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Metrolinx, Infrastructure Ontario release
initial business case for Ontario line

Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario (IO) have released the initial business plan for the Government of Ontario’s proposed Ontario Line, a rapid-transit corridor that replaces the City of Toronto’s plans for the Relief Line subway.


Last April, Premier Doug Ford announced that the province would build the new line through central and east-end Toronto. The proposal is the keystone of a $28.5 billion plan to expand “Ontario’s” transit network for which the province is committing $11.2 billion.

According to a post on Metrolinx’ weblog, staff preparing the initial business case have determined that “the new subway line will better connect people to where they want to go, and will also reduce travel times across Toronto.”

“Toronto needs more than a subway, it needs a better transit network, and this is precisely what the new Ontario Line will deliver,” said Metrolinx president and chief executive officer, Phil Verster. “If you live in Thorncliffe Park, your commute to the heart of downtown will become 26 minutes - not 42 - freeing up more time for what is important to you.”


As Amanda Ferguson, Metrolinx senior advisor, issues and media relations writes in the blog post:

“The Ontario Line is an approximately 16km free-standing subway, connecting Ontario Place/Exhibition through downtown Toronto to the Ontario Science Centre.

“The line will better connect people to where they want to go, and reduce travel times across Toronto. It features 15 potential stations, including six interchange stations adding 17 new connections to GO Transit, existing subways and streetcars.”

The initial business case also fully describes the proposed route for the line. (You can read details of the route here.)


Metrolinx explains that some of the other benefits of the Ontario Line include:

Proven modern technology

  • Fully automated, driverless trains with modern signalling that enables high frequency service. Transit agencies in Paris, London and Singapore use similar technology.
  • Shorter trains and platforms about 100 metres in length.
  • As much as 6 kilometres of the line will be on the surface or over elevated structures in rail corridors. By elevating parts of the line, instead of tunnelling the province hopes not only to isolate the line from traffic but also significantly lower the cost of the project.

Faster commutes

  • As many as 40 trains per hour, 90 seconds apart, providing passengers with shorter wait times. (TTC subways operate about every two minues during rush hours.)

More connections

  • 389,000 daily boardings;
  • 15 potential stations, including six interchange stations, adding 17 new connections to GO Transit and TTC subways, streetcars and buses:
  • Connecting to three GO lines (Lakeshore East and Stouffville at the future East Harbour Station and to Lakeshore West at Exhibition.)
  • Four connections to TTC Line 1 Yonge - University, Line 2 Bloor - Danforth and the future Line 5 Eglinton (the Eglinton Crosstown light rail transit line.)
  • 10 connections to streetcars on Bathurst, Gerrard, King and Queen Streets and Spadina Avenue.
  • Providing 154,000 more people with walking distance access to rapid transit.
  • Making 53,000 more jobs accessible in 45 minutes or less for Toronto residents.


Less crowding

  • Reducing crowding by an average of 14 per cent “on the busiest stretch of Line 1” — the Yonge branch — and:
  • 15 per cent less crowding at Eglinton Station;
  • 17 per cent less crowding at Bloor / Yonge Station; and
  • 13 per cent less crowding at Union Station.

IO and Metrolinx plan to deliver the project using IO’s alternative financing and procurement model (AFP). According to IO, the “AFP model is an innovative way of financing and procuring large public infrastructure projects”. AFP uses private-sector resources and expertise, and transfers project risks to those private-sector teams, which are accountable for delivering the project on time and on budget.

Metrolinx states that “The initial business case is the first stage of the evidence-based decision-making process. Our team will continue to refine their work to the next stage through the Business Case life cycle.”

According to the document, “This initial business case evaluates the performance of the Ontario Line and Relief Line South compared to a Business as Usual (BAU) scenario as the basis for an investment decision. The BAU assumes that “In Delivery” projects from the 2041 Regional Transportation Plan are in service, as modified by Ontario’s Transit Plan, and that reasonable improvements to existing surface transit as well as signalling improvements to Line 1 are delivered.”

The authors of the initial business case further explain that “A Business Case is a comprehensive collection of evidence and analysis that sets out the rationale for why an investment should be implemented to solve a problem or address an opportunity. Business cases are required by Metrolinx’s Capital Projects Approval Policy for all capital infrastructure investments. “

You can read the initial business case here (.pdf).

Proposed route

In the initial business case document, Metrolinx more fully describes the route for the line.

“The Ontario Line starts at Exhibition Station with platforms at grade to allow for a cross-platform interchange with GO. It goes underground just west of Strachan Avenue and continues east, turning north under Bathurst Street to a station at King Street. It continues north, turning east under Queen Street West with stations at Spadina Avenue, University Avenue, Yonge Street and Sherbourne Street. At Berkeley Street/Parliament Street, the line turns south, with a station at the intersection of King Street, then turning east under the GO Corridor. The line rises within the rail corridor, with a portal east of Cherry Street.

“The Ontario Line crosses over the Don River and continues along the GO Rail corridor, along a widened embankment or elevated structure. There is a station with cross-platform interchange to GO at the proposed East Harbour, with stations along the rail embankment also at Queen and Gerrard. North of Gerrard, the Ontario Line drops into tunnel, with an interchange station with Line 2 Bloor-Danforth at Pape Avenue and Danforth. It continues north under Pape Avenue with a station at Cosburn Avenue.

“The line emerges in a portal on the cliff side above the Don Valley Parkway, west of the existing Leaside (Millwood) Bridge, approximately under Minton Place. The line crosses the Don Valley on a new bridge, and then continues on elevated guideway along Overlea Boulevard, to a station at Thorncliffe Park Drive. The line continues along Overlea Boulevard, turning north at Don Mills Road with an additional station at Flemingdon Park.

“An alternative route would follow the CP Rail corridor and then run along the south side of Eglinton Avenue and would serve the Flemingdon Park neighbourhood through the station at Ontario Science Centre/Eglinton Avenue.

“A train Maintenance and Storage Facility is assumed to be located alongside the CP Rail corridor, in the area of Wicksteed Avenue and Beth Nealson Drive. If the line is routed via Flemingdon Park, a connecting track would be required to the line at Overlea Boulevard.”

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