By Doug Hallett
Local MPP Liz Sandals says there is a lot of interest within the provincial government in a new report that sets out a business case for two-way GO train service between Toronto and Kitchener through Guelph.
However, it would be a very expensive project requiring double-tracking between Georgetown and Kitchener, Sandals said in an interview.
She was reacting to a 90-page business case presented to the province recently by the cities of Guelph, Kitchener and Waterloo and the Region of Waterloo.
It sets out the case for frequent two-way GO train service helping to boost an “innovation corridor” from Toronto to Guelph and K-W.
Sandals said she has discussed the “interesting business case” with Glen Murray, Ontario’s transportation minister.
“I think there is a lot of interest in the business case they are making” within the government, she said.
Guelph’s MPP agreed that frequent two-way GO train service would support the “fluid workforce” that works in the IT sector.
Sandals noted Guelph’s expertise in innovations in the biotechnology and auto-industry areas of the economy, which would also contribute to the innovation corridor.
Sandals said she was glad to see that the province isn’t being asked to provide two-way GO service in a hurry, given the cost.
Instead, the province is being asked to make two-way GO train service to this area a part of the 10-year capital portion of the province’s 2014 budget.
“It is a significant capital expenditure to double-track to Kitchener,” she said. “I don’t anybody has done the costing on it” yet.
The CN North Mainline is already double-tracked as far as Georgetown, partly due to a $30-million provincial investment in a two-way rail bridge over the Credit River, Sandals said. Beyond Georgetown, though, the mainline is single-tracked, except for some layovers.
Guelph’s Wyndham Street Bridge, which was reconstructed while Guelph Central Station was being built on Carden Street near the train station, has two-way capacity, Sandals noted. But a lot of other bridges between Georgetown and Kitchener don’t have that capacity at this point.
“It’s not just the tracks,” she said. “Every single bridge has to have capacity for double tracks.”
However, Sandals said, “I’m very supportive of this being where we need to go in the future.”