The new switches will improve the reliability of service by allowing trains to move from one track to another at faster speeds, providing a more seamless passage through Canada's busiest rail corridor. They were installed during a period of six years, representing an CA$87-million (US$88-million) investment to improve the reliability of GO service.
"The replacement of switches at Union Station will help keep GO Trains running on time and support our government's commitment to bring two-way, all-day GO Train service to commuters in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area," said Bob Chiarelli, minister of Transportation. "Our public transit investments will help make transit a better choice for commuters, reducing gridlock and keeping our air clean."
When the track layout was designed, the emphasis was on moving intercity long-distance passenger trains and freight. These requirements have largely been replaced by the need to move commuters in and out of downtown Toronto. While the total number of station tracks has remained the same, tracks were reconfigured to reduce the amount of switching between tracks to help increase capacity and speed through the corridor.
The Union Station Rail Corridor is 4.8 kilometers (three miles) long, running from Strachan Avenue in the west to the Don River in the east and features 256 track switches.
GO operates 189 train trips carrying 175,000 passengers daily, with at least 96 percent of train ridership traveling through Union Station. GO ridership has grown by 25 percent during the past five years and is expected to double in the next 20 years.