Metrolinx to compensate passengers for three-hour GO train delay

About 600 people were on a Lakeshore East GO train that was delayed for over three hours Tuesday evening

Go Trains stuck

Metrolinx will offer additional compensation to hundreds of passengers who were stuck on a Lakeshore East GO train for more than three hours over mechanical issues Tuesday evening, says spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins.

About 600 people were on the 4:30 p.m. train from Union Station to Oshawa when it broke down shortly after leaving Ajax. The train didn’t move again until about 8:30 p.m., when another engine pushed it back into the station. Passengers were not permitted to leave the train during the delay and, for some time, the power and air-conditioning systems cut out completely.

The long wait was the result of “an unfortunate sequence of events,” Aikins said Wednesday, “but the bottom line is, it should not have taken that long to get them off the train.”

“It should not have taken as long to move the train, and we’re looking all the decisions that were made, all the factors that went into those decisions being made,” Aikins said, adding that on top of the normal fare refund for any journey that’s more than 15 minutes late, Metrolinx is “in the process of deciding the amount” of additional compensation for passengers stuck on that train.

Contributing to the delay was a gas leak near King City around 5:20 p.m., Aikins said, which forced the shutdown of the GO Transit Aurora station and required staff to be deployed to check the safety of nearby stations. As well, the train assigned to push the stuck train back into Ajax was delayed after “someone got impatient” and prompted an emergency situation, Aikins said.

The lack of extra staff, “difficult terrain” that made setting up ramps for disabled passengers impossible and needing to shut down the entire rail corridor prevented Metrolinx from evacuating the train, she added.

Derek Marques, who was on Tuesday’s train heading to Whitby, said he was frustrated by the lack of communication from GO Transit during the delay. He normally gets home at about 5:45 p.m.; on Tuesday, he got home at 8:45 p.m.

“(At first) they told us we were stopped waiting for a signal to proceed, and then the next notification we got was, ‘Our train is broken,’… So clearly there’s problems right from the start but they didn’t share (with us),” Marques told the Star.

“At one point we were told a train was going to hook up to us and push us to Whitby, and next thing we’re told is we’re being pulled to Ajax. Like, which one is it?” he said. “It’s like they have a Rolodex of excuses and they’re just using them.”

Although it wasn’t hot outside, Marques said his train car gradually became muggy after the air conditioning died; thankfully, Marques said, the car wasn’t packed since the train was almost at the end of its route. And although people initially panicked trying to sort out things like how to pick up their kids at day care, the mood gradually lightened.

“As people got things straightened out, they kind of accepted that they were in for the long run, there’s really nothing you can do,” Marques said. “… Cellphones started dying, more and more people started interacting with each other, and we just took it as another, ‘Oh, it’s another GO Train experience.’”

Marques was also critical about what he saw as a lack of planning on GO Transit’s part.

“The GO Train (wasn’t) started yesterday…. There was never a contingency (plan), ‘If this ever happens, what’s our plan of action (so) we don’t have people sitting on the track for three hours?’ That’s the thing you find with other delays, too, is that they never have a Plan B that quickly gets executed,” he said. “It’s like, ‘Oh, let’s try this, let’s try this, let’s try and Google how to fix the train first,’ opposed to, ‘Let’s get these people home.’”

Aikins said passengers had “every right to be upset.”

“The Barrie situation was out of our control … it was an emergency situation. But the Lakeshore East line was within our control,” she acknowledged. “This is our train that broke down and our service recovery, which did not in any way come close to meeting our own standards, was within our control.”

Drew Sauveur
Author: Drew Sauveur

Local business owner and resident of Durham Region

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