Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Transport: Changes on GO Georgetown Line

The final GO Transit mid-day Georgetown Line train for now, Bramalea-Toronto train #266, crossed Black Creek in Toronto, Ontario on 1-April-2010

TORONTO, ONTARIO - This week, GO Transit introduced a variety of spring schedule changes, but arguably the most interesting ones were on the commuter rail Georgetown Line. The second line to see mid-day service after the Lakeshore Line, the Georgetown Line is set for major service expansion, including an express line from Union Station to Pearson International Airport.

For now, that means the end of mid-day train service on the line, replaced by expanded bus service, in order to allow construction crews greater access to the tracks of the GO-owned Weston Subdivision that carries the line from the Bathurst Street interlocking near Toronto's Union Station to Halwest near the Bramalea, Ontario station. Previously, a single train set did three round trips at mid-day spaced about 90 minutes apart, meaning a regular and repeated need to clear the tracks to let that train through.

As long-time readers of this blog know, I can be over-interested in the operational logistics of railroads. It's interesting that this service change eliminated only the train set and crew associated with those three mid-day round trips. The "shoulder" trips on the edge of rush hour remain, as those used different train sets and crews. What's especially interesting is that two VIA Rail Canada intercity trains, one each direction, are still scheduled to use the line about 11:00. So, the longest break in the action will extend from about 11:00 to 15:30 in the afternoon--I guess four hours is useful.

The morning schedule was basically unchanged, with four through trains from Georgetown to Union Station (which overnight in Georgetown) supplemented by three shorter-distance trains from Bramalea (which deadhead empty to Bramalea to start their runs). Thus, I didn't pay much attention to the afternoon trains, which I presumed had retained the old pattern (#281 running to Brampton, then deadheading back to Union Station to become a Stouffville Line train, four through trains to Georgetown #205, #207, #209 and #211, and a final train #269 running only to Bramalea and then returning to the Willowbrook Yard service facility for the night).

The afternoon schedule has actually changed significantly. The first train, #281, now leaves at 15:30 instead of 14:45 and runs all the way through to Georgetown (why it wasn't renumbered to #203 to match the through series is hard to explain), not returning to Union Station. The four through trains to Georgetown were left the same. That meant that the last one, #211, has nowhere to remain in Georgetown and has to return to Willowbrook Yard. Train #269 has been extended to Brampton, and still deadheads back to Willowbrook Yard. Thus, each evening there are two trains that head back empty over the line to Toronto.

The first "deadhead" of GO Georgetown Line train #211 back to Toronto passed a Canadian National work train at Dundas Street West on 5-April-2010

Last night, I happened to be walking in Parkdale and crossed the Georgetown Line as the first train #211 deadheaded back to Toronto. At the time, I thought maybe #269's schedule had changed more than I had thought, and it was only after I took a closer look at the new schedule that I realized it was #211, not #269. Such are the hazards of being a railfan after schedule changes!

Residents along the line, who are pushing for electrification, will see three fewer of "Dalton's Dirty Diesels" at mid-day, so they ought to be happy for now.

No comments: