Metrolinx planning to “rewire” the region with two-way, all-way service to Pickering, Oshawa and beyond

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Published November 15, 2021 at 9:58 am

Route expansions on the GO Train network will mean moving around the GTA will be easier than ever with two-way, all-day service to more communities and trains every 15 minutes or better.

It’s an ambitious plan that will include visible changes like faster electric trains, more accessible stations, and improvements at Union Station.

The plan will rewire the region by making more trips possible on public transit – including journeys out of Toronto.

“In addition to more frequent trips, you will be able to make reverse journeys,” said Spencer Gibbens, Metrolinx’s head sponsor for GO Expansion. “You will be able to get a train to Kitchener or Newmarket for nine o’clock in the morning.”

Metrolinx also believes the faster service will lead to increased usage of the trains for short trips as well, much like the subway is often used in Toronto.

“In Durham Region, you might not necessarily be commuting into the downtown, but you will go between pairs of stations, Gibbens said. “You can ride from Oshawa, or even Scarborough, without having to worry about a wait between trains.”

And with trains coming every 15-minutes on the Lakeshore East line, destinations like the Pickering Town Centre, which is connected to the Pickering GO station by a pedestrian bridge, are more practical to reach by transit, he added.

“Most of the time on the Lakeshore lines people don’t have to think about train timetables anymore,” Gibbens explained. “You know that if you just turn up at the station you won’t have to wait more than a few minutes for a train.”

This is a new approach for GO – moving beyond commuter trips to provide frequent trains, all day, in a metro-style service.

Reduced time between trains will make for shorter trips, Gibbens said. So will faster trains.

New electric trains are also part of the GO Expansion plan, and they will reach greater speeds than today’s diesel engines. Faster acceleration and deceleration will reduce the time required for each stop.

Metrolinx notes while many of the improvements are “on the horizon,” some are already in place. Rush-hour trains began arriving in Hamilton’s West Harbour GO station on Sept. 21, and that’s only one of the system’s incremental service increases, officials say.

GO’s broadening of its services is a direct result, officials say, of a growing regional economy that means more people are commuting into places that used to be seen mainly as starting points for trips. Tech companies in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, for example, are recruiting workers from Toronto “and we must give them a good train service” to that area.

More broadly, Gibbens says, “with two-way, all-day service, we will start to see the Toronto-centric model give way to more people moving in new directions. You will also see people going between places like Brampton and Kitchener, Oakville and Hamilton. It will just become more natural.”

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