Now that end work on the Bay GO Concourse and retail and user comfort improvements at Toronto's Union Station is in sight, Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario (IO) have released a request for qualifications (RFQ) to prequalify project teams to deliver the Union Station Enhancement project, to improve the station's ability to handle increased passenger loads and more trains up top.

Aerial view of Union Station, image, Ed Skira

For the project, a team will design and build transit infrastructure and upgrade the southernmost part of Union Station to accommodate more GO Transit trains, improve passenger experience and help Metrolinx expand GO rail services.

To help increase capacity at the station, the scope of work includes:

  • building new platforms to reduce overcrowding during peak hours and add more train capacity to the station;
  • building a canopy or roof structure over the new platform to protect passengers and equipment from the weather;
  • widening older platforms;
  • installing "vertical-access elements", such as stairs and elevators;
  • building two new tracks to allow for future passenger train speeds of as much as 72.4 kilometres per hour (45 miles per hour), including signals;
  • building a new a pedestrian concourse area below the new platform to improve circulation through the station;
  • improving the emergency-power system to keep services running during a power outage; and
  • installing a storm-water management system and other building systems.

A view of Union Station train shed from the east side of platform five in 2014, image, James Bow, Transit Toronto

The RFQ is the just first step in the process to identify a team to tackle the project. Metrolinx and IO will evaluate respondents to the RFQ against the criteria that the request documents outline, including team members, experience in delivering projects collaboratively, health and safety and past project examples.

The two provincial agencies hope to deliver the project, through IO's "alliance contracting" model. (IO formerly called this process the alternate financing and procurement (AFP) program.) According to IO, alliance contracting is a way of delivering major capital assets, where a public-sector agency works collaboratively with private sector-parties to share the risks and responsibilities in delivering a project.

A more recent view in the train shed after extensive renovation, image, Scott Money, Metrolinx

Metrolinx, meanwhile, is continuing with several projects to modernize and upgrade Union Station. It's building the infrastructure for two-way, all day transit with 15-minute service or better within the most heavily travelled Metrolinx-owned rail corridors, twice the number of trains during rush hour and four times the number of trains during other times weekdays and weekends. To support this massive expansion, it's also adding signalling systems and larger platforms at the station, while improving the tracks and corridors feeding into it.

On train platforms, it recently finished installing infrastructure to support new digital signs, security cameras, lighting and a better public-address system--and the necessary wiring to ensure these devices work even if the power goes out. It's also installed wider yellow tactile tiles to help passengers keep a safe distance from the platform edge.

Metrolinx recently added yellow tactile strips to platform edges for passenger safety, image, Stacey Kenny, Metrolinx

It's also renovating the Bay East Teamway, the interior walkway on the east side of Bay Street. It's replacing the ceiling, flooring, windows and doors and improving GO-train and GO-bus digital signage. The teamway will also provide an interior connection between the new Union Station Bus Terminal, currently under construction as part of the CIBC SQUARE complex at 81 Bay Street.

Extended platforms west of the train shed, image, Scott Money, Metrolinx

Metrolinx has also recently extended some of the platforms by installing new concrete curbs and asphalt surfacing outside of the train-shed for future service needs.

(Meanwhile, the City of Toronto continues with its own project to modernize the station building.)

Let us know what you think about plans to improve Union Station by adding your comments in the space provided at the bottom of this page, or join the discussion in our dedicated Forum thread.

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