Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario have announced key milestones for two major projects to improve commuting by GO Transit passengers.

Ontario's Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca and Peter M. Zuk, Metrolinx's chief capital officer, announced that the two provincial agencies have pre-qualified two bidders to submit proposals to design, build and finance the first phase of a project to further enhance Union Station. They have also issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) for a project to improve stations across the GO Transit network, as Metrolinx further develops its plans to introduce regional express rail—or RER—service along all of its lines.

Ontario Government announces improvements to Union Station and other GO stationsMetrolinx chief capital officer, Peter Zuk, looks on as Minister Del Duca speaks at Union Station, image, @stephendelduca

At Union Station, Metrolinx intends to build a new platform to replace a current track on the south side of the station and another concourse area below the new platform. It will also remove tracks elsewhere in the station to create wider platforms, install new lighting and communications systems, a new roof and a better emergency-power system to allow lights, digital signs and public announcements to continue during a power outage.

The minister explained that Union Station is the largest transportation hub in Canada, serving many more daily passengers than, for example, Toronto Pearson International Airport. “Union Station is a world-class transit hub and this project will enhance its capacity to meet growing ridership demand… as we continue to deliver on our commitment to provide GO Regional Express Rail to thousands of commuters across the region, connecting the GTHA and beyond,” he said.

Ontario Government announces improvements to Union Station and other GO stationsAerial view of Union Station under construction, photo, Edward Skira

The agencies pre-qualified two teams from an earlier RFQ for enhancing Union Station by examining a number of criteria, including appropriate design and construction experience and capacity to finance a project of this size and complexity. The two successful bidding teams are: EllisDon Infrastructure Transit and Graham Construction Rail Solutions. The EllisDon consortium includes constructor, EllisDon Civil Ltd., designer, AECOM Canada Ltd. and EllisDon Capital as financial advisor. The Graham group includes constructor, Graham Construction & Engineering LP, designer, RJC Engineers and Graham Capital Partners as financial advisor.

Ontario Government announces improvements to Union Station and other GO stationsA view of Union Station's train shed, from the east side of platform five, photo, James Bow.

For stations across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, the Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx RFQ outlines a large scope of work to accommodate the RER program. The plans include installing digital service-information signs, upgrading the electrical capacity, improving or replacing fare devices, and introducing new secured bike-parking spaces and electric-vehicle charging stations. The RFQ also proposes rail-electrification infrastructure at various locations. IO and Metrolinx will evaluate submissions from project teams with the relevant construction experience. They'll then invite teams that qualify to respond to a request for proposals this winter.

According to a Ministry of Transportation news release, the provincial government is investing $21.3 billion to transform the GO network from a commuter transit system to a regional rapid-transit system. The Ministry says that GO RER is the largest commuter rail project in Canada, requiring more than 500 separate projects in 40 municipalities. It includes electrifying core sections of GO rail lines, greatly expanding the rail network and increasing the number of weekly trips from about 1,500 to nearly 6,000 by 2025.

Ontario Government announces improvements to Union Station and other GO stationsAn afternoon Richmond Hill GO train under Highway 401 at Oriole Station, photo, James Bow

We will update you as these projects proceed and as more information becomes available. In the meantime, you can join in the discussion in our dedicated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space on this page.