Forty-five years ago today GO ran it’s first trains along the two Lakeshore routes.
At 0550h train #946 left Oakville to become GO’s first passenger carrying train into Union. Made up of a GP40TC and a train set of single-level cars it was one of two that would work the Lakeshore West line from Union to Hamilton. Ten minutes later train #903 left Pickering initiating service on Lakeshore East. The first day’s service was offered for free to anyone who rode so it’s difficult to estimate the number of people who rode GO that first day but it is estimated to be around eight thousand. Day two’s ticket sales rang in around seven thousand.
It must have been such an interesting time and it’s really fun to reflect back on the changes that GO has experienced over these four-and-a-half decades since day one. There was no VIA rail and even though GO was using Willowbrook the service still had only four full train sets in it’s possession. It’s neighbouring passenger trains would have been a sea of CN black and grey. Those massive green and white GP40TC’s sure must have stood out against that backdrop! Those Hamilton trains started at CN’s John Street station down near the waterfront. If I understand the rumours correctly there is talk of re-opening this station to passenger traffic again when rail service to Niagara is put into full swing. By the time I was living in Hamilton trains were running in and out of the GO Hunter Street facility only a few blocks away from my apartment on Caroline Street.
Wilf Sargeant was there on day one and he’s put together a really superb account of GO’s early years and has published it online. This book is by far one of my favourites and I’ve had it bookmarked here on Prince Street for a very long time. The link below will take you to the chapters describing the activities around “day one”:
As an interesting side note, I see that the same page of the book also has a neat photograph of on of the ONR train sets GO borrowed to supplement their own fleet as passenger numbers began to sore far past even GO’s own highest expectations. I’ve been trying to collect information on these train sets and I don’t really know how I missed this one. Oops!