Bowmanville Rail Service Extension option goes to Metrolinx board – Plan would see GO service extend eastward through Durham communities

Based on an updated Initial Business Case, planners are focusing in on an option that would use Canadian Pacific Railway’s existing General Motors spur line to cross Hwy. 401 and connect to Bowmanville. While still early in the process, the recommendation is good news for those wanting to see GO rail extended further eastward, to where residents live, work and play.

Momentum is driving GO Transit eastward.

From a field of four options, one has been picked as a possible best-case for getting GO Transit’s Lakeshore East rail service extended to the Ontario community of Bowmanville.

While still early in the process, the choice being recommended to Metrolinx’s Board of Directors would offer access to GO trains closer to Durham Region’s population and employment centres – all while using existing rail infrastructure. That could include extending from Oshawa GO station to the Canadian Pacific Railway’s (CP) General Motors spur line to cross over Hwy. 401.

To see the report, just click here.

Under the proposal, there’s a potential for new stations at Thornton’s Corners East, Ritson Road, Courtice and Bowmanville.

Customers gather on the platform.

GO customers walk across the rail platform at Oshawa station in this file photo. (Metrolinx photo)

The existing Oshawa GO station would remain open.

This is an important development as extending GO rail service east of Oshawa into Bowmanville has been a long-standing goal. Currently, GO bus service runs from Oshawa to Bowmanville every 30 minutes.

Under the proposed plan, GO service would be dramatically strengthened in Durham Region, as it moves closer to Oshawa. It would mean getting more people within reach of transit service in and out of Union Station – as well as short-hops to neighbouring communities.

A map showing the proposed route and stops.

The alignment with suggested placement of stations – final decisions would be at a future stage. (Metrolinx image)

It could also lead to transit oriented community projects around stations – creating transit hub possibilities that could include business and residential options. Each new stop creates opportunities for local development.

This is another step in the original IBC for the project that was completed in 2015.

Image is a Google map showing the GM spur across Hwy. 401.

This newly updated IBC looked at four alignment options and recommends advancing ‘Option 2’ with a two-way, all-day service pattern as it balances ridership, benefits and overall project costs. Using existing rail infrastructure would bring down project costs.

The Metrolinx Board will review this recommendation at their next schedule meeting on Feb. 20 and, upon approval, the recommended option could be advanced for further analysis through a Preliminary Design Business Case.

The Initial Business Case is the first of four business case documents developed over the course of an investment’s lifecycle, guiding the process from options and analysis to planning and design and then to delivery and operations. These business cases are intended to analyze the potential project, recommend a path forward and track results over the lifecycle of that investment.

As in any process, there are many planning checks and balances – all making sure it’s done right and things are literally kept on the right track.

Where we are in the process

For example, if moved forward by the board, Metrolinx would continue to refine infrastructure scope and service patterns for the recommended option through preliminary design, operational modelling and negotiation with third party stakeholders.

That would include negotiations with CN and CP to secure the track access required in Option 2. VIA would be consulted for modifications to the existing Oshawa GO Station to minimize impacts to their operations. Negotiations with third parties regarding transit orientated communities at all four stations locations would also take place.

A Preliminary Design Business Case would be initiated. That business case would be brought back for formal resolution and endorsement. And finally, Treasury Board stage-two funding approval would be sought.

There are a wide range of factors that are considered as part of a final decision-making process. The Metrolinx business case is just one of several factors used in making a final decision. These other factors will vary by project and include broad economic objectives, local community considerations, and affordability.

While still a work still very much in progress, the announcement – with bridges yet to be crossed and proposed new stations still to dot a map – remains an exciting next stage in the effort to bring GO trains into Bowmanville.

And again, if you’d like to see the full report on this, click this link.