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Rush hour commuters hoping to take GO trains home from Union Station wait after a CN outage stopped all GO Train service on Oct 3, 2023.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

A network outage at Canadian National Railway Co. delayed GO and Via Rail passenger trains for hours at Toronto’s Union Station in Tuesday’s afternoon rush hour.

The service interruptions snarled afternoon GO Train travel across the Greater Toronto Area and left thousands of commuters scrambling to make other plans as the evening journey home approached.

“CN is currently experiencing an internet connectivity issue,” said Jonathan Abecassis, a spokesman for the Montreal-based freight railway that owns and operates much of the rail network used by the passenger services.

He said the cause of the problem is under investigation and there is no indication it is the result of a hack.

About 2½ hours after announcing the stopping of their trains, GO Transit’s parent agency Metrolinx said limited service had resumed, with information on departures available at the agency’s website.

Outbound trains were leaving Union Station about every 30 minutes, according to the agency, half as often as usual. Inbound trains would be less frequent, running every 30 to 60 minutes. The agency warned of continued cancellations and potential delays in the evening and said trains would be busy.

The statement urged travellers to find alternative ways to get their destinations or take the trains and buses at less-busy times.

Although GO ridership remains well below pre-pandemic norms it is still a regional lifeline, carrying about 200,000 riders on an average day.

GO Transit noted that bus service was unaffected. The capacity of that fleet is not enough to make up for trains taken out of service, though. The TTC, Toronto’s local transit service, announced that it would add 15 trains on its two main subway lines to help GO passengers looking for options, as well as putting on extra buses.

The train to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport was also affected. The UP Express, which is run by Metrolinx, stopped operating early Tuesday afternoon when the rest of regional train service went down.

The problems affected the passenger trains in and out of Canada’s busiest rail passenger hub, and CN’s customer service portal, Mr. Abecassis said. CN freight trains, Montreal’s EXO service and Amtrak Trains are operating, he said.

“CN apologizes for the issue,” he said. “We are working to get all services up and running safely and efficiently.”

Via Rail said in an e-mail some trains began moving slowly as of 3:45 p.m. Delays were expected to continue throughout the evening, Via said.

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