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GO Transit: Service thread (including extensions)

Bordercollie

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The train from West Harbour to Union takes 77 minutes and departs at :13 past every hour.
The bus+train connection from Hamilton Centre takes 95-100 minutes, departing at :20-25 past every hour (every half-hour during peak periods).
The direct Route 16 bus was scheduled for 60-65 minutes, departing on the hour. However, as we've discussed in this thread, buses have been unable to achieve anywhere near that travel time, due to the lack of bus lanes around the new Union Station Bus Terminal.

Just a reminder that numbers stated by people complaining on Twitter are almost always fabricated. The comparison is 60 (unachievable) minutes versus 100 (consistent) minutes, not 45 vs 120.
Don't forget the 20 minutes to get from Hamilton GO to Aldershot and then transfer to the train. But it's still faster than the express bus.
 

reaperexpress

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Don't forget the 20 minutes to get from Hamilton GO to Aldershot and then transfer to the train.
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Jonny5

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The train from West Harbour to Union takes 77 minutes and departs at :13 past every hour.
The bus+train connection from Hamilton Centre takes 95-100 minutes, departing at :20-25 past every hour (every half-hour during peak periods).
The direct Route 16 bus was scheduled for 60-65 minutes, departing on the hour. However, as we've discussed in this thread, buses have been unable to achieve anywhere near that travel time, due to the lack of bus lanes around the new Union Station Bus Terminal.

Just a reminder that numbers stated by people complaining on Twitter are almost always fabricated. The comparison is 60-120 minutes versus 100 minutes, not 45-50 vs 120.
I don't know about the current issues around Union, but back in the 2008-15 period when I used the Hamilton Express frequently (I probably made over 500 trips in that period both directions combined) the trip would often be just under one hour when outside of the peak-periods. 45 minutes is a stretch, though I recall I got that once on a late night trip where the driver must have averaged 120-130 kph the whole way on the QEW (which was the speed everyone else was travelling at).

However, the real time savings for many here was from the fact the bus made stops in Hamilton both on the way in and out of the City, some of which are quite far from either GO station, and those further reduced the time-wasting "first mile" and/or "last mile" travel portions of the trip. Indeed, that first stop inbound to Hamilton on Main Street West would often see half of the passengers get off the bus, and it's still a good 8-10 minutes drive away from the GO Station, or 20-25 minutes on the HSR which also doesn't make any direct connection to any GO Station from that area, so there is both a of loss from that (I note the planned LRT in Hamilton would further increase connectivity at that stop), and from those far-off-peak trips which would blow past the milk-run trains, especially on weekend mornings and late-evenings (when a lot of people were making the trip specifically because it was so fast!)

But I gave up on the bus more because of increased use of cell-phones and how a quiet ride turned into a thing of the past and now an inescapable nightmare as the bus is apparently now the time you bring out your phone to have loudest and longest phone call possible about the inane events of your life, all while eating your steaming hot smelly food you bought at Union station--or drinking what you bought at the LCBO--making sure to leave all the trash behind on the seat when you get off. I switched to the train and take a taxi from Aldershot to Hamilton since 2015. The extra cost is worth it, though I only make the trip two or three times per year now. But the train still is absolutely a downgrade in travel time for many, and a significant one for a few. This is why you see 50 cars meeting every train at Aldershot GO which all then drive out in a parade to get on the 403 to Hamilton.
 
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reaperexpress

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I don't know about the current issues around Union, but, back in the 2008-15 period when I used the Hamilton Express frequently (I probably made over 500 trips in that period both directions combined) the trip would often be just under one hour when outside of the peak-periods.
Yes I know. In 2014 I lived in an apartment on King Street at Hess. In the midday the 16 usually did arrive at its destination around 10 minutes early. However, the remaining quarter of the time it got stuck in traffic and ended up significantly late. But even then, it was often still faster than the bus+train connection.

In the meantime, traffic has gotten worse, and the train offerings have gotten better. But people still take the 16 for a reason, which is that the local trains are not fast enough.

45 minutes is a stretch, though I recall I got that that once on a late night trip where the driver must have averaged 120-130 kph the whole way on the QEW (which was the speed everyone else was travelling at).
GO Buses are electronically limited to 110 km/h. If traffic is light, that is exactly how fast they go - the driver just puts their foot to the floor and the limiter acts as a sort of cruise control.

However, the real time savings for many here was from the fact the bus made stops in Hamilton both on the way in and out of the City, some of which are quite far from either GO station, and those further reduced the time-wasting "first mile" and/or "last mile" travel portions of the trip. Indeed, that first stop inbound to Hamilton on Main Street West would often see half of the passengers get off the bus, and it's still a good 8-10 minutes drive away from the GO Station, or 20-25 minutes on the HSR (which didn't have any direct connection there , so there is both a perception of loss from that, and from those far-off-peak trips that just blew past the milk-run trains, especially weekend mornings and late-evenings. I note the planned LRT in Hamilton would increase connectivity at that stop (or the next one where there is an LRT station).
All of the local stops served by the 16 are also served by the 18. The real problem is that the only off-peak connections at Aldershot are local trains* which take over an hour to get to Union.

*The 3 weekend express trains don't line up with any route 18 trips.

The train is absolutely a downgrade in travel time for many, a significant one for a few. This is why you see 50 cars meeting every train at Aldershot GO which all then drive out in a parade to get on the 403 to Hamilton.
Yes, and this is why all-day express trains to Hamilton are so important, as well as safe cycling infrastructure to both of Hamilton's central stations. According to Streetview, the Hunter Street bicycle lanes still end a block away from the station in both directions.
 

Jonny5

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All of the local stops served by the 16 are also served by the 18.

The 18 has a super-padded schedule though. It arrives around ten minutes before the train arrives at Aldershot, which is then another ten minutes before the train departs Aldershot. I recall taking that option once from Hamilton GO and watching the 16 leave from the window of the 18. Five minutes later the 18 departed. 20 minutes after that I was on a train. Ten minutes after that the train finally departed Aldershot and I was wondering if that 16 was now somewhere around the QEW and 427 only 20 minutes away from Union while I still had over an hour to go to get there. Though if you were going somewhere such that Exhibition station can be your destination, or simply your exit point to a connection elsewhere, then for sure that is a far faster option.
 
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reaperexpress

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The 18 has a super-padded schedule though. It arrives around ten minutes before the train arrives at Aldershot... which is about ten minutes before the train departs Aldershot. I recall taking that option once from Hamilton GO and watching the 16 leave from the window of the 18. Five minutes later the 18 departed. 20 minutes after that I was on a train. Ten minutes after that the train finally departed Aldershot and I was wondering if that 16 was now somewhere around the QEW and 427 only 20 minutes away from Union while I still had over an hour to go to get there. Though if you were going somewhere where Exhibition Station can be your destination, or simply your exit point for a connections, then for sure that is a far faster option.
Yes it does seem a bit ridiculous that they provide 15 minutes of padding on a route which is only 15 minutes long to begin with. Cutting that back to 10 minutes or so seems like an easy way to cut a few minutes off of eastbound trips via the 18+train.

On a similar note, the connections between the 18K (Aldershot - Hamilton C - St Catharines - Brock) and the trains at West Harbour are incredibly frustrating. Heading toward Toronto, the connection is just barely too short to reliably make the connection, which means that you need to stay on the meandering bus all the way to from Aldershot, and take the train 30 minutes later than the one you almost caught at West Harbour. Adding a few more minutes sitting in Hamilton Centre station would solve this issue, and wouldn't inconvenience many people since people travelling onward to Toronto will already have gotten off/on at West Harbour, and the people heading to Hamilton Centre aren't affected by layovers there.

Heading toward St Catharines, the bus always leaves just before the train arrives, so people need to take the previous train and ride the bus all the way from Aldershot. Again, increasing the layover at Hamilton Centre or separating the Hamilton - Brock portion into its own route would solve this problem.
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Willybru21

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I stole this email screenshot from someone else, but I’m a little concerned how weekend Barrie Line service to Allandale is now marked as “seasonal”.
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reaperexpress

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I’m a little concerned how weekend Barrie Line service to Allandale is now marked as “seasonal”.
Yeah I noticed that as well. Definitely concerning.

I suspect that GO Rail Ops is not a fan of the off-peak Allandale trains because they create an operational headache for the hourly Aurora trains. Since there's only a single track at Aurora station, trains terminating in Aurora need to deadhead back to the siding south of King City to let the Allandale trains by, then deadhead back to Aurora to start the next southbound Aurora trip an hour later. A while ago we heard that Mx was building a new siding just south of Aurora, but while it would save some fuel, I don't think it would really solve the problem since it would still strand a crew in a siding for an hour.

Given how expensive the current train service arrangment is to operate, I'd be okay with the off-peak Allandale trains being replaced by hourly or bi-hourly service on route 68C (Barrie Term - Allandale - King City express via 404).

The longer term solution would be to double or triple track Aurora station, which would allow for the Allandale trains to simply slot in between the Aurora trains. By the time that platform is built there will be plenty of capacity south of Aurora to run 2+ trains per hour in both directions.
 
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Bureaucromancer

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Yeah I noticed that as well. Definitely concerning.

I suspect that GO Rail Ops is not a fan of the off-peak Allandale trains because they create an operational headache for the hourly Aurora trains. Since there's only a single track at Aurora station, trains terminating in Aurora need to deadhead back to the siding south of King City to let the Allandale trains by, then deadhead back to Aurora to start the next southbound Aurora trip an hour later. A while ago we heard that Mx was building a new siding just south of Aurora, but while it would save some fuel, I don't think it would really solve the problem since it would still strand a crew in a siding for an hour.

Given how expensive the current train service arrangment is to operate, I'd be okay with the off-peak Allandale trains being replaced by hourly or bi-hourly service on route 68C (Barrie Term - Allandale - King City express via 404).

The longer term solution would be to double or triple track Aurora station, which would allow for the Allandale trains to simply slot in between the Aurora trains. By the time that platform is built there will be plenty of capacity south of Aurora to run 2+ trains per hour in both directions.
Amazing how literally every line has the ops people finding reasons not to run anything like full service.
 

crs1026

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Amazing how literally every line has the ops people finding reasons not to run anything like full service.

It’s more a matter of the ops people scratching their heads at all the fiction and puffery the PR side is pushing out, and wondering how they are going to run anything like the promised service when much of the necessary track isn’t finished yet.

New platforms mean nothing without track. As @reaperexpress notes, both Kitchener and Barrie have local “hourly” trains making layovers in odd places just to interleave the extended runs to Kitchener and Barrie.

Maybe the construction should get finished first….

- Paul
 

ARG1

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The longer term solution would be to double or triple track Aurora station, which would allow for the Allandale trains to simply slot in between the Aurora trains. By the time that platform is built there will be plenty of capacity south of Aurora to run 2+ trains per hour in both directions.
Well long term it seems like the province wants to extend the frequent section of the line to Bradford instead of Aurora. Whether or not that happens is...
 

reaperexpress

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Amazing how literally every line has the ops people finding reasons not to run anything like full service.
If we have a shortage of train crews, a service pattern which requires crews to shuffle trains around out-of-service for over an hour in the middle of their shift is probably not the best use of resources. We could probably provide far more useful train service hours if we reverted to the basic pattern with just hourly service to Aurora and redeployed the net extra crews elsewhere. I'm sure that Ops is trying to provide as much useful service as possible within the limited resources available.

Well long term it seems like the province wants to extend the frequent section of the line to Bradford instead of Aurora. Whether or not that happens is...
True, but that doesn't necessarily mean that all of the local trains terminate at Bradford. To terminate 4 trains per hour, there should ideally be 4 tracks (2 turnback, 2 thru), which seems like a lot for Bradford. They might instead build one turnback track at Aurora (or Mulock) and one at Bradford, and run a service pattern something like:
2 tph to Aurora all stops
2 tph to Bradford all stops
2 tph to Barrie limited stops to Aurora, all stops north of Aurora.

Since the express trains make all stops north of Aurora, it still meets their 4 tph requirement for frequent service as far as Bradford.
 
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superelevation

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If we have a shortage of train crews, a service pattern which requires crews to shuffle trains around out-of-service for over an hour in the middle of their shift is probably not the best use of resources. We could probably provide far more useful train service hours if we reverted to the basic pattern with just hourly service to Aurora and redeployed the net extra crews elsewhere. I'm sure that Ops is trying to provide as much useful service as possible within the limited resources available.


True, but that doesn't necessarily mean that all of the local trains terminate at Bradford. To terminate 4 trains per hour, there should ideally be 4 tracks (2 turnback, 2 thru), which seems like a lot for Bradford. They might instead build one turnback track at Aurora (or Mulock) and one at Bradford, and run a service pattern something like:
2 tph to Aurora all stops
2 tph to Bradford all stops
2 tph to Barrie limited stops to Aurora, all stops north of Aurora.

Since the express trains make all stops north of Aurora, it still meets their 4 tph requirement for frequent service as far as Bradford.
4 tracks to turn 4 tph seems pretty excessive, 3 should be plenty?
 

reaperexpress

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4 tracks to turn 4 tph seems pretty excessive, 3 should be plenty?
Depends how long your layover is. If you have a train arriving every 15 minutes, and you need a few minutes to vacate the platform for the next train, then if you only have a single turnback track, you're limited to 10 minutes of layover. That may be fine if it's a short route and/or plenty of recovery time is available at the other end of the line. For example, UPX has an 8-minute layover at Union, enabling 4 tph with a single turnback track. But this is possible because the UPX route is quite short and predictable, and the other end of the route has two platforms and a 17-minute layover to soak up any longer delays.

On the Barrie line, the route is longer and the other end of the line is Union Station. Platform time at Union is in very short supply, so either trains will run through or turn back as quickly as possible. Either way, the line's recovery time will need to be disproportionately located at the outer ends of the services. It's a lot easier to add a platform at Aurora or Bradford than it is to add one at Union.
 

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