|LRT and Subway Construction Costs
|Much of this site is devoted to
promoting LRT as a viable alternative to Subway for rapid
transit expansion within the GTA.
Subway provides a
greater capacity than LRT, but a major advantage of LRT
is that its capacity is high enough for most every outer
corridor within the GTA for today and for well beyond the
foreseeable future. Furthermore, the capacity of one
Subway line can be exceeded with two parallel LRT lines
with numerous advantages:
single rapid transit line requires funnelling all
users to the single line; while feeder bus routes
would be ideal, the reality is that many new
users will drive to this single line and will
require parking; stations must be built with
giant parking facilities
a service disruption occurs, the entire corridor
served by a single line are effected and have
little or no alternative
lines involve single point-to-point operation;
few, if any, opportunities exist for route
interlining that can provide service that
provides more convenient travel options for users
with a reduced need to transfer in order to reach
be shown here, the construction cost of LRT is so
significantly lower than Subway construction that it is
not only possible to build one parallel line for the same
cost, it is possible to build TWO, and in some cases,
THREE parallel lines.
this comparison the York Region corridor around Yonge
single rapid transit line down Yonge Street
rapid transit line on Leslie/Don Mills, one on
Yonge, and a third on Bathurst or Dufferin
In case 1,
everyone must get to Yonge. Those close enough could walk,
or they would take a feeder bus. Those west of Bathurst
or east of Bayview will be more likely to drive and need
parking. When an incident occurs on this line, EVERYONE
from this corridor is stuck.
In case 2,
it might sound as if three times the stations spread over
the three lines will each require parking facilities that
are only a third of the facilities needed for the single
Yonge line. However, with more stations spread over a
wider catchment area, far more people are in a position
to walk or use a feeder bus service to reach the rapid
transit line, so the total parking requirements may be
lower. It is possible that the parking requirements would
be the same because the multiple lines will attract even
more riders over a wider area. This means that for the
same amount of money, far more people will reap the
benefits of this investment in public transit.
real is this 3-for-1 idea? Let us look a the sort of
costs for building Subway and LRT lines. Please note:
since the primary purpose of this site is to show the
benefits of LRT, to avoid the accusation of taking the
best of LRT costs and comparing them to the worst of
Subway costs, we will try to do the exact opposite. In
coming up with these figures, every allowance and benefit
of doubt has been given to Subway figures, while
attempting to be as critical as possible with LRT figures.
||Of course Subway expansion is more
costly - it's underground!
have the belief that Subways are expensive simply
because the are underground.
true that building underground is more expensive than
building at grade. Also, building an elevated
structure tends to cost somewhere between the two.
||That's not the full story...
it is not just the underground issue that makes
Subway more expensive - it is the whole
infrastructure around a Subway that makes it more
expensive. The ROW must be completely isolated. This
means it requires more real estate to build, and must
be totally fenced or walled in to prevent any public
infrastructure is more costly. Think about what costs
more: a station that must have stairs, escalators,
and elevators to go up or down to a level to be able
to cross tracks, or a station that allows crossing
the tracks on foot?
tunnels and other structures are built for Subway,
they are more costly due to the larger loading gauge
(height and width clearances for vehicles).
you will see, the cost range for building LRT
underground is about the same as for building Subway
||Though LRVs have a significantly lower
loading gauge, they do not have a proportionately lower
capacity due to designs that permit articulation at
shorter intervals. It is not unusual for an LRV to have a
similar seating capacity as a typical Subway vehicle,
though for peak operations the metro vehicle will hold
about 50% more standees than an LRV will hold.
loading gauge of an LRV is reduced not only by the
narrower dimension, but articulated design allows the
longer vehicle to negociate tighter curves. A tunnel
for an LRT line is less costly than a tunnel for
Subway. Since LRTs may be tunnelled, this site uses a
lower-case spelling of subway
when referring to general tunnelling, and capitalizes
the word with referring to a Heavy Rail Rapid transit
system. An LRT subway is nowhere near the cost of an
HRT subway (a "full Subway").
added cost for Subway is that it requires a complex
signalling infrastructure compared to LRT. The
benefit is that Subway can make use of Automatic
Train Control (ATC) because it already needs this
signalling infrastructure. This is where the capacity
of Subway rises above LRT, but unless it is really
needed, it is a huge unjustifiable added cost.
|What is the Cost of
Building a Subway Line?
$200 million to $250 million per kilometre
At grade: $150 million to $200 million per kilometre
the cost of vehicles.
Toronto has recent examples of constructed and
proposed Subway construction, it is easy to find
reasonably recent figures. Despite this, the
estimates stated above are LOWER than the estimated
costs outlined here. Only the construction of the
Sheppard line, taking inflation into mind, falls
within the range above at $172 million per kilometre.
Extension: $266.5 million per kilometre, vehicles and
yard improvements excluded
extension from Downsview station to a station in
the Vaughan Corporate Centre (VCC) in the Highway
7 and Jane Street area is budgeted at
approximately $2.5 billion. As this extension is
8.6 km, that makes the cost per kilometre about $291
figure includes the purchase of 36 subway cars
and improvements to Wilson Yard. The amount for
these were $108 million and $85 million
respectively in 2005 dollars according to the
Environmental Assessment on the extension to
Steeles. This comes to $207.8 million in 2008
dollars. Removing this from the $2.5 billion
project budget leaves $2.2922 billion, or a per
kilometre cost of $266.5 million.
special thanks to Karl Junkin for pointing out
previous errors in this breakdown.
Subway: $172.5 million per kilometre, no vehicles -
stations limited to four cars
line opened on November 24, 2004 at a cost of
just under $1 billion to construct. Factoring in
inflation, this is about $1.1 billion in 2008
involved four new stations, some utility
relocation for a fifth station, new connecting
tracks with the Yonge line, and the construction
of the interchange station at Yonge above the
existing station on the Yonge line. The line is 5.5
km in length, but involves new track length that
is effectively 6.4 km.
that full length, today's cost per kilometre is $172.5
million. No new vehicles were part of this cost,
and there was no need for any new storage
facilities. Even at this cost, cuts were made
that result in only completing a portion of the
stations to serve four-car trains that carry
about 43,000 passengers per day (the Scarborough
RT carries about 42,390 passengers per day).
Extension Proposal: $247.5 million per kilometre
March of 2003, the TTC issued a report that
outlined the costs of extending the Sheppard line
from Don Mills to Scarborough Town Centre. This
extension would have added 7 stations over a
distance of 8 km for an estimated cost of $1.75
billion, or about $218.75 per kilometre.
Factoring in inflation, this is about $247.5
million per kilometre for the whole line.
extension would have opened in three stages:
- Don Mills to Victoria Park:
2 km with two stations for $470 million ($265.9
million / km in 2008 dollars)
- Victoria Park to Agincourt
(GO Station): 3.7 km with three stations
for $730 million ($223.2 million / km in
- Agincourt to STC: 2.3 km
with two stations for $550 million ($270.6
million / km in 2008 dollars)
was not stated in the report if any of these
costs included the purchase of new vehicles, so
it likely does not.
West Extension Proposal: $270 million per kilometre
other proposal from a few years ago was to extend
the Bloor-Danforth Subway line beyond Kipling.
This was to involve a 3.7 km extension to the
Queensway/West Mall area for a cost of about $1
billion. This translates to $270 million per
further extension of 1.5 km from there to Dixie
in Mississauga would have cost another $500
million, for another $333 million per kilometre!
of these extensions would have been at grade,
making them extremely expensive. As the date of
this proposal was not confirmed, no inflationary
adjustment has been made to these figures.
||What is the Cost of Building an LRT
$130 million to $160 million per kilometre
At grade: $30 million to $50 million per kilometre
the cost of vehicles.
Toronto has not embraced LRT construction until the
release of the Transit City plan, it is necessary to
look at other cities. The summary for each example
has had annually compounded inflation added to the
actual cost at a rate of 2.5% to make a fair
comparison with 2008 dollars. All costs quoted were
converted to Canadian dollars using an approximate
exchange rate in effect when the line was completed (stated
in each case).
million per kilometre above ground, vehicles
$142.8 million per kilometre tunnelled, vehicles
this section is being updated to reflect changes
to the plan since March 21, 2007. The scope,
distance, and costs of the Sheppard East,
Eglinton Crosstown, and Finch West lines have
significantly changed since the first proposal
and will be reflected here. The remaining lines
are for later consideration and will have cost
estimates adjusted for inflation since that time.
the proposal outlined
on March 21, 2007 it was estimated that the
following would be the costs for each line,
- Don Mills: $675 million for
17.6 km, or $38.4 million per kilometre
- Eglinton Crosstown: $2280
million for 30.8 km, or $74 million per
- Etobicoke-Finch West: $835
million for 17.9 km, or $46.7 million per
- Jane: $630 million for 16.5
km, or $38.2 million per kilometre
- Scarborough Malvern: $630
million for 15.0 km, or $42 million per
- Sheppard East: $555 million
for 13.6 km, or $40.8 million per
- Waterfront West: $540
million for 11.0 km, or $49.1 million per
Eglinton Crosstown line will have about one third
of its route underground, and this accounts for
its greater per kilometre cost. Taking the
average for all the other lines, we get a cost of
just under $42.6 million per kilometre. If we use
this figure as the cost per kilometre for 20 km
of the Eglinton Crosstown route, the remaining 10
km will cost about $142.8 million per kilometre
for the underground portion.
all the surface construction proposed for Transit
City involves embedding tracks in concrete. This
construction method pushes LRT costs to its high
end but allows the ROW to be used for bus
operation and emergency vehicles.
T-REX project: $37.6 million per kilometre, 34 new
whole T-REX project involved new LRT construction
in the south-east portion of the city plus
freeway expansion. The costs of the LRT
construction was US$879 million for 30.4 km of
new lines and 13 new stations. Added to this was
US$91.8 million for 34 new LRVs. This made the
total cost US$970.80 - adding in 2.5% for
inflation since this line opened at the end of
2006, then adding 15% for the exchange rate in
effect at the time, this cost in Canadian dollars
is about $1.144 billion.
makes the per kilometre cost only $37.6 million,
and that includes vehicles!
to this, a significant amount of this new
construction had elevated structures to take the
line over main roads, and all but one of the new
stations has parking facilities, with several of
the stations having a multi-level parking garage.
entire extension was built with ballasted tie
construction, which helps keep the cost down.
Louis: $32.4 million per kilometre, vehicles included
initial construction in St. Louis cost US$465 for
27.4 km of line with 17 stations, including 31
vehicles. Most of this line is at grade, with 2.4
km elevated near the airport and the downtown
section was built through an existing railway
tunnel. The line crosses the Mississippi River
using an already existing bridge. This fully
opened in 1994, making the inflation-adjusted
cost in Canadian dollars about $887 million (35%
makes the per kilometre cost only $32.4 million.
Louis St. Clair County extension to College: $18.7
million per kilometre, assumes no vehicles included
28.1 km extension added 8 stations in 2001 for a
cost of US$339.2 million. The inflation-adjusted
cost in Canadian dollars was about $524.2 million
(30% exchange rate). St. Louis received 24 LRVs
between 2000 and 2001, though it is not clear
that their cost was included in the figure
makes the per kilometre cost only $18.7 million.
||It should be noted that much of
this extension is in fairly rural territory where
ballasted tie construction is used for the track.
contributes to the low cost of construction.
Louis St. Clair County extension to Shiloh-Scott: $19.6
million per kilometre, no vehicles included
5.6 km extension added 1 station in 2003 for a
cost of US$75 million. The inflation-adjusted
cost in Canadian dollars was about $110.3 million
(30% exchange rate).
makes the per kilometre cost only $19.6 million.
It should be noted that much of this line is in
fairly rural territory where ballasted tie
construction is used for the track. This likely
contributes to the low cost of construction.
Louis Cross-County extension: $41.7 million, no
13 km branch line added 9 stations in 2006 for a
cost of US$430 million. Portions of this line are
elevated, almost 2 km is tunnelled and the rest
is in a fenced ROW. The inflation-adjusted cost
in Canadian dollars was about $542.2 million (20%
makes the per kilometre cost $41.7 million.
Hiawatha Line: $48.7 million, 24 vehicles included
19.2 km line has 17 stations including one in a
tunnelled section at the airport. Fully opened at
the end of 2004, the total cost of US$715.3
million included 24 LRVs and a servicing facility.
The inflation-adjusted cost in Canadian dollars
was about $935.7 million (20% exchange rate).
makes the per kilometre cost $48.7 million.
initial line: $19.8 million per kilometre, 14
in 1978, Edmonton's LRT was 6.9 km in length from
Central to Belvedere, a total of 5 stations with
two underground. The cost of constructing the
line, including 14 LRVs was $64.9 million.
Adjusting this cost for inflation, the cost would
be $136.3 million, or $19.8 million per kilometre.
Central station is underground, the line comes to
the surface a short distance from this station
and runs in its own ROW with mostly ballasted tie
Grandin extension: $147.1 million per kilometre,
underground, no vehicles included
in 1989, this 800 metre, one station extension
was completely underground. Underground stations
in Edmonton are built to handle 5-car trains, but
Edmonton's LRVs are 25 metres long, so this
compares to a 4-car length when 30 metre cars are
considered. The cost of constructing the
extension was $67.1 million. Adjusting this cost
for inflation, the cost would be about $117.7
million, or $147.1 million per kilometre.
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This page last updated March 23, 2010