You could GO home

On a nicer summer afternoon I would ride down from “the mountain” and get off my bus around GO Transit’s former Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo Hunter Street station. I consider the station itself to be one of the most attractive pieces of railway architecture anywhere and it’s preservation a real tribute to the attitude of “doing it right” in so many ways.

GO trains leaving Hamilton for Toronto exited the station and into a tunnel, under the City, and my walk home would take me over that tunnel’s entrance. Most days I could time a walk to match the departure of an evening train and this evening was no different. These three photos remind me of just such a time.

I remember thinking I should probably get around to “someday” spending more time photographing GO’s F59’s but they just seemed ever-present and as permanent part of the landscape that there was never a rush. Not many years after I took these photos I’d be proven wrong. Come to think of it, I’ve probably taken more photos of these GO diesels in Montreal commuter service than I did when they were on home turf.

RBRX 18524 (former GO Transit) at Dorval, Quebec, in AMT service. November 4, 2010.

GO Transit decals for N – available NOW for purchase

I am really excited to write this post. I was on the Highball Graphics website today when I saw their announcement for GO Transit decal sets to letter just about any GO Transit diesel and all the sets are available in N.

This is huge news and something I never expected to be reading. Just check out these exciting listings:

Great for models using either the Life-Like first generation F40 or Kato’s later phase model

APCU and APU FP-7’s
Intermountain’s beautiful FP7 for a powered model or to have an unpowered model in line with the prototype start with Model Power’s though I’m not sure how hard it would be to work with that metal shell Model Power used or how free-rolling it is. I was always tempted to stretch a Kato shell, though something in me always wants to pursue the harder road.

GP40’s both the -2W widecabs and the ex-Rock Island units
The Atlas GP40 is an obvious starting point here being plentifully available, un-matched smooth running and a beautifully detailed model. I had one of these and sold it for not much money at all when I started to give up on ever modelling GO in N.

Kaslo produced a beautiful kit for this model and they are still available.

So, now we just need coaches. Athearn hasn’t produced their Bombardier cars in a long time though they have teased us with several “announcements” to re-run them in the future. Of course, with this excellent announcement in N for the decals you should be able to piece together these sets to repaint the Athearn cars no matter which scheme you find and purchase. For the single-level cars you’re still on your own but they might not be as tricky to build as first thought and the trucks, at least, are available from Kato.

GO Transit in 1:450 – cool!

I found a neat new blog tonight written by a T gauge (1:450 scale) modeller. He’s doing some neat work and like many in the T gauge scene he’s using to print a lot of his stuff. Scrolling through his blog I saw this post and simply had to pause to reflect on what it is:
A New Tool (or Toy)

The blog post itself is about macro lenses for cameras but the big story in that post is a photo of a Bombardier bi-level coach just like those cars that make up the backbone of GO’s fleet. He also shows a test print of what looks like a MP40 shell. In his Shapeways shop he’s also got an FP7 shell available which could easily be modified to make a little 1:450 APCU (control cab). This is kind of fun to think about. A quick estimate would show that the coach would work out to just under two inches in length so a dozen cars would be two feet. You certainly trade off in how you design your layout but I’ll confess that it’s fun to think about a GO inspired layout in T. I bet you could easily model Hamilton’s Hunter Street station in about four square feet of space and have enough room to actually include the trains loading in the station as well as the layover tracks. With a little more imagination you could think about a model of Willowbrook too!

If you’re new to T; it’s currently considered the smallest commercially viable model railway scale. There are a few really engaged, albeit smaller, manufacturers already producing items in this scale and some terrific websites as well. If you’re curious to learn more about the scale, I strongly suggest starting here:

I’m going to bookmark his blog and keep checking in to see if anything comes of these models.

Happy Birthday GO Transit!

It’s May 23rd and on this very day, forty-six years ago, my favourite railroad company ran it’s first trains. Happy birthday GO Transit!

Wilfred Sergeant has written a truly excellent book about the first day of operations on the railway. He writes from having been there and during the design and set-up of this new company. You can read the full book online at:

Bill Howard remembered that he was one who went out to Oakville, as he said “In the wee hours of the morning!” to greet the invitees who came to ride #946, the first GO-Transit train. Premier Robarts of Ontario came out, with Vice President Gonder of CN. There were people from the Legislature, Mr. McNaughton and some of the local dignitaries, and a good representation of the press and TV stations. Jimmy Morrison was there with the train crew.
Another person who rode the train had not yet attained the high office he would occupy later. That was James Snow, who became Minister of Transport in 1975 I went to visit him in June 1996 at his home in Hornby, Ontario, not far from Oakville. On the inaugural run he was the candidate for the Progressive Conservative Party of the new riding of Halton East. He explained that the new riding was the result of the old riding having grown to the stage that a split was needed. The sitting member was George Kerr, who lived in Burlington, so he had chosen to stand for Halton West. That left Halton East open for a new member. Jim was new in the political field, but in view of his business as a construction contractor and a local farmer he was already a well-known personality in the area. The new commuter service lay within what he hoped would be his riding, it was logical for him to want to be present…Click here to read the rest of the article

In the days, weeks and year that would follow GO would continue to exceed it’s passenger targets and it’s challenges shifted from worrying about public acceptance to how they could possibly put more trains into service. Not only was the service a success for Ontario but further afield this one company has had a profound effect on the entire commuter rail industry. It’s revoluntionary bi-level passenger car have become so well received that many other transit operators across North America now have fleets made up of these cars. It’s not just the bi-levels, GO’s locomotive fleet has also been on the leading edge of commuter train motive power development. GO started with purpose-built locomotives: their GP40TC fleet. Innovative locomotive development would give us the wonderful F59 locomotive. F59’s based on the GO design can now be found across North America continuing to make their home road proud with years and years of reliable service. Here in Canada, F59’s can be found at home on GO trains but also in Montreal in service with AMT and even in VIA’s services into rural Quebec.

We often don’t realise how many great things we have right here in Canada. GO’s success is evidence of the value of careful and dedicated planning and good design. It’s also a terrific example of a successful public-private parternship, an example of government at municipal, provincial and federal levels all working together and making something great.

It makes me proud.

Good work, congratulations.

Of course, it’s exciting to look into the future. We’re only four years away from fifty years of GO Transit. This year London is celebrating one hundred and fifty years of their subway system and heritage trains are everywhere. Just imagine a restored GO Train in service. The coaches still exist and I think some of the original GP40TC’s are still in Amtrak work train service – it might not be totally impossible to do and it’s certainly fun to dream about.

GO Transit models from Athearn

I just saw an advertisement for Athearn’s GP40-2w in GO Transit colours. Four road numbers are available: 703, 705, 708 and 709. I still haven’t seen any of these models but from the pictures online they sure look terrific. I wonder how well they will compare to the Atlas model of the same engine? Athearn are making this model available in straight DC or a DCC and sound-equipped unit. I’ll confess, I really want one, of either the Atlas or the Athearn one.

Of course a first thought that occurred to me was a reminder of how disappointing it is that Athearn still haven’t re-released their Bombardier cars in GO colours. A few have been showing up on eBay lately and the resale prices have been really shocking on every one. I have a few of these models in HO and they are quite nice. I’d buy a few more if they ever returned to the marketplace. Tonight I read on The Train Cellar’s Facebook page that Athearn are planning on actually following through with the coaches in 2014. I sure hope they do, but I’m more than a little disappointed that they didn’t schedule the cars to release alongside the engines. Is this going to cause a glut of unsold engines while we all wait patiently for the cars? It’s got to be frustrating for hobby shops trying to put together practical inventories when manufacturers put together schedules like this.