Kitchener-Waterloo

More details on GO train service between Cambridge and Guelph coming this spring

The Region of Waterloo has been researching a transportation project that could connect Cambridge and Guelph with GO train service.

Phase 2 of feasibility study to be released in May

The potential GO train connection would begin in the northeast of Cambridge and head north to Guelph connecting through the area of the Hanlon and Wellington Road 124 on its way to the main Kitchener to Toronto line. (Robert Krbavac/CBC)

The Region of Waterloo is researching a transportation project that could connect Cambridge and Guelph with GO train service.

The route, if it is eventually approved, would take passengers to and from Cambridge to the Kitchener-Toronto line, which is expected to include two-way, all-day GO in the future.

The region led proposal was announced in 2018 with a two phase feasibility study exploring the use of CN tracks along what's called the Fergus subdivision, a CN owned line that is currently being used for freight transport. 

The first phase of the study, which was released last year, gave a birds eye view of potential rail service for a route that could roughly run from the Hespeler and Pinebush Road area of Cambridge to Guelph in the area of Highway 6 North and Wellington Road 124.

More specifics coming this spring

Darryl Spencer is the senior engineer in transportation planning with the Region of Waterloo. He says phase one looked at ridership forecasts for the service, land use in Cambridge, where in the city a potential GO station could be accessed, is it supported by transit, near the 401 and residential areas.

But phase two will include more specifics including the cost and potential technologies for the train service.

"We're looking at potentially what if we electrified the line or even newer, what's called electric battery motor units. So there's a bit of an assessment of the technology that could be used," said Spencer.

"And then we looked at, again, different travel speeds, what it would take to accomplish those from a cost perspective, from a physical perspective and such, we look to strengthen the strategic case. We looked at the economic feasibility, the deliverability and operability of the service, a financial case, and then we're looking to establish next steps."

Those next steps Spencer speaks of includes making a business case for Metrolinx and formalizing a need for the service.

Metrolinx, which operates GO train service in Ontario, acknowledged in an email to CBC Kitchener-Waterloo that the project is being considered.

"The Region of Waterloo is undertaking an independent evaluation of rail service feasibility on the Fergus Subdivision, between Guelph and Cambridge. Metrolinx has been engaged in a third-party advisory capacity on the study."

Other stakeholders in this project include the Ministry of Transportation, Canadian National Railway, the City of Guelph, County of Wellington, Township of Guelph-Eramosa, and City of Cambridge.

A map from phase 1 of the feasability study to bring GO train service between Cambridge and Guelph. (Submitted by Region of Waterloo)

Support for GO train from Cambridge

Cambridge Mayor Kathryn McGarry says council is contemplating the future transportation needs of the city and that includes light rail transit that connects with Kitchener-Waterloo and a GO train that runs between the city and Guelph.

McGarry told CBC K-W's The Morning Edition it's important to secure both transit connectors from an environmental and economic point of view.

"The LRT is important not only as a transportation spine to get Cambridge and Kitchener and Waterloo more connected, but it also does help to support a GO train extension that is being considered right now between Cambridge and Guelph," said McGarry.

"The LRT and a GO train would sort of complete more connection between individual area municipalities in the region, and that economically bodes well for attracting some of the direct foreign investment that we've had coming into our city in order to boost our economy."

The second phase of a feasibility project will be presented to regional council in May.

Listen to the interview with Cambridge Mayor Kathryn McGarry:

Cambridge Mayor Kathryn McGarry told the Morning Edition recently that GO train service is being considered between Cambridge and Guelph. CBC's Joe Pavia takes a closer look at what stage this "GO consideration" is in. 7:47

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