As rail traffic increases – Chesterton Shores pedestrian crossing closed over safety concerns

Metrolinx is shutting down a track-level pedestrian crossing at Chesterton Shores, near Rouge Hill GO Station, to improve community safety. The crossing has become increasingly unsafe as a result of more train traffic.  The concern is highlighted by a single bicycle – a quiet testimonial of what’s at stake.

Chained to a nearby fence is a reminder of a young life lost in the Rouge Hill community.

Referred to as a ‘ghost bike’, the bicycle has been painted white and adorned with flowers as a reminder of a fatal rail tragedy.

In July 2016, a 19-year-old man was struck and killed by a VIA train near the Rouge Hill GO station. He was hit while crossing over the track with his bicycle.

A white painted bike sits next to a guardrail.
A stark reminder of a 2016 accident. (Metrolinx photo)

Chris Kourtis, a Metrolinx system safety specialist for Occupational and Operational Safety, explains that while most GO Transit trains stop at Rouge Hill GO Station, there are still a number of trains that run express through the station at speeds up to 150 km/hr.

Since 2016, two-way GO train service frequency has gone up and is set to increase again with the implementation of GO Expansion service levels. In addition to GO trains, both VIA and freight trains also use this important corridor.

“Closing this crossing is just one of the many ways we work to keep our customers and this community safe.”

Steve Harvey, manager – Metrolinx Operational Support / Emergency Management – Transit Safety.

To address these safety concerns, Metrolinx will permanently close the track-level pedestrian crossing on September 14. This decision follows a recent safety assessment that strongly supported the decision to close the crossing for the safety of local pedestrians.  

“We operate one of the safest transit systems in the world,” says said Steve Harvey, Manager – Operational Support / Emergency Management – Transit Safety, Metrolinx.

“We continually work with local communities, local law enforcement, and emergency response services to ensure we are maintaining the highest safety practices and standards. Closing this crossing is just one of the many ways we work to keep our customers and this community safe.”

Two GO trains are seen at a crossing.
Two GO trains pass the crossing as a day ends. (Metrolinx photo)

The crossing currently provides pedestrian access to the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail, a 3000 kilometre-long route along the Canadian shores of the Great Lakes region. Access to the trail will remain available at two nearby access locations – one in the west end of the Rouge Hill GO Station parking lot, and the other approximately one kilometre west of the station. 

The route through the west end of the Rouge Hill GO Station is approximately 225 metres – about a three minute walk – from the track level pedestrian crossing at Chesterton Shores and is accessible by elevator and stairs.

The pedestrian tunnel west of the station is accessible from the south west section of the Port Union Village Common Park. Signs are being installed to help the community navigate the new route to the trail.

Fire crews and trucks are seen on a road.
Local emergency crews test their ability to get to someone in trouble in the area, with the crossing closed. (Metrolinx photo)

Decisions like these come with significant study, including recently when local emergency services conducted a simulation on site to ensure they could quickly access the waterfront trail in the event of an emergency.

Jacob Oprea, Metrolinx’s supervisor for Station Operations East points out: “Safety is one of our many priorities and our commitment is to the well-being of the people who use and access GO Train services.

“If we can make this station in any way safer, we will do so.”

Story by Stacey Kenny, Metrolinx Communications senior advisor.