Kitchener-Centre MPP Daiene Vernile has said she remains confident a two-way, all-day GO train service between Kitchener and Toronto will be a reality, despite concerns about slow commute times and a new timeline of 10 years for completion.
In an interview Friday on CBC's The Morning Edition, Vernile said she shares the frustration of tech industry leader Stephen Lake, co-founder and CEO of Thalmic Labs, who this week said it's "crazy" to expect riders to tolerate a four-hour round trip.
However, the Liberal MPP said she's talking to "all of the local stakeholders every day" and there is a strong push to get things done. She listed developments showing the project is progressing:
- A year ago, Metrolinx, the provincial agency in charge of GO Transit, bought 53 kilometres of track between Kitchener and Georgetown.
- Construction began on a layover facility at 200 Shirley Ave., in Kitchener this year.
- GO Transit will be doubling service between Kitchener and Toronto, starting next year.
- Former federal transportation minister David Collenette was appointed last month as special adviser in charge of high-speed rail in Ontario. He's looking at the line all the way from Toronto to Windsor.
- During the launch of the layover facility earlier this week, Michael Wolczyk, vice-president of corridor infrastructure at Metrolinx, said the Kitchener line is a "top priority." He has been previously quoted as saying talks with CN Rail on sharing the line have been "very productive."
Vernile reiterated that in order to keep moving forward with faster and more frequent service, Metrolinx must come to an agreement with CN Rail on sharing a 30-kilometre stretch of track between the Georgetown station and the Bramalea station in Brampton.
- Metrolinx buys 53-km track section, touts Kitchener GO upgrades
- 2-way Kitchener GO train service thwarted by 30 km of track
It's a main line for CN Rail, which owns it and is using it every day. GO Transit is currently piggybacking on the line.
Lake, Vernile and others, including Iain Klugman, head of Communitech, and Steven Woods from Google, sat down with Premier Kathleen Wynne at a meeting in October 2014.
They discussed, among other things, a track-sharing plan to allow trains to run in the opposite direction: from Toronto to Kitchener in the morning and from Kitchener to Toronto in the evening.
But Lake said this week he's still worried that after 10 years in development, people won't even use the line because of the long commute.
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- Kitchener GO Transit layover facility planned for Shirley Ave.
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"We need trains that are going to be a reasonable time to go back and forth," he said. "Any modern country, whether it's in Europe, Japan, China, have high-speed, clean, on-time links between all major cities. That's not out of reach."
"He's absolutely right and I share his frustration because I, too am a commuter," Vernile said. "And in order to make this happen we have an entire team of planners and engineers at Metrolinx that are working hard at this every day."
"So once we have better use of that track I'm confident that we're going to see this happen. And he's right. It does need to go faster," she said.