New infrastructure has been built over the past few years on the span between Aldershot GO Station and Niagara Falls, which has culminated in the start of regular weekday train service connecting Niagara Falls and St. Catharines with Union Station. The work has also allowed Metrolinx to start running two more trains in and out of West Harbour GO.
One of the biggest snags in the expansion of the illusive all-day GO service to Hamilton is that Metrolinx does not own any of the corridor infrastructure past the Burlington GO Station. In order for the service to expand into Hamilton and beyond on a regular basis, Metrolinx needs to plan, design and build everything with the corridor owners and their short-term and long-term goals in mind.
Another kink in the road is the fact that the stretch of track past Aldershot GO Station that eventually bends around Burlington Bay and towards Hamilton is a key east-west freight movement artery between Toronto and Chicago, Buffalo and the northeast US.
It is a pinch-point where numerous corridors owned by two different freight carriers converge. This area through Bayview Junction known as “the throat” is vital to their business and any new infrastructure and service has to account for existing and future freight carrier schedules. The chances of passenger trains – not just GO Transit, but also VIA Rail and Amtrak – mixing with freight trains that do not necessarily run on rigid schedules and can occupy sections of track as long as two kilometres, pose serious scheduling and logistical challenges.
A lot of work has already been completed to bring trains thru Hamilton. That work includes:
- New third track from just south of Bayview Junction into the Stuart Rail Yard
- Completion of West Harbour GO Station
- Expansion of bridges over Centennial Parkway and Desjardins Canal
- Replacement of the bridge over Valley Inn Road
- Completion of the new layover facility on Lewis Road in Winona
- New and upgraded signals infrastructure at Bayview Junction, Hamilton Junction, Dundurn and Stuart signal plants
More work still remains to be done in order and there are a few different areas of need. Increasing the track capacity to accommodate more trains without impacting efficiency of train movements through the Bayview Junction bottleneck requires a third track and associated signalling and track switching infrastructure between Desjardins Canal and West Harbour GO Station – followed by testing and commissioning.
“We will also need a new east-end connection to the mainline track at West Harbour, which will enable trains to pass right through the station,” Metrolinx senior manager, Joe Costigan Jr. stated. “Our customers will be happy to hear that this will improve journey times through the area.”
Earlier this summer Metrolinx completed the testing and commissioning of a rail crossover at Bayview Junction that will allow for the separation of GO trains from the frequent freight traffic in the area. This will ultimately allow Metrolinx to put more trains on the tracks in and out of Hamilton, West Harbour and Niagara.
The bridge over John Street in Hamilton, located just east of West Harbour station, is also undergoing reconstruction. The new bridge will allow additional space for more tracks towards the future Confederation station in Stoney Creek and on to Niagara.
“This is a big deal not just for me and my team,” Costigan reflects. “Project coordinators Paul Bachan and Tom Clarke as well as the of the leadership Thom Budd – the V.P. of the entire service extensions group, and over forty years of his railway engineering and infrastructure experience puts me in good hands.”
“Expanding GO service really is equally exciting news for everybody at Metrolinx as it is for the communities we serve.”
You can sign up for updates on our progress on expanding GO service to Hamilton and ask any questions at Hamilton@metrolinx.com.