As the debate over expanding Billy Bishop Airport rages on, the nation's largest airport will soon have greatly improved connectivity thanks to Metrolinx's Union Pearson Express, a vital rail link under-construction between Union Station and Toronto Pearson International Airport. Union Station and Pearson International Airport are the GTA's two busiest and most important transportation facilities, and starting next year, the two locations will be a mere 25 minutes apart by rail.

The Union Pearson Express will connect directly to Terminal 1 at Pearson via a three-kilometre rail spur branching off from the existing GO Kitchener rail corridor. The new spur is on schedule to be completed in the coming months, but work continues on reconfiguring the tracks leading up to the spur. 

Trackwork in West Toronto approaching the new rail spur, image by Forum member drum118

A new grade separation is being constructed at the West Toronto Diamond near Keele and Dundas Streets, which has been designed to improve capacity by eliminating a congested at-grade railway crossing while simultaneously dropping noise levels for nearby residents. A similar upgrade at Strachan Avenue, which adds four tracks in two lowered corridors, is also vital to the functionality of the UP Express while also serving to greatly improve GO transit service.

Strachan Avenue grade separation, image by Forum member Bamako

The line's southeastern terminus at Union Station will be served by a new station and platform. Construction started last year with the fencing off of the southern wall of the pedestrian Skywalk PATH link stretching between York and Simcoe Streets while demolition proceeded out of public view.

Earlier this month the steel structure of the platform itself started to take shape. UrbanToronto Forum contributor pesto shared his view of the Union Station construction on March 10th from an upper floor at TELUS House at York and Bremner.

Construction of the Union Station UP Express platform, image by Forum member pesto

The platform has already made significant progress, and work continues on the steel structure. Here is a closer look...

Construction of the Union Station UP Express platform, image by Forum member pesto

Much work is still left to be done before the line can open to travellers in 2015. The first rail vehicles are expected to be delivered this Spring, followed by the completion of the 3-kilometre spur line this Summer. Construction on the four stations is expected to be complete by Winter 2015, and the line is set to open in Spring 2015. 

Rendering of UP Express Union Station

Once the line goes into operation, trains will depart from Union Station every 15 minutes, stopping at Dundas West subway station at Bloor Street, and at Weston GO station at Lawrence Avenue before arriving at Terminal 1 Pearson Airport at the end of the 25 minute long ride. The Union Pearson Express is expected to remove 1.2 million car trips from our roads in its first year of operation alone, and the line's future conversion to electric trains is expected to further reduce greenhouse emissions for the City.

Visit the UP Express dataBase file for a comprehensive collection of project facts and renderings, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread, or voice your opinion in the comments section provided at the bottom of this page.

Related Companies:  AECOM, EllisDon, Metrolinx, MMM Group Limited, Morrison Hershfield, WSP, Zeidler Partnership Architects