Earlier today, UrbanToronto toured the soon-to-be open Union Pearson Express terminal at Union Station. Situated along the SkyWalk, slightly west of Union Station's central building, the new station is set to greet passengers with panoramic views and a warm, welcoming interior, as the UP Express prepares to enter into service on June 6th.

Designed by Zeidler Partnership Architects, the new Metrolinx facility provides an efficient and comfortable connection between the country's largest airport and busiest rail hub. Directly connected to the TTC, GO Transit, and VIA Rail—as well as the 14km PATH networkthe Union Station platform offers a smooth transition between the airport and the bustling heart of the city.

    The platform at Union Station, image by Jack Landau

Inside, the station is clad in a bright oak veneer, softening the natural light that pours in through the panoramic windows. While the views to the south and west show off some of Toronto's tallest and most impressive skyscrapers—including the CN Tower, the cosmopolitan grandeur outside is met by a calm and naturalistic interior.

    The Y columns "symbolize hands up in the air" -Kathy Healy, image by Jack Landau

According to Kathy Haley, Union Pearson Express President, the design of the trains, stations, and staff uniforms, is meant to evoke the landscapes and climates of Ontario. With a wooden interior accented by notes of coloursage, copper, and pumpkinrepresenting Ontario's rich autumn foliage, a distinctly urban experience remains soothingly grounded in natural heritage. Amidst the rush and anxiety that often accompanies travel, the UP Express platform offers the welcome respite of a calm, stress-free space.

  Kathy Healy, President, UP Express, image by Marcus Mitanis

With trains to Pearson departing every 15 minutes, the UP Express also provides a reliable alternative to the unpredictability of city traffic. While the journey itself only takes 25 minutes, the platform is also equipped with screens displaying flight status, as well as early check-in facilities for AirCanada and WestJet (with other airlines pending), making for a more efficient and predictable travel experience.

   Flight status displays and self check-in counters, image by Marcus Mitanis

At platform level, guests are greeted with comfortable seating and a large west-facing window showcasing Toronto's rising South Core. On the second floor, the expansive CIBC "UPstairs" lounge (still in the final stages of construction) will provide another comfortable and open seating space. Meanwhile, the main level also features CIBC ATMs dispensing five types of international currency, while touch-screen ticket machines and Presto card readers offer a simple and user-friendly fare system. 

  Ticket machines and Presto readers, image by Craig White

The platform level also features a central information desk staffed by UP representatives to assist guests with any questions and concerns. Rounding out the main level, the eastern end of the platform features convenient retail space, including a Balzac's Coffee Roasters outpost (selling "UPcakes" and "UP Expresso") steps away from the train.

Balzac's Coffee Roasters, image by Craig White

The station's other anchor retailer is the Drake General Store, which offers an entirely Canadian-made range of gifts and apparel. Balzac's and the Drake General Store are soon set to be joined by a rotation of pop-up stores, which will highlight local cultural institutions like the AGO and the Second City, both of whom will be among the first temporary tenants.

    The Drake General Store, image by Craig White

A unique range of UP branded apparel is available at the Drake General Store; in this case, this jacket is tagged with the coordinates of Union Station.

      UP Express Apparel, image by Craig White

The UP Express station is fully enclosed and climate controlled, with platform screen doors that minimize passengers' exposure to the elements. This allows passengers leaving from the station to board their flights without setting a foot outside between Downtown Toronto and Dubai or Dublin or Dusseldorf. Level entry also means that potentially cumbersome luggage and strollers roll onto the train with ease.

Boarding the train, image by Jack Landau

The 1,672 square metre station is spacious, centrally located, and fully accessible; a rare transit hub both aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate.

We will return in the coming days with photos from our visit to UP Express' Pearson Airport station, as well as our ride on the train! In the meantime, additional information and renderings of the Union Pearson Express can be found in our dataBase file for the project, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided at the bottom of this page.

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