Switch Machines Replacement Project (SMRP)

Union Station is Canada’s busiest passenger transportation hub, with approximately 200,000 GO Train commuters passing through every day. Since it is a vital part of the journey in and out of Toronto, Metrolinx and the City of Toronto are working together to restore it and make it easier for passengers to move quickly and comfortably in it.

As part of the Union Station signalling system upgrades project, 183 switch machines (the mechanism that moves the switch) will need to be replaced within the Union Station Railway Corridor (USRC). These essential modernizations will allow for increased train speeds in and out of Union station, giving customers more train trips with shorter travel times. Completion is scheduled for December 2017.

The project scope included the installation of ALSTOM’s 130ea. Grand Master 4000A (GM) and 50ea. 5E switch machines, and their associated infrastructure components, to replace the existing 5A switches. This included the moving of 110ea. Grand Master switches from the Metrolinx storage facility in Mississauga to the USRC, and the purchase of 70ea. additional units (20 GMs and 50 5Es).

Each new GM switch will require new cabling, testing, commissioning, and integration with a Vital Processor Interlocking Control System (VPI). Within the Cherry St. interlocking existing bungalows and a VPI will support the additional switches however to support the project at the Scott St. and John St. interlockings new bungalows, Central Interface Locations (CILs) and Integrated Vital Processing Interlocking (iVPIs) were installed to house support infrastructure for the switches. The 5Es would work to adjust the Frogs of the Double Slip Switches currently in place.

Frogs are a common crossing point in the track, designed to ensure the wheel crosses from one track to another. It was necessary to upgrade the Frogs because the current system relies on 5As which GO Transit’s proposed NMS is unable to control.

For the installation of the 130ea. GMs, 50ea. 5Es and associated infrastructure, TTR provided the following services to Metrolinx:

  • Project Management: TTR acted as the primary contact for all construction activities for the project. In this role, TTR was responsible for managing the updated drawings as provided by the selected engineering firm, procurement of all 3rd party services through multiple bids, and providing regular project updates to Metrolinx.
  • Signals work: TTR signals personnel is currently finishing the installation of the switches and necessary signalling infrastructure including cables, bungalows/ CILs and their contents. This will ensure that the same staff that installed the first round of switches is utilized to leverage their specific experience for the new project. TTR has worked with HDI to make all the necessary connections from the switches, through the applicable junction boxes and bungalows to the towers and to test and commission new appliances.
  • Flagging: TTR ensured that all construction activities will be properly protected with flagging resources. The executed plan provided 1 dedicated flagman throughout the period of work.
  • Locates: TTR provided all locate services for the project to ensure that all existing cabling infrastructure is considered upon the commencement of any excavation/digging work. This has led TTR to locating existing railway utilities or arranging for third party locators to locate their utilities within the work area. The current plan provided for 1 dedicated locator throughout the period of work.
  • Track Work: Support for installation of switches and associated infrastructure by signals department and installation of 203 A&B and 592B turnouts.

The cutover, replacement and testing & commissioning of the new switches has occurred within a total of forty (40)ea. Work Sequences (stages) during week-end hours from Friday night till early Monday morning at an average of 4-switch machine changes per sequence; this has permitted minimum disruption to Metrolinx train movement schedule and maintained operational service levels that were source of revenue to client.

TTR has taken the opportunity to assist in the modernization of the switching infrastructure to allow for the optimal operation of train movements within the USRC. As the maintainers of the Corridor for the past 110 years, TTR takes great pride in the work that was done for Metrolinx and has received acknowledgement and appreciation for its signal operations department.