Passengers stuck in GO trains for hours after fatal accident on the track

A GO train arrives at Union Station in Toronto on Monday, May 2, 2022.Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press

It was Gilon James’ first time taking the GO train, but after a fatal accident on the track turned an hour-long ride into a nearly five-hour ‘nightmare’, it was likely her last.

She was one of the transit system passengers traveling west from Toronto on Friday night when multiple journeys were delayed after a train hit and killed a person west of Exhibition station. Several commuters said their wait times were exacerbated by a slew of technical issues afterward.

Metrolinx spokesman Suniya Kukaswadia said GO train service on the Lakeshore West route was suspended at around 11pm as a result of the incident. Toronto police also said officers were on the scene to investigate.

Ms. James said she was returning from the Rolling Loud music festival and was on a train behind whoever hit the person. She said she was without water on the vehicle for more than three hours between stations.

“It was my first time on the GO and I thought it was the worst experience ever,” said Ms James, noting that passengers were unable to exit the train as it was stuck between stations.

Ms James said at one point that a passenger in her carriage had a seizure and emergency services had to fight their way through the doors to get to the passenger and transport them outside.

She described how a door malfunctioned and remained open after the rescue. She said her carriage had been ordered to move to the adjacent cars because of the door jam, which upset people as they were even fuller.

Mrs. James said she had to stand for the last hour and a half of the nearly five hour delay.

“It felt like I was in a sardine can,” she said.

Ms Kukaswadia said she was not aware of any injuries, apart from the fatal accident on the track in trains, and attributed train door problems to passengers who had opened several doors during the delays.

“Crews determined that several doors had been opened by customers and had to be secured before the train could move,” Ms Kukaswadia wrote in a statement.

Another commuter, Matt Johnson, said he was involved in the death on the track while on the train, and described a jolt on board when he slammed on the brakes after the incident.

He said passengers were trapped on the train for two hours when police came on board to investigate. Then the train dropped out at the next stop, so passengers had to get on another one.

To Mr Johnson’s disappointment, that second train also canceled after two stops.

The last straw for many passengers was when the third train also had to stop and let them alight for 15 minutes due to technical problems.

“People started to get really chatty on the platform,” said Mr Johnson, who traveled on to Burlington.

In the end Mr Johnson said he was home at 4:20am after boarding for the first time at 10:45pm

Both he and Mrs. James said they were frustrated at the lack of information throughout the ordeal, and were often told that the train would start in a few minutes, when in reality it took hours.

When asked about the lack of information to passengers, Ms. Kukaswadia thanked people for their patience and said that all customer feedback would be reviewed.

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