GO unveils all-day trains plan

January 27th 2010 | Source: The Hamilton Spectator | Printer friendly
Hamilton will see 20 additional commuter trains a day, and Niagara eight trains, if a proposal to bring expanded rail service to Niagara becomes reality.

GO Transit unveiled a plan last night at the Sheraton Hotel in which it aims to extend all-day train service -- that now goes to Aldershot -- to a proposed station on the Canadian National Rail line at James Street North.

That would involve 10 trains each way between the proposed new Hamilton station and Union Station in Toronto. Niagara would see four trains each way between Union Station and Niagara Falls.

Hamilton would keep its eight trains -- four each way -- that now run between Union Station and the former Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway station on Hunter Street.

The proposal is part of the GO Niagara Rail Service Expansion study that GO hopes to complete by the end of the year. If approved, and funded by the province, the new services could be on track within five years. Cost has not been determined.

GO officials showed off their proposal at a public open house. GO is looking at expanded rail service in line with Ontario projection's that the Hamilton-Niagara area will have a population of two million by 2031.

GO did study potential passenger rail service for the Canadian Pacific Railway line between Hamilton, Welland and Niagara Falls, but it had a lower evaluation compared with the CN line, considering travel time, state of the line and closeness to population centres.

The CN line is 72 kilometres between Aldershot and Niagara Falls, compared with 111 kilometres between Aldershot and Niagara Falls through Welland.

GO manager Greg Ashbee called the CN option "a slam dunk," but he said the CP line might be considered again one day.

"Never say never," he said.

The CP option was something explored by Ward 2 Councillor Bob Bratina and the City of Welland in 2008.

GO is proposing to have new stations on the CN line at James Street North and Centennial Parkway in Hamilton; Fruitland Road and Fifty Road in Stoney Creek; Casablanca Boulevard and Bartlett Avenue in Grimsby; and Ontario Street and Vineland Avenue in Lincoln. It is aiming to use the existing VIA stations in Grimsby, St. Catharines and Niagara Falls.

Layovers for trains are proposed for First Avenue, Vansickle Road and Glendale Avenue in St. Catharines. A layover is also being looked at for Centennial Parkway.

Ashbee stressed the site selections are just proposals and will likely get pared down as the process moves towards the end of 2010, including a second public meeting.

"We've recommended a route," he said. "We haven't selected stations and layovers."

Brothers Matt, 28, and Dan Thompson, 26, were among the people who came out to look over the plans. They liked what they saw, although they had their own ideas about station locations. Both believed GO should look at establishing a station near Ottawa Street North or the Centre Mall in east Hamilton.

"There's a ton of people who live in that area who might want to take the train to Toronto," said Dan Thompson, an environmental science student at McMaster.

 Division 660 Meetings
The next Division 660 meeting will be held on October 30th at 10 am.

This meeting is for TCRC Division 660 Bombardier employees of all classifications.

The meeting will be held at Long Branch legion 3850 Lakeshore blvd West.