Image shows workers on the platform.

How Metrolinx continues to make improvements and expand GO Train service on Kitchener Line

There’s lots of movement on the Kitchener GO Line. As Metrolinx News has regularly updated readers on the work taking place on the rail route, we thought it was again time to see what all that toiling is adding up to. Let’s go down the line.

It’s one of the most important transit lines in the country, and an iconic route for GO train riders.

And the Kitchener Line is also expanding and improving. And each week sees new elements added in.

In May, Metrolinx posted a Kitchener Line roundup of all the projects that are underway to bring all-day, two-way service to the communities on the Kitchener Corridor.

But we thought we’d truly get into the weeds of work in this feature and show you in detail what’s been happening.

The Kitchener Line serves urban centres and communities west of Toronto with direct connections to Brampton, Guelph, and Kitchener-Waterloo. To meet substantial growth, just as many riders return to transit, Metrolinx is making major improvements to service on the corridor. While COVID-19 may have impacts on commuting habits for the next two years, Transit advances are made for the long term.

Let’s see where the advances will take customers and communities.

In April, Metrolinx released the Preliminary Design Business case for expanding and improving GO Transit rail service on the Kitchener line. Read more about the Preliminary Design Business Case here.

And on Sept 7, Metrolinx announced a service increase that will see 20 train trips per day between Toronto and Kitchener/Guelph (up from 16 pre-pandemic), including  weekday rush hour express options for Kitchener, Guelph, Acton, Georgetown, Mount Pleasant, Brampton, and Bramalea GO, trip extensions to and from Kitchener GO, and new and reinstated trips to and from Bramalea GO throughout the day.  

Union Station to Bramalea:

New Mount Dennis Station

Construction of this new transit hub will provide a direct connection to the Eglinton Crosstown LRT in the future for both GO trains and the UP Express. The Crosstown project is currently under construction and Mount Dennis Station is nearing completion.

Weston Station Improvements

A new north side platform, two pedestrian tunnel extensions with stairs and elevators, new shelters and platform canopy, snow melt system, and installation of a fourth track within station limits will allow for increased train traffic through the station in two directions. This work is underway and is expected to be complete in early fall 2021.

Image shows workers on the platform.
Asphalt paving and compacting as platform improvement work continues at Malton GO Station. (Metrolinx photo)

Malton GO Station and Track Upgrades

Ongoing work at this station involves a new retaining wall, hydro capacity upgrade, installation of digital signs, culvert replacement, platform widening to accommodate the new track alignment and upgrades. Work includes upgrades to the north service track between Etobicoke North and Bramalea GO Stations, which are required to allow for service increase to two-way trains every 15 minutes on the corridor. Work on the tracks and at this station is expected to be completed by summer 2022.

Bramalea GO Station

As the section of track between Bramalea GO Station and Georgetown GO Station is not owned by Metrolinx this station will be the terminus of the proposed 15-minute electrified service.

In order to seamlessly marry the two service models, major station and platform work is required. On September 13, the new multi-level parking structure, station building, and connecting tunnel opened to the public. Work continues at the station to upgrade platforms and the bus loop. Read more about all the improvements coming to the station here.

Image shows a parking garage.
The new Bramalea parking garage. Yes, it’s big. (Metrolinx photo)

Bramalea to Georgetown:

To most riders, all train tracks look alike. But their ownership can vary.

The rail network between Bramalea and Georgetown was first built to principally carry freight. While GO Transit owns over 80 per cent of the rail it operates on, the small stretch of track between Bramalea and Georgetown is owned and operated by freight company CN Rail. Metrolinx works closely with their rail partners to operate a robust passenger service within a complex freight network.

There are ongoing discussions with CN to explore more frequent two-way all-day GO Transit services on this section of the corridor.

While this section of track west of Bramalea will not be electrified, Metrolinx is working to bring more service to all Brampton customers.

The Kitchener GO Rail Service Expansion Preliminary Design Business Case speaks to additional benefits realized by the minimal infrastructure solution on the Kitchener Corridor. The investment would allow for two-way all-day GO rail service from Union Station to Kitchener in the coming years.

Brampton GO Station Improvements:

On March 1, 2021 Metrolinx released the project construction tender for parking improvements at Brampton GO Station. There will be a new surface parking lot on the south side of the tracks at Elisabeth and Railroad Street adding over 200 new parking spots. The work is now well underway and is expected complete by the end of 2021.

Image shows dirt being moved around.
Crews work to prepare Brampton GO Station’s new 270-space parking lot for paving. (Metrolinx photo)

Georgetown to Kitchener:

Guelph Train Speed Improvements

In June 2021, Metrolinx ran test trains through new signals at crossings in the City of Guelph. The tests verified that the signals can support future train speed increase from 16 km/h currently to up to 80 km/h.

Metrolinx corridor teams and their contractors have been working to repair, replace and upgrade infrastructure and essential signal technology along the Kitchener GO Line in support of future expansion in the region. Train speeds will start increasing slowly and incrementally to significantly reduce the journey time. Train speeds are expected to increase in fall 2021 and more details will be shared with the community as those plans are confirmed.

To read more about Guelph train speed improvements check out the blog post.

Beyond Kitchener:

London Service Expansion

Starting October 18, weekday GO Train service will extend to London, Ontario as a pilot project. One train per day will leave from London’s VIA Station in the early morning, stopping in St. Marys, Stratford, and continuing on the Kitchener corridor and terminating at Toronto’s Union Station. A second trip will return to London later the same day.

To receive updates on this and other initiatives in the area sign up here.

Two-way, all-day service to Kitchener requires a host of new infrastructure from Union Station all the way to Kitchener. The culmination of all these projects will help to increase and improve the corridor and transform the Kitchener GO Line from a rush-hour commuter service into a true rapid transit corridor.

Story by Stacey Kenny, Metrolinx senior advisor, Communications and Stakeholder Relations.