GO Kitchener Rail Service Starts December 19, 2011

As previously rumoured in comments, the Kitchener rail service begins on December 19.  GO will implement this with two trains a day.

In the morning, the existing 6:47 Georgetown trip will originate in Kitchener at 5:52.   A new train will be added leaving Kitchener at 7:10 and arriving at Union at 9:08.

In the afternoon, two existing Georgetown trips leaving Union at 4:45 and 5:45 pm will be extended to Kitchener arriving there at 6:42 and 7:42.

The line will be renamed the “Kitchener” line.

GO Schedule Changes Page

Kitchener Timetable

Waterloo Regional Council Approves LRT Line 9-2

Congratulations to our neighbours in Kitchener-Waterloo for embracing an LRT line in their city.  Unlike Toronto, with a would-be Mayoral dynasty whose grasp of transit and municipal finance can be breathtakingly mean and shortsighted, K-W has decided to proceed with a rail spine for its transit network.

Now is the time for Queen’s Park to accelerate support for LRT in Mississauga and Hamilton.  Get off the pot and show people what surface rail transit can do.

Read details in The Record.

More info on the Region of Waterloo site.

Not Quite Greased Lightning: GO Transit to Electrify, Eventually

Today, Metrolinx released its long-awaited study of GO Transit electrification.  I will comment on this in more detail over the next day or so, but here are preliminary observations while the news is fresh.

Updated 4:30 pm: The study appendices are now available online.  I have not incorporated any information from them in the article below.

The study finds that electrification is a worthwhile venture on selected, well-used corridors, and that it is an important foundation for the growth of GO Transit into its regional role proposed in Metrolinx’ Big Move.

The proposed staging of the electrification project (all times are estimates) is:

  • Preliminary design and Environmental Assessments (3-4 yrs)
  • Union to Pearson Airport, and Union to Mimico (Willowbrook Shops) (4-5 years)
  • Pearson Airport spur to Brampton (Mt. Pleasant) (2 years)
  • Union to Oshawa (including access to a new eastern maintenance shops) (4 years)
  • Mimico to Oakville (2 years)
  • Oakville to Hamilton (James Street Station) (2 years)
  • Oshawa to Bowmanville (2 years)
  • Brampton to Kitchener (2-3 years)

Other corridors were studied, but the best benefit-cost ratio was found to be the combination of Georgetown and Lake Shore.  Events over the next decades may prove this to be short-sighted, but that’s today’s plan.

The implementation is rather leisurely, and if all of its phases take place sequentially, it will be the early 2030s before this scheme is completed.  The Environmental Assessments will use the expedited process most recently seen on the Transit City projects.  This will avoid the need for “alternatives analysis” on projects where the alignment and technology selections are a foregone conclusion, and the “terms of reference” will be much simpler than a full EA.

No individual benefit is cited for electrification, but rather the combined effect of contributions to travel time savings, operating costs, reliability, environmental concerns and long-term capacity of the GO system.

Continue reading

GO Transit Announces Rail Service to Kitchener-Waterloo (Updated)

GO Transit has announced that effective late in 2011 they will begin operation of two trains each way on weekdays to Kitchener-Waterloo stopping at Guelph and Acton.

No details of train times nor of overall service levels in the Georgetown Corridor are mentioned in the press release other than that this will be an improvement to current service.

The press release states that the storage facility will be “in Kitchener”.  GO Transit has clarified this as follows:

The temporary train layover facility will be located north of Victoria Street South, between Park Street and King Street West, in Kitchener and will include storage for two 12-car trains, crew and electrical trailers, fencing, and lighting.

The facility will be used until the permanent one is built at Nafziger Road in Baden.

Kitchener-Waterloo Opts For Light Rail & Gets Instant Funding

Kitchener-Waterloo  has been working away at a Rapid Transit plan since 2004, almost entirely out of the Toronto media spotlight, including mine.  (A large amount of background detail can be found in the “Reports” section.)

Earlier this week, on June 24, Waterloo Regional Council approved the line which will be built initially with LRT in the north (KW) end, and BRT to the south in Cambridge.  The first big surprise came Friday in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record who reported that both Ottawa and Queen’s Park were planning to fund the project.  News of this reached me while Toronto Council was wrangling over funding for the purchase of new streetcars.

No sooner had Waterloo approved the LRT line, but local Cambridge MP Gary Goodyear announced that Ottawa would contribute $160-million to the project whose total estimated cost is $790-million.  This took Regional Chair Ken Seiling completely by surprise.  Support also came from Kitchener MP Stephen Woodworth who pointed out that this money will come from the “Build Canada Fund”, not the “Stimulus Fund” and therefore the project is not constrained by the latter’s March 2011 cutoff.

Meanwhile, the Liberal MPP for Kitchener, John Milloy, announced that Queen’s Park will provide two-thirds funding for this project.  If you do the math, this leaves Waterloo Region with a comparatively small cost, roughly 1/6 of the total.  The project also has support from local Conservative MPP Elizabeth Witmer.  Bipartisan enthusiasm for transit is a refreshing change from Toronto where transit projects are used to score political points by the right wing of Council. Continue reading

GO Transit Buys CN Weston Subdivision

GO Transit announced today that it will purchase the CN Weston Subdivision for $160-million.  The line in question runs from roughly the Strachan Avenue grade crossing to the junction with the CN York Subdivision at Steeles Avenue.

CN and VIA run comparatively few trains (3 and 6 respectively) each day on the line, although VIA has planned improved service in this corridor for some time.  GO plans greatly expanded service both in frequency and in destination (extending to Kitchener), and this corridor will also host the Blue 22 Airport link should that line ever get beyond the drawing boards.

By purchasing the corridor, GO will not only have better control of train operations, it will be able to retain ownership of the substantial improvements needed to accommodate all of the new services.

The press release is silent on the matter of funding.

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.

GO Georgetown South Open House Reviewed

Robert Wightman reports:

I was at the GO South Georgetown open house in Mt Dennis (Eglinton and Weston Rd.) today.  Some interesting things that I learned are:

  1. There will be a seven or eight track corridor from the TTR yards up the Weston Sub to the North Toronto sub where two tracks will head west on the Galt Sub. GO owns the Galt Sub south of the Diamond at the North Toronto Sub. If there are eight tracks one will probably disappear at Lansdowne where the Newmarket sub branches off.
  2. Bloor station will be two island platforms serving four tracks. It will be possible to have the Milton trains stop here. There would be four ARL (Air Rail Link formerly known as Blue 22) trains, four Mt. Pleasant locals, one or two Kitchener express trains, plus one or two Milton trains each way each hour in base service. God knows what it would be like in rush hour. There would be a direct connection to Dundas West Station, finally.
  3. There will be a four track depressed line in a 650 m long tunnel through Weston north of Lawrence. The station for Weston would be moved south to a level area so that the north end of the station, four tracks, would be just north of the bridge at Lawrence with most of the station to the south. There would be two CP tracks and one or two CN tracks go through at grade as they do not want to run them down and up the grade. Clearance would be 22 feet, 6.8 m in the tunnel, enough for electrification at 25 KV AC.
  4. Future stations are planned for Eglinton, to connect with the LRT to form a major transit hub and one at Woodbine. These would not happen until the line is electrified. The electrification would probably be at 25 KV AC but this has not been finalized though everything is being built with adequate clearances. Apparently when the Deux Montagnes line in Montreal was re-equipped it was converted to 25 KV AC according to the consulting engineer I talked to.
  5. The ARL line will be run with two car trains of self propelled Budd RDC’s on a 15 minute headway. There would be four trains providing the service with a two car hot spare train. (It would be plugged in with warm engine oil and be either heated or cooled to the proper temperature to be quick a change off.) There would also be one spare car for running maintenance. I do not think that this is an adequate spare ratio but we shall see.
  6. SNC Lavalin wants high platforms to provide easier loading and unloading but the GO guy and the consulting engineer doubt that this will happen as it make for under utilized station platforms at Union Station and will require gauntlet tracks at the line stations to allow freight and express trains to pass the high platforms. The artist’s rendering shows low level bi folding doors at each end, sort of like skinny doors on the single level GO trains.
  7. The line from the GO line to the airport is extremely interesting. The consulting engineer said that it was “straight from Canada’s Wonderland.” It consists of a light and airy, perhaps even flimsy, elevated single track line down the middle of the Goreway to get to the Airport and then grades up to 5% to get through the airport to a two track 80 m long island platform. This will allow for expansion to three car trains. He also said he saw a drawing of a two car train with a high platform sliding double door in the middle of the car. This would allow for faster loading and unloading.
  8. Every level crossing from Strachan Avenue to the airport will be closed or grade separated for passenger trains. It will be interesting to see what happens to the two remaining level crossings in Brampton but this study did not go that far. They figure that there will be 240 + trains a day through Weston with the freights still making level crossings at two streets.
  9. There was no one there who knew much about the rush hour only service to Bolton. One map had a line labelled enhanced GO service to Orangeville and one person thought that they were going to run GO trains through the Forks of The Credit but I think that it means better bus service to meet the more frequent GO trains.

I will try to get out to the meeting in Kitchener tomorrow night for the extended GO service but as I have to be at the airport for 6:00 a.m. Friday I may not make it. Apparently the storage area at Baden is the third choice. There is not room at the Kitchener station to store trains and they do not want to do a reversing move on the mainline so the yard must be to the west. The storage areas at Milton and Richmond Hill are accessed by yard trackage and are considered a reversing move so they do not have to change ends and perform a brake test.