ION Opens – Canada’s New Light Rail

Kitchener’s new LRT, ION, is now open!

Stage 1 ION LRT, 19 km for $865 Million.
Stage 2 ION LRT, 18 km for $1.25 Billion.
Let’s see, 37 km of LRT $1.895 billion, sounds like a deal with the $3 billion, 5.5 km ART Movia metro Broadway subway or the short $1.65 Expo Line extension to Fleetwood.

ION LRT gets on track in Kitchener and Waterloo

By Local Online Journalist  Global News

Grand River Transit cut it close on its promise to have the ION LRT vehicles taking passengers through Kitchener and Waterloo by the end of spring.

The first train left the station at Fairway Mall on Friday morning at 11:40 a.m, just minutes before the end of spring.

“Isn’t it a beautiful spring morning,” Coun. Tom Galloway joked at the opening ceremony which launched the province’s first new transit system since the 1980s. “It’s a beautiful spring morning but I sense a Solstice about to arrive…

But that’s purely coincidental.”

The long-awaited LRT system has been under development since 2012 with its arrival coming months behind schedule.

Galloway, who has helped spearhead the project as part of the region’s Rapid Transit Steering Committee,  also pointed to the economic benefits of the 19-station line which will run through the downtown cores of Kitchener and Waterloo.

“We are here today to report that with zero passengers carried, there has been $3.282 billion in completed, under construction or building permitted projects in the corridor,” he told the crowd.

“These numbers represent 13,000 new residential units and over four-million square feet of office and commercial space.”

A large crowd had gathered to watch the launch of the first ION train. It included many who had worked on the train, local MPs and MPPs, as well as many current and former regional councillors.

“This is one of the largest and fastest-growing urban centres in Ontario,” said Mike Harris, MPP for Kitchener-Conestoga.

“The Waterloo ION LRT project will provide a quick and convenient transportation option to more people between Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge, and mean shorter commute times that leave people more time for what matters most.”

Region of Waterloo chair Karen Redman noted how the trains, which can transport 200 passengers in each vehicle, will benefit the region as a whole.

“ION will connect seamlessly with Grand River Transit to create an efficient, easy-to-use public transit system,” she said.

Redman paid warning to the provincial and federal politicians that she will be knocking on their doors as the region turns its eyes towards the next phase which is intended to continue on from Kitchener to Cambridge.

“Once stage two is complete, ION buses will be replaced with rail creating a continuous LRT system across the region’s three urban centres,” she said.


9 Responses to “ION Opens – Canada’s New Light Rail”
  1. Pogues says:

    The skytrain is going all the way to Langley and opens in 2025.

    Zwei replies: At a estimated cost of $200 million/km, and a now $1.4 billion shortfall and no money allocated for operating costs, just where is the money coming from?

  2. Jude says:

    Thanks for getting the word out re this aLReady In pLace rail line, link, from the valley. Options.
    This rail line already in place, adds the kick butt innovative, “option” of ZERO emissions, thanks to Canadian industry leaders, yes hometown, home province, back yard business, Ballard. Where innovation and jobs meeT. .within the hydrogen fuel cel industry. Let this zero emission, common sense, real and at hand “option” grow, and given the go, hugely expand. Ballard.

  3. Haveacow says:

    According to CTV Kitchener, 73,000 passengers rode the ION LRT this past weekend. The trains ran from 10 am to 10 pm. A real scheduled service started today, rides are still free until Canada Day.

  4. Haveacow says:

    Hey @ Pogues, Just spoke to 2 planners who work for Translink. They will get to Fleetwood not Langley, by maybe, maybe, the middle to late part of 2026. Zwei is right there is zero money to go to Langley. No federal or provincial help on the horizon, even with a federal election coming. The Langley extension will lose all its funding to the second part of the Broadway Line, which expected to top $4 Billion. Translink just can’t afford both the second stage of Broadway Skytrain Line to UBC and completing the Langley extension at the same time.

  5. TH says:

    @Pogues … while it kills me a bit to agree with Zwei, there is no projected date for operations to begin … heck, there is no projected date for construction to begin. Skytrains running into Langley in 2025 is nothing more than a Cock n’ Bull story from the Mayor of Surrey. As Zwei correctly points out, the project is not currently funded. Translink has stated that they’re going to redirect funds previously allocated for the LRT project into the Expo line expansion, but that money gets you a Skytrain to about 168th … those are Translink’s own estimates …

    Zwei replies: Please read Mr. Cow’s post. I have been told by a source that the completion of the Broadway subway to UBC is the priority, but it will be built with small stations due to the fact there is little ridership on that portion of line. Max capacity will be 15,000 pphpd on the Millennium Line for the next 50 years.

    Younger planners at TransLink now understand that after the 200 MK.2 car order is completed there will be no more on offer as Bombardier will terminate production as the ART Movia metro model is well past its best by date.

    To understand this correctly, TransLink is planning to have the subway to UBC up and running by the mid 2030’s and is also why there is desperation for road pricing. My prediction is that TransLink will fracture by 2025, when it comes apparent that the public and valley mayors have been duped. I have been also told that the provincial MOT is again planning for a new Abbotsford to Vancouver highway as there is no other way being planned to move traffic. SkyTrain only planning has left us in a transit mess.

  6. westlife says:

    Broadway subway will be completed to Arbutus in 2025 and is fully funded. There is no funding for UBC yet. Stytrain is fully funded to Langley in phase 2 and 3 in 10year plan. You are all wrong. Skytrain to Arbutus and langley in 2025. Construction starts in 2020, finished by 2024 followed by 1 year of testing.

    Zwei replies: Haven’t a clue, do you. There is NO funding to build SkyTrain to Langley, as the current funding will just get it past Fleetwood.

    A year to test the line, really, really.

  7. Haveacow says:


    Hello Westlife, the only funding for the Skytrain extension to Langley is the money that was originally earmarked for the first stage of the Surrey LRT Line. That will be enough to get to maybe Fleetwood, maybe! The LRT Line from central Surrey to Langley was never funded, that funding was supposed to come for the 3rd stage of Translink’s 10 year plan. Therefore there is no funding to get that Skytrain Line from Fleetwood to Langley. The federal government portion of that funding will not be announced before the upcoming fall election, if ever.

    In fact, federal government funding for rapid transit projects is declining especially because of the federal government need to help build VIA Rail’s High Frequency Rail Network in the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor. This is important because this section of VIA Rail is the only portion of their network that regularly makes a profit.Especially the Toronto – Montreal, Toronto -Ottawa and Ottawa-Montreal routes. The growing freight traffic on these routes is strangling the few routes in the entire VIA Rail Network that make money. The Montreal-Quebec City route is finally breaking even after decades of losing money.

    So VIA Rail is buying up the old abandoned Ontario-Quebec Railway Mainline, a route that the CPR ran as a parallel Montreal to Toronto route when their Mainline (The Belleville Subdivision) was too busy. That means almost 300 km of double-track mainline must be built and another 150 km upgraded.

    That will suck up a lot of federal money that was meant for paying for transit projects like the Broadway Skytrain Tunnel from Arbutus to UBC and the Skytrain extension from Fleetwood to Langley. There won’t be enough federal money for both at the same time. So Broadway will win and Langley will lose.Translink and your Mayor’s Council said so. The Broadway Line is their highest priority.

    Remember Translink continuously has problems of paying their share for one Skytrain extension at a time, let alone 2 extensions at the same time. Without the Fed’s kicking in cash it is highly unlikely that your Provincial Government will pay for any expansion.


  8. oppo says:

    You are all wrong.

    Phase 2 of 10 year translink plan include 1.6 billion for lrt from guildford to newtown. Phase 3 include 1.9 billion for lrt to Langley. That is a total of 3.5 billion. LRT is now cancelled. That is 3.5 billion for skytrain in Surrey and Langley. There is more than enough money for skytrain to Langley. Zwei has no clue.

    Zwei replies: This is a trolls post the Troll’s email is ”

    I am allowing this to show the many troll posts that I delete daily.

    What he is saying, is that there is a budget for SkyTrain to Langley, whether the actual funding can be had is an altogether different story.

  9. Haveacow says:

    THE PHASE 3 PORTION, THE $1.9 BILLION HASN’T BEEN FUNDED YET OPPO! Only the first part of the LRT was funded, (the $1.6 Billion part). The Fed’s and the Province never gave money for the line to Langley, only the Guildford to Newton line was funded. Don’t believe me, check with the Mayor’s Council orTranslink yourself.

    The phase 3 portion of the 10 year plan is still awaiting any funding commitments from the upper levels of government. By the way, both the extension of the Broadway Skytrain line from Arbutus to UBC and the Skytrain extension from Fleetwood to Langley are phase 3 projects, either has yet to be okayed for a funding commitment from the provincial or federal governments! The earliest you will see an announcement regarding that funding from either the Province or the Federal Government is late 2020 or early 2021. Environmental Assessments using the federal procedures will still have to occur after that point.

    Both stage 3 line extension projects combined require between $5.9-$6.3 Billion in funding. That means both the Province and the Fed’s have to give between $1.967-$2.1 Billion each, assuming equal portions of funding. It is also highly unlikely that Translink can even afford ite 1/3 portion of the funding requirement for both projects.

    Consider that many other Rapid Transit Projects across the country are waiting for federal approval as well as the immense cost of VIA Rail’s High Frequency Rail Project, I think it unlikely that both Translink line extensions will receive federal funding before 2023/2024 (the time period of the following federal election). Keep in mind, if the Liberals loose the fall federal election many, if not all your future rail transit projects will get sidelined by a new Conservative federal government.

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