Two-way, all-day GO trains before 2024 says Transportation Minister Yurek

Ontario Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek was on CBC Kitchener-Waterloo's The Morning Edition Wednesday to discuss transportation to and from Kitchener. He repeated the government's goal: "we will have that in place before 2024. Definitely."

Two-way, all-day GO trains between Kitchener and Toronto will be a reality before 2024, Ontario Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek says.

In an interview Wednesday morning on CBC Kitchener-Waterloo's The Morning Edition with host Craig Norris, Yurek said the province is currently in talks with partners like CN to use rail tracks not owned by the passenger service.

"That's our goal, that we will have that in place before 2024. Definitely," Yurek said.

Yurek says he's also heard from people in the region who want trains from Toronto to Kitchener, particularly in the morning for commuters to get to work in Waterloo Region.

"Getting the trains to Kitchener from Toronto's the next step forward because I heard that loud and clear when I was at University of Waterloo the other week, that there is a need for getting people from Toronto into Kitchener to the workforce, so we'll be working on that," Yurek said.

Listen to the whole interview:

'Faster timeline than previously promised'

Yurek apologized to riders for schedule changes on the Kitchener GO line earlier this month that frustrated commuters. Those changes added a train into Toronto in the morning and one back to Waterloo region in the afternoon, but removed the express train.

Metrolinx announced on Monday the express train at 4:50 p.m. would be reinstated on Feb. 13.

"It obviously didn't work out for the commuters and we listened loud and clear," Yurek said.

The express train will cost the province $570,000 per year. That's on top of $1.1 million a year for the two additional trains that started in January.

Yurek says the funding for those trains is coming from "our revenue that's coming into the government." But he says adding the trains are part of a larger plan for the province.

"We're prioritizing our spending and as we go forward to implement two-way, all-day GO transit between Kitchener and Toronto, where it's obviously going to have to be investments and money is going to have to be put in place, and we've made that a priority to get to that point," he said.

"We're going to go forward with getting two-way, all-day GO transit for Kitchener to Toronto at a faster timeline than previously promised and that's part of our plan on building up the economy in this province and opening up Ontario for business."

Announcement in 12 to 18 months

Yurek says he hopes to have an announcement about two-way, all-day go in the next 12 to 18 months, but adds he anticipates making smaller announcements along the way.

The province is working with CN and other partners to make agreements for train times and freight times, he says.

"CN's been very good about working with us and opening up lines and that's why we were able to reinstate the express train, which is an additional train, back onto the track because we were able to work with CN to open up some of the freight times," he said.

Yurek was also asked about a study at looking at expanding GO trains in Cambridge.

He says right now, the plan is to focus on getting two-way, all-day GO for Kitchener.

"We'll take a look at Cambridge as we progress further with our expansions," he said.


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