Over the past couple years, I’ve been making year-end summaries of all the commuter rail lines in Canada, identifying changes and trends. So here is a look back at the year 2016 in Canadian commuter rail.
For the second year in a row, there were no significant changes to commuter rail service outside of Ontario, and GO Transit introduced significant new off-peak train service.
The big accomplishment for 2016 was the introduction of two-way weekend train service on the Barrie line starting December 31st. This now puts the Barrie line in the unusual situation of having more trains on weekends than on weekdays. The new schedule has trains operating every every 75 minutes between Toronto to Aurora, which is a compromise in order to introduce two-way service on time despite construction delays on the double-track segment between York University and Rutherford stations. When that construction is finally wrapped up next year, service should improve to every 60 minutes.
On December 1st, the Richmond Hill line was extended north by 8 km to the new Gormley Station, which probably takes the title of the most isolated station on the GO Transit network. It really is in the middle of nowhere. The new segment is faster than the rest of the line which brings up the line’s overall average speed, but I didn’t highlight the speed in green since travel times on the existing portion of the line remain unchanged.
The Lakeshore West and Lakeshore East lines had a mixed bag this year. While the total number of trains increased thanks to some new counter-peak trips, the peak-direction frequency actually decreased by up to 2 trains per hour due to commuter express trips being spread out over a larger period. This change was due to construction-related platform closures at Union Station, so fortunately the reduction in that line’s peak capacity is only temporary.
Changed Travel Times
The biggest speed improvement this year is on the Kitchener line, which had end-to-end travel times reduced by 12 minutes thanks to the introduction of express service between Toronto and Kitchener.
The Barrie line also saw a 5-minute travel time improvement thanks to some construction-related slow zones being lifted.
The Lakeshore East and Stouffville lines have had time added to schedules for the second year in a row. The Lakeshore East line has lost the title of fastest commuter rail service in the country (now tied with the Barrie Line), and the Stouffville line has further solidified its title of slowest line in Ontario (previously held by the Richmond Hill line). Hopefully both of these slowdowns are construction-related and will be reversed in the future.
Canadian Commuter Rail Summary 2015
Here is last year’s summary:
Associated text is here, on the UrbanToronto forum.
Canadian Commuter Rail Summary 2014
The 2014 summary is discussed here on UrbanToronto.
North American Commuter Rail Summary 2014
That same year I also compiled a summary of all 104 Canadian and American commuter rail lines, which is discussed here.