I have never had concern over the winter performance. Last year's news was taken from a moment in time that was clear would lead to issues. The track hadn't been maintained (as it would have been in actual service) so a considerable amount of snow was on the guideway. Try driving an average car down a non-plowed street with 1-2 feet of snow. Very likely it's going to have a hard time or get stuck.
The plan calls for trains to continue to circulate overnight to keep the rails clear, upgraded track maintenance equipment to clear snow, among other things. Whether the trains are proven or not, I don't see how that is relevant. Just like a car it is the wheel only that makes contact with the ground (or in this case, track). Steel wheel train wheels have been in use for over a hundred years. This isn't anything new, and to push the point even further, they existed before cars and tires. Since their invention, they have advanced in design and material.
Steel train wheels are not an issue in winter, they have been proven to work. Look at the Trillium Line O-Train, I can't recall it ever getting stuck... nor do we hear about VIA Rail or CN or CP rail getting stuck in the snow in the news. Probably does happen from time to time but rare enough that we never hear about it.
Same for a car. You can have a Jeep Grand Cherokee 4x4 get stuck in snow in the right circumstances. With the right conditions it can happen, it's just 4 wheels touching the ground.
Same if you switch your Michelin X-ICE tires on the Jeep for slick Formula 1 dry tires. Probably gonna have issues in 1cm of snow, even though it's the same vehicle.
I think the hype on this topic in the media and on social media has gone too far, which is truly unfortunate. The Confederation Line trains use the same type of steel wheels as countless other trains. Those wheels are the only things that make contact with the ground/rail. What type of train those wheels are connected to has little bearing on the level of traction those wheels get. It's a matter of friction and physics.
What gives you better traction walking down the slippery sidewalk? Your summer flip-flops or your rugged big lug winter hiking boots?
Getting a bit off the rails here, but bottom line.... steel wheels are steel wheels. Been used forever, all around the world. That's what makes contact with the rail, that's where the traction and grip is, that's what matters most.
Steel wheels are proven.... what else matters?
by Shane Séguin