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4 years since we began GOKW.ORG, what has been done and what has changed to bring GO Train service to Kitchener/Waterloo and Guelph?

By shost at 3:03 pm on Saturday, February 6, 2010

In late Summer 2006, we launched GOKW.ORG due to

  •  Public demand for GO Transit services
  • A seeming lack of desire or mandate to expand westward by GO, only maintaining the status quo
  • Upcoming (at the time) elections, which allowed us to get the message out to incumbants which are  at present, our elected politicians
  • GO showing a desire to expand illustrated by the Barrie service restoration
  • North Mainline Municipal Alliance studies and lobbying for increased train service
  • Congested highways and frustrating commutes from KW and Guelph along the 401 and Highway 7

We felt that within the next 4 years, the time to decide on GO Transit would be put before all our Politicians, and I’m glad to say we managed to do our collective jobs.  GO is one of the foremost infrastructure projects planned in our regions and is regularly mentioned in local news outlets and watercooler discussions.

So, whats next, and what has changed? I hope to make GOKW.ORG the premier news outlet for Western GO transit commuters once and if service commences, but our job is not yet done, and we cannot transition to a news site until we are successful, if at all in expanding our commuter options.

What progress has occured:

It’s 2010, service is still expected  to start in 2011 according to known literature, and the following milestones have occured:

  • The Ontario Government environment ministry has approved the EA allowing the approval and construction of the expansion to proceed when funding is available
  • GO service to Waterloo region has recently been introduced, finally after nearly 6 year wait since it was first announced
  • GO service to Guelph has more than doubled, with new Milton line service from the University of Guelph  along the 401 and more service along the Georgetown line via Highway 7
  • Improvements along the core of the GO network continue to proceed which will allow further expansion
  • GO is seriously considering expansion on the Milton line to Cambridge, not too disimilar to Kitchener Expansion. This project is projected into mid 2010′s..

What has changed?

  • The economy has clearly changed, due to the recent recession. Funding for the project , in this posters opinion could be at risk, which if this comes to pass will likely result in a delay to the project. I hope to be proven wrong on this though.
  • VIA Rail seems to be coordinating service improvements with GO, and sharing costs on the upgrades necessary on the North Mainline. This has not been announced or committed to by the Federal Government at the time of this writing, but in addition to 4 planned GO trains are 3 extra VIA trains (each train representing one round trip). This may also complicate matters as now each has to wait for the other to be ready prior to commencing.
  • The Highway 7 freeway from Guelph to Waterloo has shown progress and is planned to start construction within the next few years. One has to understand our road budget and GO transit budget come out of the same Government funding and will compete with each other
  • One major bottleneck on the GO system, crucial for westward Expansion, the West Toronto Grade Seperation, originally planned for 2011 completion is now delayed to 2014, according to the GO project website. This is due to the residents , who complained about the noise from pile driving, GO was forced to use a slower, quieter process. (I wonder how this is possible give the sound trains make pounding a rail/rail diamond, which residents have had to put up with for as long as they lived in their homes)

Ultimately, the conclusion of this is a lot of progress has been made, but there are a few flies in the ointment. When GO service was announced the economy was humming along at a breakneck pace, and monies seemed to flow endlessly, optimism was everywhere.  I am hoping for  a positive announcement on the GO expansion soon, and would be more than delighted if service was to begin as soon as 2011 as it is promised.

The job’s not done yet, we must see this through to the end. Anyone interested in contributing to the site, specifically a commuter-alert system where GO/VIA/Greyhound commuters are made aware of problems on the Georgetown and Milton line are welcome to come forward. I have sources of this information and can train the person(s) on what to do.

Thanks for all those who read and contribute to this site, and welcome any new readers who are keen to see a Westward GO expansion. Let’s GO to Kitchener-Waterloo (and Guelph)

- Steve Host, Guelph.

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