Niagara GO trains to skip Hamilton again in 2017 [UPDATED]

The West Harbour GO Station opened in the summer of 2015 for the Pan Am Games. The station initially opened in a partially finished position with much of the landscaping unfinished, some of the interiors not quite finished, and the parking facilities still under construction. Since then the station has been completed and is serviced by morning and peak trains on weekdays.

But one train that will once again not be making a stop at the station is the weekend Niagara GO train.

2017 promotional map for the Niagara seasonal GO Train service with Hamilton notably missing.

2017 promotional map for the Niagara seasonal GO Train service with Hamilton notably missing.

To say that the station is finished is true, but some of the surrounding infrastructure is far from complete. The station, while having two train platforms, only has one functioning track. The second platform has a track beside the platform itself, but this doesn’t connect to the main line and has been uncompleted for several months. Furthermore the platforms themselves are on a siding. The track that is connected to the main line ends abruptly meaning that any train stopping at the station must then back out in order to continue east towards Niagara.

This is presumably the reason that the trains travelling between Toronto and Niagara, which pass on the main line directly beside the station, will not stop at the station.

This shouldn’t be a stumbling block though as the two trains which terminate at the station through the week, after dropping off passengers at the station, proceed to back out of the station and continue east to the train yard at Lewis Road in Stoney Creek. There seems to be little reason why this can’t be done to facilitate a stop in Hamilton for this seasonal train service.

A secondary reason for the lack of stop at West Harbour GO could stem from the “open for business” status of the station itself. The ticket booth and the station building are only open for 75 minutes a day during the week. The signage on the station and on the GO Transit website lists the hours of operation for the station from 5:45 AM – 7:00 AM from Monday thru Friday. In order to have trains stop at the station there would need to be staffing on site from at 9:00 AM thru 12:00 midnight.

I’ve reached out to GO Transit to find out the reasoning for skipping the West Harbour GO Station for the third consecutive year.

UPDATE: Below is Metrolinx’s responce to the lack of service again this year. (NOTE – I am unable to decipher an answer)

The entire rail corridor which GO trains operate on west of Burlington GO Station is owned by our railway partners (CN and CP) and therefore service is dependent on infrastructure, operating, and service agreements with those partners. Metrolinx continues to work with CN and CP to advance the planned service expansion to the City of Hamilton and Niagara region. Our ultimate goal is to increase service in the region and we are working hard to make that happen.

Ongoing construction continues throughout the railway corridor in the vicinity of the West Harbour GO station. This is all part of the Metrolinx ten-year plan to expand GO Train service. A preliminary phase of infrastructure work to enable expansion of service to Niagara, involves extensive infrastructure improvements in the Hamilton area. Last year, additional infrastructure was completed to support service expansion including construction of the additional track and structure replacement at Valley Inn Road, and bridge span replacement over the Desjardin Canal to support a future third track leading to the West Harbour GO station. The new Lewis Road Layover Facility was completed in early 2017, enabling new overnight train storage in the Hamilton area, before beginning Hamilton morning service. Design work is now underway for the future Confederation GO station in Stoney Creek, targeted for early construction work by the end of 2017. Final plans may vary as the 10-year program evolves.

We remain committed to working closely with CN and other partners, and will continue to update the community and stakeholders as this project progresses.