Union Station (Toronto)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the railway station. For the adjacent subway station of the same name, see Union (TTC).
Union Station
Union Station, Toronto-2.jpg
View from Front Street
Location 65 Front Street West
Toronto, Ontario
Coordinates 43°38′43″N 79°22′50″W / 43.64528°N 79.38056°W / 43.64528; -79.38056Coordinates: 43°38′43″N 79°22′50″W / 43.64528°N 79.38056°W / 43.64528; -79.38056
Owned by City of Toronto (station building)
Metrolinx (trainshed and tracks)
Operated by Toronto Terminals Railway
Line(s) See services below
Platforms 1 side platform, 11 island platforms
Tracks 16
Connections BSicon SUBWAY.svg TTC - Line 1 - Yonge-University-Spadina line.svg Union Subway Station
Public transit Union Station Bus Terminal
BSicon BUS1.svg TTC bus routes
Structure type Elevated
Parking No
Bicycle facilities 115 space bicycle station[1]
Disabled access Yes
Other information
Station code Amtrak code:TWO
GO Transit: USTN
Fare zone 02
Opened 1927
Passengers (2012) 2.91 million (Via)
Passengers (Winter 2015) 64.4 million (GO Transit)
Preceding station   Via Rail   Following station
toward Vancouver
Canadian Terminus
toward Sarnia
toward Windsor
Terminus Toronto–Montreal
toward Montreal
toward Ottawa
BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Amtrak
Maple Leaf
(Operated by Via Rail)
GO Transit logo.svg GO Transit
Barrie Terminus
toward Kitchener
toward Milton
toward Aldershot or Hamilton
Lakeshore West
Lakeshore West
Niagara branch
Terminus Lakeshore East
toward Oshawa
toward Lincolnville
Richmond Hill
Union Pearson Express
UP Express
Former services
Ontario Northland Railway
toward Cochrane
Northlander Terminus
Official name Union Station (Canadian Pacific and Grand Trunk) National Historic Site of Canada
Designated 1975
Designated 1989

Union Station is the primary railway station and intercity transportation facility in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is located on Front Street West, on the south side of the block bounded by Bay Street and York Street in downtown Toronto. The station building is owned by the City of Toronto, while the train shed and trackage is owned by the commuter rail operator GO Transit. Union Station has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada since 1975,[2][3] and a Heritage Railway Station since 1989.[4]

This station is the busiest transportation facility in Canada, serving over 250,000 passengers a day.[5] This is partly due to its position at the centre of Canada's busiest inter-city rail service area, the "The Corridor", which stretches from Quebec City in the east to Windsor in the west. More than half of all Canadian intercity passengers travel by way of Union Station.[5]

Intercity train services are provided at Union Station by Via Rail and Amtrak, while commuter rail services are operated by GO Transit. The station is also connected to the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) subway and streetcar system via its namesake subway station. GO Transit's Union Station Bus Terminal, located across Bay Street from the station building, is connected via the trainshed.The Union Pearson Express train service to the airport operates from a separate UP Express Union Station located along the Skywalk a short walk west of the main station building.[6]

Site location[edit]

View of Union Station looking west from intersection of Front and Bay Streets, with the CN Tower visible behind

Toronto’s Union Station is at 61 Front Street West, between Bay Street and York Street in Toronto's business district, with Toronto's entertainment district beginning on the other side of Bay Street. It is located roughly at the east-west centre of the city of Toronto. It is also close to Lake Ontario, which marks the southern boundary of Toronto. The southernmost part of the Gardiner Expressway, which lies between Union Station and Lake Ontario, provides easy core access to GO Transit buses. The columnar façade and main entrance of Union Station faces north, towards downtown Toronto.

The Fairmont Royal York Hotel, a former railway hotel, is located directly across Front Street from Union Station. It can be accessed from the station both at street level and underground via the PATH. This underground connection is the southern terminus of the PATH. The Dominion Public Building, another building from the same era, can be found just to the east of the station, at the corner of Front and Bay Streets.

Other major buildings in the immediate vicinity of Union Station are Telus Tower and Brookfield Place. Brookfield Place is home to the Allen Lambert Galleria, a six story high pedestrian thoroughfare, as well as the Hockey Hall of Fame, which holds the Stanley Cup.

The Air Canada Centre, Rogers Centre, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, and CN Tower are all close by, and can be seen from some parts of the station. Like Union Station itself, these structures were built on former Railway Lands. All of them can be accessed directly from Union Station via the Skywalk. The land around the CN Tower has been converted to a public park.


Toronto's Union Station is the largest and most opulent railway station in Canada. The building was designed by the Montreal architecture firm of Ross and Macdonald in the Beaux-Art style as a joint venture between the Grand Trunk Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway, with assistance from CPR architect Hugh Jones and Toronto architect John M. Lyle. Its design was cited in 1975 by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada as being of "national architectural significance as one of the finest examples of Beaux-Arts railway station design in Canada".[7]

The colonnaded porch of the exterior Front Street facade

The bilaterally symmetrical building comprises three connecting box masses facing Front Street West, with the main structure in the middle. Together, the three parts measure 752 feet (229 m) long and occupy the entire south side of the block between Bay Street in the east and York Street in the west.[8]

The exterior Front Street facade is laid out in an ashlar pattern, constructed with smooth beige Indiana and Queenston limestone. The colonnaded porch which faces Front Street features 22 equally spaced Roman Tuscan columns made from Bedford limestone, each 40 feet (12 m) high and weighing 75 tons. Fourteen three-storey bays, each with severely delineated fenestration, form the facade on either side of the central colonnade for a total of 28 bays.[8] The structures at either end have an additional ten bays. There are three rectangular windows in each bay, lighting the interior hall with plenty of natural light. However, the external profile of the building is quite hard and flat, with its line of huge columns, heavy ornamentation and strong symmetry.

The receded main entrance is framed by two sets of four columns, with relief wreaths carved into the entablature above the columns. These columns are composed of three separate segments on top of an incongruous octagonal plinth, implying an Ionic order or Corinthian order; however, the capital is sculpted in a Doric order. Consequently, these columns appear to be unfinished. The original plan for the columns is not known.

A wraparound dentil cornice and a pushed-back peaked hipped roof creates the illusion of a flat roof, just like a palazzo. On either side of the main entrance, a blind arch with an ornamental keystone contains a set of three steel-framed doors, along with a large arched window. Decorative friezes separate the arched window from the doors. When all these entryway elements are combined, they create a processional experience through the entryway into the grand interior space. The flat-roof illusion, together with the axial symmetry, classical detailing in both structural and decorative elements, heavy ornamentation, and formal setting is typical of the Beaux-Arts style.[9]

The front entranceway opens onto the expansive Ticket Lobby, which has come to be informally known as the "Great Hall". This part of Union Station runs the entire length of the main section. It is 250 feet (76 m) long and 88 feet (27 m) high at its highest point. Just as with the outside facade, enduring materials such as bronze, limestone, marble, tiles, and translucent glass create a sense of enduring quality.[8]

Union Station's Ticket Lobby, also informally known as the "Great Hall"

The entire space is lit with diffused natural light from clerestory windows refracted throughout the lobby. Each end of the Great Hall also features four-storey tall arched windows, based on those of Roman baths.[8]

The two-storey-high vaulted ceiling, which is what makes it look from the front as though a second building were rising behind the colonnade, is constructed of coffered Guastavino tiles. The walls are faced with Zumbro stone from Missouri, and the floors are constructed of Tennessee marble laid in a herringbone pattern. Below the cornice surrounding the "Great Hall" are carved the names of many Canadian destinations, from the east coast all the way to Vancouver, which were accessible via the Grand Trunk Railway or Canadian Pacific Railway at the time of the station's construction. Many of those destinations are still on Via Rail routes.

All of Via Rail's ticket, baggage, and information counters are located in this space, mostly lined against the front wall. (Via Rail ticket agents also handle all ticketing sales and baggage services for Amtrak.) Small restaurants and other stores line the opposite wall. The main clock and the main departures board are in the centre of the space. A stairwell is located at either end of the hall, which leads to the arrivals area one floor below and also connects to urban transit. Benches are available by the stairwells at either end for passengers and those meeting them, although most people prefer to wait in the departure area, which is located down a large ramp located in the centre of the back wall.

The departure area is a large, wide space underneath the tracks. Most of Union Station's seating areas are located there, as well as lounges for the use of Via 1 passengers. Seventeen gates line the east and west walls of the departure area, each with an escalator heading up to the track level.

Destinations across Canada are carved in the stone below the cornice of the Great Hall, including a misspelling of Sault Ste. Marie

Stairways at either end of the "Great Hall" lead to the Arrivals Concourse which is used by Via Rail and Amtrak for inter-city train passengers. There is access from this level to the GO Concourse, which is used by GO Transit commuter train passengers, as well as access to the TTC subway and streetcar station and the PATH pedestrian tunnel network which connects to the Royal York Hotel and many of the major buildings in the central business district. Union Station also features office space used by the TTR, GO Transit and CN and CP.

Union Station has appeared in various films and television series, often representing settings in other cities.[10]


Excavating the site of the new Union Station in 1915, with original Union Station in background

Toronto's third and current Union Station was constructed between 1914-1920 by the TTR. It was officially opened to the public on August 6, 1927, in a lavish ribbon cutting ceremony by Prince Edward, Prince of Wales (using a pair of gold scissors). In attendance were Prince George, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario William Donald Ross and his wife, Prime Minister of Canada William Lyon Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Stanley Baldwin and Mrs. Baldwin, Premier of Ontario George Howard Ferguson, and many other members of the Ontario and Canadian governments.[11]

Predecessor stations[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Old Union Station (Toronto).
Old Union Station Toronto, 1907.

The history of the current Union Station can be traced to 1858, when Toronto's first Union Station was opened by the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR), just west of the present Union Station. The wooden structure was shared with the Northern Railway and the Great Western Railway. This structure was replaced by a second Union Station on the same site, opening in 1873. As both the Northern Railway and Great Western Railway had been acquired by the GTR, this was not a true union station. However, the Canadian Pacific Railway began using the facility in 1884 and it was completely rebuilt, opening in 1896.

The Great Toronto Fire of 1904 destroyed the block south of Front Street West, immediately east of the second Union Station (bounded by Bay and York streets), but did not damage the station itself. The GTR acquired this land east of the second Union Station for a new passenger terminal and in 1905 both the GTR and the CPR decided to proceed with the design and construction of a third union station.

The decision to undertake the third union station was made against a backdrop of significant change in the Canadian railway industry. At the same time, the federal government was encouraging the GTR to proceed with constructing a second transcontinental railway (what would later become the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and the National Transcontinental Railway) and the Canadian Northern Railway was undertaking an aggressive expansion across the prairies and into southern Ontario.

Toronto Terminals Railway[edit]

Heated switches keep the tracks clear on the east station approach

On July 13, 1906, the Toronto Terminals Railway (TTR) was incorporated by the Government of Canada to "construct, provide, maintain and operate at the City of Toronto a union passenger station". The TTR was jointly owned by the GTR and the CPR who each held 50% of the TTR shares. The TTR supervised construction of the new station which began in 1914 and proceeded to 1920, having faced significant delays in the shortage of construction material and workers as a result of the First World War, as well as the deteriorating financial position of the GTR due to its ill-fated transcontinental GTPR railway project.[12]

Although the headhouse and east and west office wings of the new station (the station building visible from Front Street West) were completed in 1920, it did not open to the public for another seven years until the system of approach tracks were designed and implemented by the TTR and its owners. During this time in 1923, the bankrupt GTR was fully nationalized by the federal government and merged into the Canadian National Railways (CNR), which would assume the GTR's 50% ownership of the TTR and thus the third Union Station.

The station building's grand-opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 6, 1927, was completed four days later when the track network was shifted over from the second Union Station on August 10. Demolition of the second Union Station began almost immediately and was completed in 1928. The third Union Station project was not fully completed until 1930 when the train shed was completed; its construction was supervised by the TTR from 1925-1930.[12]

Edward, Prince of Wales, at the opening of Union Station, 1927

The TTR owned and operated the network of trackage extending for approximately 5 km east and west of the station (3 statute miles) with over 25 statute miles of terminal trackage in this area. TTR provided all track maintenance and snow removal and controlled all of the interlocking track which joined CNR's Oakville and Weston subdivisions in the west with CNR's Kingston and Bala subdivisions in the east as well as the CPR's Belleville subdivision in the east. Control of train movements is provided by the TTR's John Street, Cherry Street and Scott Street interlocking towers.

The former Toronto Terminals Railway trackage is now known as the Union Station Rail Corridor (USRC) and the Railway is contracted by GO Transit to operate and maintain the train shed and USRC. TTR does not own property anymore; it has become a contracted management group who provides employees to maintain and operate the rail system on behalf of GO Transit.

Central Heating Plant[edit]

The TTR also constructed a Central Heating Plant at the corner of York and Fleet streets (now Lake Shore Boulevard West) to replace the original Toronto Hydro plant on Scott Street which had been expropriated by the TTR to build the approach track viaduct to the new station. It was fuelled by coal delivered by a CNR siding and was the largest such facility in Canada when it opened in 1929; it produced 150,000 kg/330,000 pounds of steam per hour and 270 million kg/600 million pounds annually to heat the station, the passenger cars in the train shed, CNR and CPR yard facilities in the area now occupied by the Gardiner Expressway, Rogers Centre and Air Canada Centre, the CPR's Royal York Hotel, the Dominion Public Building, the federal post office building adjacent to the station and the CN/CP Telecommunications building on Front Street. The CHP was converted from coal to natural gas but was decommissioned in the 1980s and demolished in 1990.[12]

Subway connection[edit]

The first major change to Union Station took place in 1954 when the Toronto Transit Commission opened its Union subway station adjacent to Union Station but buried beneath Front Street West. This subway station acted as the southern terminus of its new subway line. The subway station included a direct tunnel connection to the lower level passenger concourse. This passageway was closed and replaced by the direct connection between the railway station and the subway station in 1979 when the subway station mezzanine was renovated and enlarged. In 1990, the TTC's Harbourfront LRT project added an underground streetcar loop now used by the 509 Harbourfront and 510 Spadina streetcar lines. TTC passengers using the Union subway and streetcar station may transfer between both modes without entering the Union Station proper.

CityPlace redevelopment proposal[edit]

Entrance to train departure area from Great Hall
Main article: CityPlace, Toronto

During the early 1970s, Canada's two major passenger railways, the Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National were reducing their services to the bare minimum mandated under the Canadian Transport Commission, largely as a result of unsustainable losses resulting from increased competition in new subsidized four-lane highways and airports.

The third Union Station's future was looking bleak by 1972 when both railways sought to increase return on their underutilized waterfront rail classification yards which was being viewed as valuable real estate. Both CN and CP began to abandon their extensive waterfront rail classification yards south of the passenger station to make way for urban redevelopment. The Gardiner Expressway project was constructed over part of the railway property and CN had proposed constructing a telecommunication tower (what would become the CN Tower later that decade).

CN and CPR proposed a "Metro Centre" development on the south side of Front Street on the site of Union Station and proposed to demolish the structure (which was costing an increasing amount of property taxes but not bringing in revenue). The proposed Metro Centre development was strikingly similar to what occurred with New York City's Penn Station and would have consisted of an underground fourth Union Station (the terminal trackage would have been buried), a convention centre, a telecommunications tower, along with complementary office and retail developments. Local opposition to the proposal was successful in having the city council's decision to support the Metro Centre development overturned and Union Station was saved.

In 1978, CN and CP transferred responsibility for their passenger rail services to Via Rail, a new federal crown corporation, however CN and CP retained their 50% ownership shares of the TTR.

Growth and waterfront development[edit]

The GO Transit commuter rail agency which was established on May 23, 1967 had been undergoing unprecedented expansion which was seeing Union Station see passenger levels that outstripped some of the busiest airports in the world. The consolidated TTR trackage included a flyover west of the station to permit freight trains to cross CN's Oakville subdivision without blocking GO Transit's commuter trains. The flyover was constructed in 1982-83 and also allowed GO trains destined for the CN Weston subdivision to cross over the tracks used by GO and Via trains using the CN Oakville subdivision.[citation needed]

The CN Tower had revamped the vision of Toronto's waterfront rail yards and proposals were made to construct what would later become the SkyDome (1989) and the Air Canada Centre (1999), resulting in further changes to the Union Station trackage. The PATH pedestrian tunnel network was built to connect Union Station's passengers with many of the downtown office towers and the SkyWalk was constructed over the terminal trackage west of the station to connect the PATH with the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and Rogers Centre.

2000 sale[edit]

In 2000, the City of Toronto purchased the station building from the TTR, while GO Transit purchased the railway corridor and the Union Station train shed. The City of Toronto officially took over all management of the building itself on May 1, 2009; TTR continues to manage the train shed and track operations of the USRC under contract with GO Transit.

Shooting range[edit]

The CN Police and Canadian Pacific Railway Police Service used a shooting range in the building until the early 2000s when it was turned over to the Canadian National Recreation Association Gun Club. The range's lease was terminated effective August 29, 2008, after city council voted in support of the City Based Measures to Address Gun Violence.

Current renovations[edit]

Union Station on Front Street West as viewed from a high floor at the Royal York Hotel

The 2009 provincial and federal government budgets included financing to assist GO, Via and the city in redeveloping and restoring the station. Track has been upgraded with better signals and snow cleaning devices to reduce winter delays to train movement.

Further upgrades include redesign of the lower floor levels in the east and west wings of the station building.

Metrolinx is overseeing a series of extensive upgrades and renovations to the building. The projects which are underway as of the summer of 2011 include the addition of a second subway platform, the renovation of the historic train shed roof, and the addition of a new retail level below the existing GO concourse.[13] Each of these three projects individually would represent a major upgrade to the facility. Taken together they will significantly increase the efficiency of passenger movement while also increasing convenience and improving travellers' user experience.

Subway and streetcar station expansion

New retail concourse A new retail level will be created below the existing GO concourse. The retail space will be at the same level as the subway concourse so that commuters will walk at one grade between the retail level and the subway ticket counters/pay zone entrances. They will walk below the current 'moat' which will be enclosed with a curved-glass skylight. This area will be enclosed and temperature controlled. There will be escalators going from the retail level up to a renovated GO concourse. Patrons will then be able to move up to track level to board GO trains.

New train shed roof The historic train shed roof is being renovated and a new glass atrium will be installed in the centre section of the roof. The atrium will allow natural daylight to be brought in and illuminate the track level. The other sections of the roof will also be significantly renovated in accordance with strict regulations governing how the historic aspects of this unique roof will be preserved.

Contribution to railway history[edit]

In 1999, Union Station was inducted into the North America Railway Hall of Fame[14] as being significant in the course of railway history as an "National" inductee in the "Facility and Structure" category.

Passenger services[edit]

Inter-city train timetable in the Great Hall

Union Station is the busiest public transportation structure of any kind in Canada, including air travel. It handles 65 million passengers annually, with an average of 200,000 passengers each day. Approximately two-thirds of those passengers are GO train or GO bus commuters, while another 20 million take the subway. The remainder are intercity travellers between other cities in Canada and the United States.[5]

Via Rail[edit]

Main article: Via Rail

Toronto is Canada's primary passenger train hub. Consequently, Union Station is Via Rail's most-used facility. Each year, 2.4 million Via Rail passengers pass through Union Station, representing more than half of all Via Rail passengers carried systemwide.[5] This heavy usage is partly due to Union Station's position at the centre of Canada's busiest inter-city rail service area, the "The Corridor", which stretches from Quebec City in the east to Windsor in the west.

Via Train waiting in Union Station

Westbound Via Rail trains from Toronto connect directly to most major cities in Southwestern Ontario, including Kitchener, London, Sarnia, and Windsor. In partnership with Amtrak, Via Rail connects to Hamilton and Niagara Falls, Ontario, where Amtrak crew takes over for all U.S. destinations. Union Station is also the eastern terminus of Via Rail's transcontinental service westbound to Vancouver.

Northbound and eastbound Via Rail trains from Toronto primarily serve the heavily travelled Ottawa-Montreal-Toronto triangle. At Montreal, passengers can connect to trains heading to the Maritimes or north to the Laurentians.


The Maple Leaf leaving Union Station
Main article: Amtrak

In partnership with Via Rail, Amtrak runs the Maple Leaf train from Toronto to New York City. The Amtrak crew takes over from the Via Rail crew at Niagara Falls, Ontario. Once within the electric grid system of New York City, the train switches locomotives from diesel to electric. Other major U.S. destinations along the route include Buffalo and Albany.

Amtrak and Via Rail used to run a train from Toronto to Chicago via the Sarnia-Port Huron border crossing, until it was cancelled in 2004. Both VIA Rail and Amtrak maintain service along the route on their respective sides of the border, but the trains do not cross the border.

GO Transit[edit]

Commuter GO trains at Union Station
Main article: GO Transit

Union Station is the central terminal for GO Transit, handling approximately 41 million commuter rail passengers in 2004.[15]

  • Barrie line to York University, Rutherford, Maple, King City, Aurora, Newmarket, East Gwillimbury, Bradford, Barrie S. and Barrie
  • Kitchener line to Bloor, Weston, Etobicoke N., Malton, Brampton, Mount Pleasant, Georgetown, Acton, Guelph and Kitchener
  • Lakeshore East line to Danforth, Scarborough, Eglinton, Guildwood, Rouge Hill, Pickering, Ajax, Whitby and Oshawa
  • Lakeshore West line to Exhibition, Mimico, Longbranch, Port Credit, Clarkson, Oakville, Bronte, Appleby, Burlington, Aldershot and Hamilton
  • Milton line to Kipling, Dixie, Cooksville, Erindale, Streetsville, Meadowvale, Lisgar and Milton
  • Richmond Hill line to Oriole, Old Cummer, Langstaff and Richmond Hill
  • Stouffville line to Danforth, Kennedy, Agincourt, Milliken, Unionville, Centennial,Markham, Mount Joy, Stouffville and Lincolnville
  • Seasonal Weekend Service To Niagara Falls[16]

GO Transit's Union Station Bus Terminal is located at 141 Bay St., S. of Front St., adjacent to the railway station.

Toronto Transit Commission[edit]

Union Station is connected to the Toronto Transit Commission's Union Subway Station, which is part of Line 1 Yonge–University of the Toronto subway system. Two Toronto streetcar routes, 509 Harbourfront and 510 Spadina, can also be accessed underground without leaving Union Station. The streetcar platform was built in 1989 and is separate from the subway station platforms built in 1954. Note also that there is a difference between the TTC's subway and streetcar track gauge and standard railway gauge (see footnote 23). Altogether, twenty million TTC passengers pass through Union Station each year.[5]

Toronto Transit Commission bus routes 6 Bay, 97 Yonge and night route 320 Yonge, use curbside stops on the streets outside.

Union Pearson Express[edit]

Main article: Union Pearson Express

On June 6, 2015, the Union Pearson Express (UPX), North America's first dedicated airport rail link service, started running between Union Station and Toronto Pearson International Airport, stopping only at Bloor and Weston GO stations. The opening of the line allowed Metrolinx to achieve its goal, announced in 2010, of operating an airport rail link from Union Station in time for the 2015 Pan American Games.[17]

UP Express Union Station with a waiting train
Gate to access a waiting UPX train from the waiting area

Trains on this line do not stop at the regular platforms used by GO and Via trains, but use a separate station located west of the main station building along the length of the main atrium of the SkyWalk between York Street and Lower Simcoe Street. The UP Express Union Station is a 5-minute walk from Union subway station and streetcar stop.[6]

Trains depart from the station's single side platform every 15 minutes. Passengers access trains directly from an enclosed waiting area, and a glass wall with sliding doors separate trains from the platform and open to allow passengers to board directly from the waiting area without exposure to the elements. The floor of the waiting area is level with the train floor, which allows for step-free boarding.

The UP Express Union Station has a dedicated customer service counter, ticket vending machines and flight check-in kiosks. These kiosks permit check-ins for Air Canada, WestJet and United Airlines, with other airlines to be added.[18]

Three stands in the waiting area offer Balzac's coffee, souvenirs and Mill Street Brewery draft beer.[19]

Intercity bus[edit]

Most inbound intercity coaches stop across the street from Union Station in front of the York Street entrance to the Royal York Hotel. Most outbound intercity coaches stop at the corner of University Avenue and Wellington Street, two blocks from Union Station, on their way to the Gardiner Expressway. The main Toronto Coach Terminal is located a kilometre north of Union Station on Bay Street at Dundas Street.

Toronto is a major intercity bus hub. Intercity buses from Toronto connect directly to most major cities in Southwestern Ontario and the Golden Horseshoe. Northbound intercity buses connect to Peterborough, Sudbury, and points west all the way to Vancouver. Eastbound intercity buses connect to Kingston, Montreal, and the Maritimes. Intercity buses from Toronto also connect to Chicago and New York City.


The City of Toronto has a security manager that oversees the station security guards on site, and the City is now fully in charge of managing the day-to-day operations of Union Station. Railway Police no longer patrol Union Station; they were replaced by security guards. GO Transit patrols its property including the Union Station Rail Corridor with a contingent of sworn Special Constables (GO Transit Safety Officers), who have the same authority as police officers while dealing with GO Transit matters. GO Transit also purchased the CN Don Yard, east of Union Station from CN and stores its train consists during the afternoon hours there.


Most Toronto-area railway freight does not enter this part of the city at all. All freight movement which is still active in this region is done in off-hours, so as not to impede passenger traffic. Freight trains use the southernmost track, which bypasses the train shed and connects with either the CN Oakville Sub or the Kingston Sub.

Bay Concourse[edit]

Union Station has a small retail concourse at the Bay concourse level and mostly offering fast food options:

  • McDonald's
  • Mmm Muffins
  • Dairy Queen
  • Cinnabon
  • Tim Hortons
  • Purdy's Chocolates

Once development is complete the station will move the pedestrian retail mall one floor down from the current location, which will become a transit concourse.

Redevelopment plans[edit]

Union Station Revitalization[edit]

On July 24, 2003, the City of Toronto agreed to lease Union Station to Union Pearson AirLink Group, a subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin, for a term of 100 years. A public-private partnership was to be created to redevelop the station. On April 26, 2006, the city's deal with the Union Pearson Group for the refurbishment of the station collapsed as the company was unable to meet a city imposed deadline.[citation needed] A subsequent announcement on May 24, 2006, addressed several issues for commuters including: constructing a direct connection from the GO Concourse to the PATH pedestrian tunnel system, a new eastbound platform for the Union TTC station, improved access to streetcars at Union TTC station, and improved capacity for inter-city railway passengers. These developments were part of a $100 million initiative announced by the city and its transit authorities, along with the provincial and federal governments.[20] On August 5, 2009, the Toronto City Council approved an update of this plan which was projected to cost $640 million, with construction lasting from 2010 to 2014.[21] However, negotiations with Metrolinx fell through.

Further details of the proposal indicate a complete overhaul of the concourse levels, deepening them to create two storeys of space. The lower storey will provide retail space and room for pedestrian traffic flow, and the upper storey will be dedicated to passenger traffic onto the platforms. This will expand not only the current GO concourse in the east of the building, but also open up the western end; GO Transit's presence in the building will nearly quadruple. Additional aesthetic points include glass roofs over the moat space around the north sides of the building, and a tall atrium over the central portions of the platforms. A southern entrance adjacent to the Air Canada Centre will also be implemented.[22]

GO Transit offices[edit]

In 2008, it was announced that GO Transit and the City of Toronto had been in discussions for GO Transit to purchase and develop all the upper floors of Union Station. Those floors have 100,000 sq ft (9,300 m2). of office space that were once used by rail employees. Those floors and offices are mostly unused, and are only occupied by a small number of Via Rail, TTR and GO Transit employees.

GO Transit plans to renovate the space and relocate its headquarters from 20 Bay Street. The purchase would allow GO Transit to control vast areas of Union Station, almost all the property except the Great Hall. GO Transit already leases space in the concourse level and the plan would also allow GO Transit and Via to lease more space in the Great Hall area.[23][24]

Former operations[edit]

Ontario Northland[edit]

  • Northlander to Gravenhurst, Huntsville, North Bay, Cobalt and Cochrane

The Northlander provided a passenger train service between Union Station and Northeastern Ontario from 1976 until 2012. In March 2012, the Government of Ontario announced plans to discontinue this service,[25] and the final day of operations was September 28, 2012.


Main article: Amtrak

The International Limited provided a passenger train service between Union Station and Chicago Union Station from 1982 to 2004. in 2004 The route was replaced by Via Rail's Toronto-Sarnia, and Amtrak's Blue Water Route from Port Huron to Chicago Union Station. The Route was Discontinued and the final day of operations was April 23, 2004.

The clock outside Union Station

Other railway stations (terminals or depots) in Toronto[edit]


  1. ^ Union Bicycle Station
  2. ^ Union Station. Directory of Federal Heritage Designations. Parks Canada. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  3. ^ Union Station (Canadian Pacific and Grand Trunk) National Historic Site of Canada. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  4. ^ Union Station. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e http://www.toronto.ca/union_station/quick_facts.htm
  6. ^ a b "Union Station". Union Pearson Express. 2015-06-09. Retrieved 2015-06-09. 
  7. ^ Toronto Terminals Railway (November 2007). "Union Station design and architecture.". Archived from the original on 2007-09-25. Retrieved 2007-11-24. 
  8. ^ a b c d http://www.toronto.ca/union_station/pdf/integrity_statement.pdf
  9. ^ "HistoricPlaces.ca". HistoricPlaces.ca. 1989-08-28. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  10. ^ Internet Movie Database listing of titles filmed at Union Station, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  11. ^ Filey, Mike (August 2007). "Union Station turns 80.". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-11-24. 
  12. ^ a b c Toronto Terminals Railway (November 2007). "Toronto Terminals Railway history.". Archived from the original on 2007-10-23. Retrieved 2007-11-24. 
  13. ^ Gee, Marcus (12 October 2013). "Why Union Station’s $800-million reno will be worth it". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 2013-10-12. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  14. ^ "Union Station". North America Railway Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2013. Inducted 1999 
  15. ^ City of Toronto (March 2004). "Union Station by the numbers.". Retrieved 2007-11-24. 
  16. ^ [1][dead link]
  17. ^ "Railway Gazette: Toronto airport rail link negotiations collapse". Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  18. ^ "Guest Services - FAQs". Union Pearson Express. 2015-06-08. Retrieved 2015-06-08. 
  19. ^ Robin Levinson King Staff Reporter (2015-06-06). "Union Pearson Express (UPX) opens to the public". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2015-06-08. 
  20. ^ Toronto Star. The Star http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1148422238152&call_pageid=968332188492&col=968793972154&t=TS_Home.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ "Toronto approves Union Station makeover" by Brodie Fenlon. Globe and Mail. 5 August 2009, p. A6.
  22. ^ http://www.toronto.ca/union_station/pdf/union_stn_presentation_nov10.pdf
  23. ^ "City sells part of Union Station to GO" by Allison Hanes, National Post. November 21, 2008
  24. ^ "GO Transit offers to buy part of Union Station" by Paul Moloney & Tess Kalinowski, Toronto Star. November 21, 2008
  25. ^ Message from ONTC Chair Ted Hargreaves, March 23, 2012

23. The Toronto Transit Commission's streetcar and subway track gauge is 4 feet 10 7/8 inches while standard railway gauge is 4 feet 8 1/2 inches.


External links[edit]