How realistic is the prospect of all-day two-way GO trains from Newmarket to Toronto? And can Metrolinx deliver?

Last month, the Liberal Chris Ballard smashed the PC hegemony in Newmarket-Aurora, winning the provincial election on the promise (amongst other things) of “all-day two-way north and south, electric GO trains, connecting people to jobs and jobs to people”.

Fighting words, but what weight should we give them?

Back in April, the Town of Newmarket published a transportation study commissioned from the outside consultants GDH. This massive tome informs and lies alongside the Secondary Plan which has now been adopted by the Town and awaits approval from York Region.

In the section entitled “GO Train frequency” the report states:

“…Furthermore, two-way all-day services will be introduced within 10-15 years (before 2031). Metrolinx has advised that the tracks will have to be doubled to Newmarket and beyond, to accommodate this service improvement.”

Armed with this information I wrote to the Chief Executive of Metrolinx, Bruce McCuaig, in April asking if the Next Wave project running two-way all-day GO trains from Union Station to East Gwillimbury would involve laying two tracks along the route in its entirety or whether only part of the route would be dual. Specifically, I asked if twin tracking would be required anywhere in Newmarket.

Over two months later I received a reply from Metrolinx Director of Customer Care, Paula Edwards, who tells me:

“Our planned improvement for the Barrie Corridor is not solely based on twin tracking. Although twin tracking may be required in some areas, it is doubtful if it will be needed for the entire route.”

That’s fair enough but it didn’t answer my question. I made it clear I was only interested in the section of the Barrie line from East Gwillimbury to Union Station.

Ms Edwards tells me that any track enhancements would warrant a review of the infrastructure. I am amazed this hasn’t already been done.

Getting basic information from Metrolinx shouldn’t be like pulling teeth. Now I am back in touch again with Metrolinx asking to be pointed to any publicly available documents on the twin tracking of the Barrie line from East Gwillimbury to Toronto.

And who was it in Metrolinx who told GHD that tracks would have to be doubled to Newmarket and beyond to accommodate all-day two-way GO trains?

On a related matter, Newmarket’s Secondary Plan has a giant circle around the site of the proposed new GO Rail Station at Mulock Drive. When I raised this with Bruce McCuaig his surrogate, Paula Edwards, told me “there are no plans to consider a station at Mulock Drive, however we are constantly monitoring customer demand”.

Does this mean that the proposed GO rail station has disappeared completely from Metrolinx forward plans? Or is it still there, as a possibility Metrolinx may consider, if future demand warrants it?

It shouldn’t be this difficult to get straightforward answers on an issue that took centre stage in the Provincial elections only a few weeks ago.

More will follow.