Proposed rail plan `is on the right track'
CYNTHIA GAMBLE Staff Writer Town council has endorsed a business report that says increased commuter rail service between London and Halton Hills is feasible. "This is an exciting report," said Mayor Rick Bonnette. "For very little money, I think we got one heck of a bang for our buck. ...This could bring a train station into Acton that could provide commuter service." The key, he said, is the timing of the trains to meet up with the GO service that begins in Georgetown and continues on to Toronto. "We're on the right track with this one," punned Wards 1 and 2 Regional Councillor Clark Somerville. He called a provincial decision made about a decade ago to discontinue GO service from Acton "idiotic ... just as it started building." Somerville added the new proposal has the potential to provide economic spin-offs to each participating community. Three years ago, the North Mainline Municipal Alliance, a collection of cities and towns stretching from London to Halton Hills, formed to improve intercity and commuter rail passenger service. The group commissioned a $40,000 business report to evaluate the possibility of increasing train service to the communities. The Town's share was $4,180. The North Mainline is the CN rail line, operated by the Goderich Exeter Railway (GEXR) that runs through London, St. Mary's, Stratford, Waterloo Region, Waterloo, Kitchener, Guelph and Halton See TRACK, pg. 3
Track improvements would cost $58M
Continued from pg. 1 Hills, and then on to Union Station. Three VIA trains currently run each way on this corridor daily. GEXR also runs daily freight trains. The business report suggests an enhanced service using one or two linked, self-propelled passenger units called Diesel Multiple Units or "Budd Cars". From Kitchener to Georgetown, four of these trains/per day are proposed, but only one a day from London to Kitchener. This is in addition to the existing VIA trains. A similar technology is being looked at to link Cambridge with Milton. Total cost of improving the tracks amount to $58 million ($19 million for the Kitchener to Georgetown stretch), $20 million for the Budd Cars and $3.5 million for annual operating costs. Improvements include upgrading the track to allow for consistent 80 m.p.h. speed with safe public crossings as well as changes at the Georgetown station to allow for a proposed connection to the existing GO service and a new Acton station with parking. Annual revenue of the service is estimated between $5.4 million to $10.8 million. In its endorsement council, through the Alliance, will request the federal and provincial governments fund the upgrades plus the capital cost outlay, since train service is their responsibility (the federal government looks after intercity movement and the provincial government, commuter rail service). Discussions will also be held with the Province about funding the annual operating costs. (Cynthia Gamble can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)