UP Express is Dead?! Major Overhaul Coming! | In the News [CC]
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UP Express is Dead?! Major Overhaul Coming! | In the News [CC]

Hey guys so judging that you read the thumbnail and the title of this video this is news that I just received literally minutes ago but we decided we had to make a video because it’s really interesting so is the UP Express gonna get totally torn out oh my god what’s happening everyone’s losing their minds No so in classic Toronto transit journalism fashion that article came out which will be linked in the description and it does a good job of summarizing this situation and well also you know making it seem like things are really like extreme and tomorrow we’re gonna like lose the UP Express or something not the case. [Music] So background UP Express opened in 2015 and frankly it might be my favorite rail service in Canada to an airport that being said there’s currently only two so that’s not really a huge you know toss-up I think rail service to airports can really take I guess four forms okay you can have like a metro service I mean technically you could have a light rail service but I think that that you know light rail yeah that’s how I feel about light rail but you could have a metro service you can have a local like heavy rail service you can have an Express heavy rail service and then you can have high-speed rail now I think the order of priority should probably be something like local Express these two are like the highest priority and then or sorry Metro Express connection local heavy rail connection and then high-speed rail so Vancouver went for the Metro connection with the Canada Line of course since Vancouver’s Airport is a lot closer to the downtown Canada Line hooks you up to downtown Vancouver in 25 minutes now when the UP Express opened in 2015 the same time was met however the line only has a total of two intermediate stations versus the Canada Line having like almost 10 I think so there’s a big difference in the number of stations fortunately the UP Express does connect to the Bloor-Danforth line at Bloor Street whoever unfortunately there’s not a direct pedestrian tunnel between the stations so you have to do this kind of awkward jaunt around the block it doesn’t sound bad but if you have bags it’s awkward if it’s raining or snowing it just sucks right so ideally since it’s really one station they’d be hooked up with a pedestrian tunnel so this happens in 2015 of course also much to the kind of upset of people along the rail corridor the UP Express opened with diesel trains which in my personal opinion is not really a big deal it’s the diesel trains are using tier 4 which is like the highest environmental standard for diesel of course that’s not saying much but so that’s kind of the state of the UP Express of course the trains used on the UP Express are also as the article calls them bespoke which i think is very nice way of putting it essentially they’re unique to the UP Express and the SMART train which is a train that operates north of San Francisco in in the U.S. obviously it operates kind of a regional service not super high usage so there’s two systems that operate these trains they’ve proven quite unreliable and yeah not easily replaced with new cars of the same type however there are lots of high floor diesel trains of this style and then yes the trains are high floor which makes them a little bit you know they’re incompatible with the current GO system because the GO system right now uses low platforms and the UP Express uses high platforms now the high platforms are probably better overall since they allow you to use trains that are a lot more like Subway’s where you notice that Subway trains always have you know high floors so there are potentially toss up benefits to that but that’s the state of the UP Express it’s unique from the GO system the trains are relatively small they’re unique to that system and then we get to kind of the present so at present the UP Express of course when it opened was not super successful but now it’s actually quite successful and this is actually starting to prove a bit of a problem because during peak hours the Train is standing room only and honestly I think if there was more capacity ie more seats it would probably be a more attractive service for people to ride on so Metrolinx realizing that the service is popular which is not uncommon for Metrolinx I mean the Lakeshore lines are quite popular a lot of the commuter services are super popular so Metrolinx operates plenty of popular lines Metrolinx
has probably realized that oof we’re not gonna have enough capacity going forward now why is that well the UP Express already operates three-car trains for at least half of their trains now the trains can’t easily be extended of course you could add a fourth car and then the train would overhang the platform at Pearson & Union but that’s really not ideal something that I don’t think a Canadian transit agency ever wants to do is have selective door opening which is where you have a car overhang the platform you just opened the doors on the part of the train that is on the platform so with all this in mind you also have to look at the fact that Union only has one platform which is a little interesting Pearson has two platforms but since Union only has one platform the frequency of the trains going in and out is quite limited sorry now it only operates at a 15 minute service now you might say Oh 15 minutes that’s pretty good for GO which it is but given that you have expressed currently and perhaps in the future too is the only frequent service on that part of the Georgetown South Corridor and currently on any part of the Georgetown South Corridor it gets a lot of use and especially in the western end of Toronto its potential for a lot of ridership on the line especially if you added more stations what the article has revealed is that Metrolinx has a potential internal plan to replace the bespoke trains with regular GO trains or in a kind of alternate scenario replace the current set up where the platform at Union is on the side with center platform somewhere along the end of Union Station and then connected to the rest of the station with pedestrian bridge so I imagine that the scenario where you have the pedestrian bridge and an island platform being added at Union that will involve some probably new electric trains that are potentially more like metro trains which would actually be something I’d be supportive of I think that an UP Express service operating with trains with three doors per car and a bit more you know inward-facing seating and such could be a really good idea of course it’s not the premium service that the UP Express launched as – but given that this line could potentially operate a bit more like a metro or a subway having the kind of larger trains with more doors actually makes a lot of sense especially since the line is already quite successful without having a lot of those Metro like features that being said I guess it’s also possible to relatively easily extend the platform’s at Union since that one would be brand new as well as Bloor and Weston also in the article it was mentioned that Metrolinx is talking about you know upgrading the guideway at Pearson so I think it would be potentially feasible to also extend that platform at least one more car long that means that you have trains potentially similar to the ones operating on line four which are quite significantly long subway trains around about a hundred meters long operating on the UP Express very exciting stuff the other option presented by Metrolinx is to operate the up Express service with whatever trains it acquires for RER now I’m a bit ambivalent on this because I think a lot of people’s expectation is that the trains operating on RER will be EMUs use so more like the subway trains but of a similar scale to a GO train and there’s still going to be more regional style trains which means that their trains that have probably four doors per car and relatively slow for on on loading and offloading people and they’ll probably maintain a low platform what this means is that along the line some reconfiguration would have to happen for the trains to still operate I think the guideway going into Pearson would probably be okay if the weight given that EMUs use are lighter than the current rolling stock operating there however it is going to be a bit of an issue adjusting that platform to be low floor such that it can operate with GO trains a possible alternative would be to order trains with doors at a low level and a high level which Caltrain has done for their electrified system however I I don’t think that’s really an ideal situation especially from an accessibility perspective because if someone with a wheelchair gets on the lower level at any of the preceding stations to Pearson they then have to somehow get to the upper level to get off the train and that probably involves a janky wheelchair lift and I don’t think anyone was that so that’s my thoughts on that that being said say that Pearson can be converted to a low floor station or say that by a miracle the RER services and the new electrical trains we get on GO end up being high floor trains there’s a lot of very interesting possibilities here it’s also mentioned in the article that Metrolinx is considering operating up to eight trains per hour to pearson which would be fantastic that means a train leaving every seven minutes approximately what’s even more great about this is that they talk about kind of a mixed service pattern so what I see this being most likely is four trains per hour Express to Pearson and then four trains per hour local stopping at all the stops in between this actually makes a lot of sense because the Kitchener corridor the Georgetown South Corridor has a lot of stations likely to be added to it St. Clair King-Liberty Mount Dennis currently being added Woodbine being added it so there you go four more stations plus you have Weston and Bloor and potentially any other station I’m forgetting well it’s six stations the travel time would be extended probably more around 40 minutes so I think that’s less than an ideal situation for an express train but certainly for a local service that makes a ton of sense that being said another possible service pattern we could see is like six trains per hour operating the local service and two operating the Express service given how fast the Express serves would be I’m sure people would be willing to wait a little bit longer for it so with all this said and done what do I think of this plan well the idea of having Express and local services operating is actually awesome in my personal opinion this reminds me a lot of what you have at Heathrow
in London where you basically have the Heathrow connect which I believe is being converted to Crossrail as well as the Heathrow Express which is just operates as an express service direct to Paddington in central London having these two different service modes on one heavy rail corridor makes a lot of sense since it’s unlikely we see another heavy rail corridor going out to pearson operating multiple services from it makes a ton of sense of course the Georgetown South Corridor is also going to be four tracked all the way out to the Pearson spur so there will be lots of capacity for local and Express services what’s more exciting about this though is that if traditional GO trains are used or if we end up going with high-level trains for our future RER system well the trains can actually through operate what’s exciting about that is you could potentially see Stouffville Line and Lakeshore Line trains through operating to Pearson know I’m not sure how I feel fully about that because that means that part of the line is a little older GO line and part of it is a really nice premium UP service but given that it seems like the UP service is probably going to die at least in name I don’t think the UP name is going to last perhaps that’s okay anyways I think this is really a interesting development I’ve actually thought a lot about whether they would consider just kind of scrapping the way the system is set up it only cost four hundred million dollars which is an unfortunate thing to say but in transit spending four hundred million dollars is kind of peanuts and given that a lot of that money was spent on stuff that can probably be reused to some degree I think it’s probably okay so with all this said what do I think the kind of future of Pearson Airport travel should look like because I think that really tightly relates to this so I think that the two train per hour Direct Express to Union which would probably be about 17 minute ride I’m guessing I think okay maybe a 20 minute ride I think that would be one thing we definitely would want put it at a higher fare perhaps even the original UP Express fare okay that’s it’s probably too high but slightly higher fare then you could have a local perhaps we would still call that up and you would have like train sets with a few slightly less doors because it’s just an express train then perhaps you have the GO Connect service I’m ripping off the Heathrow connect but you can have a connect service which is a 40-minute service to downtown Toronto but it’s making all stops of course this is not a model really unique to London lots of cities have it but I think London is kind of the most iconic then beyond that you would also have the Eglinton line connecting to Union end of the day it all turns Union into much more of an interesting transit hub which is something we’re definitely supportive of anyways guys we really jumped on the story last minute we hope you enjoyed our kind of thoughts on it as always if you liked the video like subscribe to our channel follow us on Instagram and Twitter and if you’re really passionate support us on Patreon thanks for watching have a good night [Music]


  • Mike W.

    Isn't Pearson also proposing an expanded transit 'hub' and will that have an impact on any U-P service? Side note, I hear by radio that the Union station doors (not the train doors) don't open sometimes, or not all of them and causes delays.

  • anindra pratama

    The airport train in Jakarta requires you to ride the Shuttle train (which is still manually driven with 10 minutes frequency)
    Other than the Airport branch, it mostly use existing tracks and the train change directions every journey to reach the airport and vice-versa
    At Downtown they build a dedicated station between 2 existing commuter stations, this station have a lot of parking above the tracks

  • rob mausser

    I think the UPX should have always been GO-RER from the get-go, but obviously we would be sans airport train right now if that was the case. We are looking at 2025 for GO-RER so we will still get 6 more years minimum out of the system. That being said, I believe the most expensive part was the airport spur; as long as they reuse this with GO-RER trains then its not a total wash. The spur had to be built to mainline standards, as is the rule by Transport Canada for using the UPX on a mainline, so it should support the weight of a double decker EMU. The Pearson station might have to be modified a bit. Perhaps we can buy some dual level boarding trains for the Kitchener Line, like Caltrain has: https://www.railjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Caltrain-Stadler.jpg and the high platforms can be maintained at the UPX stations. The current trains can be easily sold to SMART in California.

  • wl03bu

    Hamburg was amazing. There is an S Bahn that goes through downtown. Part way there it decouples with half the train going to the airport and half going elsewhere.

  • 7 Densha Master

    If GO rail is meant to transition into a type of RER service, then why not just upgrade the platforms to complete high floors like what LIRR and Metro-North did here in New York when electrification came to the commuter rail systems. It just seems like the logical way as so that UP Express does not have to replace the current rail cars

  • Diego Manni

    Maybe the UP Express can have like the Bi-Level trains like regular GO Trains but it’s high platform. Could that be possible? Lol

  • Shaun Fiedler

    I think the wait times at the stations can be cut dramatically. You don't need to have the train wait 5 minutes at the station. On the Canada Line in Vancouver the train is only at the station for maybe a minute or even shorter than that and it still gives people a chance to get on and get off with time to spare. This would help with increasing the frequency of trains on the line.

  • metropod

    Reminds me a bit of the issues faced by the old “JFK Express” line.

    A premium fare service created for airport passengers with dedicated , “bespoke” trains*, but in the end it was the local commuters using it as a “private” express service.

    (* the service launched in 1978 with dedicated three car trains of the then brand new R46 class cars, with “Train to the Plane” written on the side. I’m told they had luggage racks, but I’ve never seen photos of the insides)

  • Mark Rejhon

    Pearson Hub requires replacement LINK and one LINK replacement scenario could be UPX' replacement
    – Replace LINK with UPX viaduct loop extension. (free fare zone like Calgary C-Train downtown)
    – Replace LINK with LRT merger of Eglinton Crosstown & Finch West LRT. (free fare zone like Calgary C-Train downtown)
    – Replace LINK with a new peoplemover that goes all the way to Malton/Woodbine GO stations

  • Leonard Wilson

    I'm an American who visited Toronto this past July and used the UP Express. Plenty of people used it. Quite a few people even got on the intermediate stops. There's no way this route is losing money. It will really suck if it's eliminated.

  • Eric

    UPX got popular when they finally realized that price has a factor to it. I still think it should be lowered a bit more. If they can reduce the price a bit more and increase service to every 10 minutes then I think it will be super popular. Yes maybe change the vehicle as well.

  • Sudar G

    Thanks for making this video, alongside your other content. I am loving this content. I love obsessing over transit, especially in Canada. I find it so interesting looking at fantasy transit maps vs projected plans from agencies like Metrolinx.

    Looking forward to seeing what else is in the works!

  • big boi

    Changing the trains no big deal they were going to do that anyway with electrifying the line later on but adding a car is exciting. Just not understanding why they aren't merging with smarttrack

  • Rational Raven

    I think it's necessary to have high level platforms in order to make it accessible to both wheelchairs and luggage. I do really like the idea of having local and express trains. At rush hour with all the commuters it can be very difficult for the actual airport-bound passengers to fit their luggage on, so having dedicated express trains would solve that problem, since the majority of commuters are going to Bloor or Weston.
    I'd also like to eventually see some kind of connection west of the airport, like if they could have Kitchener trains which stop at Pearson and then continue on to Bramalea (highway 407 park and ride) and Brampton, etc., I think that would facilitate access for a huge number of people living in the suburbs west of Toronto

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