Two-way, all-day GO funding in 2021 budget a 'significant step,' says region

Next steps for the Kitchener GO Rail Expansion project include building more tracks and new platforms along the corridor between Georgetown and Kitchener, according to the 2021 Ontario budget.

'It isn't chump change,' agrees Tony LaMantia

Riders board a GO Train in Acton on June 4, 2019. The Region of Waterloo said funding for two-way all-day GO service in the 2021 budget is a step in the right direction. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

The 2021 Ontario budget outlines the next steps for the Kitchener GO Rail expansion project, include building more tracks and new platforms along the corridor between Georgetown and Kitchener.

The province said this work will include improvements to the Guelph Central Station along with track maintenance and track upgrades.

Procurement for phase one of the three-phase project has already begun and construction is set to begin in fall 2021, according to the budget.

"This infrastructure work and the coinciding hundreds of millions of dollars in investment, are the most significant step taken by the Government of Ontario towards making fast, frequent, two-way all day GO train service along the Innovation Corridor a reality by 2025," said the Region of Waterloo in a news release Wednesday.

Tony LaMantia, president of the Waterloo Economic Development Corporation, echoed that sentiment, calling the investment "an important step in the right direction."

Not 'chump change': LaMantia

"We're actually talking hundreds of millions of dollars," LaMantia said in an interview with CBC Kitchener-Waterloo. "It isn't chump change."

The province said it expects this investment will increase ridership and cut travel time along the corridor between Kitchener and Toronto, which will in turn boost economic growth.

Regional Chair Karen Redman put two-way all-day GO at the top of her wish list for the fall budget and LaMantia said there was some concern among the business community when that budget was silent on all-day two-way GO transit for the Kitchener Line. 

He's glad to see movement now, though.

"They're taking the step forward, I expect some more detail in the weeks ahead — maybe late spring, early summer [we can] expect some more significant news on this front," said LaMantia.

The promise of all-day two-way GO train service has been hanging over the Kitchener Line for years and the completion date has changed several times. 

The latest estimate — provided to CBC News by Metrolinx in November 2019 — is 2025. That's a year later than the date given by then-transportation minister Jeff Yurek in January, 2019. 



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