The GO Transit Rail Improvement Program (“GO TRIP”) was the largest commuter rail project in Canada’s history. The $700-million, seven-year initiative (funded by three levels of government) increased the capacity and reliability of the GO Transit rail service throughout southern Ontario, where it carries nearly 55 million passengers annually.
A critical component of the program was to develop new rail overpasses to eliminate conflicts between GO trains, and CP and CN freight rail traffic. The existing at-grade crossings had limited the expansion of the train service and caused service delays for GO Transit.
The program also expanded the GO train service to the city of Barrie, and it improved the Georgetown rail corridor so as to accommodate an Air Rail Link between Toronto Pearson International Airport and Union Station in downtown Toronto.
Overall, the GO TRIP project comprised 11 major projects. These included 100 kilometres of new track, three grade separations, 16 new bridges, two layover facilities and 17 station expansions to accommodate new track and longer trains. There were also two feasibility studies for new lines.
AGM Program Managers, a consortium of Hatch Mott MacDonald, IBI Group and MMM Group, provided overall management of the program’s design and construction services. Specifically, AGM managed environmental assessments, public consultations, government agency and stakeholder coordination. AGM also managed the procurement, technical reviews, environmental compliance and operational analysis, as well as overseeing the design and construction.
Detailed programming and 80 contracts
AGM’s goal was to minimize the impacts of construction on the daily operations of GO Transit, which was a challenge due to the size and complexity of the initiative. Physical constraints along the rail corridors also created construction difficulties. Intricate planning and programming was required for staging the individual components of the program.
Eight major environmental assessments were involved, with stringent permitting and approval processes regulated by the provincial and federal governments, as well as local conservation authorities.
The program entailed over 80 design and construction contracts. The AGM team also had to reconcile widely diverse and often conflicting stakeholder concerns, including those of residents along the rail corridors, GO Transit customers, rail companies and three levels of government.
Expenditures were rigidly controlled through processes such as value engineering and innovation. AGM Program Managers also introduced alternative procurement processes to GO Transit, including design-build contracts.
An integrated design and project management approach engaged GO Transit, CN and CP Rail, consulting engineers, contractors and key stakeholders, resulting in the successful delivery of this complex and challenging program on time and within budget.
Technical innovations and environmental benefits
GO TRIP involved the first major application of mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) walls for rail embankment support. As well it included the first significant use in Canada of the Giken press-in piling method, which allowed the vibration-free installation of pipe piles within the congested rail corridor.
Another innovation was the jacking into place of a pre-assembled bridge span over the Credit River. This was a cost-effective, quick and safe method of installation, carried out overnight without interrupting commuter service or the recreational use of the river.
AGM also facilitated a special collaboration with the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton where the widening of a rail embankment evolved into a program for protecting an environmentally sensitive area, with restoration using native vegetation.
As a result of the program, on-time train performance and travel times for commuters were improved and the system’s capacity was increased.
Additionally, several stations were upgraded and made “step-free” accessible. On a broader scale, improvements to this public transit service have helped reduce vehicular traffic and related road congestion, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
GO TRIP resulted in over 4,000 person years of work, mainly in the consulting and construction industries, as well as enhanced economic opportunity in the communities that were added to the network. cce
GO Transit Rail Infrastructure Improvement Program (GO TRIP)
Award-winning firm (prime consultant):
AGM Program Managers / Hatch Mott MacDonald, IBI Group, MMM Group (Geoffrey Bubbers, P.Eng., Fouad Mustafa, P.Eng., Terry Kelly, P.Eng., Bob Nairn, P.Eng., Paul Nimigon, Margaret Tyszka, M.Eng., Mark Armstrong, P.Eng., Imants Hausmanis, P.Eng., George Karam, P.Eng., Philip Murray, P.Eng., Achille Ferrusi, P.Eng., Darney Mamman, P.Eng., Ivan Windsor)
GO Transit, A Division of Metrolinx. Other: R.J. Burnside & Assoc. (Barrie S. & Mt. Pleasant Stn. design/construction supervision).