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Metrolinx? What’s wrong? Too much money to blow?

By shost at 8:30 pm on Friday, April 7, 2017

To Metrolinx:


Really? A grand central terminal for the booming metropolis of Bloomington, located in the desirable Greenbelt? How much is this terminal going to cost? $30,000,000? $50,000,000?

What happened to a platform and a wooden shed for a station like in the old days? Just kidding, sorta,  a proper station is fine but really? What’s with the cathedral?

With this money one could bring GO trains to Peterborough! Granted you’d have to do it on the cheap like was done on the Guelph subdivision (Kitchener line) when $18M extended GO service to Kitchener..

Let’s dial it down a bit guys – Hamilton (James St. North aka West Harbour) deserved their large and expensive station – the money is a wise investment in a city of a large population and an up and coming neighbourhood… which is now rife with developers beautifying the once drab landscape of North Hamilton..

But Bloomington?

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Guelph added an early shuttle for the new GO trains on August 30. Why hasn’t GRT? KW riders have no transit options to get to early GO trains?

By shost at 7:34 pm on Thursday, September 15, 2016

Viewer SCOTT RAMSAY (see comments in post below) added a note that the first two GO trips out of Kitchener do not have any bus service connecting to it. Guelph immediately added an earlier shuttle trip. What gives KW?

Guelph riders have to ‘pre book’ the service (see link below for how) but I’m sure commuters who need it won’t have a problem planning it. Kudos to Guelph for being on the ball. Now riders – use what we have.

Kitchener/Waterloo: what gives? For a region so ‘transit friendly’ they better get in the act of connecting services. This should be mandatory. Post notes in comments to what’s changed, if anything as it happens. Thank you!


To book your ride to the GO Train station – Guelph Transit:

“To book your early morning shuttle service, call 519-822-1811 extension 2801 between the hours of:

  • Monday to Friday: 7 a.m.–9:45 p.m.
  • Saturdays: 8 a.m.–9:45 p.m.
  • Sundays: 10 a.m.–6 p.m.”
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Four trains from Kitchener effective yesterday – anyone riding them?

By shost at 8:41 am on Wednesday, September 7, 2016

So, we’ve finally seen an addition of service, nearly five years since the first GO trains out of Kitchener. Anyone riding them? How are they going?

Four trains now depart Kitchener station in the morning with four corresponding departures out of Toronto – and one of the trips runs express from Bramalea to Toronto shaving 12 minutes off the trip.

Welcome news – but will anyone use the earliest and latest departures is the real question. Post your response below.

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Two more trains for Kitchener by fall – and dissecting the news

By shost at 8:57 am on Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Announced yesterday – a special GO train was ran west in the morning and east in the afternoon from Toronto for this event at the Kitchener station.


Bottom line is due to the Shirley Ave layover facility, GO will add two more departures out of Kitchener this fall.

Now here’s the interesting part, with respect to all-day service by 2024: “The Premier said her government is very confident the commitment will be met now that there’s an agreement in principle between transit agency Metrolinx and CN that will result in the construction of a new freight line to run from Bramalea to about Milton.”

What is this new freight line? This is the ‘missing link’ – in effect, if a new freight corridor is built from Milton to Halwest (Bramalea) along the 407, when completed CN trains can be taken off the Georgetown to Bramalea corridor and free this corridor up for all day service and , eventually, electrification. It has little effect on us in the KW/Guelph regions, except for the fact that Georgetown-Bramalea is the bottleneck stopping any additional departures or all-day service to our areas.

So now Metrolinx will pay for this new ‘missing link’ – work with CN (and potentially CP) to construct the corridor, once completed, purchase Bramalea to Georgetown (Metrolinx will own the entire route from Toronto t0 Kitchener at that point) and then have the potential to add all-day service to even Kitchener. *Phew*. That’s 8 years of work.

The ‘missing link’ also has the potential to re-route CP trains off the Milton to Toronto corridor to allow all-day service on the Milton line, and also would allow GO to add service on the now un-serviced CP North Toronto subdivision –  but agreements with CP are still forthcoming.

The ‘missing link’ has yet to go for Environmental Assessment approval, but planning for it is well under way. watch for more soon once details arise.

- Steve

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On the subject of weed spraying in Guelph.. on the Guelph Junction Railway.

By shost at 8:53 pm on Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Guelph has always been a very ‘active’ town – if you plan to do something, you will expect significant attention to detail from residents. Environmentalism also runs high, and it’s part of what makes Guelph unique.

When the Guelph Junction Railway announced weed spraying work which was to be done the week of May 23′rd, it surely hit the papers the next week with a roar. The simple fact is, the only reason it roared was the high profile nature of the advertisement – and the fact it was advertised – weed spraying has occurred on railways for almost as long as there have been herbicides and it’s now coded in law as a requirement.  As a former member of the committee that worked on GJR’s weed spraying policy, this is a sensitive topic that many will find controversial, but just be thankful that GJR and Council are as attentive to the interests of local residents – Federally Regulated railways ARE NOT and WOULD NOT give you this level of attention. They just load their weed spraying train and let it go. For example, CP just sprayed their entire mainline and branchline system throughout Ontario over the last two weeks. Did you know about it? Were you notified? Nope… and yes, the same chemicals that you hate to hear, “roundup” “kamex”, etc are used – these are federally regulated  - you can’t use anything else without  working very closely with government and little else actually works effectively. CN and CP both research and try alternatives… and none of it has taken off because none of it has worked yet. GJR has also done signifcant research with local groups (University of Guelph) to find alternatives and we were part of that process – it didn’t work and we had to pay people to manually, by hand, control vegetation as a result.

And the poor lady who takes ‘great care’ to run a pesticide free garden beside a railway for the last 40 years….. sorry to say, but 40 years ago railways used copious amounts of herbicides…  it’s what made the right of way so clear and clean – akin to what Hydro used on their rights of way also. (Do your homework on this one folks!)

Furthermore, the bottom line is if you don’t control vegetation – the roadbed deteriorates faster, leads to potentially unsafe conditions (Stopping a train on a weedy rail line is much more difficult) makes it difficult for crew or railway employees to walk on railway tracks (when necessary), makes it much more difficult to see bad rail or tie conditions,  and also controls the risk of BRUSH FIRE. Oh crud, someone said the Fire word. The newspapers didn’t !

You see, rail on rail contact is not without ‘sparks’ and small bits of dry brush quickly become tinder… you don’t want a fire beside your home, do you? If you don’t control the vegetation, that’s exactly what you’ll get.

Witness what happened in Milton this past April, these photos say it all folks:



GJR has a sound plan to manage vegetation and takes great care in meeting the unique needs of our residents. Be thankful that they do – because on other, larger railway lines, they just spray roundup and don’t take the care to notify you either other than a public notice on their website which you have to go looking for…..

- Steve

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About High Speed Rail in Guelph – implications of new regulations

By shost at 8:32 pm on Wednesday, May 25, 2016

This is an issue that affects all GO commuters from KW – the reason’s why Guelph’s tracks are slow is basically outlined here. High speed rail is now being used as the impetus for these improvements.

The Guelph Mercury/Tribune posted this article about the possibility of High Speed Rail in Guelph. It also touches on reasons why bypassing Guelph is a necessity. But they fail to go into details – and state

““regardless of the final high-speed rail alignment, the rail line (within Guelph) will need to be upgraded at some point in the future for safety issues and compliance with recently introduced Transport Canada grade-crossing regulations. Implications will be addressed in the future.””

Source: http://www.guelphmercury.com/news-story/6687999-guelph-high-speed-rail-stop-hinges-on-major-upgrades-at-level-crossings/

In the future? Doesn’t council deserve to know the implications NOW? Why are they supporting this and what will it cost? Who will pay for it?

In short, Transport Canada has legislated NEW crossing regulations that came into effect in 2014. Federally Regulated railway companies have seven years to comply with the act and upgrade existing crossings to the standard. Provincial or Shortline railway companies DO NOT have to comply with this act*. (See bottom of this post)

In short: Guelph Junction Railway does NOT have to make any changes due to this law (but they may make changes as they see fit, usually in the name of improving safety) – council should breathe a sigh of relief, this will save us some money as GJR improvements are 100% the cities responsibility.

But the Other railway in town – the Metrolinx/GO Guelph subdivision –  poses a major problem. Major changes WILL be required and we need to know NOW the high level implications. let’s go into more detail:

First, let’s look at Kent St:


Notice the proximity of driveways to the railway? And how roadways cross relatively close to public crossings? There are a large number of homes with driveways within 10 meters of the nearest rail.

Also on Yorkshire, there are homes VERY close to the public crossing:


“A public grade crossing where the railway design speed is more than 25 km/h (15 mph) must be constructed so that no part of the travelled way of an intersecting road or entranceway (other than a railway service road), is closer than 30 m (D) to the nearest rail of the grade crossing (see Figure 11-1).”

The speed limit right now is 15 MPH. In order to raise the speed limit, all Guelph downtown crossings at Yorkshare, Dublin, and Glasgow St would either

a) Need to be closed (at little relative cost other than the problems facing drivers going around the closures)

b) Or underpasses created (at great expense, about $10-20M each)

c) Or homes expropriated and demolished to comply with the law (all homes with driveways within 30M of any rail at a grade crossing on a mainline railway track)

d) Or the railway would have to be realigned  (which may be possible but only for about 5 meters – which may not solve much)

e) Or railway re-located outside of town (at a cost of hundreds of millions) or tunnelled (equally or  more expensive)

These are the facts – Edinburgh Rd will also be underpassed, at a cost of $20M, and Alma St would also have to be closed or underpassed.

Bottom line is every single crossing is due to be closed or changed in the above ways if we want any improvements to GO Transit, let alone High speed rail. Without this, high speed rail is simply not possible in Guelph and they will bypass the town.

Lay the groundwork now, Council, and be aware, this could be very costly. Keep in mind it’s very possible there could be shared or full funding made available for the work… depending on who funds it – Metrolinx may help as they now own the railway line, as well, whoever funds and builds the high speed rail project will also fund significant if not all portions of upgrades to make it possible.

While our city planners figure out the implications of this, now you have some fat to chew on.

- Steve

From the Transport Canada website:

Do the Grade Crossings Regulations apply to local railway companies?

No, the Grade Crossings Regulations do not apply to local railway companies.

Local railway companies include provincially-regulated shortlines, light rail transit, and tourist trains that operate equipment on federally-regulated tracks and infrastructure.

Crossing infrastructure, such as signs, bells, lights and gates, are the shared responsibility of host railway companies and road authorities

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VIA improvements coming to KW?

By shost at 8:33 pm on Sunday, March 6, 2016

There may be VIA improvements coming to KW:


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UPX Boondoggle? Taxpayer waste? Critics have it all wrong..

By shost at 9:59 am on Monday, February 29, 2016

Critics of the Union Pearson express have gone on record to say it’s a waste of taxpayer money, a white elephant, yada yada – wrong. Totally wrong. It cost $456 million (estimated cost as of 2010)  which sounds like a lot of money, but remember , this same amount of money would only buy you 20 KM of highway widening — today.

5 KM of widening of the 401 in Cambridge will cost $150 million


GO service to Kitchener in 2011 was added for only $18 million..

Highways are *expensive* by an order of magnitude more than railway/transit projects and you get far less bang for the buck. These widenings will only last a year until traffic is back to stop and go during ‘peak periods’ due to the fact highways.. are constantly under pressure and commuters will fill every inch of space on our overcrowded artery highways..

Investments in transit are the only way to provide meaningful, long term returns for our investment at a relatively low cost.

If you think $150M is a lot of money, what is the new Highway 411, 407 extensions costing Ontario Taxpayers? A hell of a lot more money than UPX.

And widening the 401 from Mississauga to Cambridge? Multi billions………..but spread over 20 years while commuters continue to deal with the headaches, save for those smart enough to use Transit.

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Metrolinx: get your shit together! Allow VIA to use Weston Station.

By shost at 10:06 pm on Thursday, February 4, 2016

This is just stupid.

Let’s see here – VIA already has the time-slots through the station – and a two minute stop can’t be accommodated.. WHY?

Make the necessary adjustments and let the TRAIN DISPATCHERS do the rest of the work! Our money paid for this, and there is no damn reason why it can’t be accommodated.


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CTC installation is now complete – what’s next?

By shost at 4:09 pm on Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The CTC project, at least from the perspective of crews operating on signalled aspects.. is complete..

At least, from Silver (Georgetown) To Ashland (Junction with CN at London) There are now signals to obey, with execption to a small segment at King St in Kitchener which remains OCS until the underpass/grade seperation is completed. (will be a year)

What’s next? More trains. that’s the promise anyway. The new Layover facility is under construction at Shirley Ave in Kitchener and once that  is completed, it is highly likely to see two additional GO trains per day in and out, which may occur by the end of 2016.

Will VIA Rail add more trains? I say it’s likely – VIA paid $25M for the CTC installation, and why? Why would they if they do not plan to do something with it. Keep in mind $25M would buy via a couple locomotives, a few passenger cars.. two to four Refurbished RDC’s, and yet via sunk the money into safety improvements on the Guelph sub, not Metrolinx, not GEXR, not CN, VIA.

So we’ll have to wait and see what VIA has in store. We know GO’s plans, stay tuned.

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