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Blaze causes traffic chaos

GO rail shutdown stalls Durham commuters

By Sonia Verma and Paul Irish
Toronto Star Staff Reporters

Commuters heading into Toronto from Durham by GO Transit were expected to make a normal journey to work today, a far cry from the chaos they experienced yesterday morning after a huge fire shut down a main rail corridor.

Sunday’s fire at U.S.E. Hickson Products, near Lawrence Ave. E. and Morningside Ave., created havoc for some 15,000 commuters after emergency workers ordered the shutdown of a main track to the east that runs within metres of the plant.

GO Transit stopped service between Guildwood and Pickering stations at about 5 p.m. Sunday. The fire occurred between the Guildwood and Rouge Hill stations.

At 9 a.m. yesterday, hours after the beginning of the morning rush hour, Guildwood GO station was still busy with people struggling to catch a train to downtown.

Commuters who drove in to Guildwood arrived to find the parking lot filled to capacity.

“It’s been extremely busy, and people have been annoyed with the delays,” said Alnoor Kassam, a Guildwood station attendant.

Regular service did not resume until 9:29 a.m., and the evening commute was normal.

“I didn’t realize service was cancelled until this morning,” said Victoria Broughton, who usually boards the train in Ajax. “There’s no parking, not enough buses. It’s quite irritating.”

Eastbound commuters fared no better.

“I probably won’t get to work until around 11 o’clock,” said Sidney Wells, who was trying to get from Guildwood to Oshawa.

The cancellation of yesterday’s morning rush-hour service on GO Transit’s Lakeshore East line between Guildwood and Oshawa stations left many commuters with no alternative but to drive. Traffic on Highway 401 through Durham was backed up to Oshawa’s eastern border.

GO added 10 to 15 extra buses to get people from Oshawa, Whitby and Ajax GO stations to TTC connections at Scarborough Town Centre, York Mills and Yorkdale, but information officer Karen Majerly said there’s no way GO could provide the 375 buses needed to carry the estimated 15,000 stranded commuters.

GO has 201 buses altogether. most of which were already on the roads or having regular maintenance.