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CANADA: The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) announced its intention to partner with Metrolinx to advance the technical work necessary to extend the Eglinton Crosstown West from Renforth to the airport. This $40 million commitment represents another tangible step forward to bring important transit connections to Canada’s mega hub airport and build a regional transit network, anchored by a new regional transit centre (RTC) at Pearson – dubbed Union Station West. 

The GTAA will pursue these additional works for the Renforth – Pearson portion of the line in partnership with Metrolinx, which will build on the GTAA-Metrolinx joint work program announced in April 2018. The GTAA is already investing $38 million in work currently underway, and this additional announcement will bring the total investment to a potential $78 million. The current GTAA-Metrolinx joint program continues work to improve rapid transit access to Pearson Airport. This includes exploring potential ground connections to the future Union Station West and surrounding Airport Employment Zone, a potential Kitchener GO rail corridor connection, and improved LRT and bus connections.

GTAA also released a whitepaper, which documents the value that the future Union Station West could bring to multiple communities across the region. The full report is available at torontopearson.com/transit. 

“Significant improvements to our regional transit system are required for our region to be able to compete globally, and that is why we are making this financial investment to advance this work,” said Howard Eng, President and CEO of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority.  “We will continue to push for improved transit that connects to Toronto Pearson and the Airport Employment Zone as well as the creation of Union Station West.”

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USA: Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) received two grants from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania totalling $924,900 for a platform improvements project at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s (SEPTA) Airport Regional Rail Line stops.

PHL was awarded $500,000 from the Multimodal Transportation Program (awarded in March 2019) and $424,900 from PennDOT’s Aviation Transportation Assistance Program, Aviation Development Program, and the Multimodal Fund (awarded in August 2019) for rehabilitating platforms and canopies at PHL’s four stops on SEPTA’s Airport Line.

“Our Airport serves more than 32 million passengers annually,” said PHL CEO Rochelle “Chellie” Cameron. “With departures to and from Center City every 30 minutes, SEPTA’s Airport Line provides those visitors and airline crews flying in and out of PHL with a convenient travel option to Philadelphia and the surrounding region. The rail line’s connection to many other SEPTA services, makes the train a vital transportation necessity for many of the 21,000 airport employees.”

SEPTA’s Airport Line, which began service in 1985, provides 2.1 million annual trips to and from PHL. Trains access all PHL terminals, with platforms at Terminals A, B, C/D and E/F. The funding received from the Commonwealth will provide necessary structural and aesthetic upgrades to all locations without impacting service. Work is anticipated to begin in May 2020.

“SEPTA and Philadelphia’s Division of Aviation have a vested interest in supporting and, when necessary, collaborating on, multimodal projects that help move our shared passengers to points across the Delaware Valley,” said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. “The proposed work at the Airport Line stops will create an enhanced transit gateway for residents and visitors traveling to and from PHL.”

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SWITZERLAND: Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) and Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) now offer customers a ‘Flugzug’ rail service between Lugano Station and Zurich Airport for travel on or after 16 October. Selected SBB rail connections between Lugano and Zurich Airport will be issued with a SWISS flight number, and the cost of the rail journey is included in the SWISS flight ticket price.
 
The ‘Flugzug’ timetable offers 14 daily services in each direction between Lugano Station and Zurich Airport. The new rail service thus provides travellers between the two points with even more flexibility than the present four daily flights. The rail services concerned also cover all the relevant SWISS connecting flights from and to its Zurich hub. The new ‘Flugzug’ services are bookable now for travel on or after 16 October, on the SWISS website or at any travel agency.
 
SWISS is keen to ensure that the Ticino region is well connected with its Zurich Airport air travel hub. The present arrangement is an interim solution, and SWISS and SBB are working closely on optimising the ‘Flugzug’ rail service which as a SBB feeder rail service until now only existed between Basel and Zurich Airport.

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UK: Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has completed a five-year £2bn programme to transform passenger journeys with more than 1,500 new carriages, turning one of the UK’s oldest fleets into one of the most modern.

Since September 2014 when it launched, GTR has overseen the introduction of four fleets of trains and expanded one other, transforming journeys for thousands of passengers:

  • 116 brand new Class 387/1 carriages (29 units) – initially used on the Thameslink network, now on Great Northern, operating as far as King’s Lynn
  • 108 brand new Class 387/2 carriages (27 units) – serving Gatwick Express between Brighton, Gatwick and London Victoria
  • 1,140 brand new Class 700 carriages (115 units) – serving the entire, expanded Thameslink network
  • 150 brand new Class 717 carriages (25 units) – serving the Great Northern Moorgate route
  • 12 Class 171 carriages (4 units) for Southern – adding to the existing fleet and facilitating the first longer 10-carriage services between Uckfield and London Bridge

GTR has overseen what is thought to be the biggest cascade of rolling stock since privatisation – a total of more than 1,500 new carriages brought into the franchise, and almost 900 cascaded out. A further 880 were cascaded between routes within the network.

The new trains (717s) have capacity for 943 people – that’s nearly 100 more people per journey than those they replace (an 11% increase). The new trains also feature live service updates from London Underground, open and interconnected carriages, allowing passengers to walk from one end of the train to the other, the latest accessibility features, a brand new ‘snow mode’, which changes the way the brakes work to improve reliability in snowy conditions, a train monitoring systems to facilitate a condition-based maintenance regime, and are capable of operating with ERTMS.

 

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USA: Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) started construction of the new 26-mile Silver Line regional rail service from Plano to DFW International Airport.

Opening in December 2022, the $1.1 billion project will provide passenger rail connections and service that will improve mobility, accessibility and system linkages to major employment, population and activity centers in the northern part of the DART Service Area. The Silver Line will traverse a total of seven cities: Grapevine, Coppell, Dallas, Carrollton, Addison, Richardson and Plano.

The Silver Line service will include 10 stations across the alignment, providing new transit opportunities for North Texas residents and delivering greater capacity and connectivity, spurring economic development, and supporting workforce development across the region. The stations are DFW Terminal B, DFW North, Cypress Waters, Downtown Carrollton, Addison, Knoll Trail, UT Dallas, CityLine, 12th Street and Shiloh Road.

DART's Silver Line will interface with three existing rail lines: The Red/Orange Lines in Richardson/Plano, the Green Line in Carrollton and the Orange Line at DFW International Airport. In addition, at DFW International Airport, the project will connect to the Trinity Metro TEXRail Regional Rail Line to Fort Worth, providing passengers with the opportunity to travel 60 miles across the North Texas region.

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