It’s that time of year again, where I scan through all the commuter rail timetables in Canada, to see how the the fastest-growing motorized transport mode is doing.
For the third year in a row, there have been major expansions of train service in Ontario, but no improvements anywhere else in the country.
Improvements highlighted in green, deteriorations highlighted in red:
On June 24th, all-day weekday train service was introduced on the GO Transit Stouffville line with off-peak trains every hour between Toronto and Unionville. Trains cross each other using the pre-existing double-track between Unionville and Milliken stations, as well as the triple-tracked mainline between Scarborough and Union. But because the line is still mostly single-track, there is a gap in service during peak periods in the counter-peak direction.
On December 30th, the GO Transit Barrie Line also received all-day weekday train service, with off-peak trains every hour between Toronto and Aurora. Those trains cross each other using a new segment of double-track between York University and Rutherford stations, which was completed mere days before the start of service. But as with the Stouffville line, there is no service on weekdays in the counter-peak direction, because there are not enough sidings to encounter all the frequent trains heading in the peak direction. The new track also allowed the weekend service to improve from every 75 minutes to every 60 minutes.
When I started making these summaries in January 2015, the Toronto and Montreal lines were fairly interspersed on the chart, as ranked by weekday frequency. But now in 2018, the chart is looking more sorted, with Toronto at the top, Montreal in the middle, and Vancouver on the bottom. In those 3 years, the number of weekday GO Transit train departures has doubled from 123 per direction to 248, and the number of weekend departures has more than doubled from 64 per direction to 158. Meanwhile the number of departures on the other systems has remained the same.
The big news outside of Ontario has been a restructuring of the former Agence Métropolitaine de Transport (AMT) into separate operating (RTM – Réseau de Transport Métropolitain) and planning (ARTM – Autorité Régionale de Transport Métropolitain) agencies. As far as I can tell, the train service is the same as always, though there are now fewer restrictions on bringing bicycles onto trains.
There has unfortunately only been negative change in average speeds, as measured during the AM Peak period in the peak direction.
The GO Transit Barrie Line is now 2 minutes slower because York University GO station has remained open despite the opening of the new Downsview Park station nearby. The Barrie is now no longer the fastest commuter line in Canada during peak periods, but it retains that title at other times, when trains skip York University station and average 62 km/h.