Toronto Railway Environs
1st & 2nd August 2011
© copyright photographs by Colin Duff


Frontage of Toronto Union Station on Front Street West during building works on 2nd August 2011

The current Toronto Union Station is actually the third Union Station in the city. It was commissioned by the Grand Trunk Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway. Construction of the imposing building began in 1914 but due to delays resulting from material shortages during Word War 1 and the collapse of the Grand Trunk Railway it was not finished until 1921. However, due to a disagreement between the City, Harbour Commission and the railways construction of the tracks, platforms and associated infrastructure serving it did not commence until 1924. The station was opened by the Prince of Wales on August 6th 1927 and passenger service began five days later.

During our visit getting a decent photograph of the frontage was impossible due to improvement works in front of the station.


The Great Hall of Union Station looking east Popularly known as "The Great Hall", today it is the concourse at ground floor level generally for the long distance services of Via Rail, Ontario Northland and Amtrak. GO Transit commuter services are mostly from the lower concourse beneath, which is not so photogenic. Note the collection of flags of Canadian Provinces and Territories.
THe Via Rail departure board at 1032 on 2nd August 2011
Toronto Union Station from the CN tower, looking east

(above left) The Via Rail departure board at 10:32 on 2nd August 2011. Note the dreadful use of the airline term "gate/port" rather than a railway-friendly "platform" or "track/voie"! Canada does not enjoy an intercity railway service as intensive as in Europe, but at least it still retains regular long distance services. The major railway corridor in Canada is between the US border at Windsor and Niagara Falls in the west and Québec City in the east, with the busiest portion being between Toronto and Montréal. Canada's capital, Ottawa, is effectively a diversion off the Toronto - Montréal route.

(above right) An aerial view of Toronto Union Station from the highest viewing gallery of the CN Tower - as witnessed by the shadow. This is looking east, so this shot is best done in the morning! The tracks to the extreme right are the freight avoiding lines.

The western approaches to Toronto Union Station taken from Bathurst Street
These are the tracks to the west of Toronto Union Station, looking east towards the station and downtown Toronto from the Bathurst Street overbridge. The CN tower is the column that disappears out of the top, almost centre, of this shot. The flyunder was being worked on at the time.
GO Transit's North Bathurst Yard You may have noticed the stabling facilities of GO Transit's North Bathurst Yard in the above view. This is a zoom shot of the yard. Only the Lakeshore East (Toronto - Oshawa) and West (Toronto - Aldershot/Hamilton) services operate throughout the day - on an hourly frequency. The other five commuter lines only have a peak uni-directional service so there is a significant fortune of rolling stock lying idle most of the time. Out of the peaks these commuting corridors have a bus service. Realistically this is a case of "trainstitution" during the peaks!

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