By Mark Straub
Recently attending a learning session hosted by Metrolinx officials proved very informative. If the long anticipated all-day, two-way, GO train service is to become a reality in Kitchener, it is going to require a great deal of coordination and cooperation. Few would question the benefits such a service would bring to the region, especially in light of the growing number of families and professionals seeking affordable housing in the KW area as house prices continue to grow exponentially in the GTA.
When asked about this ongoing effort, Gord Troughton, Director of Corridor Infrastructure with Metrolinx, commented that “…The first step is a new 30 kilometre stretch between Bramalea and Milton to bypass CN’s existing track, so that capacity can be built.”
Of course, this alone will require a significant number of new bridges to be built over roads and water, modifications, and perhaps even the relocation of hydro towers and gas lines. It will also mean the laying down of about 60km of new track.
Moreover, the proposed enhanced two-way rail service will require a second stretch of track between Kitchener and Georgetown be built, as well as system-wide upgrades for communications and renovations to GO stations along this path.
In summation, all of these developments suggest a current time frame of about 10 years before completion, as there are still environmental assessments to be conducted and licensing and permits to be obtained. And this is over and above the procurement, construction and commissioning required of the project. Not surprisingly, costs are expected to run high as it starts around $30 billion and is likely to escalate over time.
Of course nothing is finalized yet as the project is very much in its nascent stage, as there is still much discussion and planning needed before work can begin in earnest.
Most residents in KW are eager that discussions will finally bear fruit and that the building of the railway will soon get underway. The region of Waterloo desperately needs this type of infrastructure built in order to reduce traffic congestion and ease traffic flow on Highway 401, and reduce commute times that are identified in some studies as the worst in North America. All in all, the proposed all day, 2-way, GO train service to the region is a great benefit and a great investment for the province in Waterloo Region.