Rail crossing study

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The Study

We've initiated a transportation study to explore the transportation impacts on five road-level railway crossings along the Metrolinx corridor. This work supports planned Metrolinx service expansion along the Kitchener GO rail line through Guelph including all-day two-way GO service. While Metrolinx is indicating they do not plan on closing any more crossings, we continued with our study because we want to preserve connectivity and ensure it aligns with our transportation goals now and into the future.

This is a City of Guelph-led project, and the results will be shared with Metrolinx when the study is complete.

The rail crossings we’re looking at are:

  • Alma Street between Crimea and Inkerman streets
  • Edinburgh Road between Foster Avenue and Preston/Inkerman streets
  • Yorkshire Street between Foster Avenue and Preston Street
  • Glasgow Street at Kent Street
  • Watson Road just north of York Road

The study will also look at and assess options for active transportation (e.g. footbridge) connection across the rail line at Cityview Drive. As a result of the engagement, we have added the assessment of options for active transportation at Margaret Green park and Dublin Street.

To find the best solution for each crossing we’ll look at the unique context of each one and our city’s overall transportation network. For example, we’ll need to consider how closing one rail crossing would affect traffic flow at another and in the local area. Some options may not be possible to implement for every crossing.

What is the process moving forward?

  • The current open house comment period ends June 29.
  • The next step is to commence an EA in 2023. Through a Schedule C Municipal Class EA, we will continue refining and exploring options in close consultation with the community. Options include do nothing and various design alternatives for grade separating. A recommendation will be brought forth to City Council in 2024 or 2025 for decision.
  • It is possible the do nothing option is selected with no property impacts.

The Study

We've initiated a transportation study to explore the transportation impacts on five road-level railway crossings along the Metrolinx corridor. This work supports planned Metrolinx service expansion along the Kitchener GO rail line through Guelph including all-day two-way GO service. While Metrolinx is indicating they do not plan on closing any more crossings, we continued with our study because we want to preserve connectivity and ensure it aligns with our transportation goals now and into the future.

This is a City of Guelph-led project, and the results will be shared with Metrolinx when the study is complete.

The rail crossings we’re looking at are:

  • Alma Street between Crimea and Inkerman streets
  • Edinburgh Road between Foster Avenue and Preston/Inkerman streets
  • Yorkshire Street between Foster Avenue and Preston Street
  • Glasgow Street at Kent Street
  • Watson Road just north of York Road

The study will also look at and assess options for active transportation (e.g. footbridge) connection across the rail line at Cityview Drive. As a result of the engagement, we have added the assessment of options for active transportation at Margaret Green park and Dublin Street.

To find the best solution for each crossing we’ll look at the unique context of each one and our city’s overall transportation network. For example, we’ll need to consider how closing one rail crossing would affect traffic flow at another and in the local area. Some options may not be possible to implement for every crossing.

What is the process moving forward?

  • The current open house comment period ends June 29.
  • The next step is to commence an EA in 2023. Through a Schedule C Municipal Class EA, we will continue refining and exploring options in close consultation with the community. Options include do nothing and various design alternatives for grade separating. A recommendation will be brought forth to City Council in 2024 or 2025 for decision.
  • It is possible the do nothing option is selected with no property impacts.
CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.
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    How is “safety” defined by City staff in the context of a warrant that triggers an EA for studying an underpass option at Edinburgh Rd? 1. Can you please provide the detailed sections of the ‘Grade Crossings Regulations’ SOR/2014-275 from the federal ‘Railway Crossing Act’, that applies to EXISTING GRADE CROSSINGS for PUBLIC CROSSINGS including Part B of the Grade Crossings Standards, or any other regulation for that matter, for issues, which you have identified as concerning under the broad term 'safety' that warrant in your opinion an underpass at Edinburgh Rd.? 2. Can you please explain the data (e.g. when and where were they collected, how do they relate to the issues you try to address with your feasibility study) and please explain ALL assumptions that supported your feasibility study and how they resulted in and concluded with the identified issues under point 1 above, that warrant an underpass at Edinburgh Rd.?

    Thomas asked 3 months ago

    Transport Canada regulates rail crossings. The 'Grade Crossing Regulations' provides "minimum" requirements with regards to mainly train operations of an at-grade crossing. However, Transport Canada Grade Crossing Standards (January 2019) outlines grade crossing requirements with regard to long term safety and operations of an at-grade crossing. This feasibility study was launched exclusively to deal with road operations at rail the crossings, therefore, Transport Canada Grade Separation Assessment Guidelines were used to determine if a grade separation is warranted at the Edinburgh Road rail crossing. Grade separation assessment considers traffic and safety related criteria including Annual Average Daily Traffic Volumes, posted speeds, vehicle queuing, vehicle delays, level of service of the subject roadways as well as average train volumes, maximum speed, and cross product for the railway. These Grade Separation Assessment Guidelines outline criteria with thresholds that help determine if grade separation is justified. A number of criteria were met from the Guidelines, indicating that the potential grade separation should be studied further.  With regards to data collection and assumptions used to evaluate the different scenarios in the feasibility study, this can be found in the Draft Future Traffic Conditions memo Section 6.3 posted on haveyoursay. ‘Grade Crossings Regulations’ SOR/2014-275 mainly deals with train operations at the grade crossings which was not part of this feasibility study.  

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    Please answer all the unanswered questions from the Comments and the Questions section and, as you indicated in the public meetings, to transfer questions from the meetings to this Question section. (I admit that this will take time, especially during the summer months with staff enjoying their well-deserved vacation, but perhaps you can indicate on the website once you have completed the answering of questions so that it is clear where we are at). Thank you.

    Thomas asked 3 months ago

    All questions from the Comments section have been transferred to the Questions sections and have been answered. In order to see Q&A from the public information centers, please see the detailed meeting minutes that have been posted on haveyoursay in the documents section.

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    Is it correct to say that the freight train traffic on the Metrolinx corridor has greatly reduced since pre-pandemic and mainly happens at night or weekends? Does your Feasibility Study Model uses current data for freight trains (number of freight trains per day, time of day etc.) or was it based on pre-pandemic data? What are the freight train assumptions in your Model for the Feasibility Study? vs. What are the actual freight train numbers, times of day, etc. today? Given that freight trains have much lower speeds than the GO passenger trains, your Model results would be scewed, for instance, if you estimate several long freight trains at 20 km/h during peak car traffic times and extrapolate such assumptions for weeks, months or a year which directly impact the outcome of the modelling and the conclusions drawn from it.

    Thomas asked 3 months ago

    In the Future Conditions Memo posted on the have your say website under Section 6.3 it was stated that cargo/freight trains are also using the Metrolinx rail corridor but do not follow any schedule. It was assumed that the freight trains will use this corridor in the future but will not operate during the AM and PM peak hours. Therefore freight trains exclusively were not considered during the analysis of the data. However, train speed of 20km/h (approximately equivalent to cargo/freight train) was also used in the analysis assuming GO trains stopping at the Guelph Station. 

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    This question was originally asked in the comments section:  According to Parsons own website on 4Transit Joint Venture, "... Metrolinx has entrusted Parsons and the entire 4TRANSIT team to help bring this important project to fruition, drawing on our extensive rail transit experience in Canada and across the world.” Which makes it obvious that Parsons is closely involved with Metrolinx.As per the City of Guelph's procurement By-law Number (2018) - 20259“Principle f. No Conflict of Interest:(2.3.f.l.) The City shall include conflict of interest guidelines in all Competitive Bidding documents to minimize the risk of Bidders trying to influence officers, employees or members of Council of the City during the bid evaluation process.”For your Rail-crossing-study audience, can the City please explain how the city ruled on and followed its Principle of – No Conflict of Interest when it came to awarding Parsons with the contract for the Rail Crossing Study, knowing that Parsons has along standing relationship with Metrolinx and any study conducted by Parsons for the City will have the appearance of potential bias and influence from Metrolinx?What exact measures did the City take to alleviate any conflict of interest concerns before awarding its contract to Parsons?References:https://www.parsons.com/2017/08/4transit-joint-venture-wins-cad-300-million-metrolinx-contract-regional-express-rail-program/(External link)https://guelph.ca/wp-content/uploads/Purchasing-Bylaw.pdf 4TRANSIT Joint Venture Wins CAD $300 Million Metrolinx Contract for Regional Express Rail Program Toronto, ON (August 22, 2017) - The 4TRANSIT joint venture, comprising three leading Canadian engineering consulting firms, Hatch, Parsons, and WSP References: https://www.parsons.com/2017/08/4transit-joint-venture-wins-cad-300-million-metrolinx-contract-regional-express-rail-program/(External link) https://guelph.ca/wp-content/uploads/Purchasing-Bylaw.pdf

    3 months ago

    This potential for a conflict was declared by Parsons at the outset of the project and a mitigation plan was implemented. The following measures have been implemented to avoid the conflict of interest: 

    1. The project team that works on the Level Rail Crossing Study for Guelph does not work on the Metrolinx 4Transit Joint Venture project or any other Metrolinx project 

    2. The scope of work for the Guelph study intentionally avoids any design, study or analysis of the grade crossing design itself and only considers work pertaining to the City's road Right of Way. All matters related to the crossing design within Metrolinx Right of Way is out of scope. 

    3 The City has written confirmation of this and a signed declaration expressing no conflict of interest with Parsons.

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    This question was originally asked in the comments section today: Regarding the competitive process of awarding an Environmental Assessment (EA) to a consultant, would you agree that because Parsons was already involved in conducting the Feasibility Study, Parsons should be excluded from being awarded the Environmental Assessment due to a direct conflict of interest and at a minimum the appearance of a conflict of interest since Parsons cannot be seen as an impartial and objective partner for conducting the EA?

    Thomas asked 3 months ago

    Previons involvement in a City-led study does not constitute a conflict of interest. In some cases, it can be seen as an advantage, if the study team already has local knowledge of the relevant issues. The procurement process does require all candidates to declare any potential conflicts of interest prior to engaging in paid work by the City.

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    What steps will you take to be sure to notify all businesses, homeowners, renters about the EA ? (signs, letters to homes, advertisements in the paper and online?)

    AEI asked 4 months ago

    For this study we sent out direct mail to addresses within 300m of the rail crossings in the Study Area. We also posted temporary signs at all crossings and posted a public notice over our news and social media channels. Information is posted and updated regularly on the project website and on the project HaveYourSay page.

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    The question was originally received in the comments section: Have they even considered raising the tracks instead? Doesn’t current track property have sufficient right of ways? What would Impact be?

    4 months ago

    This study is to deal with assessing options of road crossing over or under the existing level rail crossing. Assessment of raising the rail tracks is not part of this study scope. During the grade separation options assessment, it was assumed that the exisitng tracks property has sufficient right of way to accommodate two tracks.

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    During the Open House, you claimed that the queuing caused at Edinburgh – Paisley due to shunting of CN rail cars is out of scope and not considered for your rail-crossing study. How can you make such a claim when the Edinburgh-Paisley crossing is causing queuing as far South as the Edinburgh-Metrolinx crossing which is where you intend to build an underpass? Having worked from home for the past 2 years, I can assure you that almost all queuing on Edinburgh is caused by the Edinburgh-Paisley crossing and not the Metrolinx crossing, especially since the train speeds have increased by December 2021 to about 72 km/h. Only freight trains on the Guelph Kitchener line, of which there are far fewer these days, can cause longer wait times. With your statement that the Edinburgh-Paisley crossing is out of scope and, consequently, neglected its potential impact on the queuing for the Metrolinx crossing, you invalidate your own modelling approach because you made all the input data questionable that you used to inform your model of the Edinburgh Metrolinx crossing. If the City wants anyone to trust its rail-crossing study, can the city prove that the model you are using: 1. Was rigorously tested and validated with an independent dataset before using the model for your rail-crossing study? 2. Included only clean and unbiased input data that were collected over a sufficiently long period and were not affected by the Edinburgh-Paisley shunting and resulting queuing? 3. Included reasonable assumptions to inform the model and did not just use worst-case scenario assumptions but rather the most likely assumptions required in the timeframe for this study? An example of point 3 is, for instance, that the Metrolinx 2041 Regional Transportation Plan considers rapid transit with 4 trains per hour both ways on the Kitchener line, totalling 8 trains per hour. 8 trains per hour would be an ambitious but very unrealistic assumption, especially given the electrification delay of the Kitchener corridor, not to mention that those trains would also need customers to justify and maintain the frequency of trains.

    Thomas asked 4 months ago

    Since this study was initiated due to proposed changes to the Metrolinx corridor the scope of the feasibility study was limited to the Metrolinx Corridor.  

    Grade separation of the CN crossing at Paisley is not likely possible due to its proximity to two major roads (Paisley and Edinburgh). City Council recently approved $1.3 million toward cost sharing rail crossing improvements.  

    Traffic data including vehicular and non-vehicular collected in Sept 2021 at all of the rail crossing locations was compared with the historical (Pre-Covid) traffic data and it was found appropriate to be used in the traffic assessment. The transportation feasibility study utilized the Transport Canada operation guidelines to undertake the grade separation warrant and level rail crossing operation  analyses. It was concluded that grade separation is warranted at the Edinburgh Road rail crossing based on the product of future volumes and train frequencies in addition to queuing estimated at both the north and south of the rail crossing. This study findings are to be further validated through an Enviromenmental Assessment study and traffic analysis is to be revisited if needed.   

    For these reasons, the City recommends further study of all alternatives to the Edinburgh Road rail crossing in order to find solution that best manages safety risks and traffic impacts for the community.

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    Does a consultant like Parsons do an EA or does the City do it themselves in house?

    AEI asked 3 months ago

    Environmental Assessments are usually awarded to a consultant through a competitive process based on detailed proposals that are evaluated by staff.

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    On June 1 when you presented the slide show on slides 7, 8, 9 it claims under the preferred scenario the grade separation and keeping glasgow, Alma and Yorkshire open "maintains existing connectivity" - Either i don't understand how the word "connectivity' is being used or it is quite wrong.  I am sure you now know this neighborhood very well - but obviously closing 5 residential streets and having a trench that makes access to a Food Bank, large Daycare, businesses, a park, etc - it is a big loss of connectivity especially for pedestrians/bikes. 

    AEI asked 3 months ago

    The study is considering connectivity on the basis of maintaining existing north-south crossings of the rail corridor. To fully understand connectivity impacts of the underpass option, we will complete an Environmental Assessment, and also consider east-west connections across Edinburgh.  

Page last updated: 04 Jul 2022, 09:20 AM