GO Transit.

CANADA: Toronto commuter rail operator GO Transit plans to acquire more of the infrastructure used by its trains, rather than relying on trackage rights agreements with the country’s two main freight railroads.

The operator already owns some tracks near Union Station and parts of its Barrie, Lakeshore and Stouffville lines. Further acquisitions could begin this year, although the amount of trackage to be obtained has yet to be determined. CEO Gary McNeil says Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railway are interested in selling if they can get ‘certain guarantees’ and the right price. Once it achieves ownership, GO Transit plans to upgrade the signalling, track and other infrastructure.

In its GO 2020 strategic plan unveiled on December 12, the operator envisages a major expansion of services in the growing ‘Greater Golden Horseshoe’, which now has around 8 million inhabitants. Chairman Peter Smith said GO Transit was ‘committed to creating more responsive and sustainable transit service’. The plan is designed to synchronise with the Metrolinx Regional Transportation Plan and the MoveOntario 2020 provincial investment strategy.

Over the next decade GO Transit expects to double average weekday ridership from 170 000 to 350 000. The plan envisages ‘two-way all-day service’ in the core area, with trains running half hourly all day and every 15 min at peak times. Peak-hour trains could be expanded to other routes, serving Bolton, Seaton, East Markham, Bowmanville, Uxbridge and Guelph. Other commitments include improving reliability so that 92% of trains arrive within 5 min of schedule; providing full accessibility to all services by 2016; and the introduction of a common ticketing system with other local operators.