On November 17th, Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the Lakeshore East - East Corridor Expansion project. Specifically, this RFP is for a series of improvements to the Lakeshore East corridor between Beechgrove Road, just east of Guildwood GO, and Durham Junction, just west of Pickering GO. This work is being done in support of Metrolinx's Regional Express Rail (RER) plan, which will bring minimum 15 minute service to nearly all GO lines by around 2024. The full list of works includes:
- Right-of-Way (ROW) works to construct 11 kilometers of third track infrastructure between Beechgrove Road and Durham Junction
- Expansion and upgrade of two rail bridges at Rouge River and Highland Creek
- Expansion and rehabilitation of existing culverts
- Construction of retaining walls to support additional track grading for the corridor
The issuing of this RFP follows a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) that was issued by Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario back in March. In conjunction with that RFQ, UrbanToronto published an article that detailed all of the projects currently under construction and in planning for the Lakeshore East corridor. The successful bidder is expected to be announced in the summer of 2018, with construction beginning shortly afterwards.
For those unfamiliar with the Lakeshore East line, it runs from Union Station to Oshawa GO station, a distance of just over 50 km. For the innermost 14 km, it shares trackage with the Stouffville line, which branches off northward at Scarborough Junction. From Union Station to Pickering GO, the Lakeshore East corridor shares trackage with VIA (and marginally CN), but east of Pickering GO the GO service operates on its own tracks, a legacy of the cancelled GO-ALRT project.
East of Guildwood GO, the Lakeshore East corridor reduces from three tracks to two, leading to what Metrolinx calls a "bottleneck [that] currently creates an operational challenge for the entire line." This operational challenge extends from just east of Galloway Rd to Durham Junction, located just west of Pickering GO. It is this bottleneck that this RFP and its associated works are attempting to rectify.
Under Metrolinx's GO RER plan, the entire Lakeshore East line is planned to receive minimum 15 minute all-day two-way service, with peak periods being even more frequent than that. The Stouffville line will also get the same 15 minute service levels, a considerable increase for a line which only got hourly quasi-all-day two-way service earlier this year (GO technically classifies it as all-day two-way, but the service currently lacks counter-flow trips during peak periods, hence the unofficial "quasi").
In order to facilitate the increased rail traffic of RER, there is a separate expansion project being undertaken for the Lakeshore East corridor between the Don River and Scarborough Junction, where Metrolinx is adding a fourth track to the corridor. This additional track will be used by the Lakeshore East line, the Stouffville line, and the future SmartTrack line, which is in essence GO RER specifically catering to Toronto.
While these two projects are very large in scale, they also have a relatively micro component to them as well. One of the most challenging micro aspects of these projects is the issue of grade separations. The Lakeshore East corridor has a total of seven at-grade vehicular crossings, six of which are within the City of Toronto (with all of those in Scarborough). Decisions are currently being made on whether to grade separate this crossings, or simply close them. One of the crossings planned to be grade separated is Scarborough Golf Club Road, which is causing its namesake to consider whether or not to remove the Curling Club building in order to accommodate the underpass.
We will keep you up to date with any Lakeshore East or RER-related news. In the meantime, you can also join the discussion by visiting our associated forum thread, or by leaving a comment in the space provided on this page.