Union Station (Toronto)

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Union Station is a major railway and subway station at 65 Front Street West between Bay Street and York Street in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Currently, the primary function of Union Station is to act as a terminus for commuters on GO Transit, thanks to which it is busier than any other transport facility in the country (including airports). It also serves as a hub for intercity trains, and many railway companies have their offices within the building.

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Details

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The main entrance of Union Station.

Union Station is eight storeys tall and features a massive lobby known as the Great Hall, numerous corridors at the top, and a shooting gallery used by CN railway police on the seventh floor. Although the station was always a transportation hub for trains, its role was expanded to include the subway at the TTC's Union station in 1954, and later the 510 Spadina streetcar as well.

While VIA Rail, the successor to the railways which originally built Union Station, continues to use it as a major hub for the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor and the eastern terminus of The Canadian, the vast majority of passengers travelling through the station are from GO Transit's commuter trains, followed by the subway. The station is also used by Ontario Northland trains connecting Toronto with northern Ontario.

Union Station is one of the only large railway stations in North America to use through-train operation. That is, the train platforms are through lines rather than lines which terminate in the station, as in stub-end operation.

History

When Union Station was built it was the largest enclosed space in Canada. Construction was begun in 1913 and the building was officially opened on August 6, 1927 in a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by His Royal Highness Prince Edward of Wales who cut the ribbon with a pair of gold scissors. Also in attendance was Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, Prince George, United Kingdom Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and Mrs. Baldwin, Ontario Lieutenant-Governor William Donald Ross and Mrs. Ross, Ontario Premier George Howard Ferguson, and numerous other members of the Ontario and Canadian governments.

Union Station was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Grand Trunk Railway. The architects were G.A. Ross, R.H. MacDonald, Hugh Jones, and John M. Lyle. Like many stations of its period, it is designed in the manner of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

The name 'Union Station' refers simply to the fact that it united two railways in one building; for more information, see union station.

The Future

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Union Station's massive Great Hall is one of the largest enclosed spaces in the city.

Union Station was purchased by the City from the Toronto Terminals Railway Company (TTR) in August of 2000. On July 24, 2003 the City leased Union Station to the Union Pearson Group for a term of 100 years. A public-private partnership has been created to redevelop the station, and a Master Plan has been developed with four major components:

  • An integrated public realm, redefining and joining the Union Plaza and Front Street spaces,
  • A modern station, including redevelopment of the trainshed with construction above it,
  • Revitalisation of underutilised spaces, notably redeveloped concourses, moats and teamways, and
  • Extended pedestrian connections, including improved passages, new entrances, and improved ease of movement.

Presently there is no rail service to Toronto Pearson International Airport, but on November 13, 2003 Transport Canada announced the selection of Union Pearson AirLink Group, a subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin to finance, design, construct, operate, and maintain an railway link between Union Station and Pearson. The service is to be named Blue22 because of its planned 22-minute trip time. At present, it is planned that the line will use four refurbished Rail Diesel Cars, with trains running every fifteen minutes, seven days a week. The rail link is expected to be operational by 2008.

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