Freight bypass on Kitchener GO line won't happen, province says

Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek's office says the province has come up with an alternative to bypassing a 30-kilometre track owned by CN.

Province says they've developed alternative to bypassing 30-kilometre track owned by CN

Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek's press secretary said the province has come up with an alternative to bypassing a 30-kilometre track owned by CN. (CBC)

A freight train bypass on the Kitchener GO line between Georgetown and Bramalea won't happen, according to the province. 

In Nov. 2017, Metrolinx said it was working on an environmental assessment to build a freight train bypass for CN Rail.

The previous Liberal government had said the bypass was needed so Metrolinx could increase GO train service and not need to share track time with freight trains.

In a statement sent to CBC Kitchener-Waterloo, Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek's office says the province has come up with an alternative to bypassing the 30-kilometre track owned by CN.

"Metrolinx has a stronger working relationship with CN, which allows for increased GO train service along sections of the rail corridor they own," spokesperson Andrew Buttigieg wrote in an email.

"The freight bypass was one option under consideration to separate freight and passenger rail to bring more service to Kitchener. Through ongoing work with CN, we have been able to come to agreements that allow passenger and freight to operate in parallel and allow us to significantly accelerate service improvements to these areas."

The agreement means "avoiding the need for a costly freight bypass on the Kitchener corridor, allowing us to steadily increase service between Toronto and Kitchener until full two-way, all-day service is delivered," he said.

New trains 'a partial victory,' NDP says

On Monday, Yurek announced a new GO train trip to Toronto at 5:40 a.m. and another back to Kitchener that leaves Union Station at 3:35 p.m.

Those trains are extended routes from Georgetown and will be added to the GO schedule as of Jan. 7. The trains will also stop in Acton and Guelph.

In September, Metrolinx had announced it was adding two cars during peak morning and afternoon trains to and from Kitchener.

In an interview, Kitchener Centre MPP Laura Mae Lindo was critical of not creating the freight bypass.

"Walking back the freight bypass is a departure from the promise of two-way, all-day GO, which is exactly what we need in Waterloo region," Lindo said, calling the addition of new trains "a partial victory, but it's far from good enough."

Lindo and fellow NDP MPP Catherine Fife, who represents Waterloo, will ask for a briefing from Yurek to get a better handle on what the project looks like now, Lindo said.

"We need two things. First, we need to know what the new plan is and second, we need to know what the timeline is for this new plan," she said. "There should be no issue with providing us with that information."

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