The Ontario government is starting construction for two rail tunnels under Highway 401 and Highway 409 to make way for added GO train service along the Kitchener corridor.
The tunnels are approximately 175 metres long and are being built under 21 live lanes on both highways. They are meant to accommodate additional tracks and signaling.
Kinga Surma, the associate minister of transportation, says the the new tunnels are “bringing us one step closer to two-way, all-day service along the Kitchener GO Line,” according to a release.
The project is a part of the province’s GO Rail expansion program to expand GO service to a two-way, all day service every 15 minutes on core lines.
The project has an estimated cost of $116.9 million and is expected to be completed by 2021.
Project brings more reliable, frequent service along Kitchener line
Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris said in a release that the new project is “a positive step forward” for Waterloo region as it provides more reliable and frequent service.
Ian McLean is president and CEO of the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce and chair of Connect the Corridor, an organization that represents the Toronto-Waterloo innovation corridor’s top business leaders and innovators. He says the announcement is beneficial to the the growing innovation corridor.
The announcement “shows growing momentum toward delivering this vital rail link between two of Ontario’s economic engines,” he said in a statement.
McLean says having all-day GO train service between the region and Toronto would improve the ability of companies to attract and retain top talent.
International investors expect this kind of connectivity, says Regional chair
Region of Waterloo Chair Karen Redman calls it a “transformative investment.”
“This is such a significant investment in infrastructure,” she said in an interview. “Very pleased with both the investment by the province and the fact that they’re using innovative technology is quite exciting, too.”
Redman says she’s happy the province listened to the unified message from all parties advocating for the all-day, two-way GO service, but she wants to be sure that the service does indeed go both ways.
“The other message we’ve been sending to the province is we need incoming trains, not just outgoing trains because we are a net recipient of talent and people coming in to work in Waterloo region in the high tech [sector],” she said.
She says now that increased service is on the horizon, it will make it easier to sell Waterloo region to international markets as a place worthy of investment.
“People expect that kind of connectivity when we are talking to companies that are based in Europe or South America,” she said. “It’s really important that we are able to demonstrate that we have the ability to access the talent pool and the innovation that exists along the corridor.”