Toronto

Riders can expect 'limited' GO train cancellations after COVID-19 vaccination policy takes effect

The company that operates regional transit in the GTA says riders should be prepared for some GO train cancellations after a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for crews went into effect.

Between 2 and 3% of daily train trips could be impacted, Metrolinx says

Metrolinx said the potential cancellations could number in the range of 10 to 15 of the roughly 500 train trips on the GO network each day.  (Michael Charles Cole/CBC)

The company that operates regional transit in the GTA says riders should be prepared for some GO train cancellations after a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for crews went into effect.

In a statement, Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said the potential cancellations will be "limited," likely falling into the range of 10 to 15 — or between two and three per cent — of the roughly 500 train trips on the GO network each day. 

GO train crews are technically employees of the multinational transit giant Alstom, the statement noted, which implemented a vaccination policy in line with Metrolinx's own requirement. It formally took effect on Sunday.

"Although 96% of the over 1,000 Alstom employees working on trains are fully vaccinated, the loss of even a small percentage of crew members given the current labour market shortages we are already experiencing will unfortunately result in limited train cancellations on GO Transit," the statement said.

In an interview with CBC Toronto early Monday, Aikins said that the Metrolinx control centre will do daily evaluations to determine which train trips might be nixed. The cancellations will largely be focused on trips with the fewest riders. Customers impacted by the scheduling changes will be provided with alternative service options, like taking buses, Aikins said.

The transit agency hopes that at least some of the train crews that have been put on leave will return to the job after getting their shots. Aikins said that when the Metrolinx policy went into effect on Nov. 1 about 150 bus drivers were placed on leave. More than half of those staff members came back, Aikins said.

She added, though, that Metrolinx is also actively recruiting new employees. 

"We really need new people. So if you're looking for a career in the transit industry, there are good, good jobs available," Aikins said.

Meanwhile, service on the Lakeshore East line resumed Sunday after a deadly incident near Rouge Hill station on Nov. 27 shut down trains on the busy route for more than a week.

A 41-year-old contract worker was killed when he was pinned beneath a rail car that toppled over. He was part of a team doing track maintenance, according to Aikins.

Repairs to the tracks required more than 20 tonnes of gravel to be brought to the site, she said. The work was completed on Saturday.

Aikins said that given the disruption to service along Lakeshore East, no trips would be cancelled on the line this week.

Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story stated that the worker killed in the incident was part of a team reconstructing the Rouge Hill bridge. According to a spokesperson for Metrolinx, however, the worker was doing track maintenance when he was killed by a rail car that toppled over.
    Dec 06, 2021 11:43 AM ET

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