GO in the snow
Winter, and with it comes frigid temperatures, snow storms, freezing rain, ice, and of course, blizzards—things all too familiar at GO. Even during rough weather, it’s ‘business as usual’ for us. So, rest assured when—not if—it gets nasty outside, we’re well prepared to get you where you need to be safely while keeping you in the know.
You may hear us talk about the challenges we face in winter, so here’s what we mean and what we’re doing to improve our cold weather performance.
What We're Doing
Switches allow trains to move from one track to another in areas where we have more than one set of tracks, such as Lakeshore West.
‘Frozen’ switches happen when ice and snow build up between moving rails, blocking and freezing the switch. Also, ice and frozen rock underneath trains can fall in between switches preventing them from closing properly.
Across our system, we continue to add fans that blow hot air onto switches to prevent them from freezing. We also have high-pressure snow-blower trucks that remove snow from tracks.
Issues that trains and buses face are similar to some of the challenges other vehicles experience in winter, such as sticking doors caused by ice and snow build-up.
Our train and bus fleet undergoes maintenance to ensure all equipment is functioning well during extreme winter weather.
A storage yard east of Union Station allows us to store our trains nearby, so they don’t have to travel through as much snow and ice to get back to Union Station for the afternoon commute. We keep our trains at a certain temperature when not in use to make start-up easier on cold mornings and prevent mechanical issues.
We work to de-ice train doors, should the thermometer reach sub-zero temperatures. Currently, a retrofit program is in place to improve door seals to ensure doors close fully and are less affected by snow and ice build-up in extreme weather conditions.
Salt helps reduce ice build-up, but it can also cause problems with GO equipment, such as jammed train doors.
Snow melting systems have been installed beneath many platforms, reducing the amount of salt we need. At many stations, we use de-icer instead of salt.
At Union Station, two snow melting machines allow for the disposal of large quantities of snow. When snow is dumped in these machines, they melt the snow at a fast rate that allows us to dispose of the remaining water quickly.
Snow removal and bus stops
If snow blocks your stop, please wait at a cleared area close to the bus stop, such as a driveway or crosswalk. Bus drivers will stop at clearings close to the stop so passengers can safely board and exit.
A ripple effect of delays can happen when one late train (even by a few minutes) causes delays to dozens of other trains. Year-round, GO runs a tight schedule to offer as many trips as possible and, as a result, severe winter weather can have a major impact on GO service.
When the weather gets really bad, GO has a plan to reduce delays and offer the best service we can.
Earlier trips, trains making all stops and keeping stations open later are all options we will consider to get you where you need to go.
Keeping you in the know
Keeping you in the know is a top priority. We work as fast as we can to let you know the reason for a delay and how soon we’ll be back on schedule.
On The GO updates provide you with timely information about any impact the weather may have on your trip.
Service updates on gotransit.com are updated in real time.
Trip status updates are available on electronic display monitors at Union Station and other GO stations.
In cases of very severe winter weather – the type that usually only occurs a couple of times each year – we run a special schedule.
The goal of the special schedule is to run as many trips as possible to get you where you need to be. That means express train trips will make all stops to ensure that everyone has commuting options. It may also include earlier homebound trains while buses would do their best to wait to help connect as many passengers as possible with trains.
In severe weather, we keep GO stations open late and offer a warm place for you to wait for your bus or ride home. We also work around the clock to clear parking lots, sidewalks and platforms of ice and snow to ensure your trip is a safe one.
Some stations and stops have heated shelters, some of which are customer activated. To activate heating in the shelter while you wait, simply press the button.
Tips to make your trip easier
Here are some tips to keep in mind when winter weather is in the forecast:
- Check the Service Updates page at www.gotransit.com for up-to-date service information.
- Sign up for On The GO alerts to receive updates affecting your trip here.
- Stay tuned to CP24, 680News and other media outlets for GO Transit service updates and weather forecasts.
- Give yourself extra time to get to your destination and take an earlier trip if possible.
- Arrange for back-up child or pet care so if you need it, it’s there.
- Delays caused by extreme weather are not eligible for the GO Train Service Guarantee.