By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
It is an announcement that has been years in the making, but now there is money behind it – GO Transit will be expanding its service to the east.
First announced as part of the province’s Big Move initiative in 2008, the project will see four new stations constructed, with two in Oshawa – one on Thorton Road and the other at Ritson. There will also be a new station at Courtice Road in Courtice and Martin Road in Bowmanville.
“Expanding GO train service in Durham Region will make a real difference to people’s lives and Ontario’s economy,” Premier Kathleen Wynne states in a news release announcing the project.
“We want people, communities and business to be seamlessly connected to one another and prosper together. This is what our record investments in infrastructure are building for Ontario.”
When asked by The Oshawa Express as to the cost of the extension, Bob Nichols, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation, says the final number has not been calculated, but that the funds would be part of the province’s pledge to spent $160 billion on infrastructure projects over the next 12 years.
“As part of this investment, announced today, the province, through its agency, Metrolinx, is working with Canadian Pacific Railway (CP Rail) on the infrastructure and service planning for the approximately 20-kilometre extension of the Lakeshore East GO rail corridor through CP Rail’s existing rail corridor north of Highway 401,” he says.
“Subsequent to the results of these ongoing negotiations with CP Rail, further analysis of the estimated capital and operating costs to deliver the new GO rail service between Oshawa and Bowmanville will be required.”
Nichols adds that new stations typically cost between $50 million and $75 million, but that negotiations are still underway.
The news of GO Transit’s move to the east is good news to Oshawa’s mayor, John Henry.
“It’s a great story for Durham,” Henry tells The Oshawa Express.
“It shows a level of cooperation between the municipality of Clarington and the City of Oshawa and our staff, the private sector, the universities and colleges, to get the message out of the importance of this development.”
Henry adds that projects such as these will help give commuters better options, and help to alleviate the congestion on Highway 401.
“Now being able to jump on to a train and get downtown is really good,” he says.
“They’ll never fix congestion on the 401 unless they find an alternative way to move people.”
As part of its announcement, the province says it expects the expanded line to begin operations by 2024.
Future of the current station
However, one thing that remains uncertain is what will happen with the current GO Transit station on Bloor Street West. The current site has been undergoing work since August 2015, when Metrolinx announced that it, along with VIA Rail, would be constructing a new station at the site at a cost of $12 million. The new station is currently scheduled to open next year.
When asked by The Oshawa Express as to the future of the current site, Nichols says there are currently no plans to shut it down.
“Our plans to date for the Lakeshore East GO corridor involve bringing frequent two-way, all-day electric train service to the existing Oshawa GO station. In light of the announcement this morning regarding the extension of GO rail service between Oshawa and Bowmanville, MTO and Metrolinx will be reviewing these plans to determine how we can best ensure enhanced transit service for Oshawa – and, more broadly, Durham Region – residents,” Nichols states in an emailed response.
“Once further technical analysis and the negotiations with CP Rail are completed, we will be in a position to confirm service levels at each of the existing or proposed stations in Oshawa. There are no plans to close the existing Oshawa GO Station at this time.”