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Ontario government confirms plans for GO regional express rail service

Update — Friday, July 25, 9:07 a.m.: The Legislature approved the government’s budget, including public transit projects, yesterday, Thursday, July 24.

Update — Thursday, June 12, 11:05 p.m.: The Ontario Liberal party has won the election with a majority government, meaning that plans for the service are again likely on track.

Update — Friday, May 2, 10:59 p.m.: Since the Legislature failed to pass the budget, Lieutenant Governor David Onley has called an election for Thursday, June 12. Plans for RER service may depend on who wins the election.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister of Transportation Glen Murray dropped by GO Transit’s Willowbrook maintenance facility today to firm up the Ontario government’s plans to improve GO service along all rail corridors.

The premier and minister announced that the government was working toward developing a regional express rail service to provide frequent, all-day, two-way service along GO rail lines. While that plan is not new, the politicians’ announcement today seems to make the express service much more of a probability for commuters, instead of only a mere possibility.

Of course, the government’s plans also depend on whether or not the Ontario Legislature passes the government’s budget next month.

Calling the plan “transformative”, Minister Murray said that the regional express rail network — similar to commuter systems in London, Paris and other cities — would offer 15-minute service throughout the Greater Toronto Area and would double GO ridership over the next ten years. The government also plans to “electrify” — power trains by electricity — all GO lines in the same time frame.

The proposals are part of the Ontario Liberal party’s Moving Ontario Forward plan, a $29 billion package of transit and infrastructure projects that the Liberals have promised to roll out over the next 10 years — if the provincial budget is passed.

How would regional express rail (RER) service work?

These are tentative plans, but expect Metrolinx and GO to develop RER service along with express service along the lines.

For example, along the 01 Lakeshore West line, trains might drop off or pick up passengers at all stops between Hamilton and Oakville, then operate express — without stopping — to Union Station. At the same time, local RER trains would offer frequent service to all stations between Oakville and Union.

With the 09 Lakeshore East line, expect all-stop service between Oshawa and Pickering, and then non-stop service to Union. RER service would be between Pickering and Union.

Along the 31 Kitchener line, rush-hour trains might serve all stations between Kitchener and Mount Pleasant, and then operate express to Union Station. Frequent RER trains would stop at all station between Mount Pleasant and Union.