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Back to the Future: when rails ran down Caroline St in Waterlo

By shost at 1:13 pm on Thursday, July 9, 2015

Here’s a Back to the Future moment: While Waterloo residents wait for construction along Caroline St to complete, to  see new shiny LRT rails, for nearly 100 years rails had previously existed along Carline St, which existed until around 1994.


Above is  a photo  by Bill Thomson of Guelph, taken in 1971 showing a Canadian Pacific locomotive switching cars into the Seagrams distillery along Caroline St. This photo is somewhat unique – while I know of a few photos in books or other publications, this is the only photo of the Caroline St rails that presently exists on the Internet. (Anyone  with classic rail scenes like this are encouraged to consider sharing to railpictures.ca)

Back to the future? That’s where Waterloo region is going by re-installing a LRT transit system – Waterloo had two rail transit systems in the early to mid 20th century – Streetcars until 1946 along King St in Waterloo  and Kitchener (with a branch to Bridgeport and the CN Station) and the Grand River Railway, as pictured in Bills photo after passenger service ended in 1955 but continuing to be used by freight trains. The CP Owned Grand River Railway is still providing freight service today, thanks to the Toyota Cambridge plant, for transport of automotive products throughout North America and some for Export elsewhere. The Grand River Railway presently runs between the CP Galt station and Block Line Rd in Kitchener, the remainder from near Block Line Rd to downtown Waterloo was removed in 1994. Stage 2 ION LRT plans show use of the Grand River Railway from Fairway Rd to Preston as part of the implementation, but it is this authors opinion Toyota is here to stay and by then, ION will have to build their own right of way alongside CP to achieve their goals.

What if.. the Grand River Railway wasn’t ripped up and we still had Streetcars in KW. Look to the South Shore Interurban in Chicago for what could have been..

- Steve

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And more service for Sarnia..

By shost at 9:08 pm on Thursday, June 18, 2015

Re-instating (basically) the two trains each way per day – Believe this when it happens, but this time, going back to early 2000′s when one train ran the North mainline and one the South:


No suprise, the GEXR’s 30 MPH slow orders from London to Stratford and Stratford to Kitchener do nothing to help on-time performance, or competitiveness with the southern route, which will be one full hour shorter.

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VIA proposes new train – Stratford to Toronto and return

By shost at 4:20 pm on Wednesday, June 17, 2015

From the Stratford Beacon Herald:


Based on the information given here, this would depart 2 hours before 84, at 6:30 AM, 7;15 AM Kitchener, 7:50 AM Guelph.. running 30 minutes after the last GO Train

And on the return – running one hour ahead of VIA 87 and 30 minutes ahead of GO 209 (first westbound GO train).

Essentially gives Stratford residents an extra train and runs after the current Morning rush, and  leads the evening rush back. It will be a popular train and VIA knows it. It’s just too bad it won’t run to London to connect to multimodal services at Windsor.

All of this is subject to negotiation with Metrolinx and GEXR/CN. Certainly when the CTC is put into service, VIA will want something to show for their efforts, so this should come to pass easily.

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$22.56 for Guelph/KW residents to ride “direct route” to Pearson by train

By shost at 8:15 pm on Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Taking the train to Pearson is soon about to become easier for Guelph, Kitchener and Acton residents.

Residents who wish to take the train can avoid going all the way to Union , and back (since the train goes right by the Airport) by getting off your GO train at Weston Station you can transfer to UPX at a fraction of the cost of the union-pearson ride. Total cost for GO and UPX ride is $22.56 one way transferring at weston.


$22.56 is for Guelph residents, will be higher for Kitchener and likely lower for Acton.

VIA trains will NOT transfer at Weston, but you can ride VIA to Union Station then tranfer to UPX if you choose to.

The full fare (Union-Pearson) cost of the Airport Rail link from Union is $19 with a presto card, or $11.40 from Weston (Adult fare, presto card). Add $2 if you purchase on board the train, and fares higher without the card.

Since we’re the only Train route directly on the rail link, this is our advantage. Be sure to use it :)

Oh – and if you anticipate using the service, get a presto card in advance.

- Steve

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SouthWestern Ontario Transit Alliance – “action plan” cites Guelph prominently – provides a blueprint for the future of SWO

By shost at 8:00 pm on Sunday, April 26, 2015

Guelph gets high marks for its integrated Transit Hub, Kitchener lauded for its forward thinking transit project, in this document which spells out, in detail, an action plan for the SW Ontario region for all transit (GO, VIA and otherwise) in South-Western Ontario. A good read if you are into details:


However, this group claims the Acton-Guelph-Kitchener ridership of GO Train services is about 250 people daily (each way I’d assume).

Most telling is Page 7: see the dramatic drop in ALL bus service to many points in South Western Ontario – that’s right, many many cities near us have next to no intercity service of any kind. This is not good. Even Sarnia, with one train in and out per day is still not enough, departing at 0630 for Toronto is far from convenient. Should GO add bus service to our northern rural communities? I’d say… yes.

Niagara Falls weekend, seasonal GO train ridership is low? But have you see the QEW on weekends? It’s already way beyond capacity and turning into our next Gardiner/DVP – traffic jams all the time on weekends.  Cheap to add a train or few,  Billions for a new highway. SWOTA quotes $1.2 billion to bring all-day train service to Niagara Falls – abnormally high due to an $800M tunnel required at the welland Canal. In 1974 our Government funded a tunnel in Welland, at the time used for one passenger train each way per day (for the New York-St. Thomas Ontario-Chicago Amtrak “Niagara Rainbow”), but has been a freight-only corridor since 1979.

The last interesting detail among many is the document also cites that an EA is in progress for all day Go Train service to Kitchener-Waterloo – to be released later this year. I expect this document to be a 10 to 20 year blueprint on creation of a dedicated GO corridor from Georgetown to Bramalea and continued improvement (elimination of crossings, bottlenecks (more sidings/double track) etc) to the performance of GO trains that will only be acquired from continued infrastructure changes.

Feel free to add your comments below.

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Province’s big plan for GO Transit – no all day service to KW/Guelph anytime soon, an analysis:

By shost at 3:09 pm on Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Here’s a quick analysis of what the Province is promising for upgrades on Go Transit. Keeping in mind this would be at the whim of the government in power – and ONLY projects currently funded and under construction would continue in the event of a turn of party in the next election:


In no particular order:

All day electrified service (15 minutes) would be on the Kitchener line from Bramalea only to Union Station- mirroring the current all day affairs on the Kitchener line.

Weekend/evening service (off peak) 60 minute or better service, ALL DAY to the Hamilton GO Centre (Assuming this is the TH&B Station at Hunter St)

  • I am not sure how this is possible – the Hunter St CP tunnel will restrict all day service unless CP has a change of heart – or a new tunnel will be added at a huge cost!

15 minute peak service to Hamilton GO Centre (TH&B)

30 minute peak service to James St. North

30 minute peak service Kitchener to Toronto

Remember: this peak service simply means how often a train departs. Right now it’s 60 minute service out of Kitchener. Double the trains? Now 30 minutes. Four departures each way out of Kitchener will make for 30 minute service.

Finally – Kitchener will finally get an express train (or two?) – this has yet to be defined how. I would imagine it would be Kitchener-Guelph-Action-Georgetown and run express to Union from there.

What’s going to hold this back for GOKW residents? Number 1 – the Shirley Rd layover facility is absolutely required before any doubling of train service to KW. The shovels may be nearly in the ground this year but the project is just getting started. HOWEVER – if you look at the layout of the existing former Clarke transport facility at Shirley – Go could just add  power and HEP hookups on the existing tracks and park trains on the existing track layout – in other words an expedited and ready made layover yard was purchased without having to construct one from scratch. Number two – CTC – CTC is expected to be commissioned in 2015 and continues to be installed all along the London to Georgetown (at Silver on the Guelph subdivision).  I wouldn’t expect any added service to Kitchener before sometime in 2016..

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Mississauga LRT to proceed – $1.6B- Waterloo LRT a bellweather long before it even begins..

By shost at 2:43 pm on Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The bellweather  new-build LRT project for Canada – Waterloo’s ION –  has already paved the way for Mississauga/Brampton LRT approval – but  double the cost of Waterloo at $1.6 billion and fully funded by Ontario (as opposed to 33/33/33 split).


Curious – would the funding formula change for ION phase two as a result? (I personally think there is no money for this yet – that will come in a few years time after ION is fully implemented)

And what about Hamilton? Hamilton is probably the largest city in Canada without an existing rapid Transit solution or funding for construction of one – for now. Lots of plans.. but still nothing.

Why is this relevant? Why not – you can ride GO from Kitchener or Guelph,  get off GO at Brampton, connect to LRT to go to Square One, right? Or you could ride the LRT to the Lakeshore line and connect to Hamilton using your GO day pass. A long route but it would be possible… and shorter than going via Union Station. The potential integrations are interesting if all these systems come to pass.. the only dot missing in the grand scheme of things is GO to Cambridge or all day service to downtown Hamilton. On  the subject of all day service..

- Steve

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Kitchener/Waterloo Region “new” station/Transit Hub plans.. Highrises! condos! at all costs?

By shost at 8:55 pm on Sunday, April 19, 2015

See page 28 of this document for more on the “new” Kitchener transit hub at Victoria/King

I’m all for Transit Hubs but what is this? A station or a condo development?

And what’s going to happen to the 1898 VIA/GO station once this is built? I for one would have rather seen a relocation and integration of the existing station building into the new design.. but it doesn’t look like Waterloo Region has much interest in preservation of heritage in mind (other than the existing 19th century factory they plan to integrate)

The existing station would not have to move all that far, but alas, you can’t develop on top of a heritage structure..

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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:


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.


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