When Sir John A. McDonald, one of the Fathers of Confederation, had the Canadian
Pacific Railway built, the borders of Canada were established. What better project
to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation than reinstalling our railway
corridor from London to Port Stanley for future rail commuter use!
In 2013 with the Dorothy Palmer Estate providing funding and the St Thomas and Elgin
Home Builders Association constructing the LPS replica station, 1600 feet or 490
meters of track were reconstructed south of Centre St to Kains St. In order to complete
the connection from London to Port Stanley, only an additional 2300 feet is required
from Kains St to Barwick St . According to CEO Wendell Graves the projected completion
date for this is 2017.
This project is not just a city of St Thomas endeavour but must be partnered with
the Canadian National Railway that owns the part of the rail corridor from north
of Kains St to the Barwick St Bridge. CNR's future Ford property planning is still
An upgrade of the London to St Thomas line must be made so that the trains can go
above 25 MPH. This would be necessary both for freight and passenger service and
it is to be hoped that a private operator or CNR might contributes the funds for
freight as well as provincial and federal funds for higher passenger speeds.
Port Stanley Terminal Rail operates a tourist train with lighter size rail yet a
GO service similar to the London and Port Stanley railway operation could travel
from London to Port Stanley with additional ties and ballast work.
Other freight railways operate with GO's heavy railway locomotives on the PSTR size
rail. The additional ties, ballast and even heavier size rail could be the government
funded portion. Port Stanley Terminal Rail would be the logical passenger operator
from London to Port Stanley with a user friendly cost and timetable both of which
would also require government subsidies.
Because the current state of the LPS corridor from the London station to the Port
Stanley beach terminal is 24.5 miles long, at an operational speed of 25 MPH a freight
train would take one hour. With additional ties and ballast and heavier rail size,
the total line could be upgraded to 79 mph. The Waterworks bridge also needs maintenance
for approximately the same amount of funding as for 3 or 4 highway maintenance bridge
Funding for these projects could come from the Federal Public Transit Infrastructure
Fund; the Provincial Gas Tax, and from Municipality's Development Charges. Because
the Cap and Trade Tax is intended for the reduction of emissions, rail transportation
would certainly qualify for those funds.
Marketing this project will also be important and no doubt will involve the economic
development sector as well as those involved with tourism both city and county.
St. Thomas is fortunate to have several rail groups interested and willing to help
with this such as marketing at railway shows. An initial Toronto to Port Stanley
celebration could also be planned.
Sir John A. McDonald's vision of a united Canada may have been much larger but he
would have been proud of this modest project at uniting London, St. Thomas to Port
St Thomas ,ON.