Track splitting on the Phase 2 LRT lines

Recall that  the Confederation Line will extend westward to Lincoln Fields, maybe by 2023.

From there, the line will split with one pair of tracks running on to Baseline Station, and the other going to Bayshore.


Of necessity, therefore, only every second train can go to either Baseline or Bayshore … and the frequency of service beyond Lincoln Fields can only be half that of the service to Lincoln Fields from the downtown. This forms a major constraint on the scheduling of trains, and for providing capacity.

If trains to Lincoln Fields are running every 10 minutes, then suddenly service drops to 20 minutes for Baseline or Bayshore.

To get around this “every second train” constraint, a current proposal for Lincoln fields station is to have a track for passengers going downtown, another for those going to Baseline, and another for shuttle trains that would run only from Lincoln Fields to Bayshore. If timing works out right (a very big IF) then the shuttle from Bayshore arrives and departs at the same time as the trains to and from the Baseline-Downtown tracks, and passengers make a quick and easy exit from the shuttle, cross the platform, into the mainline train. Good luck getting any seats.


This should work well. In theory. Even if it does require an additional “transfer” that the city was loathe to require with our bus rapid transit service.

The ‘west end solution’ is in marked contrast to that proposed to the south, at South Keys. 

The Trillium Line trains that currently terminate at Greenboro will continue south to South Keys, and beyond that the track will split, one branch going on to Leitrim and the other to the EY Centre and then the airport.


The same problem arises in scheduling and capacity offerings if every second train has to go to the airport or Leitrim, but not both. Rather than re-use the Lincoln Fields three platform solution that makes for easy direct transfers, at South Keys the city is proposing that the shuttle will come from the airport, enter the station, disgorge passengers, then exit the station empty to sit on a holding track elsewhere. Then when the mainline trains have gone by, re-enter the station to pick up airport-bound passengers.

Personally, if I was going to the airport I’d be rather distressed to see the shuttle depart empty to sit on that spare track while I shiver on the platform with my suitcase headed for someplace warmer in winter. Much more delightful would be to arrive at the station to find the shuttle sitting on an adjacent platform and acting as a very expensive heated waiting room, much like the trains do now at Bayview Station. It also avoids putting a lot of mileage on the empty trains and wear and tear on the switches to constantly shuffle trains around.

There are no perfect solutions, but better ones offer familiar movements and practices at both lines, at both split ends. That’s why most of the stations have similar layouts and movement patterns for passengers. Familiarity and commonality make perfect.


9 thoughts on “Track splitting on the Phase 2 LRT lines

  1. The airport shuttle seems utterly impractical whatever the solution. You will not likely find anything similarly complicated elsewhere. This is planning by folks who likely have not studied any of the solutions at other mid-sized cities.
    Double transfers are NOT the solution. Increased frequency on the mainline is. And if you cannot justify the frequency you might as well bus people.

  2. On the Trillium Line, the new signaling system was installed so that flexible responses could be used regarding the “Y” split between the airport and the Leitrim Road Transit Station and parking facility. There will be no need for shuttles. Both lines will not be needed in maximum use at all parts of the day. For example 2 out of every 3 trains can split to the airport during most of the day (assuming a 8-10 minute frequency) when the need to service the parking lot and connecting buses at Leitrim is much less necessary. That can change to a 1 to 1 split during rush hour or even favoring the Leitrim site when the airport passenger traffic carrying needs decline in the evening. Keeping in mind, our Airport is just not that busy at 4.6 Million passengers a year (90th busiest airport in North America). The current transit passenger levels would easily be handed by 1 train every half hour even at the busiest portions of the day. The current transit passenger levels for the airport is about 800-900 on regular business day (2014), that’s in and outbound combined. That’s up from 600 a day in before the new passenger terminal was built.

    As for the Confederation Line we will be running trains at180-200 second peak hour frequency when the system starts in 2018. Even with a 1 to 1 split of trains at the “Y” during peak periods that equates to 360-400 seconds plus a 10-30 second safety margin (required a by law at a “Y” junction) that’s a 370-430 second peak frequency. Or 1 train every 6 minutes and 10 seconds to 7 minutes and 10 seconds. Remember each one of these trains has 2 cars and is 96-98 metres long with a 600 person crush capacity (300 per car), with a great amount of passenger turn over by the time westbound trains reach Lincoln Fields Station. This is also assuming the frequency isn’t increased due to the fact that we are buying 2 more complete trainsets (2 cars per train or 4 more cars total) at a guaranteed price with the Federal money we recently got. We have ample capacity given our current levels at the planned Y split for a considerable time.

  3. For the Lincoln Fields proposal, I read instead that the mainline tracks would be used for most trains, and the additional track would be a reserved track for if there happens to be 3 trains entering the station at the same time. A necessary requirement once the frequency is significant enough.

    With the extra platform, you’d basically be on the west platform when going south and west, and on the east platform when going downtown. Both the ‘shuttle’ and Baseline bound trains would use the central track wherever possible; it would be most practical if the ‘shuttle’ train always used the central track, and the southbound trains would use the west track whenever the central track isn’t available.

  4. For the Trillium Line proposal, it basically would be just adding a third set of tracks north of the station, like exists on some sections of the Skytrain in Vancouver area.

    1. Also note that this layout appears similar in the other Lincoln Fields concept map south of Lincoln Fields, except with 4 tracks instead of just 3.

  5. It seems like the peak frequency will be fine, but what about the off-peak frequency. A train every 10 minutes at Lincoln Fields becomes a train every 20 at Bayshore and Baseline.

    What about running shuttle trains from Bayshore-Lincoln Fields-Baseline-Lincoln Fields-Bayshore. Time it so one arrives at Lincoln Fields just before the downtown-bound train from the other terminus, and one arrives at Lincoln Fields just after a westbound train has departed for the other terminus.

    1. I think it would be less confusing for the customer if all the ‘shuttle’ trains went further to Lebreton Station! And instead, we had many trains from Blair to Lincoln Fields. Rather than using the described short loop shuttle approach.

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