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Transit news for the region

By shost at 11:08 am on Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Hi everyone – Thanks to a run in to a friend and avid site reader, Aiden Kelley of Guelph (Happy St. Patricks Day to Aiden and my Irish friends out there) he reminded me to update GOKW :)

What’s new? First of all, CTC upgrades are well underway – it is expected the new signalling and dispatching will be in place for summer 2015. Will this increase speeds on the line? Yet to be seen but likely yes, if ever slightly – it may reduce some delays currently found due to dispatching and radio blocks.

Rumours are that once the signalling is in place VIA and GO will be pushing for immediate increases to service – VIA planning to add a second departure to Sarnia via Guelph/Kitchener.  As reported in the Sarnia Observer on March 13:

http://www.theobserver.ca/2015/03/13/via-rail-president-meets-with-sarnia-lambton-delegation

My family would be using VIA from Sarnia this week if it wasn’t for the 0613 departure – adding a departure would be much more viable for Sarnia residents who have few options (there is no public bus service).

In similar news: GO’s James St. North station is well underway for completion this summer – giving Guelph residents an additional option if one wants to hit the Lakeshore line – there will be on-site parking for the two departures that will initially use the station.

And finally, Cambridge hasn’t given up on GO service – still pushing to add a departure or two from the former Galt CP Rail station on Malcolm st.

LRT news:

Waterloo’s LRT “ION” construction is fully underway – as follows:

a) The Heavy rail section from Waterloo Town Square to Northfield is being upgraded with new welded rail, wider embankments (and eventual double tracking) with expected completion within one year. This is well underway, now, crews have been on-site since late February and rails were dropped in early March.

b) The Maintenance and Operations facility is being constructed near Northfield Station, which will house the Bombardier Flexity vehicles.  Rails were also dropped for this so expect it to take shape fairly quickly.

I expect that within a year we’ll have operating LRT trains for testing purposes on this section of the ‘heavy rail’ line – hut only once deliveries arrive from Bombardier in 2016. This will give the region one year to test the vehicles while the rest of the construction continues in the more difficult areas. Where are these areas?

c) The in-street portions – in particular Caroline, Charles, Borden streets are largely closed to re-locate utilities for eventual laying of track. Additional closures are forthcoming – King St at the CN tracks will be closed starting in April for just over a year – but since Weber just re-opened you have an alternate route

d) The CN shared right of way portion – from near Charles/Borden St to Fairway Rd is currently under way – the CN right of way will be re-located a few meters in order to make room for LRT.

e) An underpass at Highway 7 has been completed (project began in 2013 I believe) to bring the LRT under the highway, which at one point was to use the CN underpass. CN Said no.

Much more yet to come – Waterloo region is going to be a construction zone for the next two to three years – short term pain for a long term gain. One can already see the transformation of the region with the number of development projects going up along the corridor.

Last word: What is heavy rail? Simply put any regular railway (standard coupler) inclusive of GO transit. LRT will share a heavy rail corridor with freight trains, but the freights will be restricted from heading to Waterloo and Elmira in the wee morning hours. Unlike Toronto’s TTC – which is TTC gauge and shares no right of way with freight trains, ION will be standard gauge and share heavy rail corridors, similar to Ottawa’s O-train.

Ta Ta for now!

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High Speed rail through KW (and maybe Guelph?)

By shost at 9:16 pm on Thursday, December 11, 2014

I’ll present this without comment.  Comment away:

Note: Link appears to be via CBC news, but may die at any time.

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1377352-toronto-london-high-speed-rail-2014-03-11-2.html

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A little retrospective .. and over in Waterloo, LRT wins.

By shost at 4:03 pm on Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I remember back in 2006 when we started this site – we polled the municipal candidates in Waterloo, Guelph and Acton on the future potential of GO transit in this area  - posted the results here – and helped educate the public on the potential of GO transit in our region – at the time no one spoke of it or was aware it was even on the table. LRT was still in the early stages – and look how far we’ve come. I’m glad TRITAG has taken the cause for pro-transit in Waterloo region – and I’ll try not to duplicate what they advocate for – (check them out – a great effort!)

Speaking of how far some have come – I’ll also mention that my friend and former co-hort that helped drive GOKW.ORG in 2006 – David Graham – has won his name on the next Federal Election ballot in St. Agathe, QC by winning the Liberal Party nomination. Way to go David! David moved back out there years ago (and divides his time in Ottawa) to continue his political career with obviously great success. Good luck David!

So back to Waterloo – It’s full steam ahead for the Waterloo region LRT project – Ken Seiling wins by a comparable margin against the anti-LRT Aissa.  In an election that stood as a form of referendum on LRT versus no LRT – Waterloo region residents clearly chose the former – and I’m quite happy they did. LRT will funnel traffic to/from GO Trains in the city and provide a level of transit integration only equaled in Toronto (Until other LRT projects come on board).. Good job, Waterloo — now for the 4 years of construction pain and related road closures.

Most importantly – with Waterloo LRT proceeding with no political opposition – other LRT projects that are being considered – namely Hamilton, Missussauga (Brampton) can continue to look at Waterloo as the positive bellweather for what may be in store should they also choose the LRT path.

By the time LRT construction is completed there will be four trains/day in and out of Waterloo – what are the chances we’ll have reverse commuting trains to connect to the LRT from Toronto? Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

At the end of the day – we still have major highway projects on the books, as well as major transit expansions. My goal is to see more balanced forms of transportation, including options for inter-city commuting and travel. We’re a far ways from achieveing our goal provincially, but in this region, we’re almost there!

- Steve

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New Highway 7 finally announced — wait for it — $300M and..

By shost at 9:33 am on Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The province is surprisingly moving ahead with a new highway 7 – connecting the bustling Metropolis of Guelph with the growing (up, not out) metropolis of Waterloo Region. Soon you’ll have a four lane, divided and fully grade separated journey through farmlands of Guelph and Woolwich Townships (Ripe for development once the OMB gets their paws on it  - More Wal-Marts, Boston Pizza’s, Canadian Tires and Hotels).

YAY! I’m so happy! I can’t wait for Waterloo region residents looking to take a short-cut to the 401 through Guelph – wait for it – only to be stopped by the red lights at Guelph’s NON GRADE SEPERATED intersections. That’s right – your new, 100 KM/H highway will basically ‘end’ in Guelph where you’ll be subject to the same stop and go intersections, 70 KM/H speed limits (80 elsewhere). Hence, for $300 million, TEN TIMES the price of GO service to Guelph, Acton and Kitchener, you’ll have essentially a highway to a non-highway. It’ll cost another $200 million to finish grade separations in Guelph – when? 2030? Will it ever happen? Or is the province dreaming that they’ll finish Highway 407 west through the escarpment down to milton bypassing Guelph?

The new highway is to be completed to Guelph and Kitchener by 2020. Mayor (re-elect) Craig: $300 million would have brought GO service to Cambridge, with $200 million left over to fund the LRT project from Fairway Mall to Cambridge.

The only sane reason I see this project going ahead is to avoid the widening of HWY 401 from HWY 24 to HWY 8 in Cambridge/Kitchener – which itself is about a $100-200M job (due to river and railway rights of way that require a sort of land-bridge, expensive to re-create and widen in an environmentally sensitive area)

Then again – is anything sane with the province’s decisions? Comment below.

Link to Guelph Mercury article: http://www.guelphmercury.com/news-story/4943888-work-on-new-guelph-kitchener-highway-7-to-begin-this-spring/

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Metrolinx is now in the Bike Trail business.. in Kitchener

By shost at 7:51 pm on Friday, September 5, 2014

Shhhhhhh – don’t tell the folks in the North Bay/Cochrane parts of Ontario – while there isn’t enough money to fund train service to Cochrane – Metrolinx is investing $1.2 million on a bike trail to connect Uptown Waterloo with the Kitchener GO station, via  a bike path. That’s right, Metrolinx is investing in non rail, non bus transit.

Link to council documents – see page 26

$1.2 million approx 1/3rd the cost – rest shared with municipal and regional Government. Multi modal transport is great – but really? Metrolinx involvement in this? Personally I think this is reaching too far..  and should be a purely a municipal matter.

Surely Ontario Northland train service is more expensive than a bike trail – but if you want to make some people bitter at politicians – cancel a train (the Northlander – “we don’t have the money” – Ontario Government) and pay for a bike path in the big city? You’ve succeeded.

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Second (and not last!) GO Layover facility being tendered.. Shirley Ave

By shost at 7:44 pm on Friday, September 5, 2014

So for the Kitchener-ites, Shirley ave – the ‘back road’ that acts as an alternate commuter route for those going east/west to/from Guelph and want to avoid Victoria.. there sits a little piece of property formerly known as Clarke Transport.

It seems Metrolinx bought this property and plans to build the second layover facility here. Why you ask? Good question – what’s wrong with building the real deal down by Baden that was planned and approved in the EA back in 2009? Will shirley Ave have enough room for the planned expansions? Will Shirley be itself replaced in 6 more years if say, all-day service comes to pass?

Either way – expect a multi-million dollar layover facility to be built at Shirley – clearly it’s already been designed..

link to bid documents on MERX

I’m all for increased service – but taxpayer money spent on another intermediate station only 3 years since the last was built? Details please..

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They are heeeeeeeeere.. first UPX (Union Pearson Express) trainset arrives in Canada

By shost at 3:58 pm on Thursday, August 14, 2014

The UPX is closer to reality – part of what is effectively the GO Kitchener line, the first cars from Sumitomo for the Union Pearson Express have arrived in Canada. See this photo by James Gardiner of Brantford found on the Railpictures.ca site:

http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=15999

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GO “to purchase” Kitchener to Silver from CN / CTC almost at Kitchener

By shost at 6:26 pm on Saturday, May 3, 2014

While the line from Kitchener to Silver is owned by CN, it is leased to Goderich-Exeter, a Shortline Railway, and is the only segment of the GO network in effect maintained by a Shortline Railway

Not for much longer – as GO has an “agreement in principle” to purchase the line and in effect, take over maintenance and operation of this segment of the railway from GEXR.

What’s not known is if GEXR freight trains will continue to use the line – I believe they will. Time will tell.

Also for those who ride the train often may notice new signals and towers being installed – the CTC Signalling project has been largely completed from London to Stratford and is working its way east. CTC is not turned on at the moment, but sometime this year the Guelph subdivision will no longer be dark territory, and as a result, safer and possibly even faster.

- Steve

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Mayor Craig: Why don’t you raise taxes in Cambridge to pay for your GO expansion?

By shost at 11:47 am on Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Here’s a great opinion piece on why cambridge is left out of GO trains – this isn’t news, nor is it rocket science -

http://www.therecord.com/opinion-story/4430553-logistics-cost-not-politics-drives-go-trains-expansion/

Left out of the article was the fact that GO service to Kitchener also serves Waterloo, Guelph and Acton.

Expansion to Cambridge serves.. Cambridge. The towns en-route are tiny by comparison. Campbellville? A couple thousand people live there, if that. Which leads me to this.

If Cambridge Residents and Mayor Craig really badly want GO service to Cambridge – why don’t they pay for it? It’s only $800 million divided by 102,000 people, working to about $6700 per person.

Imagine that..

It cost $43 per resident served to bring GO trains to Kitchener and the new Expansion will cost $121 – a far cry from $6000+ for double tracking the CPR line from Guelph Jct to cambridge.

Again good luck Mayor Craig – $800M is still cheaper than a new highway but keep barking – you’ll remain low on the priority list until the numbers make more sense.

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Kitchener line: Four trains per day by 2016 – says Wynne Government

By shost at 2:41 pm on Wednesday, March 19, 2014

While most in KW would have heard of this already – it’s certainly substantial news for our GO commuters:

http://www.therecord.com/news-story/4417987-wynne-promises-increased-go-train-service-to-toronto-by-2016/

I’ll throw caution to the wind that an election is coming soon..

- Steve

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