A: Other than the John Street Pedestrian Bridge, there are currently no plans for Metrolinx to build additional bridges across the corridor because of safety concerns. The City Of Toronto has a number of proposed projects in various stages of development including pedestrian bridges in Liberty Village. For more information on future pedestrian bridges, please contact the City of Toronto.

Q: There has been some confusion about the number of trains that are anticipated to run on the Kitchener line. What is the official number?

A: A: On opening day in 2015, there will be up to an additional 10 GO train trips for a total of up to 29 train trips on the Kitchener line – not all trains will travel to all destinations along the line. There will also be 140 Union Pearson Express shuttles (formerly known as the Air Rail Link) operating from Union Station to Pearson International Airport. The total number of trains including VIA and CN will be approximately 210 at the south end of the rail corridor and 185 north of St. Clair Avenue.

Weekday Trips on Kitchener Rail Corridor
SERVICE PRESENT 2015
Bramalea to Malton/Airport (Kitchener, Via, CN trains only)
Daily GO Trains
Via and CN
Total
16
8
24
Up to 29
16
45
Malton/Airport to Weston Rd. (Kitchener, Via, CN trains and Union Pearson Express)
Daily GO Trains
Union Pearson Express
Via and CN
Total
16
0
8
24
Up to 29
140
16
185
Weston Rd. to Dupont St. (Kitchener and Bolton, Via, CN and CP, Union Pearson Express)
Daily GO Trains
Union Pearson Express
Via, CN and CP
Total
16
0
29
45
Up to 29
140
37
206
South of Dupont (Kitchener, Milton, Barrie, Via, CN and Union Pearson Express)
Daily GO Trains
Union Pearson Express
Via and CN
Total
42
0
8
50
Up to 55
140
16
211

Q: Why does the Environmental Assessment state that 464 trains are planned for the Kitchener rail corridor?

A: An environmental assessment’s purpose is to assess the impacts on the environment of a proposed project over a period of time and takes into account any known expansions. The 464 train trips shown in the Environmental Project Report include future maximum expanded service on the Kitchener, Bolton, Milton and Barrie rail lines at the south end of the Kitchener rail corridor and represents a full-day, two-way train service in all of these corridors.

In the case of the Georgetown Environmental Assessments, Metrolinx’s Regional Transportation Plan – The Big Move – was used as the base planning document, which forecast ridership for several GO Transit corridors over a period of 25 years. Train volumes will grow in stages as service levels increase to meet ridership demands, and operational constraints are removed.

Q: Does Tier 4 technology exist at the moment?

A: The next generation of diesel engines will meet Tier 4 emission standards and we are committed to moving to this technology as quickly as possible. We are testing a Tier 4 GO locomotive prototype in 2013/2014 and refurbishing 10 GO locomotives for Opening Day 2015. The rest of the GO locomotive fleet will be refurbished soon after. The Union Pearson Express Diesel Multiple Units have been ordered and will be delivered as Tier 4-compliant.

GO Transit has a long history of using the most efficient technology available. In fact, GO was one of the first to move from Tier 0, and is currently using MP40 diesel locomotives that use the most efficient, cleanest diesel technology available and meets all U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Tier 2 Emission Standards.

Q: On January 26th, 2011, the Metrolinx Board of Directors approved the staff recommendation to begin electrification of the Lakeshore and Kitchener GO Transit rail corridors, with the new Union Pearson Express as the first phase. Will this have an impact on the Georgetown South project?

A: No. The Georgetown South project will provide infrastructure improvements to meet existing GO Transit ridership demand and future growth along the Kitchener corridor. It will also accommodate existing and future VIA Rail and CN freight train service. The project is being designed and built to accommodate future electrification.

Q: On July 30th, the Ontario government announced that Metrolinx would build, own and operate the Union Pearson Express from Union Station to Pearson. Will this have an impact on the Georgetown South Project?

A: No. The Georgetown South Project is intended to provide infrastructure improvements to meet existing GO Transit ridership demand and future growth along the Kitchener corridor. It will also accommodate existing and future VIA Rail and CN freight train service, as well as the new Union Pearson Express (formerly known as the Air Rail Link).

Q: Will the Union Pearson Express still run 140 shuttles a day, as initially outlined in the EA for the GTS project?

A: Yes – Metrolinx will be providing the same service as the prior proposal: shuttles every 15 minutes.

For more information, please visit the Union Pearson Express website.