How a new track helped unlock train service into Hamilton
A new section of track is a useful and welcome addition to Aldershot GO Station.
Nov 5, 2021
Metrolinx is adding a new track at Aldershot GO Station that will help unlock future GO service to Hamilton.
Work to add this new ‘pocket track’ will start later this month.
What exactly is a pocket track?
A pocket track is a small section of track (about 200 metres altogether, in Aldershot GO’s case) that will be added to connect one of the tracks at Aldershot GO to the main Lakeshore West Line tracks.
It might not sound like much, but this small section of track will make a big impact when it comes to unlocking more service to West Harbour GO in Hamilton, and beyond.
Right now, the track that serves the southernmost platform at Aldershot GO has a stub end – meaning that trains on this track can’t go any further than Aldershot because there’s no connection from this track to the main Lakeshore West tracks.
By adding the pocket track, this track will become connected to the rest of the line, which extends on further to places like West Harbour GO, St. Catharines GO, and Niagara Falls GO.
The pocket track will open things up on the Lakeshore West line, allowing an increase in service opportunities to Hamilton’s West Harbour GO Station.
What work needs to happen to install the pocket track?
As the owners of the tracks west of Burlington GO Station, Canadian National Railway (CN) will be performing this work starting in November.
To add in the pocket track, CN’s construction teams will construct new track tying the existing stub end track into the main Lakeshore West Line.
The bulk of the work will take place starting just west of Waterdown Road and into the station.
Nearby residents can expect to hear some construction sounds coming from the site over the coming months. Work is expected to be finished in early 2022.
At some point during the relatively short construction period, Metrolinx will take one track out of service for a weekend, which could impact train service. This will be communicated in advance to make sure customers can make any changes to their travel plans.
Bringing more service to Hamilton
The new pocket track at Aldershot GO is just one example of many investments Metrolinx’s GO Expansion program has already made on the Lakeshore West Line to enable more rail service.
In August 2021, Metrolinx launched hourly, all-day service between West Harbour GO in Hamilton and Toronto’s Union Station, seven days a week. Additionally, two morning eastbound trips from Hamilton GO Centre to Union Station and two afternoon westbound trips from Union Station back to Hamilton GO Centre were reintroduced.
This new service represents an increase from 40 trips per week (pre-COVID) to a total of 250 trips per week to and from West Harbour. Customers will also save about 20 minutes by getting on the GO at West Harbour rather than taking the GO bus to Aldershot GO to catch the train.
Metrolinx is also building towards enhanced track capacity and working with rail partners to bring service to the future Confederation GO Station.
Over the next few years, there are plans to add additional pocket tracks to the two stub-ended tracks at West Harbour, connecting the tracks to the main Lakeshore West Line on the east side of the station. This work will eliminate the need to reverse GO trains into the station, which adds 20-minutes to trips when travelling to and from Niagara and will facilitate service to Confederation GO and beyond.
Service beyond Hamilton
Unlocking increased service in Hamilton also means unlocking expanded GO train service to Niagara, down the line. Niagara already has weekend and holiday rail service to and from Niagara Falls, with demand for more. Work continues to bring more service to both Hamilton and Niagara region as soon as possible.
By finding smarter and better ways to work together, Metrolinx is accelerating service improvements to these areas.