4-Car LRT Station Upgrades and Refurbishments

Client City of Calgary | Location Calgary, AB | Completion Various


GEC was the architect and coordinating consultant for a series of upgrades that Calgary Transit undertook across the entire C-Train LRT system. When the system was initially planned in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it was designed to accommodate 3-car LRV consists, and the platforms and traction power system were sized for this. With the success of the system, and ridership approaching 400,000 passengers per day, it was necessary to lengthen the original stations to accommodate 4-car trains. With longer consists and shorter headways, it was also necessary to take on a major upgrade to the network’s traction power system. GEC was retained to undertake the design and coordination of the station refurbishments and traction power upgrades across the system. In all, the work that was carried out over the course of five years consisted of renovations to 15 stations, the construction of several new traction power substations, the refurbishment of bus-transfer stations, numerous track crossing upgrades, and public realm improvements. While each refurbishment consisted of a platform extension, the renovation scope also ranged from life-cycle repairs and new signage to complete building upgrades and partial station replacements. In many cases, the platform extensions also necessitated significant urban design and landscape modifications, revisions to signalization, and changes to road, bus terminal and sidewalk interfaces. In some cases, such as with Chinook and Sunnyside stations, we were able to leverage the scope of the necessary upgrades to realize significant improvements to the public realm, safety, passenger experience, and operational sustainability.

Chinook Station: Due to the condition, usability, and safety of the existing facility, the Chinook Station redevelopment consisted of the complete removal of the existing enclosed station head and the re-visioning of the site using current urban LRT best practices. There was also an opportunity to redevelop the station plaza to better accommodate the high ridership of the station and bring it in line with current TOD planning policy such as the Chinook Station Area Redevelopment Plan. These changes allowed us to transform Chinook Station into a vibrant, safe, and universally accessible public place. Redevelopment of the existing canopy envelope, removal of the station head, and replacement of the precast concrete platform allowed Calgary Transit to address deferred maintenance and resulted in a much more durable and robust building. With the new plaza came an opportunity to make significant improvements to the existing bus terminal, which included a purpose-built bus station, and amenity building.

Sunnyside Station: The inner-city portion of the Red Line north of the Bow River cuts a diagonal swath through the pre-existing urban fabric in the Sunnyside community, resulting in several triangular plots separated from adjacent communities by physical barriers along the right-of-way. A goal of the Sunnyside Station refurbishment was redeveloped to create a vibrant, welcoming pedestrian environment as part of the community’s ‘Bow to Bluff’ Initiative. The Bow to Bluff program is dedicated to the improvement and integration of the urban realm between the Bow River and the Bluff north of Sunnyside by generating use and interest in the area. Leveraging the necessary four-car extension and traction power upgrades, we were able to work with The City of Calgary to establish a community engagement process with the goal of obtaining consensus on the design and development of the station, resulting in dramatic improvements to the public realm.

The design addressed safety, passenger experience, and interface issues by creating clear sightlines, elevating sidewalks and pathways to meet the platforms and eliminating abrupt grade changes to make every corner of the area accessible. Finally, the construction of a new brick-clad traction power substation created an opportunity to develop the adjacent under-utilized adjacent triangle plot into a new station plaza. The plaza has become a critical community amenity, and an instigator of urban redevelopment for the Bow-to-Bluff initiative.