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Caledon-Vaughan GO Rail Line

With the $15 billion investment at Honda in Alliston, that town is set to grow.
Is it feasible to see this line eventually extended there, possibly ending in Allandale Barrie?
Look at the distances involved, and how little there is north of Bolton. I don't have a mileage chart for the MacTier handy but it looks like Alliston-Bolton is a decent % of Bolton-Union.

1714406362130.png
 
Look at the distances involved, and how little there is north of Bolton. I don't have a mileage chart for the MacTier handy but it looks like Alliston-Bolton is a decent % of Bolton-Union.

View attachment 560005
While Bolton-Alliston is maybe 60% of Bolton-Union, it quite clearly is not that much of a longer route to Barrie overall. The way I see it is the inverse; this line could pull growth up along it, up to a level of growth comparable to everything north of Richmond Hill (suburban-exurban...), ie the Barrie corridor. Said corridor itself was not nearly so urbanized 40 years ago- GO service did not cause that suburbanization per se, but the distances involved are clearly not too great for most commuters.

I'd have to look at the Greenbelt map to know if this is actually possible or not, mostly re the ORMCP, because if there is buildable land, you best believe there will be interest in extending this line one day.
 
Let’s walk before we run here. How much population density do we intend to add just to get to Bolton? And how much do we actually want to add to get to Alliston? How much will it cost just to build GO that far ? (Answer: lots). How much investment will GO have made to the Newmarket line that enables better service on that route ? (Also: lots)

If you are proposing that GO cease all upgrading of its existing line and refocus its investment on the Barrie line - well, that’s a huge amount spent to date that will be wasted, and the per mile price tag for the CP route will be much higher because CP will need its own operations protected. And in principle the ptactice of stopping one half finished transit project and jumping to something else is an old Toronto habit that we have sworn to give up. Simply put - the ship has sailed.0

If you are suggesting doing both - where is the population along the Alliston route to feed that service? There is far less density today, and it will be decades before that changes (if forever - there is a need to manage green space up there…. Add the density to Newmarket or Aurora instead).

The best argument for Alliston is cost-effectiveness relative to extending the 410 and 427 further north, but once the 413 is started there will be demand to extend both of these to create a feeder network.

Bolton has at best been studied as a matter of a few peak hour trains. There isn’t much case for 2WAD on that line.

- Paul
 
The line, and the population it would undoubtedly induce, would obviously traverse the Greenbelt. In addition, as Paul points out, there is a need to protect agricultural lands in the Alliston area. It's generally flat terrain and light soil has been highly productive for decades. The light soil made it suitable for tobacco back in the day which has now been supplanted by potatoes. As often happens, worlds collide.

I don't connect the dots between the Honda announcement and Alliston becoming a more attractive as Toronto bedroom community. I don't know the demographics of the Honda workforce but suspect it will continue to come from the surrounding communities.

As for freight, auto assembly plants typically use rail for outbound movements of their finished product. Supply components have typically shifted to just-in-time truck deliveries (truck assemblers may take large frames via rail). Auto assemblers don't store input components in bulk - they have essentially shifted their warehouses onto the highways. Whether battery production will require bulk inputs is known to me.
 
Let’s walk before we run here. How much population density do we intend to add just to get to Bolton? And how much do we actually want to add to get to Alliston? How much will it cost just to build GO that far ? (Answer: lots). How much investment will GO have made to the Newmarket line that enables better service on that route ? (Also: lots)

If you are proposing that GO cease all upgrading of its existing line and refocus its investment on the Barrie line - well, that’s a huge amount spent to date that will be wasted, and the per mile price tag for the CP route will be much higher because CP will need its own operations protected. And in principle the ptactice of stopping one half finished transit project and jumping to something else is an old Toronto habit that we have sworn to give up. Simply put - the ship has sailed.0

If you are suggesting doing both - where is the population along the Alliston route to feed that service? There is far less density today, and it will be decades before that changes (if forever - there is a need to manage green space up there…. Add the density to Newmarket or Aurora instead).

The best argument for Alliston is cost-effectiveness relative to extending the 410 and 427 further north, but once the 413 is started there will be demand to extend both of these to create a feeder network.

Bolton has at best been studied as a matter of a few peak hour trains. There isn’t much case for 2WAD on that line.

- Paul
Not sure if your meaning to reply to my comment, but no, I don’t mean to put the cart before the horse here. It was merely to say that there could be long-term interests in the private sector to see such a thing if a few puzzle pieces come together.

I would agree that a highway extension/expansion is the more realistic and prudent option… you went into the issues with using CPs corridor here, and even after all that, it wouldn’t exactly be a fast service on straight tracks.

I will answer the initial question you posed re growth in Bolton and beyond; I think the answer is a lot. Our growth plan(s) basically forces growth here, with the 413 expediting it. As for beyond, generally speaking there is lots of demand for living N/NW of Toronto, and York’s shrinking supply of buildable land will be more or less gone within 20 years. So, these places are “on the table”. Combine this with the not-so-convenient placement of EV battery factories on the outskirts of the GGH, and we are probably going to see a lot more growth farther out than expected and planned for.

Re @lenaitch ; Alliston and Wilmot might be catalysts; the question is if/how things snowball from here. Not so much that Alliston could become a bedroom community on its own merits, but that it’s growth will stimulate better connections to its surroundings, becoming a feedback loop. This is basically what occurred with once- peripheral communities already like Bolton- it’ll just depend how dramatic it is this far out.

Frankly, though, this all has little bearing on the Vaughan-Caledonia GO Line today. Only the provincial Gov can know if trajectories are changing enough that this level of planning is necessary, and even then it won’t be for at least 20 years. It’s really for the next era of regional transport investment, when we’ve exhausted our current growth plans…
 
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I think it would only make sense to go to Macville / Caledon Station on the Bolton line, and only during peak periods with bus services replacing the service running all stops Macville to Woodbridge then Vaughan Centre and Concord GO.

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I think it would only make sense to go to Macville / Caledon Station on the Bolton line, and only during peak periods with bus services replacing the service running all stops Macville to Woodbridge then Vaughan Centre and Concord GO.

View attachment 560892
Peak-only services don’t make sense post COVID. Friendly reminder Caledon is also set to grow from 80k today to 350k by 2051. Let’s give them good transit now to help them maybe grow sustainably.
 
Peak-only services don’t make sense post COVID. Friendly reminder Caledon is also set to grow from 80k today to 350k by 2051. Let’s give them good transit now to help them maybe grow sustainably.
That is what the bus is for. All day service using buses with trains running during periods where the capacity would require it. To warrant all-day frequent service you need all-day destinations on the line, not just a bedroom community. The other lines take you from one urban core to another urban core and each urban core has a cluster of work, eat, and play destinations that would drive people going there. Lines that take you between these cores are going to warrant all-day service because there isn't just a reason to go one way, there is a reason to go both ways. All the plans that exist for Bolton are about creating something like Mount Pleasant (Brampton) at most. For a high capacity rail line that will not make a great all-day terminus.
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Peak-only services don’t make sense post COVID. Friendly reminder Caledon is also set to grow from 80k today to 350k by 2051. Let’s give them good transit now to help them maybe grow sustainably.

That number may sound impressive only until one contrasts it to other routes that are competing for investment dollars and have even greater population now and for the future.

Has ML ever presented data to show the density or population within the catchment area of each route? It would be instructive to know where Caledon stacks up on this measure.

- Paul
 
That number may sound impressive only until one contrasts it to other routes that are competing for investment dollars and have even greater population now and for the future.

Has ML ever presented data to show the density or population within the catchment area of each route? It would be instructive to know where Caledon stacks up on this measure.

- Paul
One of the most instructive things to consider when planning new heavy rail corridors is needed additional infrastructure. If you could serve Bolton with zero new infrastructure besides a station (think additional tracks), then sure, peak only service may be acceptable. If CPKC demanded a bunch of double tracking, or even 3rd tracking in some spots, then running peak only service preforms super poorly in a business casing scenario.

So TLDR, if you can run Bolton service on existing rails without new tracks, sure peak only may work. But if you’re adding lots of new infrastructure, you need TWAD.

And reminder, Metrolinx doesn’t decide what is needed, CPKC does.
 
One of the most instructive things to consider when planning new heavy rail corridors is needed additional infrastructure. If you could serve Bolton with zero new infrastructure besides a station (think additional tracks), then sure, peak only service may be acceptable. If CPKC demanded a bunch of double tracking, or even 3rd tracking in some spots, then running peak only service preforms super poorly in a business casing scenario.

So TLDR, if you can run Bolton service on existing rails without new tracks, sure peak only may work. But if you’re adding lots of new infrastructure, you need TWAD.

And reminder, Metrolinx doesn’t decide what is needed, CPKC does.
I’d add that one of the attractive pieces of the corridor is that for downtown bound passengers this is an alignment that doesn’t nicely parallel a direct highway route. Even off peak this would be very competitive with road based services.
 

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