GO Kitchener-Waterloo & Guelph

Mark Dowling passed along a link to the presentation materials from the recent GO Transit EA meeting in Kitchener.

You can follow the story of GO service from a Kitchener-Waterloo perspective on the GOKW Blog.

One of the fascinating points about the proposal for this corridor is that it recognizes that this line has bidirectional demand, as well as local demand that isn’t going to downtown Toronto.  This has always been the case, although VIA has done the worst to discourage people from using their service.

Intriguingly the track plans in the display materials show a substantial increase in VIA service in the future.  Those of us who travel to Stratford will relish better service, but the real bread-and-butter on this line is the traffic to and from universities.  It’s always been a natural corridor for better service, and maybe, finally, we may actually see it.

Also worth noting is the idea of eventually moving Kitchener Station so that the line will make a good connection with the planned KW LRT line.

24 thoughts on “GO Kitchener-Waterloo & Guelph

  1. Steve,

    the link to the “presentation materials” (PDF) is exactly the same as the link in “GOKW Blog”

    Steve: Yes, I know. I put up both links for convenience so that folks wouldn’t have to track down the presentation link within the blog.


  2. The Georgetown-Kitchener PIC is one of the best GO has yet come up with – I am impressed that GO is going to stick with the downtown VIA stations in Guelph and Kitchener (and a second Breslau station to meet parking demands) as they have the best connections to transit and the universities, and it was encouraging to see the plan for the new long-tern King Street station to connect with Grand River Transit and the planned LRT.

    Another benefit, as I understand is share between GO and VIA is the signalization of the line to allow faster service and improvements in Guelph that will eliminate the permanent 10MPH slow order there, though I wonder how the residents of Dublin Street are going to take it. So even if VIA doesn’t add many new trains, the ride to Stratford will be faster! I was also impressed by GO’s point man on this project – he’s a really nice guy who knows his stuff.

    Too bad today’s announcement was from the old-way of GO thinking, the parking authority model. This PIC really is a breath of fresh air in comparison.

    Steve: Yes, this is a really impressive presentation on all the counts you mention. There is no sense of trying to force the outcome of comparative evaluations to a preconceived agenda. I’ve heard from others that the big problem remains CN’s footdragging.


  3. I was going to comment about the links too — you actually posted the same link twice. The direct PIC link is very handy, but didn’t you want the GOKW link to go to gokw.org?

    Steve: Ooops! Fixed. Thanks.


  4. I’m not convinced that GO rail transit is the best solution. Currently, the Greyhound express bus provides excellent service. There are buses running between KW/Guelph and downtown Toronto almost every hour (and more frequently during peaks). If the bus fills up, Greyhound simply puts another bus on the route. This is great customer service, and I have never heard of GO doing this.

    If rail transit is used, the capacity of the transit vehicle will increase, and the frequency of service will decrease. In terms of convenience, I would rather take 15 buses per day than a handful of trains. It is nice to be able to go to the bus station and catch the next bus without having to look at schedules or plan my day around the schedule. Moreover, the train will probably take longer than the bus because of all the extra stops.

    Yes, the train will service people who end their trip somewhere in between Guelph and Toronto. However, the proposed train doesn’t go to the airport. It is difficult to get from Guelph/KW to Pearson by transit, and any new service should address this demand.


  5. GO to Kitchener is wonderful news! Now if only they extended the Milton like to Cambridge, we’d really start getting things moving. Even bringing Lakeshore West to St.Cathys, or even the Falls would help. East or North we’ve pretty well hit the end of the populated areas of Ontario and the GTA (save for Peterborough) but there are plenty of areas to the west and south (like Brantford) that could do with service, even if only Buses to start.


  6. Jeff: I take the Greyhound between Toronto and Guelph weekly, and I can attest that during peak hours the ride can be painfully slow (sometimes between 2 and 3 hours) due to traffic congestion. Although GO train service certainly would make several stops along the way, I think this would be more than offset by the fast and uninterrupted trip between stations, not to mention an overall more comfortable ride.

    Besides, there is nothing to say that both GO train and Greyhound service can’t run concurrently (granted, the competition for demand by the train service and the ensuing shift in passenger traffic would probably compel Greyhound to drop several buses from the schedule). In any case, they would probably complement one another quite well (Greyhound would also capitalize on the York University niche market with its occasionally scheduled detours to aforementioned institution)

    Having said that, I do enjoy the fact that I can hop off the Greyhound before it reaches the bus terminal (I get off at Kortright, a mere stone’s throw from my folks’ house).


  7. Given that Kitchener attracts sufficient commuters that a service running opposite to the Toronto-hub norm, I wonder if services will get extended to Cambridge or even towards Hamilton.

    I know 96% of journeys involve Toronto Union in some way, but the current service pattern does nothing to encourage anything else … and GO trains don’t really need the extra passengers currently.


  8. Is there any demand from K-W to McMaster?

    Steve: I wouldn’t be surprised if there is, but there is no convenient GO train or bus to make that link.


  9. There seem to be mixed messages on whether any services would run wetsbound in the morning – do you have any information on that?

    Steve: Nothing beyond what has already been published. For the amount of track investment they propose, I would hope to see bidirectional and all day service.


  10. K-W to McMaster/Hamilton service is currently provided by Coach Canada from UW (F/S/Su), Kitchener Terminal, and Ainslie Terminal in Galt. Except for Fridays and rush hour service, I’ve never seen a bus more than 1/3 full. I don’t really think it’s an area GO would really need to go into. Something like Brantford to Cambridge/Kitchener would make more sense.


  11. Since GO gives an estimate of 700 westbound passengers at Kitchener and 200 at Guelph in the a. m. peak it would seem that they have been studying reverse flow traffic. Two way service does not have a high incremental cost considering the expense of double tracking and purchasing the equipment for rush hour service. The GEXR has only one train each way through there that is time sensitive since it goes to and returns from Macmillan yard in a specific time window. There are also two switching moves each way which are not time sensitive plus the VIA trains. It will be interesting to see how much VIA demand is left when GO takes away all their load from Kitchener to Toronto.

    I find it interesting in figures 3 and 4 that GO proposes to put in a 1580 foot siding on the Fergus Spur. Is GO considering taking the backdoor into Cambridge rather than rebuilding the entire CP mainline to get their via the Gualt Sub? I am reminded that the Sprawl in Los Angeles was NOT caused by the expressways but by the Pacific Electric Interurban Cars. Instead of the Red Cars of the PE we have the Green cars of GO creating, or increasing, urban sprawl.


  12. I was at my local hobby shop in Brampton today and the people who work there tell me that the GO engineers or contractors were in the other day and that they had plans for a 5 storey parking garage at Brampton Station and a proposal to three track the section from Etobicoke Creek to the CP diamond. It would be implemented after the CP diamond was removed.

    That would mean the Orangeville Brampton line would have to be abandoned or switched from CN in Brampton rather that CP in Streetsville. They would put the third track in by either moving the existing station 15 feet north or turning Railway avenue into a narrow one way street like it is now for the construction and running the new track on the south side of the new platform turning it into an island platform. I hate to think what this would do to traffic in the downtown.


  13. I have been looking at some old maps (1954 Esso road map of Ontario) and the Fergus Spur goes from just west of Guelph Station 13.4 mile to Galt. I believe that it ends next to the Grand River Railway line in a right of way just north of downtown Galt. This route would by pass CP into Cambridge and be about the same length as the CP line into Cambridge without the need to rebuild the CP main line. Only 13 to 15 mile of track would need to be upgraded to provide a high speed connection to the GEXR GO line at Guelph. This would be much more cost effective that going out the CP line from Milton to Cambridge. It is 57.2 mile from Union Station to Galt on the Galt sub and 62 miles from Union to Galt via the Guelph Sub and the Fergus Spur. This might be doable. Could someone who lives near the spur or who knows it comment on its condition please. I have too much time on my hands as I have retired again.


  14. I am so happy about this GO. Getting from Guelph to Kitchner or Waterloo is a NIGHTMARE, the train leaves at awful awkward times, the bus takes 4 HOURS … 4 HOURS because it sits in the Sportsworld parking lot. Honestly Kitchner/Waterloo and Guelph need to be better connected. If you don’t have a car there really isn’t a good alternative.

    Unless someone knows of one and can tell me …


  15. I have been following the Go expansion with great interest as it affects me directly. Coach Canada now runs linerun services from Kitchener right through Cambridge, Hamilton (Mc Master), St Catherines (Brock) and Niagara Falls, Greyhound through Guelph to Toronto. What I don’t understand is the fact that these runs have been in existance for many years and I find it amazing that a government run service can just decide to step in and take over these routes without having to go through the licensing etc. that a non-government organization would have to do. For GO to heavy handedly come in and just start running busses up and down routes legitimatly aquired by privatly owned companies is unacceptable. It is unfair that my tax dollars are being used to put me out of a job !


  16. Great someone is discussing this! I have a huge problem. I work in Kitchener and live in Guelph. I’m just tired of driving down everyday. Does anyone know whether there is a reliable system to get from Guelph to Kitchener on time daily? Many thanks.


  17. All,

    The 1500 foot siding on the Fergus spur is built by GO as their new trackage displaces some track used for car storage for local freight service by GEXR. The track appears to be moved to the Fergus spur to accomodate the changes proposed.


  18. Just a response to one poster who says there is no public transit to Pearson — wrong. My daughter and I took GO bus from University of Guelph to Pearson, with only one change-over at Square One.

    It was cheap ($9 each), painless and fast. We had the bus to ourselves.

    Truly a pleasant experience getting to the airport without parking hassles, parking fees and arranging for someone to take us/pick us up.

    People say they support public transit but they obviously don’t when it comes to getting to/from the airport easily.


    Steve: One big problem is that a lot of the airport services are a well-kept secret. This suits those who operate, or would like to poerate, premium fare services.


  19. I am a student at Conestoga College in Kitchener, and I happen to live in Guelph. Currently there is no REASONABLE transportation options between Guelph and Kitchener for students, or anyone else for that matter. The Greyhound arrives in Kitchener at 9:30 at the earliest. The VIA train arrives at 12:30. I have tried desperately (and in vain) to arrange carpooling for commuters, but people just don’t seem comfortable with the idea of carpooling. What does a girl have to do to get SOMEONE, ANYONE to create a shuttle or express service between these two cities???? There is a demand for it, I GUARANTEE it would be used by thousands….is this GO corridor the answer? If so, what’s the hold up???


  20. I am looking for transportation from Laurier/Waterloo University to Guelph University every day. Sean you mentioned Go train service from Kitchener, is that to Guelph?

    Amber I agree, we need services to all 3 of these cities/universities/colleges. Let’s go GO! The demand is there.

    Steve: Via has had plans to improve service on that line all the way to London for years, but are stymied by the turkeys who are running the short-line freight operation and leasing the track from CN west of Guelph. That lease runs out in a few years, but who knows if Via will wait that long. By then, they may expect GO to take over the service.


  21. So, from what I am gathering, is there no simple way to get public transit from the University of Guelph to the University of Waterloo?


  22. There’s no direct way to get from Guelph to UW – but you can easily and regularly change at Aberfoyle. About a 15-minute wait changin in 1 direction, and a 25-minute wait changing in another. Far easier than when I was a student many years ago.

    The transit option under Google Maps is very good giving GO schedules.


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