A pilot project starting on October 18 will see the GO Train service extend to London, Ont., As well as Stratford and St. Marys.
In the project, Metrolinx will offer daily trips between London and Toronto, with an early morning trip to Union Station and a return trip late in the evening.
“It is basically phase one. We look forward to building on the launch of this pilot project, “Ontario Transport Minister Caroline Mulroney told Global News.
“There will be two weekday trips, one leaving London early in the morning and going to St. Mary’s and Stratford along the road along the Kitchener corridor to Union Station, and then an afternoon journey from Union Station, returning to London.”
A journey from London to Toronto takes about four hours, while it takes about two hours to travel from London to Kitchener.
Asked what future phases could bring, Mulroney says the Doug Ford government wants to gather feedback from riders and from its southwestern Ontario Transportation Task Force, led by London Mayor Ed Holder.
“In the past, transport policy has been set in Queen’s Park and we want to do it differently.”
The pilot project provides another way to Toronto, after Greyhound Canada ceased operations in May. Since then, Megabus has started offering daily journeys between London and central Toronto.
London Mayor Ed Holder thanked the province for “making progress in our vision for more transport connections” in the region.
“Londoners need and deserve access to increased transport options, and by expanding the GO rail service to southwestern Ontario, we are keeping our promise to increase economic productivity and business opportunities, while supporting healthier, more connected communities.”
Ticket prices have not yet been set, but Mulroney says there will be three different prices depending on whether a traveler is on their way to St. Louis. Marys, Stratford or Toronto.
“We will have more information about it before the service is launched on October 18.”
Unlike on the VIA Rail, passengers on the GO train will not be fully vaccinated against covid-19.
“We have implemented health and safety protocols, so all Ontarians who want to use GO can feel safe when they are on it,” Mulroney said.
“Of course, I would encourage anyone who has not yet been vaccinated to go and please get vaccinated. It’s the best way to protect yourself and your community. ”
These health and safety protocols include more space between seats and seats, dividers between the seats and rubbing alcohol on the train.
The province says in a statement that it is working closely with VIA Rail and CN to extend the service and “explore ways to improve the speed and frequency of passenger trains.”
The province also adds that the Southwestern Ontario Transportation Task Force will continue to look for ways to “build an integrated transportation system” on various transportation options, including rail and bus.
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