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GO trains on time more often

By Paul Moloney
Staff Reporter

The mild winter helped make the GO trains run on time.

From January to the end of March, the trains were on schedule 94.5 per cent of the time, up from 85.2 per cent during the first three months of 2009.

Of the seven GO Transit lines, the Milton line was best at 97.8 per cent while the Lakeshore East line trailed at 92.9 per cent. “On time” is defined as no more than five minutes behind schedule.

The numbers were contained in a quarterly report to the GO Transit board.

After two very snowy winters, GO Transit beefed up its winter preparedness — such as the ability to use hot air blowers to melt ice and snow blocking switches.

And ongoing efforts to add tracks and purchase new locomotives have helped reliability, said Greg Percy, vice-president of operations.

“The winter weather was favourable and that was a big help for sure, but it doesn’t just end there,” Percy said. “Over the past five years, we’ve put a lot of investment into rail infrastructure capacity (and) replacing our locomotive fleet.

“It’s all about reliability. Our customers deserve that. What I’m trying to do is make delays fewer and make the impact of any single delay less.”

The system posted better performance numbers despite major problems that interrupted service during January through March:

For three days in January, GO Transit service was slowed by computer problems at CN. Also in January, a disabled freight train affected service on the Richmond Hill line. GO and the railway are discussing solutions, such as moving the freight to an earlier time slot.

On Feb. 18 around 4:30 a.m., someone made off with 1.6 kilometres of copper cable from the Guildwood station on the Lakeshore East line, triggering serious delays and cancellations.

And at the end of March, Lakeshore East service was cancelled after a CN freight derailed in Pickering. The railway had to replace tracks and make other repairs before GO service could resume April 1.

“All these incidents affected the on-time performance,” said GO spokeswoman Vanessa Thomas.

The rail lines that GO uses are owned by the railways who are responsible for maintenance and repairs, she said.

“There are so many factors outside our control that affect our on-time performance whether it be weather or the fact we share our tracks with CN and CP and VIA.

“We work with our partners but sharing infrastructure, sharing tracks, with other railways does make it challenging.”