Metrolinx is making progress addressing the bottleneck on the Kitchener Line between Georgetown and Kitchener. There are currently no opportunities for trains to pass each other west of Georgetown, vastly constraining capacity on the line, so the addition of passing tracks is crucial to providing the promised all-day two-way service to Kitchener.
Earthworks are now largely complete to install 2.6 miles of second track near Breslau (pictured above), ready for track installation, and the first switches for the were installed in mid September. Rather than acting as a siding where one train must stop, trains will be able to pass here at line speed.
The second platform at Guelph is progressing well, with canopy work expected the be complete this year, and the signals controlling the second track have been partially activated, thus providing a bit more flexibility for dispatchers even before the new platform is ready to fully open.
To complete this infrastructure work, the line has to be closed over several weekends, with VIA Rail trains between Toronto and Sarnia being replaced by motorcoaches. Further closures will be required on October 21-22 and November 4-5, 2023.
Metrolinx have also added a storage track for maintenance equipment west of Guelph and have plans for a third siding in the Acton area to round out the capacity enhancement.
Earlier this summer, Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife challenged the apparent absence of a clear timeline for the project, and Metrolinx would not commit to a 2025 start date for increased services, citing ongoing negotiations with CN.
On the Toronto end of the corridor, the new double track tunnel under 401/409 which was completed in 2020 sits unused pending the completion of other work to bring additional tracks to it. The new GO/UPX station at Mount Dennis for interchange with Eglinton Crosstown LRT is nearing completion, even though the Crosstown opening date remains uncertain.
Metrolinx also announced in August that it would be constructing a pedestrian tunnel to connect its Bloor GO/UPX station with Dundas West and the TTC’s Bloor-Danforth subways line, providing a shorter and weatherproofed transfer that should attract more passengers to use the connection.
At Brampton, the existing two-track station will be expanded with a third track, south of the existing south platform, thus closing a gap between triple-track sections of the corridor east and west of the station. Metrolinx awarded a contract for design work on the necessary modifications to the station and retaining wall in August.
West of Kitchener, however, the news is not good. The slow track speed between Kitchener and London, which Premier Doug Ford promised to address during the last provincial election, together with increased GO service to London, now appears set to be neglected because Metrolinx has reversed course and will end service to London on October 13, 2023.
Similarly, we await news regarding capacity enhancements on the Bramalea-Georgetown section, which also serves as the CN main line. The 2021 Preliminary Design Business Case cited the need for passing tracks and either a rail-rail flyover at Silver Junction or a double crossover to allow east and westbound passenger trains to meet at Georgetown, but neither project has been announced yet.