Provincial pledges to improve GO Train service in Waterloo Region don’t include an anticipated park-and-ride station in Breslau, at least not yet.
Speaking at a Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce event Tuesday, Premier Kathleen Wynne promised full-day, two-way GO Train service between Kitchener and the GTA. The plan calls for more GO Train trips, with operator Metrolinx to introduce two additional morning and afternoon peak period trips by 2016. There will also be upgrades to the rail corridor to improve travel times.
The move would restore the number of trains initially planned half a dozen years ago when GO Transit trains were proposed for Kitchener. Ridership numbers have been a sore spot since the service began, with complaints about speed and reliability. Currently, the route between Kitchener and Union Station takes about two hours, with delays hitting about a third of the trips.
With upgrades, one trip between Waterloo Region and Toronto could be an express service that could save passengers 20 to 30 minutes per ride. The increased service could handle an additional 1,000 passengers each day.
Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris questioned the timing of Wynne’s announcement.
“When Kathleen Wynne was transportation minister, she short-changed Kitchener by going back on the Liberal government’s commitment to expand GO Transit between Waterloo Region and Toronto,” Harris said in a release Tuesday. “Now, she wants residents to believe that she has had a change of heart just ahead of a potential spring election. Given her past record, how can anyone really believe what the Premier is saying today?”
In scaling back GO Train service in the region, the province also put on hold plans for a Breslau facility. In 2009, Woolwich council heard plans for a Greenhouse Road site for a park-and-ride train station. The project would see the construction of a small station and parking for 700 cars (with room for an additional 350) on land running along the existing CN/Goderich-Exeter Railway tracks running south of Hwy. 7. That line would connect Kitchener and Guelph to the current GO service in Georgetown, then on to Toronto.
From the start, there were concerns about using only the existing VIA train station in downtown Kitchener, where there’s little parking and traffic problems now exacerbated by the region’s LRT scheme.
The improvements announced by Wynne don’t include a Breslau station at this time.
“This announcement does not include the Breslau kiss and ride,” Zita Astravas, the Premier’s press secretary, said in an email. “But as the Premier was asked about further GO expansions, Premier Wynne said: ‘So [Kitchener Centre MPP] John [Milloy] will tell you that every time we make a GO announcement what we hear is that’s great, but how about … how about this part? You know there’s an almost insatiable appetite for more GO service and I know that.’”
The particulars still remain to come from Minister of Transportation & Infrastructure Glen Murray.
“While I don’t have many particular details at the moment, there are no immediate plans for park and ride, and there remains a possibility for a rail station in our long-term plan,” said Patrick Searle, a spokesman for Murray, in an email Wednesday.
A station still remains part of the tentative plans for the land east of Breslau. Future development in and around the village is the focus of a Woolwich planning review, the Breslau secondary plan.