Workers in Canada’s largest city struggled to get home Tuesday after the regional rail system was hit by a “network-wide system failure” caused by an internet collapse at Canadian National Railway Co.
Unusually long lines of people were still waiting for trains to depart downtown around 7 p.m. Toronto time. Metrolinx, the government agency that operates a sprawling rail and bus service between Toronto and its suburbs, said it was attempting to run trains every 30 minutes out of Union Station, Toronto’s central rail hub, which is located in the financial district.
CN Railway, which manages rail corridors including Union Station, said it was experiencing an internet connectivity problem. “While there is no indication of a cyber security issue, the cause of the outage is currently under investigation,” spokesperson Jonathan Abecassis said by email.
Intercity rail service run by Via Rail was also snarled, with trains from Toronto to Ottawa and cities in southwestern Ontario experiencing long delays.
“GO trains, VIA trains in and out of Union Station, as well as CN’s customer service portal, all of which require an internet connection to CN’s servers, are currently impacted,” Abecassis said. “CN apologizes for the issue. We are working to get all services up and running safely and efficiently.”
The situation left hordes of passengers frustrated. “This is supposed to be a world-class country,” said Eric Lehrer, who was waiting for a train to take him to Scarborough, east of downtown. “Is this world-class to you?”
Metrolinx’s network in southern Ontario brings hundreds of thousands of weekday passengers to Toronto’s core. The agency also runs a train that directly links the financial district with Pearson International Airport — that service was down for hours on Tuesday, but began operating again shortly after 4 p.m. on a reduced schedule.
Tegan Ridge, a Toronto-area student who had been trying to catch a 4 p.m. train north of the city, said it was the worst delay she had seen at the central station in her six years of using it. She explored ride-sharing services like Uber, which would normally cost her between C$30 and C$40 to get to her destination, but the price had surged to about C$120 ($88).
Shares of CN Railway erased earlier gains to close down 2 Canadian cents at C$145.44 in Toronto.