Comment 119561

By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:58:34

Good little write up that needs to be publicly known -- I understand it may be temporary (due to Hamilton Rail Junction construction and the Union track closures). This is why the schedule inconveniently changed temporarily.

Hopefully the schedule dramatically improves coming 2017, as my ongoing investigations indicates it should.

The station opened very early for its big-future-plans. Even as early as 2012, it was already known it would take until 2017 to complete the station. Media and PanAm just hyped 2015, but the real station isn't finished yet.

For readers unfamiliar, it is worth noting that I've researched and written huge articles about GO trains here on Raise The Hammer:

Right now, my research indicates Victoria's Day 2017 is the probable "Betting Man's" start date guesstimate of Niagara seasonal GO trains stopping at West Harbour GO. This is no guarantee obviously that would happen, but, I've been visiting four construction sites with ongoing work and all sites completes by then. The image below is a teaser that is part of GO Part 3.


  • 2016 (Nov/Dec): Hamilton Junction Expansion
  • 2017 (early): West Harbour GO full completion
  • 2016 (mid-late): Completion of Centennial Parkway rail bridge
  • 2016 (mid-late): Completion and connection of Lewis Yard to the CN mainline.

Funded (2017-2019) is extra track going between West Harbour and Stoney Creek GO station and possibly the Lewis Yard. However, before then, there is supposed to be West Harbour GO reconnection of station track to the CN mainline -- supposedly by end 2016.

Construction on the CP side (Hunter) may occur between now and ~2025 but currently none of them are budgeted or funded, and the tunnel is an expensive proposition.

CN only has 2 trains a day on the Grimsby sub, and CN has been much more of a pleasure for Metrolinx to work with, given all the great developments relating to CN track (Kitchener, etc). I envision Metrolinx eventually being forced to switch all-day GO service to West Harbour GO. Given the fact, according to the Metrolinx 2011 Niagara ESR Appendix (on freight corridor compatibility with 60-minute all-day service) -- the West Harbour GO route gains "technical capability" of all-day 2-way GO train service as early as 2017. But it needs to gain enough ridership (e.g. via Hamilton LRT A-Line) to justify the business case of paying CN for every train trip to West Harbour GO.

The bottom line is that West Harbour GO traffic is slated to dramatically increase roughly beginning next year or two (bus connections, Niagara connection, more West Harbour trains once Lewis Yard opens).

And yes, it is Metrolinxs' onus to do it quickly, to help justify Hamilton LRT A-Line better.

A very pleasant surprise would be the introduction of all-day 2-way GO service to West Harbour GO before the 2018 election (It may be easier for Metrolinx to do if LRT shovels were cemented with a difficult-to-cancel procurement -- Bratina-proofed and ChadCollins-proofed -- because Metrolinx needs to justify the business case of paying CN even if West Harbour gains "technical capability" of all-day service in 2017. Then use pre-2024-LRT years to ramp up ridership at West Harbour with the parking garage, SoBi, and A-Line bus service)

A very sad surprise would be the continuance of 2 trains per day for many years to come, and the planned John Street bridge rebuild putting the kibosh on Niagara trains stopping at West Harbour, and a Hamilton LRT cancellation wrecking West Harbour GO's future plans for a long while.

My prediction is middle ground -- 4 trains a day (including a late morning train) by 2017/2018/2019, and Niagara Seasonal trains by 2017 season. Metrolinx will strategically warehouse the "technical capability" of all-day GO service for later activation (operationally possible 2017 for WH, but not necessarily business justifiable without Hamilton LRT). Factors like Niagara-Hamilton Express, Hamilton LRT shovels, etc, will improve the business case for all-day 2-way GO service -- to anywhere between 2017 and 2024, and could happen sooner especially if the Hunter option (CP negotiations) is clearly failing to bear fruit.

The silver lining in all of this, is, Hamilton, does, indeed, have an option (escape hatch) of being able to provide all-day GO trains to Hamilton even if CP negotiations fail (Hunter). Even the Rail Junction expansion goes above-and-beyond the minimum requirements (in 2011 Niagara ESR document) required for theoretical 60-minute all-day 2-way on the CN side. The Rail Junction expansion only helps West Harbour, and not Downtown GO. While Metrolinx/GO definitely prefers Hunter for all-day, their bets are clearly being hedged (even as late as 2016) [from RER Business Case documents] on using West Harbour for all-day.

Either way, the current 2016 West Harbour GO schedule is a temporary inconvenience -- agreed. And without the parking garage built yet, most drivers (especially already on 403) will head to Aldershot.

At least they kept the 4:30pm train -- it was actually going to be worse..

Watch for Steven Del Duca to set up a press conference at the West Harbour plaza. When? Anywhere between now and 2017 -- my coin flip says July 2016.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2016-06-24 12:38:44

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