Big changes are coming to Union Station. In a short interview after Metrolinx’s December 7 board meeting, Phil Verster said that the station’s platforms will need to be substantially rebuilt to accommodate the influx of new passengers that will come with the GO RER program.
It has long been apparent that Union’s century-old platform arrangement—complete with platforms designed for handling mail—is, as Verster said, “not fit” for modern rail operations.
Right now, Union’s platforms are dangerously narrow. They’re also unsuitable for people with disabilities, and the need to climb steps into the trains slows loading and unloading, which limits capacity. Even bigger limits on capacity come from the bottleneck presented by the extremely narrow stairs, where people must file up and down single-file. This means that trains must dwell at the platforms while people slowly unload, and only then can the platform be announced to passengers waiting below and then passengers can climb the stairs up to the platform. The whole process takes a number of minutes. Imagine if each subway train at Yonge-Bloor station had to sit for five minutes or more while people loaded and unloaded. The subway would be completely non-functional.