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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)


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


And the last month the train ran in 1974:


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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Comment by Tom Box

December 22, 2011 @ 12:46 am

According to CN timetables, the last run of the Guelph – Toronto commuter train was on November 14, 1975, not 1974. The Georgetown GO train had begun on April 29, 1974, so the two services overlapped for about a year and a half.

On GO’s Lakeshore West line, two pre-existing Toronto – Hamilton CN commuter round trips were converted into GO trains from day 1 of GO service in 1967. The western limit for most GO train service was then at Oakville, but these trains were an exception and continued to run to/from Hamilton. GO’s Stouffville and Bradford (now Barrie) lines were created when GO took over VIA (ex-CN) trains in 1982. The Georgetown line was the only one where a pre-existing commuter train was not taken over by GO, but continued to run. I don’t know why things happened differently on this route.

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Comment by Andres

December 23, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

I wonder if Steve or another blogger knows how the Go train Kitch-TO was chosen. I am very curious.
I think for sure a big factor must’ve been ‘what was left’ for them after CN, CP and VIA. But I wonder if they ever made a poll or survey asking people, or real commuters to TO, what hours were more convenient for them…
I travel everyday to Kipling and then take the subway to St Clair/Yonge, and then back to Waterloo. If I were going to take the GO train in the morning is fine but in the afternoon I would have to idle for 1:45 and worse I would arrive home at ~7pm, whereas by car I usually arrive 5:15pm. As another person left a comment in the Record, he says he’s (as much as I am) the exact guy they/GO are looking for, but he has a young family (me too) and by car saves 25min. I save much more! I cannot afford not seeing my daughter for only 1hr per day.

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