Updated: GO train Milton Line service
Early in 2015 and again in August of 2016, GO Transit added an additional two trains, one morning and one afternoon, Monday to Friday on our Milton Line. The new trains stop at every station: Milton, Lisgar, Meadowvale, Streetsville, Erindale, Cooksville, Dixie, Kipling, and Union.
The new morning trains cover the early and late departure times. The new evening trains leave Union Station also early (3:40 p.m.) and later in the afternoon. Consult the most recent schedule for GO train times on the Milton line. Some trips on GO Bus Routes may also change. Be sure to check the Schedule Changes page at www.gotransit.com for more information. If you are a daily GO train user, be sure to pick up a current schedule.
The new trains on the Milton Line have helped students, shoppers, and people who have appointments that don’t require a full day in Toronto. Ontario has more than doubled GO train capacity in the past 11 years. However, we desperately need the planned capacity expansion in the form of two new tracks on the Milton Line for GO Transit to offer all-day, two-way train service. CP Rail needs to get serious and speak with Metrolinx. The federal government has a role to play in helping fund this vital transit infrastructure link for us in northwest Mississauga. Ontario has put its money to work with this latest service improvement for residents of Lisgar, Meadowvale and Streetsville.
Update on all-day, two-way GO train service
In recent months, the new Mississauga City Council, and others, have spoken about all-day, two-way train service on the Milton GO Line. Every so often as I ride the GO train myself, we have an impromptu ‘commuter focus group’ on the morning or evening train, and all-day, two-way service is the most frequent discussion topic. Let’s recap the current situation:
- The Milton GO Line is owned by CP Rail, which has, in recent years, had a major management change. CP Rail and Metrolinx, GO Transit’s Ontario-owned parent, had not had substantive negotiations over Metrolinx gaining the right-of-way to CP’s Milton corridor until 2015. I am advised that Metrolinx is able to start a dialogue;
- No agreement between CP Rail and Metrolinx exists on the cost-sharing and usage of the proposed new, two-track extension to the existing two tracks on the Milton Line, which CP Rail currently uses at its full capacity for freight movement. Whether freight runs on the Milton Line is a decision of the line’s owner, CP Rail, and not the City of Mississauga, the Province of Ontario, or the Government of Canada. That said, the level of government that regulates transportation is the feds, and not the Province. Makes sense: freight moves across provincial borders;
- The challenge to GO Transit is that it can only use one of CP Rail’s tracks for part of the day, which means that a train that starts in Milton in the morning has no way to get back west within either of GO Transit’s morning or afternoon windows of time during which it can use CP Rail’s tracks. During the balance of the time, the Milton Line tracks – both of them – carry freight. Express service is a similar challenge: where do you put the train once it leaves Union Station?
- More significantly, westbound morning traffic cannot use GO Milton Line rail service to get to, for example, the growing Meadowvale financial, life sciences and aerospace industrial hubs. Similarly, those commuters who travel westbound to Mississauga in the morning to go to work cannot use train service to get back to Toronto in the evening on an eastbound GO train trip for the same lack-of-access reason. Only the additional two proposed tracks can allow GO trains to run both eastbound and westbound throughout the day;
- Metrolinx has done some engineering, feasibility and environmental studies, which show no insurmountable obstacle to Phase One, which would, if undertaken, expand the Milton corridor from two to four tracks from east of the Humber River as far as Meadowvale. This would also require upgrades or replacements of overpasses, trestles and bridges all along the line.
Q and A on the Milton GO Line
- Q: Can’t any level of government just get the freight trains off the line so that more GO trains can run during the day:
A: No unilateral action by the municipal, provincial or federal governments can change how CP Rail schedules its own freight trains on its own rail line. GO trains run during an eastbound time period in the morning, and westbound during a time period in the afternoon. And in the hypothetical event that CP took the freight trains off the line, their cargo would be on the highway, in trucks, sitting ahead of you as you drive through the GTA. Be careful what you wish for, as the Chinese say;
- Q: Who has to work with CP Rail and what are the options for both sides?
A: Work by the Government of Canada with CP Rail, whose business is nationwide, may find a basis for cooperation. Alternatively, CP Rail may choose to talk about an agreement with Metrolinx, the Ontario crown agency that manages inter-regional rail and bus services. If CP plans to continue to use the Milton rail corridor, a third and fourth track are essential for GO Transit to operate all-day, two-way rail service. CP uses the existing two tracks at their full carrying capacity for freight, without the slack to enable trains to get back to Milton during the day once they have reached Union Station on the eastbound morning run;
- Q: What about electrification of the Milton GO Line?
A: The principal need on the Milton Line is for passenger carrying capacity, not the fuel that powers the train. Looking forward, should Metrolinx reach an agreement with Canadian Pacific to enable two dedicated tracks for GO Transit, that is the time to consider how the trains might be powered. The current generation of diesels are clean, quiet and efficient. The case for electric trains would be based on having shorter trains able to run every few minutes;
- Q: Should an agreement with CP Rail be reached, how long would it take for all-day service to begin on the Milton Line?
A: Every trestle and bridge between Milton and east of the Humber River would need to be upgraded to handle four tracks. Metrolinx’s engineering and environmental surveys show no insurmountable obstacles. Current estimates show a three-year buildout on a projected Phase One between east of the Humber River and Meadowvale, once the contract has been tendered and awarded, and work has begun.
Now you are up-to-date on GO train service on the Milton Line. My household newsletters keep coming back to this topic with brief updates, and check this web site for the latest that we know for sure. What you won’t find here is speculation or rumour. For questions and comments to Bob personally, please click here.
Progress in the past 13 years
In the fall of 2003, there were five trains each way Monday to Friday, with each train pulling ten cars. Today, there are nine trains each way, with each train pulling 12 cars. This represents a service expansion of 116 percent since the fall of 2003. As well, in that time span, GO has:
- Built the new Lisgar GO station in 2007, completing it ahead of schedule, and under budget;
- Expanded the platform at all other Milton Line stations to accommodate the 12-car GO trains. Lisgar had been constructed from the outset with the capability for 12-car trains;
- Completely revamped the Streetsville GO station, with a new park-and-ride, a new access tunnel, more parking and resurfacing of the platform;
- Introduced the Presto Card, which has a near 100 percent uptake among our Lisgar, Meadowvale and Streetsville GO commuters;
- Acquired additional land on the north side of the Streetsville GO station to substantially expand the Streetsville GO parking capability;
- Built the Streetsville GO bus maintenance facility, providing some 200 full-time jobs, and enabling better bus access to local GO commuters.