Category Archives for "Intercity Rail and Bus"

Oct 27

We Can Get There From Here – Update on Passenger Rail to Southwestern Ontario Task Force

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News , Southwestern Ontario

With the Southwestern Ontario Transportation Task Force about to wrap up its work, Transport Action (TAO) has made a final submission. This is an update to our earlier briefing note (February, 2021) outlining the opportunities and needs to improve passenger rail in the region. Our new submission covered three areas:

Federal Announcement in July, committing the government to enhance and modernize intercity passenger rail in the region, working collaboratively with the Province.

Introduction of GO Transit service to London, by extending its Kitchener service. In our view, this development dramatically changes the playing field. It is increasingly difficult to justify two agencies attempting to share that corridor with similar stopping patterns. TAO recommends a transition to a clear separation of roles, with GO Transit assuming full responsibility for the London-Kitchener-Toronto route, while VIA Rail retains full and exclusive responsibility for delivering and enhancing service west of London and on the Brantford route.

Updated Recommendations on Rail Infrastructure Improvements. During the summer, TAO consulted with VIA Rail, CN, OWS Rail and other industry sources to upgrade our list of needed rail investments. We recommended short-term items, medium-term items for capacity and speed improvements, cross-border items and longer-term items.

Our full submission can be viewed below.

Oct 18

“Northlander” Delays and Transportation Equity

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News , Northern Ontario

Transport Action Ontario has written a letter to Ontario Minister of Transportation Mulroney expressing our concern with delays to reinstating passenger train service between Toronto and Northeastern Ontario.

The speedy introduction of GO Train service to London shows that the Ontario government can move quickly if there is political will. It is therefore unacceptable that service to Northeastern Ontario remains mired in studies, especially as the rail infrastructure is reportedly in good repair, track capacity should be good and temporary rolling stock is likely available.

We believe this is a matter of transportation equity for Northerners. There are also tourism, economic and environmental benefits.

Our letter can be viewed below.

Oct 15

Chicago to Toronto – more than a line on a map

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News

Transport Action Ontario was a co-presenter, along with the Michigan Association of Railway Passengers, of a paper at the Rail Users’ Network virtual mini-conference on October 15, 2021. The conference theme was “You can’t get there from here”. The paper discusses the promise and challenge of restoring passenger train service connecting Chicago-Detroit-Toronto. The presentation can be viewed below.

GO Train at Bloor station. Photo by Sally Hewson.
Sep 22

GO Transit Initiating Rail Service to London

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News

On September 18, 2021, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation announced that an extension of its Kitchener GO Train service to Stratford, St Marys and London will commence on October 18. The pilot service, costing $2.6M/yr, will have one eastbound train departing London in the early morning and one westbound train departing Union Station in late afternoon. Travel time London-Union Station is almost 4 hours, partially due to the low train speeds (30 mph) due to poor track conditions west of Kitchener.

This announcement and the short time frame was a surprise. There are many unresolved matters, including accessibility for the disabled, lack of Presto cards service, lack of train layover facilities in London therefore requiring extensive deadheading, cost per passenger and absence of a business case. Transport Action Ontario (TAO) is also concerned that this development pre-empts the Southwestern Ontario Task Force work on developing a regional transportation plan, including reconciling GO Train and VIA Rail services.

On balance, TAO welcomes this pilot as a positive first step and looks forward to improvements in train service, speeds and frequency. We believe that about $25M of track improvements are needed to improve train speeds west of Kitchener to an acceptable level.

Aug 20

Greater Golden Horseshoe Transportation Discussion Paper – Comments Submitted

By Transport Action Ontario | Highways and Bridges , Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News , Urban Transit

In late June, Ontario released its long-awaited Greater Golden Horseshow Transportation Discussion Paper for public comment. Following a situation analysis, it described three visions for 2051: (a) getting people moving on a connected transit system (b) enhancing capacity and performance on congested roads (c) efficiently moving goods across the region. It also provided 7 near-term goals and sample actions.

Transport Action Ontario has provided detailed comments to the Ministry of Transportation on this paper, identifying positives, concern areas, and additional topics to include.

  • TAO supports some of the road infrastructure policies and plans, particularly managed lanes and demand management. However, we feel that there is too much emphasis on construction of new 400-series highways, including the GTA-West corridor, Highway 404 extension and Garden City Skyway twinning. Non-road options are usually a better investment and should either replace or augment new highways.
  • TAO supports the listed ideas for goods movement, but recommends also to work with CN/CP to expand rail corridors or remove constraints where needed to benefit both passenger and freight rail. The cooperation agreements between Metrolinx and CN on the shared-use Halton Sub and on Burlington-Hamilton are good examples.
  • The Plan needs to discuss funding sources to finance these many investments, including parking fees, road pricing, federal cooperation and financing, and providing new revenue tools for municipalities.

Our full submission can be viewed below.

MTO’s discussion paper can be found at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/towards-greater-golden-horseshoe-transportation-plan-discussion-paper