Bright and early Monday morning, passengers boarded the first GO train leaving from Niagara Falls to Toronto.
The first train of the new service rolled out of Niagara Falls Monday morning at 5:19 a.m. making a stop in St. Catharines before continuing on to Union Station.
It even got off to an early start, rolling into Oakville a bit ahead of schedule before departing on time.
“It went flawlessly, on time, no issues and smoothly arrived here in Union Station,” said Leslie Woo, chief planning and development officer for Metrolinx.
The trip marked the beginning of regular, weekday GO train service with one daily train trip from Niagara to Toronto and back each day.
When Metrolinx announced the expansion in December, Woo said Metrolinx was overwhelmed by the response.
“It was a very emotional time. I was quite touched by… the residents in Niagara Region,” she added. “This is something they’ve really been wanting for a long time.”
Niagara regional chair Jim Bradley was not on board when the train took its first trip, but said he has spoken with several elected officials who were along for the trip and were “very pleased to see the number of cars in the parking lot this morning.”
Hope Metrolinx will keep building
Describing the service as a “positive step forward,” Bradley said people need to be patient for infrastructure updates, track-twinning, station upgrades and bridge improvements before more regular trips will be possible.
He noted the Niagara Region is also working to improve its public transportation to get people to and from stations without using their car.
“At least this shows that a train called a GO Train is coming into Niagara. That gives people hope Metrolinx will keep building on it.”
The trip to and from Toronto was actually announced four years earlier than Metrolinx anticipated, according to Woo, who credited an “incredibly positive” relationship with CN rail as the factor that got the service going ahead of schedule.
“We’ve been able to introduce the service earlier using the existing infrastructure and optimizing time slots in the corridor between ourselves and CN.”
The province says the morning train which currently starts from Hamilton’s West Harbour station at 6:39 a.m. will start in Niagara Falls at 5:19 a.m., with a stop in St. Catharines before a stop in Hamilton and onwards to Toronto.
Then in the evening, the existing train trip from Union Station at 5:15 p.m. to West Harbour will continue on to St. Catharines and Niagara Falls.
The trip will cost $19.80 for riders with a Presto card.
For the time being, travellers will have to make do with a single trip each way. But Woo said Metrolinx is working with CN to see what else is possible for Niagara and the long-promised all day trains to Niagara.
“Stay tuned. We’re working very hard to get more service into Hamilton and the Niagara Region.”