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.