GO/Metrolinx Electrification Study meeting

The following meeting announcement comes from GO Transit / Metrolinx. You can download a PDF copy of their announcement here. Please note that you are expected to register for this meeting by May 24th. Details below.

20 Bay Street, Suite 901
Toronto, Ontario M5J 2N8
Phone: 416.874.5900
Fax: 416.874.5901

May 13, 2010

An Invitation to Attend Electrification Study Update Meeting – Georgetown Corridor

Metrolinx has initiated a study of the electrification of the entire GO Transit rail system – all seven corridors – as a future alternative to diesel trains now in service. This comprehensive study will consider all potential benefits and costs for various propulsion technologies including diesel technology and electric propulsion for GO trains in the future. A joint venture of Delcan Corporation and Arup Group Inc. is leading the study, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2010.

The update meeting will be held Thursday, May 27th 2010 from 7:00 – 9:30 p.m. at the Lithuanian House, 1573 Bloor Street West. The purpose of the meeting is to provide an update on the Electrification Study progress to date. The meeting format will consist of a presentation by the Electrification Study Team, followed by an opportunity for participants to ask questions and offer feedback on the work completed to date.

If you wish to attend the meeting, please RSVP by Tuesday, May 24th to estudy@metrolinx.com – so we can ensure we do not exceed capacity. I would also ask that you circulate this invitation to others in your community who might be interested in attending the Update Meeting.
In the meantime, I invite you to visit the updated Electrification Study website for more information about the study: www.gotransit.com/estudy.

Karen Pitre
Project Director
Electrification Study
416- 874-5910

Metrolinx is an agency of the Government of Ontario

GO Transit Electrification Study Update Meeting - Georgetown Corridor.pdf25.86 KB


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"New action group to advocate for electrification of rail line"

New action group to advocate for electrification of rail line

* May 25, 2010 - 11:14 AM

MP Gerard Kennedy spearheading group
Parkdale-High Park MP Gerard Kennedy presented his 'Metrolinx Communities Action Group' to those who attended his monthly community council meeting on federal issues Wednesday, May 19, evening.

"I'd like to get your feedback on an arrangement I'm working on with 12 ridings, including the 905," Kennedy told his audience who had gathered in the cafeteria at Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary School.

The action group, Kennedy said, would provide a forum for representatives of all levels of government, including the school board, to support improved rail transit by Metrolinx that doesn't cause any negative health impacts to the neighbourhoods its trains travel through. And this includes the 905 region too, Kennedy said.

"I'm sure they don't want their kids chewing on diesel fumes either," he said.

Electric is a far healthier and greener alternative in terms of a carbon footprint and it's actually cheaper, the MP pointed out.

"We need people all up and down the line to work together. I will take responsibility to create a vehicle for this," said Kennedy. "Metrolinx has to contend with people in an organized fashion."

The action group's initial focus would be on the communities directly affected by the Georgetown line expansion in both the 416 and 905 regions. Its goals would include working with Metrolinx to ensure there are no barriers to electrification being accomplished in a timely and effective matter and encouraging the funding of fully independent health studies by Metrolinx.

More than 400 diesel trains are expected along the Georgetown corridor and the effects of the expansion on people's health has not been determined in significant detail, said Kennedy.

The group would assist in integrating transit improvements into a fully integrated regional transportation strategy and ensure that all three levels of government are contributing its share of funding for rail transit and overall transit expansion. It would ensure that a national transit strategy would fully take Toronto's needs into account. The city has not received its share of infrastructure money, said Kennedy, the infrastructure critic.

"My sense is that it's possible to do this, it's achievable," he said.

A Wright Avenue resident, who said he is within ear-shot of the trains, called Metrolinx's expansion project a detriment to local communities.

"I think that Metrolinx's plan as it stands is a neighbourhood killer," he said.

The key to electrification, according to the Clean Train Coalition's Keith Brooks, is political will.

"There has to be accountability at every level," said Kennedy. "Electrification is a better option. We have to work together as an informed community."

The Metrolinx Communities Action Group is a proposal to get people engaged and accountable, said the federal politician.

"I still remain hopeful this can get fixed," he said.

Twelve area MPs have agreed to participate in the Metrolinx Communities Action Group. They will reconvene in June, said Kennedy.

The Clean Train Coalition is hosting an information session at the Annette Street Library on June 1 at 7 p.m., said Manager Pam Mountain, followed by an information session by Metrolinx the following day at the library.

Metrolinx Doesnt Read the Papers

If they did they would realize how behind the times they are. Note the bolded comment.


Electric train plan granted key waiver

By Mike Rosenberg
San Mateo County Times
Posted: 05/27/2010 08:14:57 PM PDT
Caltrain officials have convinced federal safety authorities to allow quick European-style electric trains to zip from San Francisco to San Jose, a national first that paves the way for fast electric commuter and high-speed trains in the Bay Area and around the country.

Although common in Europe, the smaller electric trains are illegal in the United States because federal officials have long considered them too small, poorly designed and unsafe. But after three years of tests and research, Caltrain will become the first railroad in the nation to use the technology after being granted a waiver, a copy of which was obtained by the Bay Area News Group, on Thursday.

Caltrain will essentially be a pilot operation for the trains, called electric multiple units. If successful, commuter railroads and planned high-speed rail networks throughout the nation would have access to cheaper, greener and faster trains.

"People thought they could only get this level of service by having BART. This out-BART's BART." said Bob Doty, head of the joint Caltrain-high-speed rail program. "This tiny little streak of rust out here will be the first in the United States to allow mixed operations of service."

The waiver allows all passenger trains, whether diesel or electric, to run on the same tracks. Freight locomotives can continue to operate in the wee hours while passenger trains are parked.

Without the waiver, Caltrain would be unable to complete its
$1.5 billion project to electrify, which is being teamed with the state's $43 billion high-speed railroad.

Officials called the waiver "a major boost of adrenaline" for an agency that has been on life support lately. Faced with losing huge chunks of funding over the next two years, Caltrain says electric trains are the only way it can survive without being gutted by half, or possibly shut down.

The sleek trains can start and stop more quickly, allowing for service to more stations and thus more revenue, and they are also cheaper to operate.

The waiver is equally big for the polarizing California high-speed rail project.

Although the state will need to apply for its own waiver, the bullet train rail car technology is nearly the same as Caltrain's, so the high-speed rail planners' effort should prove simple now that the groundwork for obtaining clearance has been laid, Doty said.

The Federal Railroad Administration said it would pull the waiver if the agency did not meet nine promises laid out in the application. For instance, Caltrain must conduct crash tests after the cars are built, construct rail bridges at several intersections and install a safety program that uses global positioning system technology to prevent trains from colliding.

Doty said the electric cars passed each safety test laid out by the FRA, which had never tested its assumption that the European cars were less safe.

"In every case, the equipment we wanted to bring in was equal to or better than what's running in the United States today," he said.

It is the first of two major hurdles that must be cleared before Caltrain and the state can build the electric railroad.

Money remains a major obstacle, with Caltrain still lacking 40 percent of its funding and high-speed rail lacking three-fourths. If the agencies can get the funding, the projects are expected to start in fall 2012 and finish later this decade.

"Metrolinx meeting leaves residents with more questions":

Metrolinx meeting leaves residents with more questions: The Villager
* May 28, 2010 - 4:36 PM

Community members who attended Metrolinx's meeting to update the public on its electrification study of the Georgetown Corridor were left scratching their heads when they learned that the provincial transportation agency's analysis introduced other alternative technologies, such as bio-diesel fuel and natural gas, among others.

"It's not clear how this study will affect people in this room," said Clean Train Coalition spokesperson Keith Brook as the audience, who had gathered at the Lithuanian Hall on Bloor Street West. "We're so pro-electrification; you're looking at nine different technologies. The study is so massive. When will we get reasonable information that will affect people in this room?"

Initiated in January of this year, Metrolinx's electrification study, which is expected to be completed in December, is considering the potential benefits and costs associated with replacing diesel with electric propulsion for GO trains in the future. It takes into account the entire GO Transit rail system, comprised of seven corridors.

"There have been many previous studies GO has taken on electrification, but this is the first study that's looked at all seven corridors," said Karen Pitre, project director of the Metrolinx Electrification Study. "We have a process put in place by the Metrolinx board of directors. It's a more comprehensive study."

It goes beyond cost-benefit analysis, said Pitre, and includes environmental and health impacts, community, land and economic use impacts.

Developed by Metrolinx, the study is being guided by advice from a multi-stakeholder community advisory committee and is being led in conjunction with Delcan Corporation and Arup Group Inc. It is the first step towards the possible electrification of GO's rail system. Upon completion, the study will provide Metrolinx's board of directors with information needed to determine how its trains will be powered, whether by electricity or Tier 4 diesel or by other means, according to Pitre.

"Should electrification be found to be the better option, we want to make sure there's an implementation plan," she said.

There is preliminary work that GO Transit must do whether electrification is implemented or not, like designing and building new infrastructure and upgrading the signal systems.

"The existing network is quite complex between operating GO trains and freight trains. We have to also accommodate VIA trains," said Roger Wood of ARUP Consulting Group. "We've started to look at technology options, network options and the cost implications of electrifying each of the corridors."

"Who will make the decision on what technology is used?" asked Clean Train Coalition Co-Chair Mike Sullivan.

The purpose of the study is not to make any recommendations, said Pitre.

Sullivan questioned the transparency of the study.

"How is this transparent if we haven't seen any output yet? We can't see any of it," he said. â?¨Pitre assured him that it's on its way.

"It's been a lot of work to collect data. It's coming from different sources. It takes us a while. It hasn't been sitting in some private office," she said.

Sullivan said the community is concerned that Metrolinx is making electrification look so expensive that no government will want to take it on.

"It looks like you're trying to make electrification too expensive," he said, to a roomful of applause.

Time is of the essence, said former Parkdale-High Park MP Peggy Nash, a local resident. There are many young children who live along the rail corridor, she pointed out, some of them living with asthma.

"The Toronto Medical Officer of Health has already condemned this line," she said.

Kevin McCarthy, who lives on Dundas Street West, not far from the train tracks, wanted to know if he should sell his house now or wait until Metrolinx has finished its work along the Georgetown line.

"I think you have a crisis of confidence," he said. "You have to deal with the fact that people are lacking trust."

For more details, questions or concerns, visit www.gotransit.com/estudy

Metrolinx Didnt have many answers

It seemed to me that the audience at this meeting knew more about public transit than the Metrolinx staff did. Considering they are halfway through their study they did not seem to have many answers and in some cases seemed uninformed. I am amazed how little work seems to have been done at this juncture.

I have dealt with all these staff before and they are not bad people but it seems to me that the "electrification study" (which is not about implementing electric but comparing different technologies) is really an attempt to keep the more motivated and concerned citizens busy while Metrolinx runs out the clock. Nobody is demanding more diesel and everybody, including Metrolinx Engineers, wants to go electric. So why study anything else?

As usual Tony Ruprecht was not in attendance and that says a lot about where the buck stops in terms of Metrolinx.

I attended the event and

I attended the event and considering the Electrification Study is half finished there weren't a lot of answers. I heard these responses more than once from Metrolinx staff: "we're not looking at that", "that's not part of the study", "we'll take that under advisement", "we don't have that information yet", "we'll be looking at that soon"...
People don't like this plan and they know it. Thursday nights meeting didn't help. The study will make no recommendations nor trigger any action, and it's not clear at all how the Airport link is part of the study. This thing is costing us $4 million, if it stays on budget.