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GO Transit: Service thread (including extensions)

People still seem to think this is what is going to happen, no? I recall discussion that the first meaningful service deliveries specifically from GO Expansion would still be expected around 2025, but the full buildout would take us another 2-3 years. To me that sounds like they’ll prioritize a corridor at a time, and is why there was a discussion around which GO Lines that would be (there was a small majority of voices saying it would be Lakeshore for instance, to free up the most diesels to use elsewhere in the interim).

I think the unfortunate reality is that perhaps until very recently, no one actually knew what GO RER/Expansion was truly going to look like and require. Hence why we have outsourced large parts of it, and made piecemeal improvements we may see as necessary, but then flip-flop on. It feels like an amalgamation of various GO improvement schemes now coalescing to meet the ultimate goal of wires and a desired service level. That’s just my read on the situation though.

If you look at the work that has been completed or initiated since 2015, it has been very much distributed across the various corridors. Sprinkled, as it seems.

I imagine that the one-at-a-time approach was not pursued as it would have been politically dangerous: it would have created winners and losers, and every municipality would have stood up and demanded to go first. The (only) benefit of the approach to date is that (if you believe the silly PR pronouncements) good things are happening, all over. (Except, so far, they aren't).

However if one cuts through the PR crap, the reality is that no one is seeing much forward progress yet, because no line has seen enough critical mass or sufficient prerequisite work completion to enable much in the way of service improvements. Well, nothing much beyond the hourly 2-way daytime service that went into place some years ago to Aurora, Unionville, and Mount Pleasant. Lots of stations built, and lots of construction is underway, but very little that represents enabling work for targeted service improvements.

The recent night and weekend announcement for Mount Pleasant is a good example - because absolutely no new infrastructure has been put in service on that line since the midday hourly service began in 2015. The nights/weekend service could have been aded in 2015 with the existing infrastructure. It's not clear what stood in the way. There has been a lot of construction on the line since 2015, and even more is underway....but all of it aims towards more frequent RER level service at some future date, when many bits have all been completed. In the meanwhile, service improvement is at a standstill.

Service to West Harbour is another example of plodding improvements that could have been expedited towards a much earlier completion date.

- Paul
 
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Where would you put it? It’s already as close to the on ramp as possible (closer than the old terminal) so I’m not sure what moving it would accomplish.
I would have left it as is. Yes, bay street is bad but you could always just go along Front to Spadina. Now you're stuck on Lakeshore forever. So, of course, they directed the buses away.
 
If you look at the work that has been completed or initiated since 2015, it has been very much distributed across the various corridors. Sprinkled, as it seems.

I imagine that the one-at-a-time approach was not pursued as it would have been politically dangerous: it would have created winners and losers, and every municipality would have stood up and demanded to go first. The (only) benefit of the approach to date is that (if you believe the silly PR pronouncements) good things are happening, all over. (Except, so far, they aren't).

However if one cuts through the PR crap, the reality is that no one is seeing much forward progress yet, because no line has seen enough critical mass or sufficient prerequisite work completion to enable much in the way of service improvements. Well, nothing much beyond the hourly 2-way daytime service that went into place some years ago to Aurora, Unionville, and Mount Pleasant. Lots of stations built, and lots of construction is underway, but very little that represents enabling work for targeted service improvements.

The recent night and weekend announcement for Mount Pleasant is a good example - because absolutely no new infrastructure has been put in service on that line since the midday hourly service began in 2015. The nights/weekend service could have been aded in 2015 with the existing infrastructure. It's not clear what stood in the way. There has been a lot of construction on the line since 2015, and even more is underway....but all of it aims towards more frequent RER level service at some future date, when many bits have all been completed. In the meanwhile, service improvement is at a standstill.

Service to West Harbour is another example of plodding improvements that could have been expedited towards a much earlier completion date.

- Paul

It's almost as if Metrolinx doesn't truly know how to build ridership and just thinks of the politics behind the overall RER project. At least 30 min all day service to Bramalea and Unionville could've happened a while ago and then we would have 4 lines at that level of service, but they chose not to because it looks like they're focusing on building the whole overall project all at once, and then implementing the full or midpoint service that they're aiming for in the end, hence the Stouffville and Barrie cuts.

If they were truly serious about this, the focus would've had ridership slowly built up along the years with slowly increasing service at areas where the current infrastructure can handle it. There are people who are getting fed up of waiting so long for a sort of significant change to happen, so they resort to options such as the most common transportation in the GTA, the car. So now there will even be more vehicles on the road which is the opposite of what this project is aiming for. If when RER is completed and they throw everything at us all at once, do you think the people who have been using their own car for about a few years now and it being effective for them, would think to suddenly switch to trains? Yes there is still the whole "drive to the GO station" thing, but lets be real most people won't be doing that anyway if their current method of transportation is still just as effective.

This is why they shouldn't do their current method of implementing their full end goal of service only when the infrastructure gets completed. ML should rather build on what they currently have and expand slowly as there's capacity to handle these service improvements such as 40/30/25/20 min. If you want people to really believe that "it's happening", why not give them a piece of what you already can do and even attract new ridership in the process as the believing of actual progress can be seen.
 
Great explanation. In essence, the increased frequency will enable different kinds of trips that GO traditionally doesn’t capture. It is not that the existing use case for GO (commuting downtown) will be more appealing to more people, but that the system can now facilitate different kinds of trips that are already occurring, just not with GO.

Lots of people for instance simply use their municipal transit to get around. GO stations do not currently mean anything to these folks because the service offered makes it completely irrelevant. But if you can use GO just like any other frequent service, there’s no need to pay it special attention, which usually is just ignoring GO entirely today. It will start to manifest like a subway line in the collective minds of transit users, if not better.
Agreed. Last weekend, I realized a trip from my neighbourhood (East York) to Liberty Village for brunch would be much more pleasant & straightforward via GO than TTC, but having to get the timing right deterred me. If it was 15min or less between trains, I'd probably use that exact route option a lot.
 
Agreed. Last weekend, I realized a trip from my neighbourhood (East York) to Liberty Village for brunch would be much more pleasant & straightforward via GO than TTC, but having to get the timing right deterred me. If it was 15min or less between trains, I'd probably use that exact route option a lot.
Great example. I myself would often do commutes from East York to Markham/Richmond Hill. Even just a single Counter-peak train on the RH GO line would have gone a long way, but Stouffville would also have done fine in my case.
 
Great example. I myself would often do commutes from East York to Markham/Richmond Hill. Even just a single Counter-peak train on the RH GO line would have gone a long way, but Stouffville would also have done fine in my case.

There’s the problem. The legacy single track infrastructure simply doesn’t permit counter flow trains at peak. If this were attempted, it would constrain headways for the peak flow direction - and the speed of the counter peak train would be poor because of the need to clear for the peak flow trains. Reliability would suffer.

There’s no question that there has to be a great deal of construction to add enough track to meet the service vision. The issue is whether it can be built incrementally or whether the “big bang” model has to apply. There are pro’s and con’s in this - if one works incrementally, any new service that is added becomes an obstruction to construction crews getting the remainder done. It may be faster and cheaper to let the contractors do their work without trains passing every half hour. Plus, it likely requires 60 % task completion (or more) to enable even the first service upgrade…. it’s not a linear relationship between work completed and service enabled.

My concerns with ML are a) the plodding pace of specific projects that are relatively standalone and ought to have been done faster eg Aldershot-Bayview-West Harbour, b) the odd sequencing of work where longer, more expensive but prerequisite tasks are done late in the plan, preventing quick wins, but esspecially c) the huge gap between the public promises and the periodic celebrations and the reality of what is still unfinished.

If ML were transparent about its timelines and about what stands in the way of full delivery, I might be more mellow about a) and b).

- Paul
 
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There’s the problem. The legacy single track infrastructure simply doesn’t permit counter flow trains at peak. If this were attempted, it would constrain headways for the peak flow direction - and the speed of the counter peak train would be poor because of the need to clear for the peak flow trains. Reliability would suffer.

There’s no question that there has to be a great deal of construction to add enough track to meet the service vision. The issue is whether it can be built incrementally or whether the “big bang” model has to apply. There are pro’s and con’s in this - if one works incrementally, any new service that is added becomes an obstruction to construction crews getting the remainder done. It may be faster and cheaper to let the contractors do their work without trains passing every half hour. Plus, it likely requires 60 % task completion (or more) to enable even the first service upgrade…. it’s not a linear relationship between work completed and service enabled.

My concerns with ML are a) the plodding pace of specific projects that are relatively standalone and ought to have been done faster eg Aldershot-Bayview-West Harbour, b) the odd sequencing of work where longer, more expensive but prerequisite tasks are done late in the plan, preventing quick wins, but esspecially c) the huge gap between the public promises and the periodic celebrations and the reality of what is still unfinished.

If ML were transparent about its timelines and about what stands in the way of full delivery, I might be more mellow about a) and b).

- Paul
thought GO was already in the midst of adding extra tracks on most (if not all) their routes to accommodate trains going both ways all day in 15min intervals.

There’s the problem. The legacy single track infrastructure simply doesn’t permit counter flow trains at peak. If this were attempted, it would constrain headways for the peak flow direction - and the speed of the counter peak train would be poor because of the need to clear for the peak flow trains. Reliability would suffer.

There’s no question that there has to be a great deal of construction to add enough track to meet the service vision. The issue is whether it can be built incrementally or whether the “big bang” model has to apply. There are pro’s and con’s in this - if one works incrementally, any new service that is added becomes an obstruction to construction crews getting the remainder done. It may be faster and cheaper to let the contractors do their work without trains passing every half hour. Plus, it likely requires 60 % task completion (or more) to enable even the first service upgrade…. it’s not a linear relationship between work completed and service enabled.

My concerns with ML are a) the plodding pace of specific projects that are relatively standalone and ought to have been done faster eg Aldershot-Bayview-West Harbour, b) the odd sequencing of work where longer, more expensive but prerequisite tasks are done late in the plan, preventing quick wins, but esspecially c) the huge gap between the public promises and the periodic celebrations and the reality of what is still unfinished.

If ML were transparent about its timelines and about what stands in the way of full delivery, I might be more mellow about a) and b).

- Paul
Isn't Metrolinx in the midst of adding extra tracks to permit all day both way trains at 15min intervals for all GO routes? Or did I misunderstand and it's only some routes?
 
Isn't Metrolinx in the midst of adding extra tracks to permit all day both way trains at 15min intervals for all GO routes? Or did I misunderstand and it's only some routes?

Stouffville and Barrie go from one track to two, not necessarily throughout.
Weston Sub (Kitchener Line) goes from 3 to 4 east of Bramalea, and gets three sidings west of Silver. (Breslau, Guelph, Acton).
CN Halton Sub (Kitchener) gets a third track through central Brampton, and something (details tbd) from Mount Pleasant to Georgetown..
LSE goes from 3 to 4 from Union to Scarborough Jct, and from 2 to 3 for a stretch east of Guildwood.
Richmond Hill, Milton, and LSW do not get any new track.
Bowmanville extension (on CP) gets a new track alongside existing CP single track.

- Paul
 
Stouffville and Barrie go from one track to two, not necessarily throughout.
Weston Sub (Kitchener Line) goes from 3 to 4 east of Bramalea, and gets three sidings west of Silver. (Breslau, Guelph, Acton).
CN Halton Sub (Kitchener) gets a third track through central Brampton, and something (details tbd) from Mount Pleasant to Georgetown..
LSE goes from 3 to 4 from Union to Scarborough Jct, and from 2 to 3 for a stretch east of Guildwood.
Richmond Hill, Milton, and LSW do not get any new track.

- Paul
Thank you for the summary!
 
There’s the problem. The legacy single track infrastructure simply doesn’t permit counter flow trains at peak. If this were attempted, it would constrain headways for the peak flow direction - and the speed of the counter peak train would be poor because of the need to clear for the peak flow trains. Reliability would suffer.

Actually the Richmond Hill line infrastructure does permit counter-peak trains, and until the pandemic there was a southbound counter-peak train in the afternoon, which used the sidings along the line to encounter northbound trains. The longest single-track segment is from just south of Oriole to just north of Bloor/Danforth, which takes about 15 minutes to cover. That provides just enough time to meet the northbound trains which ran every 30 minutes at time.

Double track highlighted in green:
Capture.JPG


The trip operated as a deadhead because it wouldn't have been that useful for passengers. If it were in service it would have just been a non-stop from Richmond Hill to Union with a travel time over an hour. The train couldn't stop at any intermediate stations because it either needed to run on a track without a platform (e.g. at Langstaff) or it needed to rush past the station in order to make sure it made it to the next passing track before the next northbound train. It was very slow, because once it arrived at a passing track, it needed to sit there and wait for the northbound train to pass before continuing.

If we wanted the trip to be more useful than just a very slow non-stop trip from Richmond Hill to Union, we'd need to add new platforms and/or extend double track segments. I suspect that the cost-benefit of that work would be very poor given that it would serve at most a couple trains per day in each direction.

If I have time this weekend I might do a quick back-of-the-envelope timetable to see how much counter-peak service could be improved with given infrastructure improvements.
 
There’s the problem. The legacy single track infrastructure simply doesn’t permit counter flow trains at peak. If this were attempted, it would constrain headways for the peak flow direction - and the speed of the counter peak train would be poor because of the need to clear for the peak flow trains. Reliability would suffer.

There’s no question that there has to be a great deal of construction to add enough track to meet the service vision. The issue is whether it can be built incrementally or whether the “big bang” model has to apply. There are pro’s and con’s in this - if one works incrementally, any new service that is added becomes an obstruction to construction crews getting the remainder done. It may be faster and cheaper to let the contractors do their work without trains passing every half hour. Plus, it likely requires 60 % task completion (or more) to enable even the first service upgrade…. it’s not a linear relationship between work completed and service enabled.

My concerns with ML are a) the plodding pace of specific projects that are relatively standalone and ought to have been done faster eg Aldershot-Bayview-West Harbour, b) the odd sequencing of work where longer, more expensive but prerequisite tasks are done late in the plan, preventing quick wins, but esspecially c) the huge gap between the public promises and the periodic celebrations and the reality of what is still unfinished.

If ML were transparent about its timelines and about what stands in the way of full delivery, I might be more mellow about a) and b).

- Paul
In that case, it makes sense why Richmond Hill sees such limited service. A counter-peak train would be effectively fantasy. Although, AD2W RH GO has appeared in various schemes before; I wonder what the logic behind that was?

And yes, Metrolinx seems to love doing things backwards. And behind closed doors. It often feels impossible to know what the hell is ever going on under their jurisdiction, even when things are in active motion. For instance, I thought Metrolinx had chosen the incremental approach to GO Electrification. Lots of hoopla about all this preparatory work. And no doubt, lots is happening; but it all feels very disjointed and unrelated like some things are more generalized improvements, with the work for electrification being done wherever things are being worked on already- nothing very specific.
 
^ They couldn't even get their replacement bus service to run all day let alone on weekends. That's how low priority RH is to the rest of the GO network and its sad to see considering it does connect to great locations on the line.
 
^ They couldn't even get their replacement bus service to run all day let alone on weekends. That's how low priority RH is to the rest of the GO network and its sad to see considering it does connect to great locations on the line.
I just find it strange we were willing to at least put RH GO on a roadmap 15 years ago, as if the transit plans we have today weren’t obvious enough then that we could foresee upgrading it.

I think the line does offer some benefits and decent connections in a vacuum, but considering what we need out of transit in its vicinity, it’s pretty obvious why we are building new lines instead of upgrading RH.
 
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I finally got around to writing my thoughts about the April service changes.

 

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