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GO Transit: Service thread (including extensions)

Honestly I wish they would increase profits given their unfortunate financial situation the past couple years, but that's definitely not occuring with $10 weekend passes. That's $5 each way for a 130 km trip, or further if they're connecting to/from another GO service at Union. If they made the weekend passes distance-based so that it's less of an insanely good deal to Niagara, they would have less crowding, and the profits they generate would eliminate any disincentive to running additional service - since that service pays for itself

This was the case originally. You had to pay the full distance based fare when the service originated. I believe it was close to 40 dollars return (17 each way) per adult.

Then they decided to promote the service and tourism to the falls. Doing this resulted in a discounted fare arrangement between WEGO and Metrolinx wherein you could pay 25 dollars return with 48 hours free transit in Niagara Falls. Now, in addition to all that you have the $10 passes.

The first year the service took place, it was lightly used given the high costs so the level of service (which was similar to now) was adequate. It was mostly used by those looking to bike in the escarpment or single people (sometimes couples) looking to have a day out in the falls.

The trains were mostly empty because it was not cost effective for most families or groups.
I mean they could start by at least matching the service level they provided last year. 3 round trips now vs 4 trips last year is honestly silly.

When I heard they REDUCED service it made zero sense to me. These trains are crammed on a good day, this was a boneheaded move though I suspect they may have a hard time crewing them. I cannot say for certain but @smallspy may know more.
Yes, but they previously had one more frequency than what they are currently running, so that one should be an easy add-back.

Given that the canal must allocate some time for trains to be early/late, its also possible they could double-pump the most popular run of the day (run two trains in close succession through the same time allocation over the canal.)

The option would also exist in that case to serve an alternate station set with only Niagara and Union being kept in common.

The Welland Canal has always been a problem for this service. With all the passenger volume delays, along with everything else I have been on more than a few trains that get stuck at the canal.

It is anywhere between 20 mins and an hour when trains get stopped at the canal due to boat traffic. It adds up and makes the service less reliable in both directions.

I recall last year I was almost 2 hours late getting back to Toronto because of delays in the train arriving to Niagara and then more delays on the way back. It was almost an hour late getting to Niagara and then delayed another hour on the way back.

I'm not sure if the current track would make it possible to do this. The station area isn't double tracked so Train 1 would need to come in, unload, load, leave, and travel a fair distance to reach the double track where Train 2 could then come into the station (which defeats the whole purpose of the trains running close together).

The alternate I guess would be Train 1 parks partially on the bridge crossing to the USA after unloading to allow Train 2 to come into the station but I somehow doubt the border agencies would allow that.

EDIT: Looks like the station area does actually have a second track but it's very overgrown and doesn't have platform that passengers could use. I guess with some refurb and money Metrolinx could make your idea happen...but this is Metrolinx we're talking about so no way they spend a penny on the Niagara station.

There is a second track but you are right it is heavily overgrown. No doubt it is safe to use but it is not suitable for passenger use, it is more of a siding.

Niagara 2021.jpg
 
Yes, but they previously had one more frequency than what they are currently running, so that one should be an easy add-back.

Given that the canal must allocate some time for trains to be early/late, its also possible they could double-pump the most popular run of the day (run two trains in close succession through the same time allocation over the canal.)

The option would also exist in that case to serve an alternate station set with only Niagara and Union being kept in common.
It sounds crazy, but it might just work.

The busiest train of the day is the 8:51 from Union. You could add a non-stop trip from Union to Niagara Falls departing around 9:15, and it would almost catch up to the existing trip around St. Catharines. Assuming the faster service skips St. Catharines, it can use the south track, enabling the two trains to cross the canal side-by-side if the existing train is late.

The line then narrows to a single track, so if the existing train was late, then the fast train does need to wait for it, but at least the bridge can go up and let boat traffic resume in the meantime.

Niagara Falls station has a 446-metre platform, which is just enough to fit two 8-car trains with a 9-metre gap between them.
Capture.JPG

446m platform
- 8x 26m coaches
- 1x 21m locomotive
- 8x 26m coaches (locomotive doesn't need to be on the platform)
= 9m gap

Operating on the same platform requires operating within the same signal block, and thus at an extremely slow speed. But it's not like trains fly into Niagara Falls station anyway.
Stopping a second train on the platform also requires a second raised mini-platform.

Although it may be technically be possible to run a pair of trains together to Niagara Falls, all of the above caveats, combined with the much higher operating costs compared to just cramming everyone in one 12-car train, make the above operation extremely unlikely. Better to just add an extra departure with the same stopping pattern a couple hours after the current 8:51 departure.
 
It sounds crazy, but it might just work.

The busiest train of the day is the 8:51 from Union. You could add a non-stop trip from Union to Niagara Falls departing around 9:15, and it would almost catch up to the existing trip around St. Catharines. Assuming the faster service skips St. Catharines, it can use the south track, enabling the two trains to cross the canal side-by-side if the existing train is late.

The line then narrows to a single track, so if the existing train was late, then the fast train does need to wait for it, but at least the bridge can go up and let boat traffic resume in the meantime.

Niagara Falls station has a 446-metre platform, which is just enough to fit two 8-car trains with a 9-metre gap between them.
View attachment 401936
446m platform
- 8x 26m coaches
- 1x 21m locomotive
- 8x 26m coaches (locomotive doesn't need to be on the platform)
= 9m gap

Operating on the same platform requires operating within the same signal block, and thus at an extremely slow speed. But it's not like trains fly into Niagara Falls station anyway.
Stopping a second train on the platform also requires a second raised mini-platform.

Although it may be technically be possible to run a pair of trains together to Niagara Falls, all of the above caveats, combined with the much higher operating costs compared to just cramming everyone in one 12-car train, make the above operation extremely unlikely. Better to just add an extra departure with the same stopping pattern a couple hours after the current 8:51 departure.

If an additional crossing slot of the canal be obtained, that's certainly ideal.

Another option might be to turn back a train at St. Kitts, but connect to Wego/Niagara Region Transit or GO buses there; though obviously if we're talking a full L10/L12 that's a veritable fleet of buses. But if its the 2nd train in a double-pump, and maybe only an L6, there might be a viable operation there.

Just a thought.
 
Another option might be to turn back a train at St. Kitts, but connect to Wego/Niagara Region Transit or GO buses there; though obviously if we're talking a full L10/L12 that's a veritable fleet of buses. But if its the 2nd train in a double-pump, and maybe only an L6, there might be a viable operation there.

Just a thought.
Yeah, the bus connections from St. Catharines would be a nightmare with that kind of volume. We'd still be talking about a dozen buses which need to be deadheaded from somewhere. At that point, we may just be better off running hourly(?) non-stop Route 12B bus trips from Burlington station where there's already regular train service anyway. To spice up that option, they could potentially add some new weekend express trains between Union and West Harbour, following the Niagara Express stopping pattern (43 minutes Union-Burlington).

If an additional crossing slot of the canal be obtained, that's certainly ideal.
No additional crossing slots of the canal are required if the new trip departs 1 hour after the busy 8:51 trip. The train would cross the double-tracked bridge at 11:34, simultaneously with the first train's return from Niagara falls. Compared to running them in a row to Niagara Falls, it would be simpler, more reliable and have lower impact on the canal.
Capture.JPG

Spreading the passenger load into two 8-car trains instead of a single 12-car train also gives WeGo more of a fighting chance of transporting those people to the falls. Currently the morning train dumps up to 1700 people in one go, which is 21 times the capacity of a WeGo articulated bus. But WeGo can't afford to have 21 spare buses just to run one shuttle trip per day. If half the riders showed up at the station an hour later, they would need half as many shuttle buses because each bus would have time to do a round trip to the falls between the train arrivals.

Last summer when I went to Niagara Falls, this was the lineup for the WeGo bus after 3 crush-loaded articulated buses had already departed:
WeGoLine.jpg


Since the new train trip is primarily for capacity purposes, it would only operate from May to September, while the other 3 round trips would operate year-round.
 
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I’ve always wondered if either extending the tracks to be as close as possible to the falls, or a full on Monorail/People mover going down the whole Niagara Pkwy would work best to benefit the crowd control and capacity issues. I’m thinking the former would cost less by comparison so maybe something could work out from that and that’ll probably push all day Niagara trains even further.
 
WeGo bus schedule is out - finally for the summer season. We remember that there was no shuttle service to NOTL available. This year it seems coming back. However, the timetable doesn’t mention the frequency. Also, still not allowed to enter NOTL. Simcoe Park would make much more sense. Seems the former Toronto City Councillor and now Major of NOTL is allergic against public transport. Her major concern is to have Queen St. reserved for oversized SUV instead for people and activate the space. The pedestrian area on Queen during the pandemic was a huge success, but she killed it. Sad!

581F8623-590A-4BE6-97B7-C70F29546CB8.jpeg


D2CDB617-4BA2-4156-B3F9-B483D6966DE4.jpeg
 
I’ve always wondered if either extending the tracks to be as close as possible to the falls, or a full on Monorail/People mover going down the whole Niagara Pkwy would work best to benefit the crowd control and capacity issues. I’m thinking the former would cost less by comparison so maybe something could work out from that and that’ll probably push all day Niagara trains even further.

The old ROW is partially a bike path, and partially runs through people's back yards and even on-street; reactivating that is unlikely.

As I see it there are two practical options, though both are expensive and will take years to deliver.

1) Build an LRT on-street from the existing Niagara Station likely down Victoria

1653320929315.png


This is the more likely scenario in my opinion, but not one that is remotely imminent.

***

The other is to have the Niagara service approach from the opposite end, following the old TH&B corridor (still active CP mainline) from Hamilton through to Welland and then down the spur leading into Niagara Falls.

That spur dead ends at the Casino which was literally built on the ROW.

While this makes a lot of sense in many ways, it also means a route that does not serve St. Kitts or wine-country and that doesn't have any major population centres other than Welland en route from Hamilton.

The spur is also in terrible condition and would have to be completely rebuilt.

1653321297318.png


I've drawn the above image back to almost the Welland Canal, but that track (which has the advantage of going under the canal) extends all the way back to Hamilton.

I've only added a couple hundred metres of track in Niagara otherwise using active corridor only, and it ends pretty close to The Falls itself. The option though certainly exists to reinstate the corridor further along at least to the Casino; getting past f
Fallsviews w/o reconstructing same may be a bit too much to ask.


You can see that here w/the full aerial image, the white line being the track I have drawn in above:

1653321515327.png


Edit to add: This is the old ROW from NF station:

1653322153138.png


A few aerials to give you a sense of it:

1653322301717.png


1653322351185.png


1653322413827.png


1653322465631.png
 
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WeGo bus schedule is out - finally for the summer season. We remember that there was no shuttle service to NOTL available. This year it seems coming back. However, the timetable doesn’t mention the frequency. Also, still not allowed to enter NOTL. Simcoe Park would make much more sense. Seems the former Toronto City Councillor and now Major of NOTL is allergic against public transport. Her major concern is to have Queen St. reserved for oversized SUV instead for people and activate the space. The pedestrian area on Queen during the pandemic was a huge success, but she killed it. Sad!

View attachment 402058

View attachment 402060

NOTL is one of 2 Niagara municipalities that should go away. Lovely community, but too parochial and small. That said, Niagara Region Transit has now been voted into existence so NOTL will not be able to keep them out anymore.

Thorold should be folded into St. Kitts.

NOTL is more of a challenge as I don't want to see any of the winery/farmland urbanized as one might expect would be the case if you simply handed it over to St. Kitts or Niagara Falls. If a mix of Greenbelt protections, urban boundary protections and a significantly expanded Short Hills Provincial Park could be used, I'd be inclined to hive off jurisdiction to one of St. Kitts or NF.
 
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WeGo bus schedule is out - finally for the summer season. We remember that there was no shuttle service to NOTL available. This year it seems coming back. However, the timetable doesn’t mention the frequency. Also, still not allowed to enter NOTL. Simcoe Park would make much more sense. Seems the former Toronto City Councillor and now Major of NOTL is allergic against public transport. Her major concern is to have Queen St. reserved for oversized SUV instead for people and activate the space. The pedestrian area on Queen during the pandemic was a huge success, but she killed it. Sad!
$30 roundtrip for the NOTL shuttle is steep! I miss when GO had a bus from St Catharines Station to NOTL. It looks like it's going to be hourly:

 
$30 roundtrip for the NOTL shuttle is steep! I miss when GO had a bus from St Catharines Station to NOTL. It looks like it's going to be hourly:


You fail to mention that it is $30.00 return from Toronto with WEGO for 48 hours. The WEGO shuttle to NOTL is not $30.00 on its own.

All things considered it is not a bad deal.
 
You fail to mention that it is $30.00 return from Toronto with WEGO for 48 hours. The WEGO shuttle to NOTL is not $30.00 on its own.

All things considered it is not a bad deal.
It doesn't say anything about WEGO being included. It's being run by a different company this year.
 
It doesn't say anything about WEGO being included. It's being run by a different company this year.

Thank you for the clarification.

Honestly, I think this a stupid idea but then again I wonder how many people actually used the NOTL shuttle to begin with. I was just looking at the WEGO map and it sees like they rejigged alot of the service this year.
 
There is a secondary plan for the Niagara Falls station area which may be of interest to contributors to this thread
This is the main reason I prefer the current CN alignment to a potential CP alignment from Hamilton to Clifton Hill. Though the CN alignment is admittedly less convenient for tourists heading to the falls, it has much more potential benefit to residents of Niagara Region, and Ontario as a whole. On top of serving Grimsby and St. Catharines, regular service via the current route could anchor development in Niagara Falls' old downtown around the current station. That area is currently run down and largely vacant, but would become an ideal location for intensification if there were faster more regular train service. The current station is already the main hub for Niagara Falls Transit buses.
 

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