Skip to main content

A Visitor's View of Passenger Rail in Canada

I've just returned home to England after having spent around 2 and a half weeks in Ontario. The overall impression I\'ve come home with is that Canada is a lovely country with great people, but a very poor public transport system. One of the things that sticks out is how awkward and inconvenient it can be. The first train trip I made was from Toronto to Kingston. Via\'s Kingston Station is located out of town. There was no direct bus from the Station to downtown, so I had to get a taxi. Clearly there hasn\'t been much joined up thinking there. After Kingston I then went on to Smiths Falls.

Again I had to get a taxi from the Via Station to my guest house, because the Station has now been moved out of town. My understanding is that the current Smiths Falls Via Station has opened within the last few years after it was moved from the former C.P Station, which is conveniently located in downtown. Why on earth was this decision made ? How can that be looked upon as being progress, moving a Station out of town ?

Then I went on to London, which unlike Kingston and Smiths Falls has a conveniently located Via Station. However actually getting around the town itself wasn\'t always straight forward. Not all of the bus stops were clearly marked, and when I told one bus driver where I needed to get off he told me the wrong stop. I understand that as well as a high speed rail link, there has been talk of London having a light rail system. In my opinion those two things can\'t come quick enough.

After London I took the train on to Windsor, yet another town with an inconveniently located station. The former C.N Station on the Waterfront was in a much better place, right in downtown and near to the Travelodge where I was staying. Surely it wouldn\'t be impossible to reinstate the station in it\'s original place ? There\'s enough room to run two tracks as well as a public footpath on the current Windsor waterfront. It\'s also perfectly possible to have a Station reopened on the C.P line, so that trains can once again run between Windsor and Detroit.

I finished off with a few days in Toronto. The wonderful Union Station still has building work going on. I asked a number of people working there when it would be finished, but none of them knew. Someone somewhere clearly isn\'t communicating with them. I used the GO Train to take a day trip down to Niagara Falls. To be fair Niagara\'s Station is well located, and there is a useful shuttle bus linking it with all the attractions. However, when I turned up to catch the return service to Toronto, both the GO Train and the delayed Amtrak service from New York were in the same platform on the same line. Niagara Station has two platforms and two lines, surely it would make sense to make use of them ?

My message to Trudeau is to wake up and start getting behind public transport, because at the moment you look like another Tony Blair, i.e all style and no substance. - Matthew Bentley

NOTE:We have asked for bloggers to send in stories about high speed rail or passenger rail in general. Thanks Matthew Bentley for supplying this article. Feel free to submit them to me at highspeedrailcanada (at) .