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06/03/2010

VIA Rail announces G20 disruptions

VIA trains will not be stopping at Union Station during the G20 summit to minimize traffic congestion in downtown Toronto, VIA Rail has announced.

In a travel advisory to passengers on Thursday, VIA Rail announced its Union Station operations are now being moved to suburban stations during the G20's "core dates" of June 24-27. Citing "extremely low" ticket sales and fears of traffic congestion, VIA says it will also be running on its weekend schedule during the same time period. Passengers with valid VIA tickets will be allowed to board GO trains from Oshawa, Oakville or Brampton and Toronto’s Union Station in both directions, however.

Here are the changes that will kick in for June 24-27:

  • All VIA trains between Toronto and Niagara Falls, Windsor, London and points enroute will originate/terminate at Oakville's transit station (200 Cross Ave., Oakville)
  • All VIA trains between Toronto and Sarnia via Kitchener and London (“north main line”) and points enroute will originate/terminate at Brampton's transit station (31 Church St. West, Brampton)
  • All VIA trains between Toronto and Kingston, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, Gaspé and points enroute will originate/terminate at Oshawa's transit station (915 Bloor St. West, Oshawa)
  • VIA’s Toronto-Vancouver Canadian will originate/terminate at the Oriole GO Transit station (3300 Leslie St., North York).

VIA says it will be operating shuttle buses to transport passengers between the suburban stations to their connecting trains. Arriving passengers can also catch shuttle buses at Oshawa Station, Scarborough Town Centre, Yorkdale Mall and Oakville Station. VIA warns travelers should anticipate shuttle delays.

Those affected by booking cancellations or changes can request a full refund or make a new reservation for a departure date prior to August 31, 2010 at no service charge. VIA is "encouraging" customers who wish to change or cancel their bookings to contact them by June 22 (see viarail.ca for details). 

In a press release, VIA president and CEO Marc Laliberté said he regrets the inconvenience to travelers.

"We regret the inconvenience these changes may cause, but we believe that making them well in advance and communicating this information to travelers now will help minimize access issues for our customers and ensure the continuity of our operations,” he said. 

Well, three weeks in advance isn't exactly what some might consider "well in advance." But hey, we've been through worse -- like the time Torontonians were given six months notice they would be hosting the G20 summit.

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In other words, unless you are specifically travelling to downtown Toronto, it's not big deal for you. Someone coming from Ottawa to Markham, for example, will still be able to travel by Via train and transfer to usual ground transportation.

Well no... working out how to get from downtown to one of the suburbs is fairly straightforward;working out how to get from one suburb to another is a lot more complicated.

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