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Don Valley Layover Facility

Don Valley Layover Facility

Bringing Better Transit to Toronto: Don Valley Layover Facility

GO Transit is expanding. Expanding to meet ridership demands of today and of the future. We are on track to deliver 15 minute, or better, service all day, every day, across the region. When more trains are put into service, more trains need to be stored and cleaned.

By building the Don Valley Layover Facility, GO Transit can store additional trains near Union Station during the midday period, when fewer (or shorter) trains are in use. By keeping the trains close to Union Station, we limit the movement of empty trains during the day while keeping the trains nearby where they are needed for the evening commute.

Download the Don Valley Layover Fact Sheet

What is a Layover Facility?

During the day, GO Transit moves our rush-hour trains to layover facilities. We have a range of layover facilities across the network to provide overnight storage for our trains, and to store trains midday when less passenger capacity is required. During this time, we plug our trains into what’s called “wayside power”, allowing us to turn off our 3600 hp train engines to rest quietly as they maintain critical functions, while producing no exhaust.

While plugged in, crews perform a midday tidy-up on board the trains, getting them in their best shape for their return to service in the late afternoon.

What’s Planned?

The majority of the Don Valley Layover is just the re-use of the existing track for the storage of trains. In order for it to safely function for railway crews a service driveway will be established along the layover track, requiring grading and retaining walls in some locations.

The Don Valley Layover Facility will include a small collection of one storey service buildings, built at the elevation of existing tracks. The facility will house both equipment required for the layover power supply, and facilities related to the cleaning of parked trains. The scale and nature of crew facilities is under review.

Rendering of two people walking under bridge

Preserving Green Space

The more people we can keep out of their cars, the greener we are as a region. GO Transit moves 2.5 million passengers through Don Valley in a typical year.

With a relatively small footprint and by reusing existing infrastructure we are confident that the facility will have very limited impacts. The Environmental Assessment for the layover was included in a larger assessment for new tracks and facilities which can be referenced here: www.metrolinxengage.com/en/content/new-track-facilities-environmental-pr...

During the Environmental Assessment stage, in response to City of Toronto and the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) comments, Metrolinx made modifications to the layover proposal to minimize impacts, this included shifting the facility further north to avoid more environmentally sensitive areas.

Based on this feedback, and since the completion of TPAP approval in March 2021 Metrolinx has continued to look for ways to further reduce the project scope. The site has been moved out of an environmentally sensitive area and the overall footprint was reduced by 23 per cent. We’ve also removed the fuel and effluent storage tanks from the plan, and as a result we will be able to further reduce the footprint, reduce the amount of onsite staff, and eliminate any risks associated with spills or leaks in the valley.

Metrolinx is further reviewing the operational requirements of the facility, to see if any further reductions can be made to the footprint.

Additionally, Metrolinx intends to minimize visual impacts through screening vegetation and careful design decisions to have the infrastructure blend into the ravine environment. Metrolinx is committed to our GO Expansion Vegetation Management and Tree Compensation Program. We replace displaced trees on a 3-to-1 basis. This gives us the opportunity to introduce additional native vegetation to valley and build and contribute to the ravine ecosystem.

We recognize that many experience the Don Valley from above and treasure the views. During the day area residents will be aware of the parked GO Trains, with the most obvious site being the white roofs of the trains. From a design perspective we want to ensure any structures or infrastructure that are introduced fit respect the setting in which they are placed. Careful consideration will be made with respect to lighting to ensure the facilities neighbors are appropriately screened at night.

Will the Layover Facility Create More Noise?

Noise associated with the facility is expected to be minimal. Only three trains will enter and exit the site each day, and will park elsewhere overnight for deep cleaning, refueling, and maintenance activities. When they arrive trains will be plugged in to wayside power and won’t be idling.

With the location planned for daytime operation, there will not be any overnight or early morning noise generated by the site.

Keeping the Don Trail Open

Metrolinx is committed to keeping the Lower Don Trail open for cyclists and pedestrians. The Lower Don Valley Trail will remain operational during construction and while the facility is in operation.

Why the Don Valley?

The site was selected after meeting a number of criteria, specifically its proximity to downtown.

The Don Valley Layover makes use of an existing track known on the Don Branch. Don Branch was originally built by Canadian Pacific Railways in 1896 to connect downtown Toronto with their main line services. The section that will be used for the layover runs directly adjacent to the Don Valley Parkway, and was realigned to this location when the highway was built in in the 1960’s. The line was last used by CPR in 2007, and it was acquired by GO Transit to protect for transit use.

Metrolinx owns the land under the track bed as well as the adjacent slope of land that provides a stable foundation for the railway. The majority of construction and final facility will take place on Metrolinx-owned land.

The Don Valley layover is just one in a long list of facilities that are required as we transform GO Transit into more frequent transit network. Ultimately, benefiting everyone in the region, keeping trains running reliably on time.

Cars driving on highway

November 2021 Update

Thanks for your continued interest in the Don Valley Layover Facility.

The Community Relations team has been meeting with residents and stakeholders on site to exchange information and receive input on the proposed facility.

A key objective of Metrolinx’s design process is to reduce the footprint of the facility. To complete this task, our project design and operations teams are working together to make sure the facility meets Metrolinx’s operational needs and respects the Don Valley.

Based on our discussion with community members to date, concerns about fencing, lighting, and building design have been included in the consultant scope so they can be appropriately addressed.

Metrolinx will undertake a series of studies to respond to community concerns and make sure that the design refinement phase is based on the best possible information. The work that will begin this year includes:

  • Arborists (tree experts) will evaluate trees in the vicinity of the proposed layover
  • Biologists will assess the habitat features in the adjacent area
  • Heritage experts will assess any impacts on heritage features in the area including the Prince Edward Viaduct
  • Engineers will assess the current infrastructure.

Metrolinx initiated a procurement process for the technical advisor that will advance the design for the layover facility. In addition to architects and engineers, this team will include landscape architects and restoration experts. Metrolinx expects to have the consultant on board early in 2022 to begin the initial design and work with the community.

The community is encouraged to continue to provide their input to help Metrolinx determine the design elements that can help integrate the design of the facility to the surrounding valley, like vegetation, and surface treatments on the walls and roofs. Metrolinx and our design consultant will meet with the community along the way to get feedback to work out the final design. Contact us at [email protected].

Frequently Asked Questions

Updates & News

June 29, 2021 | Don Valley Layover Virtual Town Hall

Metrolinx provided an update about the Don Valley Layover Facility via virtual town hall. Watch a recording of the meeting and read the Q&A →

April 15, 2021 | Community Meeting

Presentation →

April 15, 2021 | Blog

A new use for an old track: How an existing rail line provides the most environmentally-friendly location for a transit layover. Read more →

April 13, 2021 | Webpage Launch

Thank you for your interest in the Don Valley Layover Facility. We have collected relevant materials that discuss the facility for your information.

Dec 21, 2021 | Blog

Metrolinx answers your top GO Expansion transit questions as public consultation continues. Read more →

Nov 27, 2020 | Blog

As important assessment phases draw to a close – Exploring GO Expansion and your opinions on it. Read more →

Project Overview

As part of the GO Expansion Program, Metrolinx has identified various infrastructure required to achieve service level targets across the network. The video below provides background on the GO Expansion program and discusses the recently completed Environmental Assessment. The role and intent of the Don Valley Layover are discussed.



Timelines & Process

Public Consultation

A series of public consultations on GO Expansion occurred as part of the Environmental Assessment Process. Here’s a presentation on the Don Valley Layover Facility from the Virtual Open House which was held from November 27, to December 11, 2020.

The plans for the Don Valley Layover were revised as a result of public consultation and stakeholder input. Information about the earlier consultations can be found here.  


The environmental impact of the New Track and Facilities transit project was assessed and an Environmental Project Report (EPR) was prepared in accordance with the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) as prescribed in Ontario Regulation 231/08 - Transit Projects and Metrolinx Undertakings (made under the Environmental Assessment Act). The EPR for the New Track and Facilities was available for a 30-day public review period starting December 30, 2020 – January 28, 2021. It has been reviewed by the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. The Statement of Completion has been issued, and the project can now proceed to the detailed design and implementation phase.

The EPR and associated technical reports can be viewed here: https://www.metrolinxengage.com/en/content/new-track-facilities-environmental-project-report