Niagara Region acquires Niagara Falls and St. Catharines Stations from VIA Rail
By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus
Niagara Region announced on September 1st. 2022 that it has acquired the historic train stations at St. Catharines and Niagara Falls, along with the surrounding lands, from VIA Rail as part of a significant redevelopment of the two station sites.
This implements a critical piece of the Region’s GO Station Development Strategy and when complete, will see new multi-modal bus-meets-train connections at the two heritage station sites, supporting planned increases of GO train service to Niagara.
The Region committed $40 million as part of its station development strategy back in 2016, and has been advancing numerous enabling projects across the two station sites together with the Cities of St. Catharines and Niagara Falls. Planned investments at both sites were announced on September 1st:
- A new multi-modal mobility hub preserving the historic VIA/GO Rail station, while modernizing the interior structure for multiple transit tenants
- New bus loops with nine bays split between the east and west side of the building, moving the existing transit plaza on Erie Avenue to be adjacent to the station for safer and more efficient movement of people
- Modernized washrooms and customer waiting area, including a dedicated space for bus operators
- New Victoria Avenue roundabout that connects Victoria Avenue, Thorold Stone Road (extension) and Bridge Street; thus, improving traffic flow/function in the station area
- Bridge Street reconstruction providing active transportation connections; accommodations for future growth; safe movement of transit; and accommodating increased pedestrian volumes at the station
- A new multi-modal mobility hub preserving the historic VIA/GO Rail station,
- Establishing new bus connections for Niagara Region Transit (NRT) and GO Transit; parking enhancements; public plaza space; active transportation connections
- Constructing a new site access road connecting the station to Ridley Road in partnership with the City of St. Catharines and Ridley College.
- A new bus loop with six bays resulting in overall improvements to the property, including appropriate site access and servicing
- Replacement of the one hundred year old CN overpass (St. Paul Street West Bridge) to improve sight lines; providing flatter slopes on the approaches and improved public safety for all modes of transportation (vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians)
- Streetscape improvements on Ridley Road such as sidewalks, on-street parking configuration, boulevards and driving lane configurations
Niagara Region and VIA Rail have been working since 2019 to transfer the St. Catharines and Niagara Falls station to Niagara Region. Niagara Regional council has approved the terms of the station transfer, VIA Rail’s Board of Directors has also approved of the transfer in principle pending approval from Parks Canada for the disposition of a heritage railway station. Upon approval from Parks Canada the two parties are positioned to immediately transfer station ownership.
Bruno Cacciola, Chief Business Transformation Officer for VIA Rail confirmed that the cross-border Amtrak service to Buffalo and New York will continue to serve the two stations: “The transfer of ownership to the Niagara Region of these two stations, pending the usual regulatory process involving a formal approval from Parks Canada, will benefit the community and will give options in order to enhance service to the region. This agreement will also allow VIA Rail to continue offering the Maple Leaf service with our partner, Amtrak, and therefore bring thousands of tourists to the region.”