After the flurry of activity about rumoured widespread cuts to GO Transit’s bus service, the changes announced for September 3 are all “good news”. Whether there is “another shoe to drop” later in the fall remains to be seen. So far, these are not the moves of an agency about to make widespread route cuts.
Seasonal bus service will end on 12 Niagara Falls. Effective Labour Day weekend, weekday express service will end, and weekend express service will be cut back to every two hours. The weekend express service will end at Thanksgiving.
School trips will be restored on the following routes:
- 15 Brantford/Burlington
- 25 Waterloo/Mississauga
- 29 Guelph/Mississauga
- 45-46-47-48 Highway 407 West
- 51-52-54 Highway 407 East
- 88 Peterborough/Oshawa
- 93 UOIT/Scarborough
The 60 Canada’s Wonderland route will not return, and riders are encouraged to use TTC or GO services to reach York Region Transit Route 20.
In the announcement of restored and extended service on the Stouffville corridor, there is a note:
Evening bus service will continue to help you transition back to the train.
This implies that the bus service will disappear after the transition is complete, but there is no effective date for this.
On the rail network, there are many changes with new trips and hours of service on five corridors.
- Service at West Harbour Station in Hamilton will be doubled to four trips each way from the current two.
- In the morning peak, two trains that now originate at Aldershot will begin at West Harbour departing at 7:09 and 7:49 am. These are added to departures at 6:09 and 6:39 am.
- In the afternoon peak, a new train will leave Union at 4:45 pm, run express to Clarkson and then local to West Harbour arriving at 5:57 pm.
- The 6:30 pm train from Union which now ends at Aldershot will be extended to West Harbour arriving at 7:42 pm.
- The other two PM peak trips to West Harbour leave Union at 4:00 and 5:15 pm.
- Two Oakville trips will be extended to Aldershot leaving Union at 3:13 and 6:15 pm.
- The 8:32 am eastbound train from Oakville will be extended from 10 to 12 cars to add capacity.
In what must be the most over-hyped part of the entire announcement, train service to Niagara Falls will run every day all year. However, weekday service remains one train each way, and otherwise travel between the Falls and Toronto will use buses for the portion of the trip beyond Burlington GO. The weekday trains serve West Harbour Station in Hamilton.
- The morning commuter train leaves Niagara Falls GO (VIA) Station at 5:19 am arriving at Union at 7:50 am.
- The afternoon train leaves Union at 5:15 pm arriving at Niagara Falls at 7:47 pm.
Weekend service that is now seasonal will become permanent. Note that these trains do not serve West Harbour, but run express between St. Catharines and Burlington.
- Trains to Niagara Falls from Union depart at 9:00 am, 4:18 pm and 8:10 pm.
- Trains to Union from Niagara Falls depart at 8:30 am, 11:30 am, 7:20 pm and 11:00 pm.
There are small changes to the Lakeshore East schedule:
- New eastbound trips will leave Union at 2:58 and 3:28 pm running local to Oshawa arriving there at 3:56 and 4:26 pm.
- A new westbound trip will leave Oshawa at 4:48 pm running local to Union arriving there at 5:50 pm.
- The train which now leaves Oshawa westbound at 1:52 pm running express to Union will now depart at 1:53 and will stop at Whitby, Ajax and Pickering, then express to Union.
- The train which formerly started eastbound from Mount Pleasant at 9:00 am will now originate in Kitchener at 7:57 am.
- The 12:53 pm train westbound from Union will now run through to Kitchener arriving at 2:47 pm.
- The train which formerly started eastbound from Mount Pleasant at 3:52 pm will now originate in Kitchener at 2:57 pm.
- The 6:00 pm Kitchener train will now run express to Bramalea then local to Kitchener arriving there at 7:47 pm.
- A new 5:45 pm train from Union will make all local stops to Bramalea.
- From 6:53 pm hourly westbound trains run at least to Mount Pleasant with some continuing to Guelph or Kitchener.
- The 6:53 train will run to Kitchener arriving at 8:47 pm.
- A new train at 9:53 pm will run to Kitchener arriving at 11:47 pm.
- A new train at 10:53 pm will run to Guelph arriving at 12:22 am.
- A new train from Kitchener at 8:57 pm will arrive at Union at 10:51 pm.
Other schedule changes will reflect actual operating conditions and will adjust departure times earlier or later. Consult the schedule for details.
Finally, some train lengths will be adjusted to 6 cars:
- The 9:48 am westbound train from Union
- The 11:00 am eastbound train from Mount Pleasant
- The 2:57 pm eastbound train from Kitchener
As a result of the new schedule, eastbound trains originating at Kitchener will run at:
- 5:20 am, 5:45, 6:10, 6:50, 7:15, 7:57 (new), 2:57 pm (new), 8:57 (new)
Westbound trains running beyond Georgetown will leave Union bound for Kitchener (except as noted) at:
- 12:53 pm (new), 3:35, 4:50, 5:27, 6:00, 6:53, 9:53 (new), 10:53 (Guelph, new)
On the current schedule, train service southbound to Union ends with the 3:31 pm trip from Mount Joy Station. The last northbound trip to Lincolnville leaves Union at 7:10 pm and the last Mount Joy trip leaves at 8:00 pm.
On the new schedule, southbound train service continues to end at 3:31 pm, but it resumes at 9:31 pm for three trips (hourly to 11:31 pm). The last northbound Lincolnville train remains at 7:10 pm, but train service to Mount Joy at 8:15 pm and hourly thereafter. The 11:15 pm train runs through to Lincolnville.
While this is some improvement, it is still a far cry from frequent, bi-directional all day rail service.
Two trains will be changed to six-car consists:
- The 12:15 pm trip northbound from Union
- The 1:31 pm trip southbound from Mount Joy
The schedule for this corridor will not change, but some train lengths will be modified to better match demand.
- The weekday 7:05 pm train from Union will be extended from six to ten cars.
The following trains will only be six cars long:
- 7:40, 8:40, 9:40 and 10:40 pm northbound from Union
- 8:41, 9:41 and 10:41 pm southbound from Aurora
- 11:40 am, 2:00 pm and 6:20 pm northbound from Union
- 3:01 and 7:21 pm southbound from Aurora
- 4:20 pm southbound from Allandale Waterfront
The full set of current and future schedules is available on the GO Transit website.
This is very welcome news for day travellers as opposed to commuters. I will be one of the first to try those runs to Guelph and back.
The early afternoon round trip to Kitchener looks scheduled for a 10-minute turnaround. This may be tricky to fit in with other traffic on the route.
It feels that Metrolinx is just announcing service for the sake of announcing something. Here is an example, the last southbound train from Centennial GO is 15:41 until 21:31 . Taking the 15:41 train will get you to Union Station at 16:27 . This will allow you to take VIA 68 to Montreal. The GO train will arrive on time. After that train leaves, you are at the mercy of GO 71 bus. The traffic on the DVP is unpredictable. So if I take the 16:26 bus at Centennial GO. I am suppose to be at Union by 17:30 . If that bus is 30 minutes late, it will miss VIA 668 . Once that happens, there are no more trains to Montreal until the next day. If Metrolinx is in the business of moving people, they are doing a lousy job. RER is supposed to take GO beyond the commuter market.
2 way service is also important to feed traffic to the UP Express at least for lines east of Union Station. Accessing YYZ from the east is difficult from the eash especially during rush hour. Aside from using the Highway 407 GO bus service, there is really no reliable way to get to YYZ. Even the GO bus 40 is chronically late as it needs to leave Highway 407 to get to YYZ. If I work around the Stouffville Line, I would definitely take the train to Union to use the UP Express. At least it is predictable and reliable.
The issue is that the construction is so slow. They are just now laying the second track between Kennedy Rd and Kennedy GO. Without the upgraded stations, the new tracks are useless. With all this upheaval, Metrolinx should try to rough in a third track option. One of the option for VIA HFR is to access CP Havelock from the Stouffville Line. If there is 15 minutes service on the line with GO, how will be 15 trains per day per direction travel without crawling behind a GO train? I have already seen VIA trains crawl behind a GO train at Rouge Hill GO.
Even if the federal government kicks in money in the future to expand the Stouffville Line, it will bring a lot of upheaval. Once the ridership is up, it will be hard to expand the line. One GO train can carry at least 1000 passengers. How many shuttle bus will be needed? It is better to have the conversation now, so that future generations will not have to pay for the mistake.
Steve: Yes, this definitely had the feel of announcing as much as possible for the sake of having “good news” and spinning some of the changes as if they were far more than they really are.
Mike Schreiner, Guelph’s Green Party MPP, had this comment on the ‘increased service’, which as I stated earlier benefits me in terms of an ‘escape’ to Guelph and back totally by train with bike (I live at Dundas West) but offers little to regular commuters:
Note that last sentence, and how that ties back to the GO bus service being a case of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’.
Again, from my observations of riding the rails out to that area many times in the last few months, (and extending my trips with bike on GO bus) and back in from Mount Pleasant, many if not all of the trains have been very sparsely used. This is outside of rush-hour, and thus GO making a point of using 6 car trains for many of the added day-time runs.
The ridership policy being applied is inconsistent with that for buses. Many of these ‘added’ runs are like throwing in extra sachets of ketchup with your fast-food meal…and calling the meal “new and improved” as a result.
Again, for me, since I’m retired, I can use the ‘extra ketchup’. Most can’t and won’t. For them it’s not ketchup at all, but added salt.
Since Metrolinx owns the route from Silver Jct. (Georgetown) to Kitchener I’m sure they will take care of other traffic.
According to Google Maps, West Harbour GO is a stub terminal that cannot accommodate trains from Niagara Falls unless the trains are backed into the terminal. But there appears to be space at the James Street bridge for tracks at the Niagara end of West Harbour to join the mainline. The question is: Why aren’t the tracks so joined to allow GO and VIA trains to stop at the platforms?
Steve: GO plans to join up the tracks, but for now trains from the Falls have to back in. Compare the running times for weekend trains that don’t call at West Harbour to those for weekday trains that do. The difference is more than the time for a simple station stop.
I totally agree with Benny. It means a third rail bridge across Sheppard, grade separated crossing at Danforth Road and grade separated junctions at Scarborough Junctions. Metrolinx should really get serious instead of half-hearted, and wasting money.
Further to Benny and Bill’s point, to continue the present ’15 minute interval’ service on LSE to points east of Scarborough Station, there needs to be more track(s) west to Union along that corridor from Scarborough Jct if the Stouffvile service is to perform as presented.
In lieu of there being no sign of that happening anytime soon, it would seem a workable option would be for the Stouffville line to terminate at Scarborough Jct, the exception being rush-hour if pathing permits with the present signalling system in place allowing for 7 min headways and a possible interruption of two-way service to do this. This would also allow the single track section between Scarborough Jct and Kennedy Station to be one of the last sections to need to be twinned. This wasn’t what was promised, but a starving person will eat what’s on the plate if it’s the only option. A single track between the last and second last station on a line is often used for economy of capital investment.
Whether or not this would work, the challenge presents itself in many places on the Metrolinx rail network. Far too much was promised far too soon, and what’s being delivered is dribs and drabs on a political basis (promises for votes) in many places, and a completed fully working/scheduled new line in none.
Successive regimes in QP are responsible for this. I’ve been harsh on Verster, albeit he’s inherited a piecemeal chalice. That aspect I have sympathy for, it’s a terrible way for a jurisdiction to build transit. Where I fault Verster is in his defending the absurdity of the present political straightjacket, almost diametrically opposite of what he espoused when he first arrived on the scene.
Are there any readers who *aren’t* more cynical now than ten years ago for transit in the GTA?
Why not bring back #20? How will students get to Oakville Burlington Hamilton to get to school now – spending all precious time on the buses.
Let me be clear, I know nothing about how railroads work, nor the GO system.
I was under the impression that Metrolinx is constructing a 4th track, in the Lakeshore corridor. Is this not the case? I remember the EA was submitted a couple of years ago and the debate was that two tracks should be added, but thought that would involve widening bridges.
My second impression was that railroad signal systems use 15 minute blocks, with one train per block. The Stouffville line must permit freight train passage despite being owned by Metrolinx. What is the maximum speed a train is permitted to run at 7 minute headways? My impression was that the blocks were designed to stop trains, the most difficult task. Is the maximum speed reduced with 7 minute headways?
I know there are experts who read this blog, who can clear up my misconceptions.
Thanking, in advance.
Steve: Information about the expansion program for the Lakeshore East corridor from Don to Scarborough Junction is available on the Metrolinx website Of course with the boffins behind the Ontario Line proposing to run in the GO corridor from Gerrard Station west, who knows what the configuration of the corridor will be.
Bill: Yours is an entirely crucial question, but lest it seem I was claiming 7 minute headway/interval is presently possible (it may be, I’m led to believe it is on sections of the Georgetown UPX sections) what I stated was conditional:
[(what) would seem a workable option would be for the Stouffville line to terminate at Scarborough Jct, the exception being rush-hour if pathing permits with the present signalling system in place allowing for 7 min headways and a possible interruption of two-way service to do this. ]
Another option if fifteen minutes is the present min interval possible is to alternate Stouffville runs with Oshawa ones at 30 min interval each. Compared to what operators are achieving in other nations (UK Thameslink are achieving 2.5 min intervals, and Crossrail claim in theory even better) one really has to wonder if Metrolinx aren’t too focused on the number of tracks and the cost of providing them instead of state of the art signalling systems?
What’s very clear is the Metrolinx is over a generation behind best practice elsewhere, and there’s little sign of that changing.
I too would like to see a response from someone with an engineering know-how as to the present state of ‘what’s possible’ with the present Metrolinx situation.
Apparently the two sets of Lakeshore East expansion projects – the western one to add a fourth track between Scarborough and Don, and the eastern one to add a third track between Guildwood and Pickering – have both been cancelled.
Bill, your understanding of signalling is incorrect. Railroad signal systems operate in the same manner as the signals on the subway, only the control distances and the signal progressions are much greater due to the length and speed of the trains. The theoretical headway of any particular piece of track is dictated by the length of the signal blocks, the speed at which trains can clear them, and the speed of the lineside equipment protecting it.
For instance, because of the way the signalling equipment is laid out on the Weston Sub, and how the signal progressions are laid out, in theory you could have trains operating at the line speed – 80mph – operating 3 miles apart and never seeing anything other than a green signal. That would give you a theoretical headway of about 2 and a quarter minutes.
Steve: I am waiting for comment from Metrolinx on the status of the projects to add tracks in the Lakeshore East corridor.
Addendum to my prior post:
Whatever happened to this project [new signalling on GO]?
Discussion at the time here.
I see that once again there is no mention of the Milton line. Is this because it is still owned by CP which stands in the way of improvements.
Steve: Yes, as with the Richmond Hill line that, in addition to flooding problems, is CN territory north of the York Subdivision.
How are students gonna get to college from Milton Guelph area? Now all way back to Mississauga then down and back out. If colleges and universities are in Oakville to Hamilton areas.
Here’s some info that may be of assistance to you. I’m having a heck of a time digging out much on this (Enhanced Train Control and Conventional Signaling (ETCCS) project). Metrolinx (surprise, surprise!) apparently has buried this, but Parsons, the contractor, prominently post a ‘media enquiries’ link on their page.
Further to that, and ten years dated:
14 trains per hour on a 2-track rail section? The Dutch prove that it IS possible!
Since then, many European and Asian operators have achieved exactly that, Thameslink not only do it, but doing it completely ATO through the tunnelled core section in London.
CP doesn’t now and never has stood in the way of Milton Line improvements. They’ve been clear about what’s required since the skeletal service was launched in 1981, which documents in my files demonstrate. The flimsy Metrolinx excuse is that they won’t invest in someone else’s infrastructure. If that had been a valid argument, then GO wouldn’t have even started rolling on CN infrastructure back in May 1967.
In truth, doing anything with the Milton and Richmond Hill lines runs counter to the grand Metrolinx design … whatever that may be. In the case of the Richmond Hill Line, improving that service might undercut their argument in favour of spending about $10 billion for the realigned Yonge subway extension, which they are yanking away from York Region’s planning guidance.
When Phil Verster, Michael Schabas and all the Brits they’ve imported go down, I want to be on-site to see the crash.
GO runs some train intervals at 3 trains in a 15 [minute] slot on the UPX line where they run a counter peak GO train with the UPX trains so that periodically there is a set of 3 trains in a 15 minute window for a 7.5 minute headway. In the p.m. GO runs the last inbound train between two UPX trains. They also often reverse the UPX trains so they run left side of the RoW, English style. This means the inbound train does not have to cross 2 UPX tracks.
A survey crew was out last week on the Kitchener line. I asked what they were looking for and they said that Metrolinx wanted to upgrade to category 5 track, 90 mph for passengers, and install some sections of double track on the Guelph sub, not total double track. The section from Silver Jct., Georgetown, through Limestone would be difficult to double track and apparently there is a section around Rockwood that has difficulties.
I think that the maximum speeds on the Weston Sub are 75 mph with a lot of 70 mph or slower sections from my observations of the speed signs as I ride it. Also there are a lot of slow orders for construction. Also the station stop times are often near 2 minutes so they cannot operate 2.5 to 3 minutes apart. They are also doing some Rube Goldberg things at Bramalea to get trains into platform 4 and to use 6 cars on platform 3. The train I rode in on car 6 thinking that no one would get on at Bramalea as they were only using the cars from the accessibility car forward. They had a ground person open the crew door on car 6, the western most one, to let people on to it.
I would bet that they do the same thing for the trains that start or end on platform 4 as they can only use cars 5, 6 and 7 and only the accessibility doors of car 5. If I have this correct, they can open the accessibility door then either all the doors in front of it or all the doors behind it or both. They cannot open a fraction of the train in front or behind. So they have a ground person open the western most door of the cars with a key and then close it with a key using the crew door control and not the train line control.
I think Metrolinx is being pressured into running service before the infrastructure is ready for it. Thus the backing into or out of West Harbour and the ground personnel at Bramalea.
@ Stephen Saines
European practice is to make trains safe by keeping them from colliding. North American practice seems to make them survivable in an accident. Metrolinx was installing a signal system that would have allowed Communication Based Train Control and much closer head ways but I think it has been stalled for financial reasons. The extra service coming to Georgetown is probably to keep PC members’ seats safe. The same for the Niagara service.
@ Greg Gormick
I’m not sure what supposed “documents” you claim to have, but CP has long had very, very specific demands of GO Transit and later Metrolinx for any improvements to service on not just the Milton Line, but also for additional service into Hamilton TH&B. In some cases GO has met the demand – such as an additional connecting track at Desjardins, or building a new yard that doesn’t require trains to climb the Escarpment west of Milton – and in other cases has balked, such as double-tracking the Hamilton Tunnel.
@ Robert Wightman
My apologies, you are right – the most recent document I have shows that zone speeds on the Weston Sub are 75mph from 1.9 to 16.5, with additional PSOs and slow orders.
But my point was to show that the theoretical headway is far lower than “15 minutes”. The equipment used can also negatively affect the headway as well – a UPX set is shorter and can accelerate faster than a GO train, and so you can run them more frequently as they would clear each block faster.
This is an essential point. It might be open to argument as to the best TPH (Trains Per Hour) the Georgetown Corridor can throughput, or even more specifically, how many can/could be done on a pair of tracks alone with a modern signalling/control system, but I think we can all agree that in ML’s case, 8 TPH on one pair of tracks should be easily attainable given agreeable factors. Others are doing multiples of that, Paris RER, London Thameslink (under total ATO save for drivers closing doors at stations through the underground core of London), Berlin, etc, etc attaining and proving the ability to do 25 TPH each direction with mainline trains both in and outside of tunnel.
Surely Metrolinx, with the “British Crowd” that Greg refers to, must be aware of this? (Btw, I’ve met these folks at the dog park, not knowing who it was exactly they’re working for, but sussed it was ML, we discussed exactly this point.)
At some point, ML has to acquire this or even better tech. Why are they putting all their eggs into more and more track? The reason others have taken this route to provide this frequency of train service rather than more tracks? Because it’s vastly cheaper.
Now here’s the possible rub: I Googled for some time this morning to find the latest FRA status on this (Canada seems unable to think independently, even after signing CETA which specifically covers railway equipment to be tariff free and meeting *int’l standards* (UIC), and the US has not only defunded adoption of CBTC and the mainline equiv for heavy rail, the FRA and Dep’t of Transport have deleted their websites on it, specifically the California proposal.
As easy as it might and should be to hold QP’s fetid feet to the fire, I’d like to know where the Ottawa Feds are on this? Transport Canada, as they are ostensibly with HFR, should be pushing this.
I live right next to the Georgetown Corridor. It never ceases to amaze me as to “what a waste of potential” it is. If this was London, or many other cities, that corridor would be packed with passengers. And on two tracks, let alone 3 becoming 4.
In haste, I wrote
This is a result of funding decisions by the present Trump Administration. The US Federal Transit Agency still posts analyses and documentation of CBTC on transit rail, and an excellent 195 page example here:
An Assessment of the Business Case for Communications-Based Train Control
This study examines the retrofit of CBTC technology on two North American transit properties, namely New York City Transit (NYCT) and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), with the objective of assessing
the benefits realized and implementation challenges experienced. The study validates broader industry experience that CBTC offers benefits that cannot be achieved with prior generations of signaling technology. […]
Again: Where is the Metrolinx dialog on this?
Steve: Please see my recent post about the shift of responsibility for system upgrades to whatever 3P wins the GO Expansion procurement now in progress.
Supposed documents, Dan? Who the hell do you think you are? The documents are real and they came from my various lengthy assignments at CP over a period of 21 years.
CP wants capacity protection and they’ve always been clear on that. You expect them to just add intensive GO service and screw themselves on their freight handling?
Honest to God, the more I see and hear of rail and transit foamers, the more I understand why you never want to have that label slapped on you when you work in these industries professionally.
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Wish they would restore Milton to Oakville.
@ Greg Gormick
Then I guess the thing to ask is – can we see the documents? Their existence would negate and render useless over 40 years of consulting reports, and call into question the experience and knowledge of countless consultants and supposed experts over that time.