Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Onboard the UP Express

The UP Express is a new train and route that was built to connect the Pearson (Toronto, YYZ) airport in Mississauga, Ontario with downtown Toronto.

On a recent trip to the US, I ended up spending several hours in the Pearson airport. I seriously considered taking the UP Express downtown to Toronto just for fun, but the price discouraged me ($44 round trip) plus the timing was a little too close for comfort. I did decide to go have a look at the trains.

They are not hard to find.

The new UP Express station is integrated with the airport; all you have to do is go up an escalator (or elevator) to an area with ticket machines, then on to the trains themselves. There were quite a few staff present, and I asked one of them if it would be all right if I went on board to take a few photos. She waved me on cheerily so I had a look inside the waiting train.

Inside the UP Express
It seemed roomy enough inside, and everything was nice and clean... as I expected, given how new the train sets are. The UP Express launched in June 2015.

Inside the UP Express
The UP Express uses 18 Nippon Sharyo Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) cars, powered by Cummins QSK19-R ultra-low emissions diesel engines. They have 12 type A powered cars and 6 type B intermediate cars with toilets, allowing for 2 or 3 car trainsets. They are designed for relatively easy conversion into Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) cars.

The first pair of cars was delivered to Metrolinx in August 2014. The cars were built in Japan with final assembly at Nippon Sharyo's plant in Rochelle, Illinois.

Pearson is served by a new 3.3 km elevated spur from the GO Kitchener line. The trains run every 15 minutes and a trip between Union Station downtown and Pearson takes 25 minutes. There are intermediate stops at Bloor and Weston.

The train looks nice from the outside too!

UP Express ticket kiosks
I don't normally pay a lot of attention to transit vehicles, but it's nice to be able to railfan right at the Toronto airport.

If I have more time on a future Toronto connection, I'll seriously consider making the round trip... especially now that the cost is going down, due to poor ridership.

Fellow blogger Eric Gagnon took the UP Express from Union Station to the airport and back and blogged about it. I'm not sure where he got the $27.50 round trip fare... maybe I overlooked that option!

While I was at the airport, I couldn't help but do a bit of airplane watching.
Chock it up to good positioning!

The Air Canada Rouge planes look pretty sharp.
Air Canada Rouge C-GBHR
I saw my first Airbus A-380 but I didn't get a good photo of it... too slow!

My favourite was this Boeing Dreamliner 787 with Hainan Airlines.
Hi there, Hainan!
Of course, talking about Pearson airport wouldn't be complete without Rush's classic instrumental, "YYZ".

EDIT: Several people have pointed out other fare options. The "meet and greet" $27.50 round-trip option was not available to me because you have to originate from Union, Bloor or Weston... I guess you can't "meet and greet" from the airport into Toronto.

The PRESTO card is a cheaper option, but then you actually have to have a PRESTO card (cost $6). It was a maximum of $19 one-way but after March 9 it is going down to $9 one-way Union-Pearson.


Blair Ivey said...

Trains are cool, but airplanes are magic. The B787 can weigh as much as a modern locomotive (the A380 is a brace of locomotives), but flies at 40,000 feet at 560 mph. A bit surprised at the profile on the 787; not the usual Boeing nose job. Haven't been to the blog in a while. It's evolved nicely: I'll be back.

Steve Boyko said...

When on an airplane, I often think about how magical it is that we can do this. Louis C.K. covers it very well.. (warning: NSFW, language)

Michael said...

I'm with you on the UP Express. I don't usually like the look of commuter trains, but I like the look of this one for some reason. The new O-Trains up here are underwhelming, but the UP Express has a certain character to it. And props for the reference to Rush's YYZ.