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Guelph Transit GO express bus service to connect to morning GO trains

By shost at 2:04 pm on Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thanks to a reader tip from Trevor H on the new Guelph City Express bus service to connect to the first GO train:

http://guelph.ca/living.cfm?itemid=80563&smocid=2889

For those considering using transit to connect to the first GO train.

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*new* Additional Kitchener and Guelph bus service connecting to/from Bramalea trains, effective December 31

By shost at 3:27 pm on Thursday, December 22, 2011

Some new bus services for Kitchener and Guelph starting December 31, from GO Transit, check schedules for details

30 – Kitchener/Bramalea GO Bus (New route)

  • New eastbound bus trip departing Kitchener GO Station at 7:55 a.m. will run express to Bramalea GO Station to connect to the 9:35 train to Union Station
  • 3 new afternoon westbound trips from Bramalea GO Station connecting to train service from Union.

39 – Guelph/Bramalea GO Bus (New route)

  • New trips between Guelph Central GO Station and Bramalea GO Station connecting to train and bus trips serving Union Station.
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Why a Reverse commuter train option (Toronto -> Kitchener) won’t be happening anytime soon.. (or what is required to make it happen)

By shost at 11:41 am on Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The following are my thoughts on why we won’t see two way TRAIN service to Guelph and Kitchener anytime soon, despite any percieved market demand:

First of all, the argument for two way service is quite simple — a large proportion of workers commute to Kitchener-Waterloo to the various Technology and Insurance companies in the area from downtown Toronto or the GTA. This fact has been acknowledged by the Globe and Mail:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/toronto/globe-to/torontonians-commuting-to-waterloo-frustrated-by-go-transits-new-rail-link/article2250390/

Does reverse commuting out of Toronto exist? Yes! Toronto to Hamilton clearly exists by bus, and partially by train/bus, as does limited commuting from Toronto to Brampton. There is indeed precedent.

But, what stands in the way of two-way commuter train services to Kitchener?

  • The Guelph subdivision (as the line from Georgetown, to Kitchener and onward to London) is Dark Territory. This means no signals and few passing sidings for two trains to meet each other in opposite directions
  • Dark territory reduces the capacity of a railway line (Density, how close two trains can be to each other)  and has operational limits to capacity
  • With the current environment in mind, there are now 4 GO trains, 6 VIA trains and 6 freight trains between Georgetown and Kitchener on a daily basis. I still firmly believe this is the highest passenger carrying capacity of any dark-territory railway line in Canada, and this dark-territory line is running at  capacity. So with this in mind:
  • The last GO train departs Guelph in the morning at 0732 and clears the Guelph subdivision at Georgetown at 0800
  • The first GO train westward to Kitchener would depart Georgetown after 0800 and arrive at Guelph no earlier than 8:33AM, and Kitchener no earlier than 8:55 AM
  • The return Kitchener-Toronto GO train would need to beat the first GO Toronto westward trip in the afternoon, which would mean arrival at Georgetown before 5:46 PM
  • The return GO trip from Kitchener to Toronto would depart Kitchener no later than 4:54 PM, Guelph no later than 5:16PM, and arrive Georgetown at 5:49 PM

As you can see, the current schedule is already very tight — there is no place for two trains to meet without significant time delays between Kitchener and Georgetown and this would throw the reverse (Toronto t0 Kitchener, and Kitchener back to Toront0) commute into dissaray, as the arrival and departure times required of the reverse trip is barely enough time for a worker to get in a full work day.

Furthermore, the proposed westward trip now has freight train(s) to deal with as they are operating between the GO trains in the morning and afternoon hours.

Lastly, adding a reverse commuter train would probably require GO to have two engines and 10 coaches available, as they would park in Kitchener for the afternoon hours and this would require a capital cost ($2.5 million per double decker car, $5m per engine) of $30 million just for one departure from Toronto.

Hence, in summary, the following  would be required to make room for reverse train commuting, and would be one of many possible choices:

  • Capital cost of $30M for acquisition of new trains dedicated to reverse commuting, for each train departure to be added, AND
  • Significant improvements to the Railway plant and property – in the least Centralized Traffic Control to Kitchener, at an estimated cost of $50 million (Refernce: RJ Burnside, Kitchener Expansion EA)
  • Addition of a CTC controlled passing siding at Guelph, or an extension of CTC to Guelph at a reduced cost ($25 million) to allow two GO trains to meet at 732 AM and 6:18 PM at Guelph Central Station (This will require the completion of the South platform at Guelph)

As you can see, the bottom line is a reverse commuter train movement is a minimum $30-60M investment, which is double to triple the cost of adding the eastward existing GO trains. If the demands warrants it, I would be hopeful, in light of our current Ontario annual road budget ($700-1B per year) that this is considered as an alternative to highway widening, but it most certainly will take time and may or may not fall under the existing EA (How long are EA’s good for?). Any reverse commuter train option would be years away from fruition if it was feasible of course.

However, in light of the fact that a Bus option for reverse commuting does not even exist today, this would be a good first step, and yes, the market demand must be proven before it can be considered for further expansion.

Please feel free to comment below, any corrections will be incorporated into the above as time permits.

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Pearson Rail Link construction to start in 2012: New commuter trains may make it easier to get to Pearson

By shost at 11:28 am on Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Pearson Rail Link construction is set to begin in 2012:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/toronto/pearson-union-station-rail-link-construction-to-kick-off-in-the-spring/article2276469/

Keep in mind this rail link is intended to be a Union Station to Pearson direct service, but there is a chance that GO may add a station by the Rail Link to allow a connection rather than having to all the way to Union Station and back. This would be a benefit to the North Mainline as our trains would connect directly to the Airport saving time, for those commuters who need to grab a plane at the Airport.

Commuters and fellow transit riders would be advised to make their voices heard as these plans are still 3-4 years from reality and may not include this connection initially.

- Steve

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Commuter transit history on the Kitchener line

By shost at 10:19 pm on Monday, December 19, 2011

Now that GO trains are running, here are a couple historical tidbits complete with illustrations. For anyone interested in railway history, or even the current stuff, you would be advised to visit http://www.ghra.ca and join the Guelph Historical Railway Association. Send in your membership today! (Note I have been a memeber since 2001)

Some may recall in the late 1960′s CN and CP were shedding passenger lines like it was going out of style. At the same time, GO Transit was formed (1967) and was an immediate success.

1970: In a landmark decision  CN and CP were both granted the permission to abandon passenger services between (Toronto) ,  Guelph and Owen Sound (CN), Toronto to Orangeville and Owen Sound (CP) Stratford and Goderich (CN), Stratford and Palmerston, Kinkardine, and Southampton (CN). However, the Guelph to Toronto commuter train, operated by CN was ordered to remain due to lack of other options and an otherwise healthy business. This train was still operating with old heavyweight coaches from the early 20th century, as can be seen in these photos:

(Photos courtesy of Paul Cordingly, who rode the train frequently)

http://s79.photobucket.com/albums/j131/bigsmokemofo/seventies%20slides/?action=view&current=CN987yeah.jpg

Note, the train was operating until 1974, after GO started in Georgetown:

http://s79.photobucket.com/albums/j131/bigsmokemofo/seventies%20slides/?action=view&current=HalwestCN987.jpg

And the last month the train ran in 1974:

http://s79.photobucket.com/albums/j131/bigsmokemofo/seventies%20slides/?action=view&current=GuelphCommuter.jpg

CN was relieved of this service, likely due to the GO trains at Georgetown which were never extended to Guelph until 1990, as well as the completion of the 401. As many know this experiment was cancelled in 1993

Video: GO Train in 1993 near Guelph (By Paul Tatham) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Jv9hbM9XrI

I also posted two videos of the Special free ride on December 18 showing the massive crowds out and inside the train, see two posts below for this.

- Steve

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Who rode the GO train this morning and afternoon?

By shost at 2:58 pm on Monday, December 19, 2011

So, did any readers ride the train this morning or afternoon? How was the ride? Was it on time? How many passengers?

UPDATE: video from the first passenger carrying train: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AD5a9duHcjo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVD_iLjm7Ko

And some writing from The Record: http://www.therecord.com/news/local/article/641461–riding-the-rails-on-board-the-first-go-train

And the same from the Guelph Mercury: http://www.guelphmercury.com/news/local/article/641732–guelph-s-first-go-train-late-but-still-a-hit

Notice how the Guelph early train does not have a bus connection, and one rider took a taxi! Hola.. I hope these bugs get ironed out soon enough!

Add your comments below to discuss, thanks.

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UPDATE: Report from the GO Inagural ride today

By shost at 6:47 pm on Sunday, December 18, 2011

First, a photo of the train at Guelph as a bored VIA agent overlooks the GO train:

http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=2034

So my Daughter (her first train ride) and I braved the crowds to ride the inagural GO train ride from Guelph to Kitchener, and was it ever busy. A few hundred people got on at Guelph and with a few hundred at Kitchener, I estimate the train was nearly full as very little seating was available in most cars.

Dignitaries were on board, local MPP’s from both Guelph and Kitchener talking to constituents, GO bear, and a man in a red suit with a white beard, aka Santa Claus handing out candy canes to all the children.

A great show by GO Transit! Operational notes, both Kitchener and Guelph were limited to 5 cars for boarding/disembarking due to construction/station limits, but Guelph platform construction, at least the east end appears nearly completed. The Kitchener station seems only temporary as the accessibility ramp is a wooden ‘porch’ like structure.

Great show to everyone at GO and glad to see so many people on board.

Videos of the event:

From inside and outside the train, shows much of the crowd at both ends: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IElzIL8jOdw

At Kitchener: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KQnlRejJ6k

- Steve

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… as well, Free GO Train rides from Kitchener Station

By shost at 11:47 am on Friday, December 16, 2011

Announced in The Record:

Try GO train on Sunday with free rides between local cities

You can ride the train for free between Kitchener and Guelph Sunday, to celebrate the launch of GO rail service. Families are invited and GO Transit will have mascot GO Bear on hand to charm the kids.

Regular commuter service between Kitchener and Toronto launches Monday, Dec. 19. Sunday’s free train departs the Kitchener GO station (the Via Rail station on Victoria St. N.) at 1 p.m. and again at 2:15 p.m. It departs the Guelph station at 1:35 p.m. and again at 2:50 p.m.

The round trip will take about an hour.

Record staff

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free go train ride this sunday from guelph station

By shost at 12:06 am on Friday, December 16, 2011

all aboard! Preview GO train service with a free go ride with mpp Liz Sandals departing at 1:37 pm Sunday from Guelph station to Kitchener and return for 2:37. See you there, I plan to be there with my daughter.

from the Guelph Mercury

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Guelph transit breaks for GO train riders in the works, to start early January

By shost at 10:05 pm on Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Info from the Guelph Mercury, and these details are not yet fully approved, so subject to some change:

http://www.guelphmercury.com/news/local/article/638480–low-bus-fare-approved-for-go-train-riders

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