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Reader says GO rail expansion just needs to happen

Dear Editor,

I reviewed a recent opinion piece by Regional Chair John Henry regarding the potential expansion of Go Transit rail service into the eastern portion of Durham Region.

He is correct that it’s been more than 30 years since local municipalities first heard about an extension through Oshawa and beyond and approximately 10 to15 years ago since Metrolinx and their consultants started a detailed review of the manipulated alignment from the existing GO/CN Kingston line, east of Thickson Road to the CP Oshawa /Belleville line east of Thornton Road and beyond through Oshawa etc. This alignment received preliminary approval from the Ontario Liberals in 2011.

The manipulated crossover alignment clearly resulted in significant chargeable hours being incurred by Metrolinx’s consultants to develop a satisfactory plan and profile, and then design the new road/rail and rail/rail crossing structures-hopefully to the satisfaction of Metrolinx, CP Rail, and the municipalities

At Simcoe Street South, the CN and CP railway corridors are approximately one km apart or the distance between Bloor St & Olive Ave in central Oshawa.

Henry goes on to say that this preferred manipulated route and planned stations will “help deliver economic revitalization of Downtown Oshawa, address the needs of our growing community, open new opportunities for GO ridership, stimulate job creation and mixed use development, and increase land value “near” (not) within the rail corridor.”

He goes on to state that it also “supports an integrated and active transportation network, accessible via automobile, bicycle or bus.”

We all along with John Henry know by now that Metrolinx pulled the plug on this manipulated alignment and so stated to the municipal reps from Durham, Oshawa, Whitby and Clarington this spring.

You will recall in a recent local news article Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster stated that the costs of the project had significantly increased due to some overlooked CP rail requirements – likely overlooked by Metrolinx and their consultants. Someone should be held accountable for this. Metrolinx are now considering the original route and three alternative alignments.

Let’s face it, the opinion piece was written Henry, former Oshawa Mayor now Regional Chair.

I suggest he review his role in writing this column and any other related columns / articles due to a potential conflict of interest.  In his role of mayor, it is possible that he may have attempted to influence Metrolinx and their consultants, to persuade his preferred alignment through Oshawa.

As Regional Chair, Henry must now face the facts, with Ontario’s Conservative Government, the additional excessive funding for the west Oshawa crossover connection aimed to serve a GO Station at the former Knob Hill and CP interchange yard, aiming to provide all the suggested spin-offs to Oshawa, is not available.

With Metrolinx’s current task to review four options, Oshawa and Clarington will loose the provincial funding unless they contribute in a cost-effective manner.

Hopefully, Henry will focus on the job of Regional Chair and contribute in finalizing the development and implementation of the most cost effective rail service to east Durham Region.

Thereafter, there is a need to support the funding of the Olive Avenue/Gibb Street connecting route which will also result in economic, social and physical benefits – including but not limited to those included in Henry’s column to the surrounding area which is in need of revitalization and urban renewal.

Like Ward 1 city councillor Rosemary McConkey stated at a council meeting in May, let’s just get the GO rail service through Oshawa.

Greg Gormick,  a railway specialist and current member of the local Transportation Advisory Committee,  also commented at that meeting that why play with further studies, get on with the design of the service infrastructure requirements to provide rail service east along the north CN corridor to Clarington ASAP.

Oshawa will see similar spin-offs from having the GO Rail service extended along the CN corridor in addition to maintaining the VIA / GO Connection at Thornton Road South.

The current station will have plenty of parking once the service is extended east to serve stations at Ritson Road or Farewell Avenue and at Waverley Road South and possibly Bennett Road in Bowmanville.  I will continue to follow the status of this overdue service extension and feel that it is not necessary for the local municipal politicians to utilize the news media to voice their opinions – knowing that Metrolinx is open to dialogue.

Erwin Waldinsperger