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Airport Express trains start delivery to Toronto

Posted by Derek Flack / August 15, 2014

Union Pearson ExpressFor all the (self-prescribed) hoopla over the soon to arrive Union Pearson Express train in Toronto, our first actual look at the train itself is a bit underwhelming. Shot by photographer James Gardiner near Brantford on delivery to Toronto, the vehicle doesn't exactly pop out of the landscape (in fact it almost blends in). But I suppose that doesn't matter once you hop on board. Yes, the paint scheme is rather subdued, but the main news is really that, like our flashier-looking streetcar, the arrival of the trains in the city means that service is around the corner.

Also good news is that these vehicles can be converted to electric if and when the lines they run on are updated in the coming years. No need to buy new vehicles. What's worse than the paint job, perhaps, is the price of ride on one of these bad boys. We've already harped about this, but the estimated $25 one way is steep compared to other cities and will probably have at least a few passengers thinking about a cab or the super cheap 192 Airport Rocket operated by the TTC out of Kipling Station.

Photo by James Gardiner of Railway Pictures.



John / August 15, 2014 at 12:57 pm
Why does this new train look like it was built in 1980?
SteveM / August 15, 2014 at 01:00 pm
What a terrible paint scheme. Who looked at that and decided "yeah, this is a good look for 2014"?
Julia / August 15, 2014 at 01:07 pm
"Underwhelming" being the key word here. Seriously though, $25? The airport rocket bus is a way slicker ride than this.
S / August 15, 2014 at 01:08 pm
A 1960s paint scheme for a 1960s era transit infrastructure. Makes sense. "pain scheme" is apt here.
Jordan / August 15, 2014 at 01:09 pm
Too bad the train could have been super popular with everyone going to the airport but with a $25 price tag, it makes it not worth it unless you're heading there by yourself. If it's 2 people, you might as well take a cab for $50. Will be interesting to see if anyone but business travellers use the train.

Also, you can look at many other cities around the world that have more modern looking trains and lower ticket prices. Sydney, Australia being one example. http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/no-ticket-respite-in-windfall-from-airport-train-fares-20121118-29k9z.html

And they're annoyed with the $15 ticket! Nevermind the supposed $25 one here.
dontgettit / August 15, 2014 at 01:11 pm
Who the hell is gonna take this? If you are a solo business person already downtown then I get it. A family schlepping downtown to spend $100 to get to the airport. A cab comes to you and is cheaper. Was this just a scam so Pearson could compete with Porter for business flyers? I just don't understand.
stonerjoe / August 15, 2014 at 01:12 pm
they may not have painted it yet, this could just be the manufacturer default
Skye / August 15, 2014 at 01:12 pm
But on the positive, at least they can be converted to electric. At the very least, it eliminates the future argument of "but we can't convert to electric because then we'd have to buy new trains".

Even if the trains look like 1970s kitchen appliances, well, they can always be painted over.
Jordan / August 15, 2014 at 01:12 pm
Look at Bangkok's airport train. They pay based on distance but the most expensive is 45 baht which works out to about $1.50 CDN.

Yes. $1.50.

Questionable / August 15, 2014 at 01:15 pm
Fare seems reasonable to me:

Gatwick Express - 19 pounds ($36 CAD)
Heathrow Express - 21 pounds ($40 CAD)
Arlanda Express - 260 Swedish Kroner ($42 CAD)
Endeneu / August 15, 2014 at 01:17 pm
The Airport Express bus already costs $25 and only services downtown, so it's really no different. It's pretty much just for tourists staying downtown or people who already live central. A cab is only cheaper if it's more than one person. Your cheapest option is going to be the TTC. It might take a little longer but it's still only $3.
Wishful Thinker / August 15, 2014 at 01:19 pm
I was hoping it would look the Narita Express trains : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narita_Express
Dave / August 15, 2014 at 01:20 pm
Everything BlogTO posts these days is soooooooo depressing and negative. Too expensive, really ugly, etc, etc, etc. Who cares? Price - will be cheaper and faster than in London, UK. The look - whatever. Get me to the airport in 25 minutes at speeds of 140km/h and I'm happy!
Dave replying to a comment from Questionable / August 15, 2014 at 01:20 pm
Mark Dowling / August 15, 2014 at 01:21 pm
GO/Metrolinx has horrific colour advice, as already seen on their weird lime green scheme they are slapping on vehicles now compared to the perfectly good green that was there previously.
Mark Dowling / August 15, 2014 at 01:23 pm
Questionable: the service is not express so comparison to Heathrow Express is inapt. The comparable is Heathrow Connect which is significantly cheaper. Remember also that if travelling to Terminal 3 passengers on UPX will have to transfer to the cable car.
AS / August 15, 2014 at 01:27 pm
Why is the Vancouver airport link only $4 bucks vs YYZ $25. Seems unjustifiable and certainly not going to motivate people to use it.
Cheaper to park and fly
Jason / August 15, 2014 at 01:30 pm
They should give it a real hip trendy paint job.
Michael / August 15, 2014 at 01:34 pm
My family of 4 (4*$25 = $100) will take a cab and save a lot of money and time (door todoor service). Well done Toronto planners. This will be another project that will fail.

Even if it was half the cost (i.e. 12 bucks), by the time I pay for TTC fare to get to Union Station, a cab is still cheaper. Brilliant!!!!!
LG / August 15, 2014 at 01:34 pm
The Skytrain Canada Line is less then $10 in Vancouver and takes about 25 minutes from DT to the airport. If you are travelling into the burbs and need to go further, you will max out at $15. They built this line for the 2010 Olympics, this was WAY overdue for TO.

This fare is to high for travellers!
v79 / August 15, 2014 at 01:36 pm
I see Soviet Russia had a fire sale on their leftover paint from the 70's. Like others have said, this is just fine for a single businessperson heading to a downtown hotel for a conference, but it will be of little use/value to tourists and families due to the cost. Perhaps if they offered a group/family rate of some sort for no more than $50.
CH / August 15, 2014 at 01:40 pm
I'm happy we're getting an airport express, but god is that train U-G-L-Y. YOU UGLY. It's not just the paintjob, it's the structure of it - chunky and not at all streamlined. Is this really fit for the 21st century?
KevinN / August 15, 2014 at 01:40 pm
God that thing is ugly.
akswun / August 15, 2014 at 01:44 pm
The trains look terrible... I agree.

$25 seems fairly reasonable. $50 via taxi but that includes traffic.

No talk about how much time you will save trying to get to the airport from the dt. Gardiner west to the 427 is hell for majority of the day. Yes it is cheaper to ride the Rocket but again you'll be stopping off at numerous places. Which takes almost 1.5hrs. If the train is going directly to the airport, what is that like 30 mins with minimal stops? Again, sounds fair to me.
Skye replying to a comment from Mark Dowling / August 15, 2014 at 01:49 pm
Metrolinx still has better taste in colour schemes than a lot of other transit authorities. Have you ever seen Chicago's Metra trains? Corrugated metal monstrosities that look like cattle cars. I'll take GO's double green over that.
iSkyscraper / August 15, 2014 at 01:49 pm
Wow, surprisingly ugly and dated looking. Ugh.

Rick / August 15, 2014 at 01:49 pm
Who cares how it looks? It's a train.
@ Endeneu / August 15, 2014 at 01:51 pm
No, the existing Airport coach service is CLEARLY not the same thing. Buses slowly go from hotel to hotel to hotel until the coach is full, then they tootle off to the airport. It is a very slow service. Non stop rail is... wait for this big surprise: "Non Stop". That means it is direct, and fast.

Same thing? I think not.
thatguy / August 15, 2014 at 01:54 pm
Everyone seems to be jumping to conclusions without any official word from anyone.

Graeme Burk / August 15, 2014 at 02:06 pm
$25 to get to the airport in, what, around half an hour? Non-stop?

Hell yeah.

It cost me over $60 to take a taxi in rush hour a couple of months ago. It recently took me almost 2 hours from the East End to the airport via Kipling. It costs $20 to talk an airport express bus and they take an hour plus depending on what state of parking lot the 427 or the Gardiner is in.

Really, of all the things to moan about, the cost of this is so far down my list it isn't even funny.
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from thatguy / August 15, 2014 at 02:09 pm
Color scheme seems to match:


Looks a heck of a lot sleeker in the brochure:


I think the paint scheme really hurts, by emphasizing the small windows and chunking up the top. Should have gone with all-white and a little green Metrolinx accent or such.

In any case, it's true the equipment doesn't matter as much as the price. I've got a box of donuts on it being at least $30, easy.
Umme / August 15, 2014 at 02:19 pm
Don't care about the size/aesthetic of the train, but it is so expensive! It's not comparable to other services at all! The TTC Rocket to the airport is so much cheaper--not to mention that the GO Transit's airport shuttle from York Mills is only $5.
Jacob / August 15, 2014 at 02:26 pm
LOL, I love the paint job.
TJ / August 15, 2014 at 02:32 pm
Without a doubt, more than one person, take a taxi/TTC from downtown core. However, with all the construction, taxi from the core takes 40-45 mins to get to Pearson. About a month ago, my friend took taxi from Royal York hotel to Pearson during a weekday leaving at around 1pm and it took her 1h 5m to get to Pearson via taxi and it was $66 (w/tip).
TJ / August 15, 2014 at 02:34 pm
TTC to airport from core is just over an hour (but almost impossible to do during rush hour with all your luggage in the subway/bus). TTC via GO Bus at York Mills is also around an hour, depending on traffic conditions.
Dude / August 15, 2014 at 02:34 pm
Is it me or do the writers at Blogto cynically blog and complain about everything Toronto does to make it a great city?

We are the best city in Canada and getting better. Start acting like it.
Harry / August 15, 2014 at 02:37 pm
'Concerted to electric'... Spellcheck is not infallible; maybe you need a human proofreader
GT / August 15, 2014 at 02:46 pm
What a bunch of whiners. The point is to get from Pearson to Union quickly. Its not to be the cheapest or an alternative to the TTC. $25 is in line with other Express train services elsewhere. Bangkok is $1.50? How is that relevant? try paying Canadian workers Thai wages and see how that flies. Sydney's is a regular train running from the airport. The train to Newark is cheap too but its just a regular train that runs by the airport. Heathrow and Pearson trains are dedicated express trains. If any of you trolls has tried to get to Pearson in rush hour from downtown you'll know what a realiable express trip is worth. If you can't do $25 a head, take the bus and stop complaining. As for aesthetics, There's no indication is the paint scheme. Its not the Narita bullet train either. But its also not $60.
Peter / August 15, 2014 at 02:46 pm
Hey Metrolinx, Soviet Russia called, they said you can keep the trains
Chris / August 15, 2014 at 02:48 pm
Who gives a shit what colour the train is or what it looks like for that matter?

Honestly, it's like some of you are just LOOKING for things to complain about. Go find another hobby.
Travel More replying to a comment from Dude / August 15, 2014 at 02:54 pm
I know Toronto's awesome because the small town you came from sucked, but really, get out more.

This complacency from new residents is what's killing the city.
Jamie replying to a comment from Dave / August 15, 2014 at 03:22 pm
Thank you Dave. Something is better than nothing. Once you electrify the line, AND you add GO local service with different trains, THEN you can add a lower cost option to getting up there, and have a transfer station built at Woodbine. We Torontonians have been short-changed on transit for a long time. Be thankful we're getting change, even if it's incremental. Yonge had a streetcar before it got a subway. Progress to world standards isn't immediate, and it's not reasonable to think it could be.
Sara / August 15, 2014 at 03:29 pm
Fine with me approved. I'm looking for a fast efficient way to get to the airport. I don't care what the train looks like, bring looks into the debate and we'll be waiting for another 20 years to get final a decision.
New Jack City Cornballs replying to a comment from Travel More / August 15, 2014 at 03:31 pm
I believe you the term you're looking for is "New Jack City Cornballs". Get used to them they're everywhere....
Trike / August 15, 2014 at 03:41 pm
WOW Toronto complains about EVERYTHING! Everybodys a designer and media expert apparently.
Wroclaw Polskiwicz / August 15, 2014 at 03:47 pm
That picture was actually taken by me in 1973, just outside Gdansk. Why you use it in this story?
Winston replying to a comment from @ Endeneu / August 15, 2014 at 04:07 pm
Not "non-stop"... there's stations at Bloor-Dundas and Weston. But still, the promise is that it will be < 30 minutes. This from Metrolinx:

It will take just 25 minutes for the Union Pearson Express to travel the 25 km journey between Union Station and Toronto Pearson International Airport, making just two brief stops en route.
Robert / August 15, 2014 at 04:09 pm
Paint scheme leaves something to be desired. Aesthetics won't be the end of the world in this scenario. These will be painted over for the "re-branding" once converted to electric in the future. Speed and convenience of the service warrants the price tag.

Toronto The Great - "If you don't build it, they will complain; when you do build it - they will still complain."
Potrzebie / August 15, 2014 at 04:15 pm
I, for one, kinda dig the swingin' 1970s eastern-bloc look of this thing.

Potrzebie replying to a comment from CH / August 15, 2014 at 04:19 pm
"chunky and not at all streamlined"

This isn't a fast inter-city train. Why would it be streamlined?
Matthew Burpee / August 15, 2014 at 04:28 pm
I don't mind the euro 70s look but imagination is important. Perhaps the train could be painted like a plane and it be called the 747. And maybe an airline like Air Canada could sponsor the price by having their logo at the end. My 2 cents.
Josh / August 15, 2014 at 04:33 pm
It may look like a 70's kitchen appliance, but the inside is rather swanky. Leather seats, presumably seat-service w/ refreshments, a washroom in one of the cars. It conveniences many but I can see the 15 min service frequency taking a hit after the Pan Am's. I'm not a fan of the colours, but I'd rather see this than more coach buses. I have my doubts it'll be clocking 140 km/h but it shouldn't be too far off.

Of note, this is a 2-car train. There's supposed to be a 3rd car for some trains which would get sandwiched between the two for "peak service" times.
JP / August 15, 2014 at 04:39 pm
A) Who cares how it looks.

B) It's a piece of transit infrastructure in a city that is DYING for some. It won't be for everyone (cheaper for families to take a cab), but it will help take some single person car trips to the airport off the roads. Enough people travel alone, that I'm sure it will get used a ton.

In a few years we'll have this, plus the Eglinton Crosstown. Then hopefully a few years after that we'll have this electrified Express all day Go Service, and eventually a DRL.

This isn't going to solve everything, but it should be a valuable piece of transit infrastructure.
Joe / August 15, 2014 at 04:39 pm
The real question is, can customers check in for their flights at Union, and can they also check in their baggage?
E. Toby Coke / August 15, 2014 at 04:43 pm
Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't North American passenger trains clunky-looking because they're subject to stringent crashworthiness regs any time they operate on rails connected to a freight network?
stapler / August 15, 2014 at 04:57 pm
I like how it looks. The 80s were cool and it's about time we all realized it.
copout replying to a comment from Michael / August 15, 2014 at 05:37 pm
What is your point? Transit should be planned on the basis of your family's occasional trip to the airport. Don't build because it doesn't work for you. Don't charge what the market will bare because there are better alternatives for some other people. Perhaps you are an idiot.
KW / August 15, 2014 at 06:13 pm
I will definitely use UP for biz travel. Very accessible from my office downtown and much cheaper than a cab. Not sure it's right for personal travel, especially from the west/east ends of TO.

A family rate/bundle is a great idea to promote more use.

I think it will be successful, go UP!
torontodude replying to a comment from John / August 15, 2014 at 06:30 pm
because the design first rolled off the assembly line in 1989.

a mere 25 years later, Toronto gets suckered into paying full price for these Japanese things built in the U.S. crazy...i'm sure Bombardier or Siemens could have built something better and done it in Canada.

once again...toronto looks like a 3rd or 4th tier city with these clunky old looking things and not being electric in 2014 is nuts.
MandyMelon / August 15, 2014 at 06:50 pm
2 typos in one short article.
Kevin / August 15, 2014 at 07:00 pm
Have people forgotten that the current Airport Express bus already costs more that $25?

Bobz uruncle replying to a comment from Jordan / August 15, 2014 at 07:36 pm
Yes guy...comparing Toronto to Bangkok is totally appropriate
Bobz uruncle replying to a comment from Michael / August 15, 2014 at 07:39 pm
Your a moron too...The point is you're paying for speed and for direct linkage between airport and union station. go ahead, spend hours on the subway and bus or in a cab. stop being such a whiny be-atch
Bobz uruncle replying to a comment from Robert / August 15, 2014 at 07:40 pm
YESSS! Someone here with some actual common sense.
Bobz uruncle replying to a comment from GT / August 15, 2014 at 07:43 pm
Yessss to you too! One of the few smart people on this frickin blog!
QED replying to a comment from GT / August 15, 2014 at 08:49 pm
GT, who do you work for? Because you are really misinformed and spouting a lot of spin and false equivalencies hoping to confuse people. Quite a few other trolls on here too.

I don't think noting that Toronto will be the most expensive air-rail link on the continent is whining, nor is complaining about the equipment and colour if the public is forking over half a bil for it. (At least SkyDome served millions of people per year for that price.)

This whole thing could have been handled much, much better.
Doug Bennet / August 15, 2014 at 09:35 pm
Keep in mind this diesel train is, in the words of manufacturer Sumitomo, "a quick fix cost solution" that the Ontario Liberals needed to satisfy the Pan Am Games bid. Not really about modern (electric) public transit to the airport and points in between, like Vancouver has. (And as the Ontario Auditor-General pointed out in criticizing the Metrolinx business plan.) Let's hope the Liberals live up to their promise in the last election to change that.
Moaz Ahmad / August 15, 2014 at 10:50 pm
For everyone complaining about the looks...these are Diesel-powered trains, not sexy phallic electric train. The original plan (back when this was a Federal Liberal Cabinet Minister's supposed-to-be-privately-funded-train called "Blue 22") was to re-use Budd rail diesel cars from the 1950s which are sitting outside the VIA shops in Mimico. What they should have done was get Bombardier to convert a GO Train carriage. Cheers, Moaz
The Dog / August 15, 2014 at 10:53 pm
Oh good. Does this mean we can now close the Island Airport?
Pablo YYZ / August 15, 2014 at 11:13 pm
Just a quick comment...the UP trains were ordered as part of a joint procurement with Sonoma-Marin County Rapid Transit.


Unfortunately, that wretched colour scheme is all ours. I wouldn't be surprised if there's faux wood-grain and orange walls throughout.
trainmandoug / August 16, 2014 at 12:07 am
Electric operation will come to this line but don't expect any of GO Transit's lines to go electric. Both CN and CP have gone on record numerous times that they will not allow overhead wires to be strung up along any of their lines that GO Transit runs on OR that cross GO Transit lines and no amount of pressure by ANY level of Government will change that.
Chris / August 16, 2014 at 12:15 am
"First look"? Maybe I'm misremembering, but doesn't it look exactly as depicted in that goofy video Metrolinx produced?
Oceane / August 16, 2014 at 12:32 am
how long is the trip supposed to take. The price is the same for the shuttle bus, but the bus will at least disperse you throughout the downtown with no additional costs. The bus drivers are always accommodating with letting residents off close to their condos. Unless the train is going to save me time, even as a business traveler I don't see the advantage.

Also, when is it running. The subway stops running late, which is often when I fly. Twenty-five is half the cost of a cab at 5am. The bus could be an alternative if it runs 24 hours a day.
Gary / August 16, 2014 at 02:01 am
That train is UGLY!
The REAL / August 16, 2014 at 03:26 am
Even our current Go trains look more decent then these. ew.
Butternuts replying to a comment from Questionable / August 16, 2014 at 11:01 am
The Gatwick comparison is completely invalid. To travel from Gatwick to downtown London (i.e. Victoria Station) via taxi costs nearly 125 GBP or $227 CAD whereas a taxi from Pearson to downtown is only $50-60. Gatwick express train would be about CAD$30 vs the planned $25 for the Toronto-Pearson express. Not even close to being a reasonable comparison.
D. Zaster / August 16, 2014 at 01:00 pm
This supposedly new, improved "express" airport service looks old-fashioned, inconvenient and very expensive.
Vancouver's got Toronto beat by miles. Rapid transit trains to the airport every 6-7 minutes at peak hours (12-20 minutes during off-peak & late night), service from 5AM to 1AM. You can board an airport train at any station along the Canada Line, not just downtown. Pre-flight check-in kiosks are available at 8 stations, so you can go straight to your gate when you get to YVR.
The fare is a $5 surcharge on top of a regular fare.
The private Airporter express bus system was rendered obsolete by the YVR transit line and no longer runs.
realityCheck / August 16, 2014 at 03:50 pm
Surprised to see so many comments justifying the price of this service which was takes up valuable rail infrastructure and was build in part with public money. Is it any wonder that Toronto and the GTA does not have affordable public rapid transit?
Moaz Ahmad / August 16, 2014 at 04:09 pm
@trainmandoug whatever CN and CP say, Metrolinx is going to electrify the rail lines that they own...the area around Union Station, the Lakeshore corridor out to Burlington and Oshawa, the Weston subdivision up to Bramalea, the entire Barrie and Uxbridge sub. The flyunder at the West Toronto Diamond means GO and UPEx trains can cross under the CP line without any impact on CP trains. Unfortunately the Milton Line (which runs in what is essentially CP Rail's mainline) is not hoing to be electrified or see 2-way all-day GO service for the next 20 years...unless Metrolinx pays for the corridor to be widened to 4 tracks between Milton and North Pickering.
Justin replying to a comment from Mark Dowling / August 17, 2014 at 09:23 am
The Heathrow express also travels at 160km.
Mark Dowling / August 18, 2014 at 08:47 am
Here is the train being tested in Chicago
Justine replying to a comment from Questionable / August 19, 2014 at 09:15 am
Exactly! For individuals/couples flying its a great price. Less than a cab and certainly less than parking. People who have families need to stop complaining...you knew what you were in for when you popped kids out. It isn't cheap. Get over it.
Phil A. Delphia / August 19, 2014 at 11:43 am
The colour scheme is also very similar to Philadelphia's SEPTA paint scheme circa 1971.
Bwaha Hah / August 20, 2014 at 09:30 am
Fortunately my partner works at Metrolinx which means we both ride this baby for FREE!
Drew replying to a comment from Justine / August 20, 2014 at 10:02 am
Funny thing is though not everyone wants to go to union station to then have to take a taxi or TTC to their final destination. This train is catering to a certain CLASS of people which no longer makes it public transit for all.

Might as well take a cab.
Yuel replying to a comment from Justine / August 20, 2014 at 10:07 am
We can still question the cost though or do you just accept what you are fed? Why is part of the fare to the airport paying for parking? The airport has stated that they will loose revenue from car parking spots so they are adding it to the fare of this train. PLEASE Person International serves alot of Ontario not just Toronto. The parking lots are always jammed, those that are going to park are going to anyway, jack the price up on the car parking not the train fare.

People who have cars need to stop complaining...you knew what you were in for when you bought the car. It isn't cheap. Get over it, pay your share.
Paul / August 20, 2014 at 02:06 pm
Terrible colors, just like the newer Metrolinx colors being put on the Go Trains.

Only thing worse is the price and admission it's for business travelers. They sold the idea to the communities along the route, then plan on charging a price which will exclude the same people.
Awful / August 22, 2014 at 12:46 pm
OMG, that is such awful colour! Who in the world approved that paint scheme?!
Awful replying to a comment from Dave / August 22, 2014 at 12:49 pm
you can't be serious
iSkyscraper / September 25, 2014 at 12:45 pm
Yeah, the look is disappointing. I heart electric but have no problem with diesel, but even so there are better looking DMU trains out there. I mean, come on:

Images of airport trains: http://bit.ly/1rBwDzY

Images of diesel multiple unit trains: http://bit.ly/1xnJufv

I mean, why not just order up some more of the Bombardier Talents that they use for the O-Train? It's weird.


With Metrolinx, you never get the goods you thought you ordered, from the people you would think would supply them (cough, "Presto").
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