Shorter journey times and more frequent service will make GO Transit the best option to get around the region.

GO expansion: Train at Pickering every five minutes?

GO Expansion is moving forward to the next stage of development, and is expected to transform the region in ways greater than previously imagined, according to operator Metrolinx.

The biggest transformation in Canadian transit history is getting even better, it said adding, GO Expansion will include infrastructure and operational plans that reduce journey times, add capacity, improve on-time performance, and customer satisfaction.

Metrolinx expects some construction to start in 2023. It said there will be incremental improvements to service as work phases unlock opportunities to add service starting in approximately 2025-2026.

When complete, the GO Expansion program is projected to deliver 200 additional kilometres of track, with annual ridership of over 200 million (by 2055), said Metrolinx.

Expansion Benefits

Metrolinx has reached an agreement with ONxpress, whose proposal can deliver three times more trips than the 3,500 weekly trips Metrolinx ran in 2019.

On Metrolinx’s busiest routes, between eight and 18 trains per hour will run, meaning customers can arrive at a station and be on a train within minutes.

Metrolinx and ONxpress will now start working through a proposed timetable, and associated required infrastructure, that could ultimately see train service stopping at stations like Pickering GO every five minutes.

On evenings and weekends, services to most stations could be as frequent as between every six to 15 minutes.

GO Expansion will reduce commuter times by an average of 10 minutes per trip and as much as 20 to 30 minutes for other trips. Some key stations on high density routes will get services that can be up to 40 per cent faster, such as Pickering.

New electric trains

New electric GO trains will run faster between stations and be able to accelerate and decelerate quicker at stations, so that for most journeys, regardless of traffic conditions, the train will be a more compelling choice than the car.

This will be achieved by introducing new, high-performance electric locomotives, shortening most GO trains, and upgrading tracks and signalling, to support higher speeds, said Metrolinx.

Rendering of an electric GO train behind a retaining wall
New high-performance electric locomotives will be able to achieve higher top speeds more quickly than diesel.

While current GO trains can go up to 140kmh, they generally travel about 95kmh on average. This is due to track limitations and the speed at which diesels accelerate and decelerate between stations. Upgraded tracks and signals combined with the new electric locomotives will mean GO trains will travel up to 140kmh more often, significantly shortening trips.

Metrolinx gave the example of destinations in the heart of the ‘905’ like Oakville and Pickering GO, which are proposed to be about as quick and easy to reach from Union Station by GO Train as York Mills or High Park are by subway today.

With shorter journey times and more capacity, the economic benefits can be as much as 50 per cent more than originally stated in the GO Expansion Full Business Case (2018).

Next steps

Metrolinx and its new partners will now spend the next two years on final design and a future operating plan.

The GO Expansion – On-Corridor Works project is being delivered as a progressive design, bid, build, operate (DBOM) model, where Metrolinx, as project owner, will work collaboratively with the successful proponent team to further develop the design, risks, and responsibilities to deliver the project.

Now that Metrolinx has entered into the contract with ONxpress, a multi-stage design process – called a development phase – begins prior to the start of construction.

During the development phase, Metrolinx and ONxpress will finalize project scope, risk allocation, and target pricing. This allows for greater collaboration between Metrolinx, ONxpress, project partners, and communities, and allows for some early enabling construction to begin.

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