What is the Cost of Building a Subway Line? Are Vancouver’s subway plans realistic?

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I found this item on the excellent ‘ The Toronto LRT Information Page’ http://lrt.daxack.ca/ 

What is the Cost of Building a Subway Line?

Underground: $200 million to $250 million per kilometre
At grade: $150 million to $200 million per kilometre

…plus the cost of vehicles.

Since 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.

Spadina-York Extension: $266.5 million per kilometre, vehicles and yard improvements excluded

The 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 million.

This 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.

Acknowledgements: special thanks to Karl Junkin for pointing out previous errors in this breakdown.

Sheppard Subway: $172.5 million per kilometre, no vehicles – stations limited to four cars

This 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 dollars.

It 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.

Using 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).

Sheppard Extension Proposal: $247.5 million per kilometre

In 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.

This extension would have opened in three stages:

  1. Don Mills to Victoria Park: 2 km with two stations for $470 million ($265.9 million / km in 2008 dollars)
  2. Victoria Park to Agincourt (GO Station): 3.7 km with three stations for $730 million ($223.2 million / km in 2008 dollars)
  3. Agincourt to STC: 2.3 km with two stations for $550 million ($270.6 million / km in 2008 dollars)

It was not stated in the report if any of these costs included the purchase of new vehicles, so it likely does not.

Bloor West Extension Proposal: $270 million per kilometre

One 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 kilometre.

A further extension of 1.5 km from there to Dixie in Mississauga would have cost another $500 million, for another $333 million per kilometre!

All 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.

 

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