Metrolinx Georgetown South Electrification Update

Meeting notice from Metrolinx:

The Georgetown South (GTS) Project will provide infrastructure improvements to meet existing GO Transit ridership demand and future growth. It will also accommodate existing and future VIA Rail and CN freight train service as well as the new Air Rail Link between Union Station and Pearson International Airport.

Electrification Update
Public Meeting

Metrolinx is holding a public meeting to provide an update on the Electrification of the Kitchener and Lakeshore rail corridors, including the new Airport Rail Link (ARL) service.

We hope you can join us to learn about the process and discuss it with us further.

Wednesday June 27, 2012
6:30pm – 8:30pm
Lithuanian House, 1573 Bloor Street West
Toronto, Ontario M6P 1A6
This venue is wheelchair accessible

At this public meeting, project team members will provide information and an update on the:

  • Environmental Assessment process for electrification of the ARL service along the Kitchener corridor
  • Electrification design for the Kitchener and Lakeshore rail corridors
  • Development of performance standards for electrification for the Kitchener and Lakeshore rail corridors

We’re hoping you will join us to learn more about the project, and to help the Metrolinx Electrification team understand your interests and concerns on the subject as we proceed with the project. An RSVP is encouraged but not required. If you can attend, please RSVP via email to

Please pass on this meeting notice to anyone else you think may be interested in participating.

Additional Information

For additional information on the project, please see If you would like to submit a comment or question, or to receive additional information related to the Electrification Project, please click here to e-mail the Project team.


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"Death Knell For Metrolinx?" Lornic

An interesting read. How different things might be if our elected representatives still had a say on Metrolinx's board. We might have a better system and financial security. Its possible that transportation might stall again. Lets hope not.

I also believe that the NDP too could form a minority government as in my own opinion I am not sure people are comfortable in hard times with Tim Hudak being premier.

It is sad to think that Metrolinx's own actions, as lead by Dalton McGuinty, could in the end the stall overall electrification never mind any improvement in the system. Metrolinx should have spent less time fighting the taxpayers who pay for it and more time securing its own future and selling a system so good it would be meddling proof.

CTC takes Metrolinx to court over diesel train plan

A Toronto citizens group is taking Metrolinx to court over its plan to run diesel trains to Pearson airport, an upping of the ante that could prevent the new express rail service from opening in time for the 2015 Pan Am Games.

The Clean Train Coalition (CTC), a non-profit organization of west-end residents, is asking the courts to kill the diesel plan in part because the 2015 deadline was arbitrarily imposed by Metrolinx's overseers at Queen's Park, according to the CTC.

"The board [of Metrolinx] decided to proceed with diesel trains to advance the short-term goal of hosting the Pan Am Games. Metrolinx's 2015 deadline did not originate from either its board or its staff ... this instruction originated from the province," the CTC says in its application for judicial review, filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice Aug. 2.

The CTC, which declined comment Tuesday, is expected to speak about the legal action at a news conference at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

The issue of the 2015 deadline is important because officials at Metrolinx -- the province's transportation planning authority for the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton -- have said it would be impossible to electrify the Air-Rail Link in time for the Pan Am Games.

The summer sporting extravaganza has served as a catalyst for the long-awaited express line connecting Union Station and Pearson airport.

But the project's completion date could be jeopardized if the CTC succeeds in tying up Metrolinx in court over its decision to run diesel trains on the route.

Metrolinx declined to comment on the legal challenge Tuesday, but its spokeswoman said in a statement that "work is continuing on the ARL and we're on track to be up and running for 2015."

Metrolinx has already committed to spending $53-million on at least 12 clean diesel trains built by the U.S. arm of Japanese train-maker Sumitomo Corporation, with an option to buy six more.

They can be converted to electric for $1-million each.

"The ARL will launch with Tier 4 diesel multiple units. These vehicles are fully convertible to electric, beat the World Health Organization’s stringent emissions standards and reduce airborne particulate emissions by 90%," Metrolinx spokeswoman Vanessa Thomas said by e-mail.

Last year Metrolinx's board endorsed in principle a plan to spend $1.8-billion over 20 years electrifying the GO system's busiest lines. The ARL, which alone would cost $457-million to electrify, is supposed to be first.

So far the cash-strapped McGuinty government hasn't committed any funding beyond $15-million to conduct an environmental assessment of electrifying the ARL, a study that's supposed to be finished in 2014.

The CTC has been a thorn in Metrolinx's side for the last few years, drumming up a vocal and tightly organized campaign against more diesel trains chugging along GO's Georgetown corridor, which passes through a mix of poor and gentrifying residential neighbourhoods including the Junction, Roncesvalles, High Park, Weston and Mount Dennis.

Trains serving the new ARL express line would run from downtown along the Georgetown South corridor before splitting off on a spur to Pearson. More than 300,000 people live within 450 metres of the line, according to the CTC.

The CTC argues in the court documents that Metrolinx didn't do a proper comparison of diesel and electric vehicles, and that it should reconsider its conclusion that the adverse health impacts of more diesel trains would be minimal in light of the World Health Organization's recent reclassification of diesel exhaust as a human carcinogen and cause of lung cancer.

"The decision to invest in DMUs [Diesel Multiple Units] was not based on a 'triple bottom-line' evaluation of the relative environmental, economic and social impacts of the reasonable alternatives for this project," the CTC says in its application for judicial review.

Air Rail News Guest Opinion

Local resident Jeff Winch was given a guest column in Air Rail News in response to a news release posted there by Metrolinx regarding the ARL. Jeff made the film "Bending The Rails" and has been very active is opposing diesel trains and supporting the better electric option.

Clean Air Train Coalition considering legal action

Clean Air Train Coalition considering legal action against province

York Guardian (From Inside Toronto)

The Clean Train Coalition (CTC) is considering taking the province to court in an effort to electrify a planned air rail link scheduled to open by the start of the Pan American Games.

A spokesperson for the group said CTC is seeking legal advice to ensure the link, which will run between Union Station and Pearson International Airport, is electrified in time for the start of the Games in 2015.

“A judicial review is something we may pursue,” said Rick Ciccarelli. “We’re considering our options.”

A legal remedy to get the Ontario government to reverse track on its decision to operate diesel trains on the link from the outset was one of several strategies discussed by the group’s membership at a public meeting on the evening of Wednesday, July 18.

At the meeting, held at the Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood Centre, members agreed to incorporate the coalition as a non-profit, which would see CTC transform from a loose association of residents to a formal entity with a board of directors and increased fundraising capabilities.

Formed over concerns about carcinogen levels rising due to a three-fold increase in diesel train traffic along the line, the coalition plans to hold formal elections for up to 15 board seats at a future meeting in six months.

Ciccarelli told the membership incorporation was necessary to raise the money required to pay for publicity campaigns on par with Metrolinx, the provincially funded planning agency which is tasked by the McGuinty government to study potential electrification of the air rail link.

“Metrolinx can put out a weekly newsletter to 300,000 residents living in the corridor,” said Ciccarelli to the 40 people in attendance at the meeting.

“We must articulate and sharpen our message if we’re going to counteract theirs.”

Staffers for local NDP MP and MPPs Cheri DiNovo, Andrew Cash, Mike Sullivan and Peggy Nash were in attendance, as was Davenport MPP Jonah Schein, who told the coalition his private member’s bill in support of immediate electrification is scheduled for debate at Queen’s Park in September.

Schein called the electrification debate an issue of “equity” for the less wealthy residents living along the corridor forced to breathe in toxic fumes of trains carrying wealthier commuters.

“This wouldn’t happen in Rosedale.” said Schien, who is also the NDP’s transportation critic.

Resident Dawn Buie said she wanted to attend the meeting to learn more about electrification.

“It’s been frustrating to sort out the information,” said Buie, who lives at Indian Grove and Dundas Street West. “If really intelligent people who care about their neighbourhood cannot figure out what’s going on, I don’t how anyone can.”

She said she was especially concerned that special barriers to be errected by Metrolinx to drown out the din coming from the GO and freight trains travelling along the mixed-used corridor would ruin the essential beauty of the area.

“I love cycling through the rail path,” said Buie of the multi-use trail that runs alongside the rail corridor. “I can’t stand to imagine a five-metre high wall going up there.”

Also at the meeting, outgoing CTC co-chair Carina Cojeen was announced by Ciccarelli as this year’s winner of the Railbender award for outstanding service.

Cojeen, who has been heavily involved with the coalition since its inception in 2009, will be officially presented the award at an annual event held at the Gladstone Hotel, said Ciccarelli. The award was first presented last year, when former chair (and current York South-Weston MP) Sullivan won it.

Original story here

Global News Reports Diesel Issue

Junction Triangle is featured in this Global News story. The diesel issue wont go away and it's probably going to heat up at Queens Park in September with a motion being put forth to electrify day one.

Click below to watch their report.

Global News Diesel Controversy

I have to be honest, I wasn't

I have to be honest, I wasn't much of a fighter against Diesel trains because I thought hey, they would just run along the run (albeit, more often) like they already do. But a five metre wall to disconnect a great community fixture? What the fuck.

So, what can we do?

Diesel Information Here

The Clean Train Coalition website has a lot of useful background info on this issue. Of note is the massive increase of the number of trains for the airport AND the increased number of regular GO trains. The bottom line is that an electric system would be a better transit option much like what Vancouver has and Montreal is proposing and of course not produce diesel emissions.

Before somebody jumps in and starts saying there will be emissions elsewhere, remember that as the electricity grid gets greener, as it is, then the source of electricity gets greener. With diesel you are locked into a polluting fuel based infrastructure from ground to storage to use. Electricity is the greener choice and that is why everyone else has abandoned diesel for electric commuter rail.

Before somebody says that Metrolinx will be running "clean diesel", read the WHO's announcement on diesel. Metrolinx thinks that "cleaner diesel" is some kind of victory for healthy air but zero diesel is what is the best thing to do.

So check out the Clean Train website, especially their FAQ page for some detailed information.

Villager article about Electrification meeting

Air-rail link: Residents frustrated with message from Metrolinx on electrification

Metrolinx Goes From Bad To worse

Please read this story. More and more people are banging their heads against the wall with Metrolinx's foot dragging and deliberate stonewalling. Read for yourself.

Thanks for the Diesel Train Update

Thanks for the diesel train update, Kevin; I wasn't able to go yesterday.

The Ontario Government's lack of planning, vision, and political representation on this issue has been appaling. You have to wonder where their interests are when they are pushing ahead to implement a decision that is bad on so many levels (fiscal, environmental, global standards for urban transportation, health care, etc.) It's a bit of a joke at this point.....

Has everyone been up to visit our new air quality monitoring station on the Railpath?

Electric Train Update: Get Ready for Diesel

The Metrolinx Electric Train Update (“Not Anytime Soon”) was a well attended meeting last night with residents, interest groups and local politicians from all levels in attendance. While everyone was given an opportunity to speak, there were no decision makers or government representatives in attendance. Well paid consultants answered questions while PR flacks made notes that will be added to a large file marked IGNORE.
Metrolinx representatives repeated that diesel trains are scheduled to begin on the Airport Rail Link beginning in February, 2015. All the approvals are in place and construction is well underway.
Sound mitigation walls five metres tall will be installed along the entire corridor before service begins. (by comparison, the Berlin Wall was 3.6 metres.) The West Toronto Railpath will see the existing fence with ivy and Virginia creeper growing on it, replaced with a massive, solid block wall running its entire length (like you see along the 401 now).
The current Metrolinx Electrification Study will finish just a few months before diesel trains start running to the airport. Officials made it clear that there are no technical issues preventing the construction of an electric train airport link except the political will (construction would take three years to complete). But it is clear the government has no interest in listening, they have all of us going to meetings with all the other electric train advocates talking to people with no power to make decisions while construction ploughs on.
Diesel trains are here to stay unless something big happens real soon. Metrolinx officials made it clear last night they are prepared to study and discuss electric trains for another two years, but they have no mandate or funding to design, build or operate electric trains. They have a mandate to talk the clock out and when the talking stops, we’ll have a much bigger diesel train network running through West Toronto.