The wind and snow had barely subsided from a massive snow storm the day before as an eager crowd of commuters fumbled their way in the dark toward the new Barrie South GO Train platform.
It was quite a sight to see the big green and white engine thunder into the station after nearly two decades of quiet on the tracks from Barrie to Bradford.
Despite a technical issue with the automated ticket vending machine, the first trip was smooth and comfortable. For a 5:43am departure, the train was relatively full.
It was a special day for me as I have been involved in the effort to help restore passenger rail service for many years – writing letters, sending emails and advocating for public transit on many different occasions.
The foresight in particular of the City of Barrie in deciding to purchase the right-of-way several years ago when CN suggested it was going to tear up the Bradford-Barrie line was instrumental in restoring the service. And although the partnership between GO Transit and the Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments had many ups and downs, I would like to thank all parties for their perseverance and their vision.
My hope is that the expansion of GO service will continue and that the old “Thunder Trains” will someday be replaced by faster, lighter and more frequent rapid transit equipment that will provide more frequent trips capable of traveling to Union Station in under an hour. After all – the idea here is to offer a superior alternative to the car.
Our Barrie station isn’t much, but it’s a start. Now let’s ensure that the trains are here in Barrie to stay this time.