Anyone hoping for an early Christmas present in the form of two-way, all-day GO Train service between Kitchener and Union Station will have to settle for one extra trip per day in the New Year.
“We are now increasing service to Kitchener GO by 25 per cent and there will be more news to come,” said Minister of Transportation Jeff Yurek in the announcement. “This is an important step as we continue working with CN to deliver more service and offer two-way, all-day GO train service for people on the Kitchener line as soon as possible.”
Technically, these are not new trips, but rather an extension of trips that start and end at Georgetown GO. The new train will now depart Kitchener at 5:40 am and arrive at Union Station in Toronto at 7:43 am. The new return trip will depart Union at 3:35 pm and arrive in Kitchener at 5:43 pm.
“We all know that public transit is essential to getting Ontario moving again,” said Yurek in person at the Kitchener train station Monday. “This is an important step in our plan to deliver two-way, all-day GO service between Kitchener and Toronto.”
According to Yurek, the Ministry’s been able to “make a lot of headway” with CN, who owns the track along the corridor, to negotiate a way to allow trains to use the tracks without waiting for the construction of a bypass. He added that he expects to return to Kitchener “as soon as possible” for an announcement on two-way, all-day trains.
But how soon is soon?
“We’re looking at between 12 and 18 months when we should be back with something,” Yurek said. “I’m going to hopefully come back sooner with announcements on improving services, but I’m hoping we’ll have an announcement within 12 to 18 months that will implement two-way, all-day [service].”
That’s good news to the ears of the local luminaries present to hear the news. Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie, Kitchener Mayor Barry Vrbanovic, Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky, Cambridge Mayor Kathryn McGarry, and Waterloo Region Chair Karen Redman were all on-hand for the announcement.
“Any improvement along this corridor is an improvement for Cambridge,” McGarry said after the announcement. McGarry was the last Minister of Transportation under the Liberal government, and said that this is years of negotiating between CN and the MTO starting to pay off.
“I know that at the end of my tenure, CN had recognized that a freight bypass was likely not going to be the fastest way to deliver on two-way, all-day GO, and this has obviously played out io the news today,” she added.
Guelph’s MPP wasn’t at the announcement, but he issued his support in a statement.
“I’m pleased that the government has expanded GO Train service in the innovation corridor between Toronto, Guelph and KW. An extra train in the morning and the afternoon is good for commuters, our economy and environment,” Mike Schreiner said.
“I will continue to push the government to deliver all-day-two-way GO Train service on the Toronto, Guelph, KW line. And I will continue to push for a direct GO Bus between Guelph and KW,” he added. “Commuters and businesses need improved transit service now.”
Pending announcements on expanding GO Bus service may not be as swiftly forthcoming from the minister.
“We’re reviewing our GO Transit opportunities,” said Yurek about expanding GO Bus service in the Guelph and area. “We are looking at bus service and what makes sense and what works, but at the end of the day it’s about getting people moving, and about making sure we have a regional transportation system that’s integrated.”
The new schedule will take effect on January 7, the same day that GO Train commuter service begins in Niagara Region. The additional cost for the extra GO Train trip between Kitchener and Toronto is expected to be $1.1 million per year, according to the minister.