Empty tracks are shown against the cityscape of Toronto.

All GO Train service on Lakeshore East Line suspended Oct. 26-27

Major projects planned for the corridor during 2 days with no regular GO Trains running.

Oct 17, 2019

It’s a remarkable pause enabling a major push for work on the Lakeshore East Line.

On the weekend of Oct. 26-27, Metrolinx will shut down the entire corridor for most rail traffic, in order to complete several important infrastructure upgrades.

The work will stretch across almost 50 kilometres. Crews need space and time to complete their missions. That includes upgrades that will add two decades onto the lifespan of a major bridge.

That means no regular weekend commuter GO train service – though a few other rail companies may have rail vehicles moving, including CN freight trains.

GO buses will help customers get to and from downtown if they are travelling from the east.

Having barely any trains running on this important, busy line is a rare event – one that’s being done to support a number of important projects that will strengthen the corridor.

Over the past few years, Metrolinx has embarked on an ambitious project to upgrade its rail system, all while continuing to provide service to passengers around the Greater Golden Horseshoe region.

“Planning for this type of major work has been ongoing for a couple of months now,” says Alan Britton, director of rail corridor maintenance at Metrolinx.

“The work delivery involves well over 150 people on the corridor at any given time with dozens of heavy equipment and material spread across the 30 miles (48.3 kms.) of the Lakeshore East Corridor.”

Moving trains while doing the heavy lifting can be a challenge. So sometimes, you need to stop before you can go. A complete shutdown of the corridor to regular GO service is necessary to get as much work done as possible. And below, we’ve broken down some of the many fixes that will take place.

Metrolinx is taking advantage of a rare full closure to complete multiple essential projects at once. This strategy will help to avoid dragging out the work and the inconvenience to customers over a much longer period of time

Crews work on a bridge, including a large crane lowering material onto a span.

Bridge Support:

According to Britton, the primary reason for the closure is to permit major bridge rehabilitation efforts on the Danforth Bridge, between Warden Ave. and Birchmount Rd, on the Lakeshore East Corridor.

Over the weekend, crews will be working to replace ballasts and waterproof materials on the tracks.

The work will ensure the safety of not just GO passengers on the Lakeshore East trains, but also the drivers and pedestrians who travel underneath the bridge – adding another 20 years to the bridge’s lifespan.

But the Danforth Bridge rehabilitation isn’t the only work happening along this important corridor.

“We decided to capitalize on the closure and have many other work efforts completed between Oshawa and Union Station,” says Britton.

“This reduces the overall service and customer impacts across multiple weekends, between now and the end of the year, to just one weekend.”

Two crane lift rail into place, as crews stand by.

Crossing over delays:

A project that’s piggybacked onto the closure is the rehabilitation of two rail crossings at Beechgrove Drive in Scarborough and Rodd Avenue in Pickering.

This is expected to add five years of improved service for customers.

It will also mean both Beechgrove Drive and Rodd Avenue will be closed during this work.

At Rodd Avenue, residents living on the south side can use a temporary detour road through the Petticoat Creek Conversation Area to access Highway 401 and other routes. 

Signal upgrades and improvement for Ajax GO:

Further east, crews will be upgrading signal equipment during the weekend, to improve train performance and prevent future delays along the entire corridor.

If you’re commuting from Ajax GO, you can expect to see the start of upgrades planned at your station. Come Monday, Oct. 28, the platform will be ready for the installation of new tactile yellow tiles that enhance safety by reminding passengers how far back to stand. The work at Ajax is part of the GO Expansion plan to enhance accessibility, safety and communication features at 29 stations. 

“First and foremost, Metrolinx takes safety, customer satisfaction and our service very seriously,” says Britton.

“We are continuously making smart investments in all types of Metrolinx infrastructure to ensure we can deliver an enjoyable experience for our customers.”

A large vehicle hauls soil at a rail site, as men work close by.

A better train ride:

There are tentative plans to replace old railway ties and correct track elevations between Pickering and Guildwood GO Station, making train rides smoother and more comfortable. Improving the track infrastructure will add five years of service.

Residents living along the corridor can expect night work and construction impacts.

Getting around:

A GO Transit rail shutdown doesn’t mean passengers will be left stranded though. Metrolinx has made arrangements so everyone along the corridor can get to where they want to go during the closure.

For those planning to head downtown on the weekend, and who are coming from the Durham Region stations (Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax or Pickering), Route 90B GO buses will be running between these stations and the Union Station Bus Terminal.

Lakeshore West customers won’t be impacted, but if they plan on heading east past Union Station to any of the Durham Region stations, they too will have to take the Route 90B bus from Union Station Bus Terminal.

In both cases, customers using PRESTO need to tap on the device when boarding and exiting the GO bus.

When all is said and done, at least five projects will be complete in the span of two days, which will result in several benefits to Lakeshore East passengers and neighbouring communities for years to come. We know customers on the line will have to be patient with us for a weekend, but it’s short term pain, for long term gain.

For more information about the project, head over to this GO site or sign up for our On the GO email or text alerts. You can also follow the Lakeshore East line on Twitter @GOtransitLE.

For a weekend where very little regular rail traffic will move along the line, it’s going to be very busy for the crews taking advantage of the rare calm.

by Nitish Bissonauth Metrolinx bilingual editorial content advisor