Trains halted due to power outage in southern Ontario getting back on track

Some GO trains and all Via Rail trains in Ontario are moving again after a power outage at the CN Rail traffic control centre in Toronto.

Service 'slowly coming back' after earlier system-wide outage halted Via and GO trains

GO Transit passengers pass the time while stopped for more than an hour on the Lakeshore West line on Friday. (Serenity Palia/CBC)

Commuter trains and some Via Rail trains around Canada's largest city came to a standstill this morning for more than an hour due to a power outage at the CN Rail traffic control centre in Toronto.

GO Transit said it experienced a "system-wide shut down" that affected all seven of its lines, halting trains across southern Ontario.

Power was restored and trains were starting to move again just before noon, but Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said it would take time for full service to resume. Passengers are being told to expect "residual delays" due to the outage, she said

Priority is being placed on trains stopped between stations.

"We are getting power back up, but it's going to take us some time. Some trains are going to have to be manually flagged through [Union Station]," she said. "It's slowly coming back."

This Via Rail train was stopped on the tracks west of Toronto. (Serenity Palia/CBC)

Via said nine of its trains were stopped on routes between Belleville and Windsor, Ont. All trains that were stopped are moving again, Via said in a statement.

"Via Rail Canada wishes to inform its passengers that all trains travelling between Montreal and Windsor are currently experiencing delays. Via Rail is directing all its efforts towards assisting passengers who are currently on board trains. We regret the inconvenience that this situation may cause and appreciate our passengers' understanding."

CN Rail had to reboot computer

A power failure in the area of Highway 407 and Keele Street in Toronto caused the outage at the CN Rail traffic control area at about 9:30 a.m. The outage caused signalling problems and affected all GO trains, the Union Pearson Express, which links Union Station in downtown Toronto to Pearson International Airport, and some Via Rail trains in Ontario.

Metrolinx said service has returned to normal on all of its lines for the Friday afternoon commute home. About 2,000 people were affected in all by the disruption. Eighteen people were stranded on the UP Express and some missed their flights.

Aikins said CN Rail had to reboot its computer system, but it has now partly regained control of the signalling system on the Lakeshore West and Kitchener corridors.

"They have restored the power but it's like a massive computer system now has to reboot to bring signals back online," she said.

GO Transit had buses shuttling passengers near the UP Express line route.

"As a result, trains will be holding at their location until signals are back up and running and we are able to resume radio communication. Passengers may use their GO fares at TTC staffed entrances," GO wrote on its website.
Passengers on a train on the Lakeshore West line pass the time while it is stopped. (Serenity Palia/CBC)

Jonathan Abecassis, spokesperson for CN Rail in Eastern Canada, said the traffic control centre has been able to restore its our power systems partially. 

"Some trains are moving. We do apologize to all passengers who have been affected," he said.

Chris Monster is a Toronto resident and IBM software manager who takes the 9:21 a.m. ET weekday GO Train from Guildwood to Union Station. He said the train stopped at Scarborough station for at least an hour Friday.

The trip usually takes about 27 minutes. The stoppage meant he had to reschedule a couple of appointments.

"We didn't really know how long it would take to solve the problem," he said.
A display board at Union Station in downtown Toronto alerts passengers to a problem with commuter trains. (Emma Kimmerly/CBC)

Monster said the worst part was not knowing when the problem would be resolved. He said passengers could have shared cabs if they had been given more information.

"After about an hour at Scarborough station, I could see the cabs lining up at the station building and people, one by one, going out to catch cabs."

He said not many people were complaining. Most people found ways to pass the time. 

"I didn't get the sense that people were angry. But now everybody is wondering about this afternoon."

Some passengers complained about the lack of communication.

The shutdown apparently didn't stop inspectors from making sweeps through the cars, however, according to passengers.

Several people also wanted to know whether they would be reimbursed for the trip and, in some cases, their time.

With files from Tania Mehta and Laura Fraser