Countdown to LRT

This post, from May 3, is the first of a series of articles keeping Ward 8 residents informed about the LRT project.

Hamilton LRT Rendering

Hello Ward 8 Neighbours,

With the anticipated start of LRT construction just around the corner, the following article from John Thompson will be part of a series keeping residents informed on the LRT project and its impact on Ward 8 residents.

For more details, please continue reading below…

The following article was written by John D. Thompson, a local writer focused on transit subjects.

The countdown has begun for the start of work on Hamilton’s fully-approved Light Rail Transit (LRT) project. Financing is being provided by the Federal and Provincial governments. Awarding of contracts should take place later in 2023, with actual construction expected to begin in 2024. The City has established its own LRT office in the GO Centre on Hunter Street (the former TH&B station), with City of Hamilton staff coordinating the project on Hamilton’s behalf. Salaries are being covered by Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency.

The 14 km, 17 station route begins at Main Street West and Cootes Drive, adjacent to McMaster University. It continues east on Main to the Chedoke Valley at Dundurn Street; the LRT crosses the valley on its own, new bridge. The alignment proceeds east on King, passing through downtown, to the Delta, where it moves onto Main Street East. From there, the LRT follows Main and Queenston Road to its Eastgate Square terminal. The LRT line will be entirely surface, apart from a short railway underpass near Horton Field.

Light Rail Transit route (courtesy of Metrolinx)

The project is expected to stimulate a great deal of new development along its route, providing significant new tax revenues for Hamilton. Already, two major condos are nearing completion just east of King and James, as is an apartment building on Main at Ottawa.

Other major developments are in the pipeline.


LRT does not refer to the actual weight of the rails being used. Rather, it is an industry term describing a rail transit system that is more flexible simpler, and far less costly than a “heavy rail” subway such as Toronto’s. For a local example, nearby Kitchener-Waterloo has a route that opened just four years ago, that has already stimulated a large amount, perhaps $2 billion worth of redevelopment, and proven very popular with the riding public. Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Toronto also have LRT operations, with Mississauga’s under construction. 

Hamilton LRT Rendering
Conceptual artist rendering of LRT design, King & Wellington (courtesy of the City of Hamilton)

Some people might consider LRT the reincarnation of the traditional city streetcar system, such as existed in Hamilton until 1951. However, LRT represents a huge technological leap forward. The cars (LRVs) are a state-of-the-art design, making them efficient, high capacity, durable, and smooth riding. In Hamilton, as elsewhere the tracks are being built on a raised concrete slab in the centre of the street, providing separation from road traffic to provide fast, unobstructed service. Rubber insulation in the track structure reduces noise and vibration to a minimum. Power collection is from a single overhead wire. 


Put simply, Hamilton lacks the population density to justify a full scale subway line, that would be prohibitively expensive and take far longer to build. LRT provides greatly improved, pollution-free transit. Regular HSR fares and transfer privileges will be offered. The HSR is already making plans to realign Mountain bus routes to connect with the LRT, making the new system convenient for local residents. At the terminals, bus connections will be convenient for trips to Dundas and Stoney Creek.

Artist rendering, International Village (courtesy of Metrolinx)


LRV are articulated (joined in bendable sections) and are 100 feet or longer. They may accommodate as many as 300 passengers, yet require just one operator. These cars are very durable compared to buses, with 30-year lifespans compare to about 10 for buses. Toronto ran its first LRVs for 40 years! Another advantage is that steel wheels last far longer than rubber tires, and rail vehicles don’t require costly licensing.

Hamilton will receive a new Longwood Road bridge (the present bridge is life-cycle expired). The bridge is needed to reach the carhouse/storage yard, on a Frid Street that is being extended east to Chatham Street. In addition, underground infrastructure such as water and sewer lines that have to be relocated for track construction will be paid for by Metrolinx, as will street repaving.

Visitors to Hamilton sometimes wonder why we still call our transit system the Hamilton Street Railway; when LRT arrives, the beloved historic name will again apply.

Questions or concerns?

If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact our office here.

Councillor John-Paul Danko