GO Trains to Cambridge - Solving the 40-year Debacle
I moved to the City of Cambridge in the mid 1990s and was aware of the
hard work that the late Lee Palvetzian and others had been doing for years as
they fought for GO Rail to become a reality here. Years later, I was given all
the documents that Lee had used to try and convince politicians and bureaucrats
that Cambridge should have GO train service. So much work put forth with no
results. Fast forward to 2023 the nothing has changed.
Forty years after the original advocacy for GO Rail service began in the City of Cambridge, we are no further ahead in 2023 than we were then.
Of the twenty-four largest populations in Ontario, only the City of Cambridge has no passenger rail service.
lines in Cambridge and expansion of GO service to Cambridge - Purple dotted
line is CN line, Green dotted line is CP.
Both the 2009 Passenger Rail Feasibility Study and the subsequent 2014 Cambridge to Milton Passenger Rail Business Case and Implementation Strategy stated that the preferred routing option was to extend the current GO Train service from Milton.
The 2014 study entry scenario proposed that it would connect Cambridge to Milton with four Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) trains and one interim station (initially) in downtown Cambridge (Cambridge Central) with four trips each way for fast implementation. The capital cost for this scenario ranges from $20 to $73 million.
Aside from the fact that making people transfer is a disincentive to taking transit, the recommendation to use the CP line proved to be wishful thinking.
A May 2020 report to council explained why switching to the CN Fergus subdivision was a better business decision.
Connecting Cambridge to the GO rail network via
the Fergus Subdivision has a higher degree of constructability and
deliverability compared to the Milton GO Line extension given the ability to
bypass the need for negotiations with Canadian Pacific Railway to operate along
the Milton GO Line.
So, the CP Rail Milton connection is ‘off the table’ and the emphasis
now is on the Fergus subdivision route.
Map showing study of GO Rail service from Cambridge to Guelph via Fergus Subdivision
The 2021 Region of Waterloo, Cambridge to Union GO Rail, Feasibility Study PHASE 2 REPORT, Final by Dillon Consulting Limited / Hatch Ltd was released in February that year (2021). The 94-page report went into detail about GO Rail service from Cambridge to Guelph via the Fergus Subdivision, even suggesting station locations. See a map of the line above.
The City of Cambridge Planning Department and Doug Ford’s Conservatives are making decisions now that benefit Developers at the possible expense of future GO Rail service for Cambridge.
Shockingly, the City of Cambridge Planning Department and the Doug
Ford government are making decisions to benefit Developers along the CN Fergus
subdivision rail line in Cambridge that may prevent GO trains from coming to
Cambridge. Here are some examples.
211-215 Queen Street West Development (Old Lens Mills, Forbes Mill)
211-215 Queen Street West Blacks Point Development (Old Lens Mills, Forbes Mill) The potential GO trains line runs right across their property, yet is ignored in their plan.
241 Queen Street
West - Lammer Developments
The Doug Ford Conservative government on April 13, 2023 unilaterally changed the Region of Waterloo official plan (Plan Amendment No. 6), without consultation from the public, city council, the Region of Waterloo planners. This change opened up land for a high-density apartment development at 241 Queen Street West which is next to the development above.
The CN Fergus sub railway line, which is the proposed future GO Rail line, cuts right across the 241 Queen Street West lands. The City of Cambridge Planning Department supported this zoning change for the developer without any restrictions or even mentions about the future GO trains on this line.
The developer Lammer of Guelph makes no mention of the GO Rail future rail line in their development plans submitted to the Ministry of Housing but does so in a recent city presentation.
This is another example of a Developer and City of Cambridge Planning department not supporting the City of Cambridge’s own policy to bring GO Rail service to Cambridge.
241 Queen Street West High-Density Development (blue lines) - Ford Government opened up this area along the future GO Rail corridor with no mention from the Developer or the City of Cambridge Planning Department on this issue.
241 Queen Street
West - 742825 Ontario Limited represented by John Wright
To further dissect this area there has been an application, (on half of Canadian National) to sever the sliver of land marked #1 on the image below. This land is currently attached to the Fergus Subdivision and is to be conveyed to the owner of, and consolidated with the rest of, the 241 Queen Street West lands.
The lands marked #2 and #3 (representing a sliver of the former Grand River Railway ROW which was not sold when the rest of the right of way was merged with 241 Queen Street West lands) are - or were - held by Canadian National and the Ministry of Transportation and can be conveyed without approval by the city.
This land is next to the future GO Rail rail line property. I am not aware of any written objections to future uses, made by the City of Cambridge Planning Department, as these pertain to future conflicts with the GO Rail line next to it.
241 Queen Street West - 742825 Ontario
Limited represented by John Wright
What Can Be Done
to Ensure that GO Trains Come to Cambridge
Paul Langan, Cambridge, Ontario, December 7th, 2023
Copied to all municipal, provincial, federal politicians of Cambridge.