Something I have been wondering about is the future of freight on Metrolinx corridors. Personally, with the level of service they expect GO to get up to, I don't see how freight can be accommodated in GO's long term plans.
Some might say that the trains can run at night, but the window where this will be possible will likely be too small to allow reliable and timely service. These periods are also critical for network maintenance which will make a complete elimination of freight desirable.
In my opinion, we will likely see the biggest issues on the Oakville and Guelph Subs where there is still reasonable volume of freight, but I think that there will be a general modal shift to trucks as a result of GO expansion. It's definitely worth it though since that will be balanced out by modal shift away from cars.
Perhaps Metrolinx might look to buy out rail served properties adjacent to their corridors for redevelopment which would allow industries to move in order to mitigate this. Though, unavoidably, this will likely lead to the abandonment of the Goderich Exeter Railway which will be cut off from the freight network.
Does anyone have any thoughts on this?
Firstly, under Canadian railway law Metrolinx cannot tell freight operators like CN and CP to get lost. If it did, it would be required to provide that freight service (connecting to CN or CP’s yards) itself. Metrolinx does not want to do that. Also if Metrolinx tried to do this, I’d expect freight railways would respond poorly and make Metrolinx’s use of their tracks extremely difficult.
Secondly, most of Metrolinx’s railways are former freight lines. There is absolutely a clause in the sale agreement about allowing freight service on their tracks, and favourable times and usage rates.
Thirdly, the largest freight movements are on the Oakville Sub. The “most important” customer is Ford, which cannot ship all vehicles by truck, and transloading would be super costly. Ontario does not want to upset automakers. Regarding the Guelph Sub, the most GO service that is planned is hourly (so one east and one west train per hour). There is plenty of capacity to squeeze in freight, as the Guelph sub isn’t busy. The rest of GO’s network is light on freight.
Night movements are extremely viable. If maintenance is occurring, the vast majority of GO’s network is at least double tracked so trains could avoid closed areas. If major maintenance is happening, it may cause freight disruptions. This is an exception, not the rule.
I appreciate the thought you put into your post, but I genuinely don’t think freight and the future GO services coexisting is going to be an issue. Changes will happen but everything will work out.