Metrolinx is just beginning its massive GO RER project, but it is already showing progress. Georgetown South, a $1.2 billion dollar rail project predating the GO RER program, is now fast sprinting to the finish line. Final trackage is being laid, final finishes of the stations being put in place, and operational testing of the new Union Pearson Express train has begun.
The Union Pearson express is now doing late night service testing, between the hours of 8 PM and 3 AM. Beginning April 13th, Metrolinx will begin full service testing, simulating a "typical day" of service, running the trains every 15 minutes between 7 AM and 3 AM, to ensure that any and all hiccups can be worked out before the service launches to the public later in the spring.
Construction of the new stations and tracks along the corridor is now wrapping up as well. The last of the new tracks for the corridor are now nearly complete, and the station buildings are getting their final touches applied. Service increases on the Kitchener GO line are expected upon completion of the project, however an exact start time of these service increases and what exactly the new services will entail has yet to be announced.
The project will provide a modern, completely grade separated rail corridor into the GTA's northwest side. With 3 of GO transit's 7 GO lines using the corridor in the approach to Union Station, the UPx service to the airport, VIA rail, and the possibility of an eventual high speed rail line to London, the corridor will likely become one of the busiest rail corridors on the continent in the coming years.
The completion of work on Georgetown south comes just as Metrolinx begins work on its next batch of major rail projects. With partial double tracking on the Barrie and Stouffville GO lines to allow for all day train service already under way, Metrolinx is moving forward on several other key projects.
A major project currently beginning is the Davenport Diamond grade separation. The rail to rail at grade crossing, located where the Barrie GO line crosses Canadian Pacific's main freight line through the city, is the busiest at grade rail to rail crossing in North America. Due to the rapidly rising traffic levels on both rail lines, a grade separation is now required. Early work suggests that it will come in the form of a large elevated guideway that the Barrie GO line uses to cross over the CP tracks.
Another major project, the East Rail Maintenance Facility, recently had its AFP contract rewarded, an $859.2 million dollar, 30 year, design-build-operate contract. The facility will allow GO transit to store up to 22 trains, and will provide a second maintenance yard for its rapidly expanding fleet.
Metrolinx is also currently undergoing several other service expansions across the GO transit network, including the expansion of the Lincolnville GO layover yard to allow for more peak service on the Stouffville line, a new James North GO station in Hamilton, two new layover yards in Hamilton and Kitchener, multiple station reconstructions, and the expansion of the Richmond Hill GO line north to Gormley.
Metrolinx has far more planned in the coming years, as it has been mandated by the provincial government to deliver 15 minute, electrified service by 2024. Metrolinx claims that passengers should expect service improvements every year between now and then, as the largest rail expansion in North America progresses.
What are your thoughts on the various projects currently underway on the GTHA's rail lines? Feel free to leave a comment below.
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