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Half a century of service: 50 years of the Kitchener GO Line

Hear one customer’s transit story as the Kitchener GO Line reaches an important service milestone.

Apr 29, 2024

It’s a crisp Monday morning on April 29, 1974. The clock strikes 10 minutes past 10, and a passenger steps foot on a Kitchener Line GO Train for the very first time – the first of millions of customers served. 

While it was known as the Georgetown line then, it would end up being a vital link for people between smaller cities west of Toronto.  

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A program detailing the public launch of the new Georgetown GO Line. (Metrolinx photo)

Fast forward 50 years and one of those riders is Samreen Sultan. She’s a master’s student at Toronto Metropolitan University’s school of urban and regional planning, one of countless commuters who depend on the GO Train every day – a service she calls indispensable. 

“As an immigrant, public transportation has enabled me to explore my new city affordably and connect with different communities,” Samreen said.  

“As a student, it's been crucial for getting to campus and attending events. And as a community member, it's allowed me to engage in various activities, events and contribute to society.” 

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Samreen takes her first ever journey on the GO Train - which would soon become an invaluable part of her daily commute. (Samreen Sultan photo)

Kitchener Line celebrates 50 years 

Connecting communities affordably has been a core value of the GO Train since the service first launched in 1967. Just a few years later (in April 1974), the Georgetown Line, now known as the Kitchener Line, would be the second rail passageway added to the burgeoning GO Transit network.  

Dignitaries, representing each respective stop, including then-Ontario Premier Bill Davis, took part in a ceremonial run days before opening to the public, rocketed along by historic steam locomotive, CP No. 1057.  

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Delegates lined station stops along the ceremonial first run of the then-Georgetown GO Line. (Region of Peel Archives photo)

The excitement was such that some stations even had musicians on hand to welcome that first train and its delegates as it pulled in – with more opening ceremonies awaiting them at Union Station. 

Just a year after launch, 35,998 customers per month chose to ride the rails. And one year later, that number nearly doubled to 63,223, but the momentum wouldn’t stop there. As ridership grew, the Georgetown Line would eventually undergo a name change – to better reflect the communities it continues to connect. 

Service was extended out to Kitchener, and thus, the Georgetown Line became the Kitchener Line. But that history of growth would continue – with the line incorporating new stops at communities including Guelph and Acton. 

Bramalea GO Station

The Kitchener Line, and stations along the route, continue to grow and evolve with the region. (Metrolinx photo)

Evolution of the Kitchener Line 

As the Kitchener Line continues to grow, even after 50 years of service, so too does the region.  

Newcomers, refugees, students and more have found a new home in Ontario and rely on transit to further both themselves and their new community.   

And as a budding urban and regional planner, Samreen knows first-hand how important a reliable, affordable public transportation network can be. Her motivation to study planning stemmed from experiences and realizations throughout her academic and personal life, where she witnessed how gaps and disparity in policy can negatively impact communities. She says public transit plays a key role in fostering a sense of equity and accessibility – ultimately leading to a more sustainable and livable community. 

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Samreen and her husband take a journey on the Kitchener GO Line together. (Samreen Sultan photo)

During her commute, Samreen will take advantage of amenities like GO Wi-Fi Plus to catch up on readings for class, reply to emails, or even making the journey a family affair. Samreen’s parents are back in India, and the downtime during her commute allows her the chance to catch up with them. 

“Sometimes, they hear the station arrival announcements during my commute and to make sure I don't miss my stop, they'll say things like, ‘Oh, it's Bloor, next is your Union Station. Collect your stuff and pay attention.’ It's kind of funny and heartwarming at the same time!” She said.

Historic Photos of Kitchener (fmr. Georgetown) GO Line

(Region of Peel Archives photos)

Even after so many years of service, the Kitchener Line continues to grow with regular incremental service increases.  

And work is already underway to transform the line into a two-way, all-day rapid transit option, connecting communities in Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph-Wellington, Halton, Peel and more.  

by Shane Kalicharan Metrolinx editorial content advisor