What an emotional whirlwind the past week has been for rail advocates.
After years of behind-the-scenes negotiations between the city, the province and Via Rail over bringing a new stop to Hamilton, it finally looked last week like a breakthrough may be at hand. The Ontario budget included $3 million to install a GO train station on James St. North near LIUNA Station (formerly a train station itself).
Unlike the TH&B station on Hunter St. which will continue to provide rush hour service, the James St. station would provide all-day service.
It appeared that Via would add service to this station as well, having abandoned James Street in 1992 for its Aldershot station. This came as a relief after suggestions that a new Via station might end up in Stoney Creek instead.
Then it all (here comes the obligatory rail metaphor) came off the rails two days later, when Via announced that it was not going to stop at James after all.
As Via spokesperson Catherine Kaloutsky explained, "The James Street location just isn't conducive to us to serve our customers, so we will continue to serve the Hamilton area through Aldershot and Grimsby."
Raise the Hammer sent Via an email asking them to explain why having a station in downtown Hamilton "isn't conducive" to serving their customers. Given that Via's mandate is to provide intercity rail service in Canada, it seems bizarre to bypass a major Canadian city altogether. [We did not receive a reply in time for this blog post.]
Well, obviously we must have convinced them, because Andrew Dreschel reports in his Spectator column today that the deal is on after all. Kaloutsky is quoted saying that as long as GO builds the facilities, "Via will stop some of its trains [at the James station] as well".
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