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Kitchener ION Trip:

Kitchener ION Trip:

 

Prologue:

 

††††††††††† Kitchener/Waterloo had a light rail line planned. They began construction in 2014. The line was originally to open in late 2017 but was pushed back many times to June of 2019. The service would be called ION. I decided when the line did open and the first chance I had two days off from Home Depot, I would go.

 

††††††††††† As it happens, I had two days free in the first week of ION service. My plan was to ride VIA train #85 to Kitchener and spend a night there as VIA service on that line heading to Toronto is either mid morning or late at night. I would spend the afternoon riding ION and possibly Grand River Transit buses. The following morning, I would take VIA train #84 back to Toronto. Once back in Toronto, I wouldnít go home, but to my sisterís apartment prior to going up to our familyís cottage

 

††††††††††† My friend Mark decided to join me for the Kitchener portion. The trip to Kitchener unfolded as follows.

 

June 27, 2019:

 

††††††††††† I got to Union station just before 10:00 am. I tried to see my train but there were some GO trains blocking my view though I did see a train depart pushed by an F59PH.

 

††††††††††† I met up with Mark and joined the queue line for train #85. This would be the first time I rode train #85 after it was cut back to London.

 

††††††††††† When boarding began, I was one of the first to get on.

 

††††††††††† Mark and I were seated in HEP2 Business class coach #4000 despite the fact train #85 is all economy class. This is because the Business class coaches are what gets the Wi-Fi and all corridor trains are Wi-Fi equipped.

 

††††††††††† I put my suitcase in the overhead bin and sat down. I logged into the Wi-Fi and worked on this report. The train left 3 minutes early.

 

††††††††††† VIA train #84 passed and I attempted to film it. I saw it had a P42 still in the VIA 40th Anniversary livery pulling HEP2 coaches.

 

††††††††††† The train passed behind the yard for the new Crosstown LRT which is supposed to open in 2021 and TTCís Mount Dennis bus garage. North of the Weston GO/Union Pearson Express, the train slowed.

 

††††††††††† The train passed a local freight near Pearson airport. My ticket was taken and I bought lunch. The train passed non stop through Malton. The train stopped at Brampton a few minutes later.

 

††††††††††† The train slowed at Georgetown, but didnít stop. West of Georgetown, we stopped. We eventually started moving again. West of Acton, the train stopped again. However, we werenít stopped for too long. The reason for the stop was to protect a defective railway crossing.

 

††††††††††† As we pulled into Guelph, I filmed CN 4-8-4 #6167 on display at the station. We were running five minutes late. After leaving Guelph, the train proceeded slowly. We soon began to pick up speed.

 

††††††††††† At one point, we passed a siding with many covered hopper cars. We were soon approaching Kitchener. We had made up time. I got my stuff ready in preparation to get off in Kitchener.

 

††††††††††† Mark and I got off and photographed the train.

 

 

††††††††††† We then filmed train #85 pulling out of the station. I took one last photo.

 

 

††††††††††† Mark and I then walked a few blocks to the Central ION station. Along the way, I photographed a GRT Nova LFS Ixpress bus on route #204.

 

 

††††††††††† I saw an ION train heading in the opposite direction as we intended to go. I photographed a sign next to the station announcing plans to build a new station that will serve as a hub for Grand River Transit, ION, GO Transit, and VIA Rail.

 

 

††††††††††† We then waited for the next ION train to take us to our hotel. Our train soon arrived.

 

††††††††††† ION presently operates a fleet of 14 Bombardier Flexity Freedom LRVs. This is a longer version of the streetcars TTC is receiving to replace their CLRV and ALRV streetcars. They are numbered 501-514. They are similar to what will run on the Crosstown line in Toronto when it opens. I previously photographed some of the first cars to arrive in Toronto.

 

 

LRV #6201 is an example of what will run on the Eglinton LRT.

 

††††††††††† ION #512 pulled up. Mark and I photographed it before we got on the crowded train.

 

 

††††††††††† We rode two stops to our hotel. I told Mark that one of my sisterís friends was involved in the construction of ION. We passed by the Charles Street terminal which was a hub for GRT buses plus intercity buses. With ION, GRT routes have been reorganised to meet with ION much like how most of the TTC surface routes connect with the subway.

 

††††††††††† We got off at the Queen station and photographed #512 and filmed it pulling away.

 

 

††††††††††† We then walked to our hotel and checked in. We then went to our room. From our room, we could see ION. I photographed car #505 from the room.

 

 

††††††††††† I phoned home and then logged on and went online. I worked on this report for a little while. We soon headed out.

 

††††††††††† We then went to Fredrick station where we just missed a train. We waited for the next train. When it arrived, I photographed it before I got on.

 

 

††††††††††† Mark and I then rode to Conestoga Mall. Along the way, we passed the Waterloo depot that used to be used by the Waterloo Central Railway tourist train. With ION, the train has been cut back as not to interfere with ION. I did ride the train back in 2012. Part of IONís right of way is a branch line used by a freight railway when ION is closed for the night.

 

 

Hereís the Waterloo Central tourist train back in 2012 running where ION now runs.

 

††††††††††† As we passed the yard, I filmed it. We soon left the freight right of way and arrived at the Conestoga Mall. Mark and I got off and took some photos.

 

 

 

 

††††††††††† We filmed our train pulling away and then photographed some GRT buses at the terminal. I remembered back in 2000- 2002 I had ridden a GRT fishbowl which was one of only two occasions I rode a fishbowl in service with GRT.

 

 

 

 

††††††††††† Mark and I went into the mall. I got something from Cinnabon as I had lunch on the train. Mark didnít eat on the train so he got something from the food court.

 

††††††††††† When Mark finished lunch, he wanted to go to a museum that was actually in the mall near the food court. We went in for a few minutes and I photographed some of the exhibits.

 

 

 

 

 

††††††††††† We then headed back to ION. I photographed car #504 before I filmed the car #511 pulling in.

 

 

 

 

††††††††††† Mark and I photographed #504 before we boarded #511 and headed off. When we passed the Waterloo depot, I photographed it.

 

 

††††††††††† We rode to the other end of the line at Fairway Mall. At Fairway, we photographed an XD40 on route #302 the Ion express bus to Cambridge and LRV #511.

 

 

 

 

 

††††††††††† We filmed #511 leaving and photographed some more buses including the next ION Express bus. Between June 24 and July 1, all GRT service was free.

 

 

 

††††††††††† Mark and I boarded the express bus and rode all the way to the Ainslie terminal in Cambridge. Along the way, we passed under the CP line and I saw the abandoned Cambridge station. Back in 2004, I saw the CP Holiday train in Cambridge as it was the closest stop to Toronto.

 

††††††††††† At Ainslie terminal, we got off. I photographed the bus and filmed it pulling away.

 

 

 

††††††††††† Mark and I photographed other buses before I headed on looking for a convenience store.

 

 

 

 

††††††††††† I found a convenience store a few blocks away. I returned to the terminal. I phoned Mark as we had become separated. I soon found him with two other transit fans from Toronto. They told us there was an incident shortly after we left Conestoga Mall. Apparently, a train two trains behind us was accidentally switched onto the wrong line and stopped and then backed into the station. There was such a crowd at Conestoga that they let passengers board again! This caused a delay resulting with the two following trains to be right on the heel of the delayed train!

 

††††††††††† Mark and I had heard an announcement about a delay back at Fairway station. Now we knew what caused the delay.

 

††††††††††† We photographed various buses including a regular GRT XD40 on the #302 ION bus. I also photographed an armoured vehicle parked in front of the armoury next to the terminal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

††††††††††† The reason the regular XD40 was on the ION bus was because there are few if any spare ION buses during peak times.

 

††††††††††† We then photographed a GO bus on route #24. I heard that today was the second last day of route #24 so it was good to get photos. I also photographed ION Express bus #21758.

 

 

 

 

††††††††††† Mark and I then decided to head back to Fairway Mall. I photographed ION Express bus #21765 before we got on.

 

 

††††††††††† The ride back to Fairway was uneventful. We got off. I photographed #21765 again.

 

 

††††††††††† Mark and I then went into the mall. We walked over the old GRT terminal and I took a photo.

 

 

 

Hereís the old terminal in use. Note the Ixpress LFS on route 200; Route 200 was discontinued and replaced by ION Express bus route #302.

 

††††††††††† Mark and I then had dinner at the food court. After dinner, we looked around the mall for a few minutes before we headed out to the transit terminal. I filmed LRV #504 pulling in before we got on.

 

 

††††††††††† We rode to Fredrick station where we got off. I photographed #504 before I filmed the car pulling away.

 

 

††††††††††† While ION presently runs 1 car trains, the platforms are long enough for a 2-car train. However, there isnít the demand or equipment to run two car trains. Planners are already looking into extending the line from Fairway; maybe to Cambridge. However, the ridership isnít there at the moment.

 

††††††††††† Mark and I then went back to our hotel. After awhile, I decided to go for a swim in the pool. Mark wasnít aware that the hotel had a pool so he forgot his swimsuit.

 

††††††††††† After my swim, I went out to a Hasty Market across the street from the Charles Street terminal. I saw the bays that GRT buses used to serve were blocked off with concrete barriers. As I said earlier only intercity buses use the terminal now, but itís on borrowed time.

 

††††††††††† I photographed the terminal.

 

 

 

 

††††††††††† I then returned to my hotel room. I saw an ION train pass. I saw even late at night the train was full. It remains to be seen what ridership will be like when GRT starts charging fares to ride. However, the line serves two universities so thereís a good chance ridership will not be a problem.

 

††††††††††† I worked on this report for a little while. I asked for a wake-up call at 7:00 am and called it a night.

 

June 28, 2019:

 

††††††††††† Mark and I got up and got dressed. I went downstairs to a restaurant for breakfast. After breakfast, I went back up to pack as Mark went down. When Mark came back, I found out that train #84 was running late.

 

††††††††††† Mark and I finished packing and went to check out. We then walked to the Fredrick ION station. ION car #513 pulled in a few minutes later. I photographed it.

 

 

††††††††††† We rode two stops to Central station. Mark and I got off. I photographed the train.

 

 

††††††††††† I then filmed the train pulling out. Mark and I then walked to the VIA station. At the VIA station, I photographed a GO bus with ďHappy Canada DayĒ on the destination sign.

 

 

††††††††††† Mark and I went inside the station. I saw train #84 was running between 16 and 21 minutes late.

 

††††††††††† There were a lot of people waiting for #84 today. I heard some were connecting to train #64 in Toronto then connecting to the Ocean to Moncton.

 

††††††††††† Train #84 eventually arrived at 9:45; 27 minutes late. I filmed the train pulling in.

 

 

††††††††††† I was seated in LRC coach #3323. The train departed 34 minutes late. I logged into VIAís Wi-Fi. I had a problem with my laptop, but I got it resolved by the time we arrived in Guelph.

 

††††††††††† In Guelph, I filmed CN 6167 again. We also passed a local CN freight. We departed Guelph and stopped in Georgetown a few minutes later.

 

††††††††††† The train stopped in Brampton. As we got close to Malton, I saw a plane taking off from Pearson airport. The train stopped in Malton. When I was planning this trip, I considered combining this trip with a trip to Europe. If this had been the case, I would have gotten off in Malton and caught a bus to Pearson Airport. However, Europe will wait.

 

††††††††††† East of Malton, VIA train #85 passed but I was unable to film it. I did film the yard for the Crosstown LRT but missed Mount Dennis bus garage.

 

††††††††††† We were soon getting close to Toronto. The train crew announced people connecting to trains 42 and 64 would be allowed to get off first due to our late arrival.

 

††††††††††† Train #84 arrived into Union station 20 minutes late. I got off and photographed the train.

 

 

††††††††††† I then photographed other VIA trains.

 

 

 

 

††††††††††† I then went downstairs. I then went into a Shopperís Drug Mart near Union station where I got a text message from my sister. It was a last-minute change of plans. Instead of meeting her at her apartment, I would meet up at York Mills passenger pick up.

 

††††††††††† I finished up at Shopperís and got on the subway. I rode to York Mills where I met up with my family and headed off to the cottage. On the way, I heard on the radio the subway was closed due a fire investigation between Union and Eglinton which I had just passed so I just dodged a bullet.

 

Conclusions:

 

††††††††††† I am impressed with ION. However, it remains to be seen what will happen when GRT resumes charging fares on July 2. Iíll presumably find out in October.

 

††††††††††† Ottawa is to start open its new light rail line hopefully in September. Iíll go there once itís open. However, Iím planning a big trip some point in late August-early September as well. I havenít decided where Iíll go though but I have a couple destinations in mind. Until next timeÖ