Construction on the Union Pearson Express (UPX) continues, with a completion date scheduled in the Spring of 2015. Developed by Metrolinx and built by EllisDon, the train will connect Union Station in Downtown Toronto with Pearson International Airport, both set to welcome twice as many visitors by 2031 than they do today. In the short term, UPX will help to handle the Pan Am Games crowds this Summer by providing a more direct and reliable way to reach downtown or the airport. Indeed, the trains will run every 15 minutes and reach their final destination in 25 minutes only. 

Map of the future Union Pearson Express line, image courtesy of Metrolinx

For the March 3, 2015 Metrolinx Board Meeting, UPX released a precise readiness update. Starting with Union Station, we learn that the 18,396 square foot space, spreading over two levels, is now structurally finished. Interiors and the exterior signage and way-finding system are being worked on now. The 64 sliding glass doors that seal the station from the elements to provide a climate-controlled environment have been installed along the platform and tested. They will open in synchronization with the train doors and improve safety for passengers waiting to get aboard by blocking the access to the rails.

Trains will leave Union Station every 15 minutes, image courtesy of Metrolinx

Currently underway are the installation of features such as info-screens, fare and WiFi systems, airline check-in kiosks, PRESTO validators, ATMs and furniture. The future retail spaces are being designed and fitted out. UPX's main partner, CIBC, will provide free access to the internet on trains and at stations and will open a lounge known as the UPstairs lounge at Union Station.

The CIBC UPstairs lounge at Union Station, image courtesy of Metrolinx

Moving on to the stations located in-between the extremities of the line, the Bloor and Weston stations both necessitated the construction of three 73-metre long concrete platforms, now poured. They are equipped with a snow-melting system to keep the platforms accessible and safe at any time of year. Integrated with the GO and TTC transit systems to provide passengers with a direct and easy connections with other modes of transit, these stations are now also equipped with weather-proof shelters, canopies, and are accessible to disabled people. Signage, elevator access, passenger drop-off areas, and info-screens are yet to be put in place, but will be in the upcoming months. 

The Weston Station, featuring a canopy and weather-proof shelters, image courtesy of Metrolinx

The Pearson Airport station at Terminal 1 represents 808 m2 of finished space sitting 28 metres above the ground. It is now complete with 4.5-metre high windows, oak cladding throughout the interior, platform screen doors, fixtures and furniture, way-finding and signage, flight info screens, PRESTO validators, and ticketing kiosks all installed and tested.

Pearson Station at Terminal 1, image courtesy of Metrolinx

Infrastructure-wise, the Georgetown South rail corridor 60km of new tracks laid while 200,000m3 of concrete were poured to either widen or modify the existing bridges and build tunnels, allowing for both the increased GO service and the UPX to run at the same time, both ways. To link the Georgetown South rail corridor to the airport an elevated, 3-km long spur line soaring 28 metres above ground and standing on 70 piers was built. This is the longest elevated bridge in Ontario, threaded above a complex road system. 

The 3-km long spur line is the longest elevated bridge in Ontario, image courtesy of Metrolinx

As of today, 18 vehicles have been manufactured, with 16 shipped to Toronto. 12 have received track worthiness certification, while the remaining ones are being tested at speeds up to 145 km per hour.

Inside the trains, many features are aimed at giving riders the best possible experience during their trip. Upcoming stop information and and up-to-date flight information will be displayed on more than 248 infotainment screens throughout the system (many of which are on the platforms), supplemented with voice announcements. Security will be ensured by CCTV and passenger assistance alarms. Extensive overhead and luggage storage shelves will be available throughout the trains, while internet ports and charging outlets located by the seats will keep patrons connected. Finally all maintenance, operations, security and emergency protocols have been finalized, as the operation crew is being recruited and trained. 

A UPX train at Pearson Station, image courtesy of Metrolinx

37 tests were conducted to ensure the best customer satisfaction, with 300 elements captured through the eyes of the customer and UPX's Information Technology and Communications committee.

We will be back to cover significant milestones as the Union Pearson Express line opens in the Spring. More information about the project is available in our dataBase file, linked below. If you want to get involved in the discussion, leave a comment in the space provided at the bottom of this page, or click on the associated Forum thread link.

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