Toronto transit technology takes a leap forward with the Crosstown LRT
23 March 2013

Toronto transit technology takes a leap forward with the Crosstown LRT

The $4.6 billion Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT project, part of the $8.4 billion development to build a 52km LRT line in Toronto.

The Crosstown is one of the largest – and most ambitious – infrastructure projects in North America, designed to improve transit in mid-town Toronto. There will be up to 26 stations in total, with an estimated 100 million trips annually in 2031

Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT

The $4.6 billion Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT project, part of the $8.4 billion development to build a 52km LRT line in Toronto, will run 19km from Black Creek (west end of Toronto) to Kennedy subway station (east end of Toronto) and is expected to be completed by 2020 (exact date is subject to significant amounts of variance like any transit project).

Related Transit Projects


Five other projects are also part of the largest LRT expansion in Toronto's history.

(1) Sheppard LRT

The 12km Sheppard LRT, which will link the Sheppard subway line at Don Mills subway station.

The line is to be operated by the Toronto Transit Commission. Metrolinx had budgeted $944.5 million from 2009 through 2014 for the design and construction of the line. Funding was approved by the provincial and federal governments in May 2009.

Detailed engineering had also been initiated for the grade separation of Sheppard Avenue East and the GO Transit tracks east of Kennedy Road. Construction for the line began on 21 December 2009 at Agincourt GO Station.

The line was expected to open on September 11, 2013, the first of the seven Transit City lines to be completed. The line was cancelled and construction halted by Mayor Rob Ford in April 2011, however City Council reinstated the line in March 2012. In June 2012, the province of Ontario announced that construction of the Sheppard East LRT would not resume until 2017 or finish until 2021.

(2) Scarbrough LRT Replacement

The 9.9km replacement and extension of the existing Scarborough LRT.

The upgrade and replacement of the Scarborough RT portion is scheduled to start in late 2015, after the conclusion of the 2015 Pan American Games and the 2015 Parapan American Games. Scarborough RT riders will be bussed for three years until the upgrade is completed.

Metrolinx and the TTC are considering opening the line in segments, rather than all at once. The project is targeted for completion in 2020.

(3) Finch West LRT

The 11km Finch West LRT.

The Finch West LRT is a proposed light rail line in Toronto. It was part of the original Transit City proposal announced on March 16, 2007, to be operated by the Toronto Transit Commission. Construction is to begin in 2015, and the line to be inservice from the Toronto-York-Spadina Subway Extension to Humber College in 2019.

When first announced, it was expected to cost approximately $1.2 billion, with construction to begin in 2010 and an expected opening in 2013, as the second of the seven Transit City lines to be completed after the Sheppard East LRT line.

On April 1, 2009, the Ontario government announced that it would provide funding for construction of this line. Mayor Rob Ford cancelled the line after taking office in December 2010. In February 2012, city council voted to restore the LRT as part of a new transit plan restoring some of the elements of the Transit City proposal.

The Finch West LRT line will run for 23.4 km, estimated to account for 25 million trips in 2021. The western terminus of the line will be built in the Highway 27/Humber College area in Etobicoke. The line will run along Finch Avenue West eastward, terminating at Finch Station in North York.

After the line is built, a future extension west into Mississauga is being considered.

(4) Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension

The Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension Project will provide a critical extension for the existing Toronto Transit Commission subway system across the municipal boundary between the City of Toronto and York Region.


The Toronto - York Spadina Subway Extension is an 8.6km extension from Downsview Station northwest through York University within the City of Toronto and north to the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, in The Regional Municipality of York.

YU Exterior main

The estimated cost of this project is $2.6 billion. This project is under construction and is expected to be operational by the end of 2015.

(5) Airport to Downtown Rail Link: The Union Pearson Express


The Union Pearson Express will deliver quick, dependable service between Toronto Pearson International Airport and Toronto's downtown Union Station – the two busiest transportation hubs in Canada. The link is scheduled to come into service in 2015, just in time for the Pan/Parapan American Games.

Traffic between downtown Toronto and Toronto Pearson airport is expected to double over the next 10 years.

UP Vehicle-576x339

The Union Pearson Express including modern, comfortable interiors, power outlets for laptops, multi-channel ticketing options, Wi-Fi, luggage facilities and screens with flight information. At stations, customers will be able to roll luggage directly on and off the train.

Metrolinx has closed a contract with Sumitomo to deliver 18 Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) that are designed to be convertible to electric propulsion in the future, when the rail corridor is electrified.

The Crosstown LRT is a 19-kilometre light rail transit line (LRT) that will run along Eglinton Avenue, connecting west to east from Jane Street/Black Creek Drive to Kennedy Station.

Ten kilometres will be tunnelled underground between Keele Street and Laird Drive and will continue east on an at-grade right-of-way separated from traffic to Kennedy Station, where it will join with a converted Scarborough RT line on an elevated structure. Construction of The Crosstown began in the summer of 2011, and has a projected completion date of 2020.

The Crosstown will cut travel time significantly and link to 54 local bus routes, three TTC interchange subway station and GO Transit. Travel along The Crosstown from Kennedy to Black Creek Drive will be significantly faster and more comfortable than current bus travel.

The LRT will be modern, fast, reliable, comfortable and environmentally friendly.

New Light Rail Vehicles

On June 14, 2010 Metrolinx signed a purchase agreement with Bombardier for 182 Transit City light rail vehicles. The value of this purchase is $770 million and includes an option for 118 additional vehicles to a maximum of 300 LRVs in total.

These vehicles will serve the four new LRT projects including  Sheppard East LRT, Eglinton Crosstown LRT, Finch West LRT and the Scarborough RT replacement/extension.


PRESTO SmartCard Payment System

Putting PRESTO on the TTC was a condition of the province’s $8.4 billion in funding for the LRTs. The new streetcars from Bombardier will have Presto readers installed as soon as they are delivered and running, late next year or in 2014.

Most of the subway system, the air-rail link and bus routes that serve the Pan American Games venues will have Presto installed by August 2015. Only a few bus routes will still have to be converted after that.


PRESTO has long been awaited by municipalities in the region who installed it in the hopes of providing their residents with a seamless commute across the boundaries of the various transit systems.

Without the TTC’s full implementation, PRESTO's effectiveness would be limited because most regional transit users also use the TTC for at least part of their commute.

The Presto system is one of the most complex fare systems in the world because it involves all the regional transit systems and is customized to the Toronto area. For example, the TTC’s transfer system is unique, and Presto has to be adapted to it.

There are over 400,000 PRESTO cards in circulation  and the system is adding about 22,000 new cards a month as more GO riders and transit users transition to the system. The PRESTO system is processing over 5 million transactions a month.

Learn more about PRESTO.

Potential Mobile Payment Options

The PRESTO team is looking at mobile payment options as mobile payments using chip-enabled cellphones and smartphone become more popular and common.

Tunnel Boring Technology

The tunnel boring machines are manufactured by Caterpillar (formerly Lovat Inc.) and are manufactured in Etobicoke.


The tunnel boring machine operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Tunnelling takes place deep underground with minimal disruption to the ground above. Once it finishes a "tunnel drive", the tunnel boring machine is broken down into several parts at the extraction shaft and transported by truck to the next launch shaft and prepared for its next tunnel drive.  Two tunnel boring machines will drill in parallel about a month apart, in the same direction, to create the twin tunnels for the subway.

how to build twin tu

A construction staging area, or worksite, is prepared for the launch shaft in advance of the arrival of the tunnel boring machine and the tunnel liners.  A smaller extraction shaft area will also be prepared before the tunnel boring machine reaches its destination.

Concrete Technology

Munro Concrete Products Ltd, located in Essa Townships, Simcoe County will provide the concrete tunnel liners for The Crosstown.

As the tunnel boring machine advances, pre-cast concrete tunnel segments called  "liners" will be set in place behind the machine to form the tunnel.  These concrete liners are pre-made off-site and trucked into the tunel construction site on a regular basis.

How to build subway

Launch Shaft Construction for Tunnelling

A massive launch shaft – 60 metres long, 20 metres wide and 16m below the ground will be excavated adjacent to Keelesdale Park between Black Creek Drive and Keele Street. The shaft will enable the tunnelling machines to be safely lowered and launched eastward in 2012. The tunnelling machines are so large that the parts will be lowered by crane and assembled on site.

Keelesdale Launch Area  bridge with Eglinton and Black Creek Labels2

Keelesdale Park – Launch Area and rendering of future Bridge and York Community Centre at Black Creek and Eglinton.

Launch Shaft Excavation  1a

Launch Shaft Excavation Stage One.

Launch Shaft Excavation 2 a

Launch Shaft Excavation Stage Two.

Launch Shaft Excavation 3 with Decking a

Launch Shaft Excavation Stage Three.

Launch Box .00004 a

Launch Box and Tunnelling Machines lowered by crane.

Tunnelscale a

Tunnel From above with beams removed to visualize scale.

Launch Shaft and Tunnel a

Toronto's 'Downtown Rapid Transit Expansion Study' Predicts Transit Gridlock

Toronto has began the Downtown Rapid Transit Expansion Study (DRTES) to assess future rapid transit needs based on anticipated growth in Toronto in accordance with the City’s Official Plan. The plan identifies and assesses potential rapid transit improvements.

The assessment study found that as the new subway and LRT lines come online, the downtown core will undergo gradual transit gridlock. A downtown relief strategy is needed. This will only become more problematic as the downtown density increases.

One idea is to create a downtown subway relief line that takes the pressure off the existing downtown subway lines, the King streetcar, and the Queen streetcar.


How the Crosstown is Tunneled
Original Transit City Plan Video (modified since it was proposed)