Two mysterious activities recently perplexed residents of Southwestern Ontario, after they encountered a rare creature not often visible in their region—a GO Transit train.

This summer, CTV News London told viewers that "A rare sighting in London is creating quite the commotion amongst commuters, who are hoping for its potential return. On Saturday, a GO Transit train was spotted downtown around 1 PM., and many rail enthusiasts made the trip to check it out."

Later that week, CTV News Kitchener reported that "Word is buzzing in Stratford after a GO Train was seen at the train station Monday morning." The TV station attached a photo that Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson tweeted, showing a train on the local tracks.

Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson shot this photo of a GO train at the station in Stratford, this summer. Image: @danmathieson

Now the Government of Ontario and Metrolinx have solved the mystery: they're extending two Kitchener-line trains—one in each direction—to operate to and from London, Mondays to Fridays, starting October 18. During this pilot project, an eastbound train will leave London at 5:20 AM, arriving at Union Station at 9:15 AM. A westbound train leaves Toronto at 4:19 PM, ending its trip in London at 8:17 PM.

Since the trip between London and Toronto requires about four hours to complete, it's not really a commuter service between those two cities. However, it does offer Londoners more connections to other nearby centres, including St Marys, Stratford, Kitchener, and Guelph.

By Twitter, London Mayor Ed Holder (@ldnontmayor) confirmed the importance of train service between London and other locations in southwestern and central Ontario. He tweeted, "Londoners need and deserve access to increased transportation options, and by extending GO rail service into #LdnOnt, we are keeping our promise to enhance economic productivity and business opportunities, while also supporting healthier, more connected communities. Both the [Government of Canada] and [Ontario] government have recognized #LdnOnt, our city, as the hub of transportation for all of SW Ontario. We are the fourth busiest Via Rail station in all of Canada, and as such, we will continue advocating for more frequent, reliable, and faster rail service."

He added, "As much as we want connections to Toronto, people from across southern and southwestern Ontario want connections to London. We will have greater access to tech sectors, for example, in Stratford and [Kitchener-Waterloo] next month than we do today--and them to us. That matters."

The sun rises while a GO train bearing an advertising wrap for Alberta's tourism industry picks up passengers at Kitchener GO station in the early morning hours. Image, James Bow, Transit Toronto

According to an Ontario news release, "The province is working closely with VIA Rail and the Canadian National Railway (CN) to extend service and explore ways to improve the speed and frequency of passenger rail service. By investing in a fully integrated transit network, Ontario continues to support the growth and transformation of cities and their greater regions across the province."

The release explains that Southwestern Ontario is experiencing incredible growth, with an estimated 1.98 million people calling the region home by 2041. Increasing options for passengers travelling between London and Toronto is one of more than 40 actions in the provincial government's Connecting the Southwest: A Draft Transportation Plan for Southwestern Ontario.

VIA Rail currently operates six eastbound trains between London and Toronto Mondays to Fridays, five Saturdays and four Sundays. In the opposite direction, VIA offers six weekday trips and four daily weekend trips. VIA trains operate with fewer stops, but fares likely are greater—ranging from $37 to $106 one-way. GO has not yet announced the fares for trips between London and Toronto.

London was also the destination for the first phase of the previous Ontario government's proposal to build a high-speed rail line from Toronto. (The proposed line would have eventually extended to Windsor.)

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