New Metrolinx video explains why removing trees is necessary to unlock a greener GO transit network

Across the region, work has already begun to make room for more GO Transit. Check out a new video explaining the ‘what, why and how’ of tree and vegetation removal and management in preparation for the GO Expansion program. Plus, information on how the transit agency is replacing trees and shrubs across the region.

The grass often seems greener on the other side.

And when GO Expansion is operating in full swing, the region will in fact be a greener place.

For people not familiar with GO Expansion, it’s a total reimaging of the GO Transit network. The plan is to turn GO into an all-day, two-way, electrified transit system that is more than a rush hour commuter service. And that plan is already underway.

As Metrolinx begins to prepare its rail corridors for GO Expansion, people, especially those living and working nearby, may have questions and even concerns – “Why is the greenery being touched at all? It’s been there for ages.”

Residents near GO tracks may see crews removing trees to create room for new infrastructure and more train service. Trees and shrubs are also being removed as there is considerable clearance needed for the poles and wires used for electrified trains.

Infographic showing the clearance needed for expanding GO train service, including making room for electrification infrastructure
Infographic showing the clearance needed for expanding GO train service, including making room for electrification infrastructure. (Metrolinx image)

Work will be phased across the GO network starting this summer and continuing over the next two years.

The video below explains why Metrolinx is establishing clear zones without vegetation, as well as some of the related initiatives underway to replace trees. 

When it’s all said and done, areas around GO Transit-owned tracks will look more like the cross section shown above.

The clear safety zone is a GO Expansion program requirement that will help unlock faster, more efficient, and more reliable service with lower operating costs. It will also bring a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and improve local air quality by enabling electrification of the network.

At the same time, while offsetting the required removal of trees, the GO Expansion tree compensation program will actually increase tree cover in the region. Metrolinx has already planted 22,100 trees and shrubs in 2020 and is working with conservation authorities this year on further increasing the tree cover in the region.

A closeup of a young coniferous sapling ready to grow
A young coniferous sapling sits ready to grow. Part of Metrolinx’s tree compensation efforts across the region. (Metrolinx photo)

In total, an estimated 6,245 native trees will be taken out from within Metrolinx owned areas and they will be replaced by approximately 30,730 new native trees.

The GO Expansion program will require extensive construction across the entire GO rail network, while GO service continues to operate. Numerous enabling and early works projects are already underway that may require trees and shrubs to be removed or pruned for the safety of future transit.

For more information on Metrolinx’s Go Expansion vegetation removal and compensation program, please visit  

If you have questions about GO Expansion or any related projects, contact your regional Community Relations office.

Story by Robert Pasiak, Metrolinx communications senior advisor