CN Rail reports ‘internet connectivity incident’ disrupting Ontario passenger service

CN Rail says an IT incident affecting GO Transit passenger rail service in the Toronto area it began suffering Tuesday afternoon isn’t related to cybersecurity.

“It’s an internet connectivity incident,” a company spokesperson told IT World Canada at 4:30 p.m Eastern. “At this point nothing indicates it’s a cybersecurity breach.”

In a tweet, CN described the problem as both an internet connectivity and an electronic data interchange (EDI) issue. In addition to passenger trains run by the provincially-owned GO Transit on CN lines, CN’s customer portal is also impacted.

UPDATE: On Wednesday, CN said the outage was caused by an internal system update which affected CN’s ability to connect to the internet. “There is no indication of a cyber security incident, no data was impacted, and at no time was the safety of the public compromised,” the company said. It promised to meet with GO Transit’s operator, Metrolinx, to review the incident and ensure processes are in place so this particular issue won’t re-occur. GO Transit doesn’t have its own standalone dispatching system and operates off a CN internet connection to a CN dispatching system, which is why its operations were impacted.

CN freight trains, the Montreal-area EXO train and bus passenger service and Amtrack trains to and from the U.S. operated as normal on Tuesday.

The problem disrupted southern Ontario’s VIA Rail and the provincially-owned GO Transit passenger service at the start of rush hour where thousands of people are eager to get home.

In a post on the X social media platform Go Transit said, “We intend to run limited service from [Toronto] Union Station but there will be ongoing delays and cancellations as we work to recover rail service.”

“There will continue to be cancellations and delays as we get everything back up and running,” Go Transit said in a later tweet. “Trains are very busy, so please consider travel alternatives or traveling later this evening if possible.”

GO Transit’s trains and buses are a regional public transit service for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area. It serves a population of more than 7 million people.

Go Transit is a division of the provincial Metrolinx, a Crown corporation. A Metrolinx spokesperson told CBC News that two GO Trains were stuck between stations, but passengers were being transported to nearby stations.

UPDATE: At 8 p.m. Tuesday CN said internet connectivity had been restored.

“During the outage, CN worked with GO to temporarily take over their train dispatching responsibilities,” the statement said. “This allowed for the partial resumption of GO and VIA services. GO Transit has now resumed dispatching their lines and they are working to resume their normal movements. CN will be working with GO to review the incident and put in place processes to avoid further disruptions.

“CN’s customer service portal and EDI system are currently operational. CN trains did not experience any major delays and no data was impacted.

“CN would like to apologize for the impact caused by this outage. While there continues to be no indication of a cyber security issue, the cause of the outage remains under investigation.”

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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