Metrolinx and local MPPs say they can hammer out a deal with CN Rail in time to open Stoney Creek's Confederation GO station in 2019 — despite the fact that the process has already dragged on for years.
CN controls much of the rails heading into Hamilton, and the rail corridor from downtown Hamilton to the new Stoney Creek station. Local MPP Ted McMeekin did a ceremonial groundbreaking at 397 Centennial Pkwy. N. on Thursday, along with St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley and Fred Eisenberger, the mayor of Hamilton. The project is already in phase two of construction.
McMeekin said the province's GO plans for Hamilton and Niagara still hinge on CN, but they're making progress.
"(Negotiations) may have been going badly, but I understand they're going well now," said McMeekin, a Liberal MPP who represents Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale.
For its part, CN says the two sides are trying to hammer out a revised agreement for a new track running from the West Harbour to Confederation GO stations.
"We continue to work with Metrolinx to revise the Hamilton area expansion agreement to complete construction of the infrastructure needed to establish the Confederation station service," spokesperson Jonathan Abecassis said in an email.
There's a lot at stake. Crews are already on stage two of the new $35-million Confederation GO station. Metrolinx also hopes to run long-awaited all-day GO trains to Hamilton Centre, and weekday rush-hour service between West Harbour to Union Station.
CN owns the whole corridor from West Harbour to the Confederation station, said Leon Stambolich, Metrolinx's director of corridor infrastructure for Lakeshore West GO line.
"It's all their track," Stambolich said. "It's their corridor. We're in partnership with CN."
Right now, they're negotiating "one segment of the corridor at a time."
"It's a long process," he said. "Years."
Niagara's future GO train service also depends on CN. Metrolinx plans to extend GO service to a Casablanca GO station in Grimsby by 2021, and to St. Catharines two years after that, and eventually Niagara Falls by 2025, McMeekin said.
But "it's not a matter of simply putting a train on the tracks," Bradley said.
The Confederation GO station will include an island platform with a canopy, a "kiss and ride" area, and a bus loop for buses running to Niagara and Hamilton and as many as 600 parking spaces. It will also have as many as 600 parking spaces and a walkway leading down to Centennial Parkway.
In a news release, the province said the station will "help facilitate year-round GO rail service to Stoney Creek on the Lakeshore West line, and will also lay the groundwork for future plans to extend a second rail track to Niagara Falls."
Right now, crews at the Confederation GO station are excavating the property, building sewer connections and culvert extensions, and clearing the rail corridor.
Metrolinx says all its construction work has been completed at the West Harbour GO station.
Metrolinx plans to have all-day GO train service from Union Station to the Hamilton Centre GO station on Hunter Street, but its plans do not currently include all-day GO to the West Harbour GO station. The plan for West Harbour is 30-minute service from West Harbour to Union Station on weekday mornings and from Union Station to West Harbour in the afternoon/evening.Feb 08, 2018 4:55 PM ET