CANADA: Greater Toronto transport agency Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario have started the procurement process for the 15·5 km Ontario Line, issuing a request for qualification for a 30-year PPP concession to equip, operate and maintain the metro line, and a second covering one of the two main civil works contracts.

Running from Exhibition/Ontario Place to an interchange with the future Eglinton Crosstown LRT at Ontario Science Centre, the line will have 15 stations, including interchanges with Toronto Transit Commission’s east-west and north-south subway lines, as well as GO Transit commuter rail and TTC streetcar services. Half of the route will run in tunnel, with the remainder at grade or elevated.

The Ontario Line is to be procured under three separate public-private partnership contracts – one for the railway systems, rolling stock, operations and maintenance, the other two for design and construction of the civil works for the northern and southern sections.

According to IO, splitting the project is intended to create ‘three separate contracts of manageable size and acceptable risk’. This would ‘encourage competition and active participation from the market to support innovation’ and ensure the ‘best value for taxpayers’. Consortia responding to the RfQ will be shortlisted to participate in a request for proposals later this year.

Three PPP packages

The rolling stock, systems, operations and maintenance package has been structured as a 30-year design-build-finance-operate-maintain contract. It includes the trackwork, power supplies, communications and train control systems passenger information and ticketing, together with the depot and operations control centre. The winning bidder would be expected to work ‘collaboratively’ with TTC on the future operations and maintenance agreements, with TTC responsible for staffing and day-to-day operations. The fare collection equipment must also be integrated with the city’s PRESTO smart card ticketing system.


The southern civil, stations and tunnel contract covers design, financing and construction of a 6 km tunnel under the city centre from Exhibition/Ontario Place in the west to the Don Yard portal in the east, including utility diversions and ground works. The concessionaire will excavate the tunnels and build the stations ready for fitting out by the RSSOM contractor. This section includes seven stations – one above ground ‘to be integrated with the existing GO Transit Exhibition station’, two underground interchanges with the TTC subway stations at Osgoode and Queen, and four new underground stations at King/Bathurst, Queen/Spadina, Moss Park and Corktown.

An RfQ for the northern civil, stations and tunnel contract is expected to be issued in early 2022. This will cover the route running north from Gerrard station to Ontario Science Centre, with seven stations, including a 3 km tunnel and an elevated viaduct section.

In addition to the three main PPP packages, IO expects to procure a series of early works projects for bridge, track and other preparatory activities. This includes construction of the short central section from Don Yard to Gerard, where the Ontario Line will share the existing GO Transit commuter rail corridor. The first of these contracts will be tendered later this year.

‘Our government is taking historic steps to expand subway service and reduce traffic congestion across the Greater Toronto Aarea’, said Ontario’s Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney when the bids were invited on June 2. ‘By issuing these first RfQs we are one step closer to realising our transit vision and helping to generate economic activity and create tens of thousands of jobs as the province recovers from Covid-19.’

Yonge North next

On May 28, the Ontario provincial government signed a ‘Transit Partnership Preliminary Agreement’ with the Regional Municipality of York, paving the way for construction of a northern extension of TTC’s Yonge subway line from Finch station to Markham and Richmond Hill. Along with the Ontario Line, the Yonge North extension is one of four priority projects in Ontario’s ‘New Subway Plan for the GTA’ unveiled last year. ‘Our government is one step closer to delivering on its plan for more rapid, reliable and seamlessly-connected transit in the GTA’, said Mulrony.