Blue22 trains will be new, cleaner, and publicly owned

Metrolinx has broken up with SNC Lavalin, and will now run new, tier 4, diesel-electric trains on the route to the airport.

Metrolinx announced today that the Union-Pearson link will not be operated by its long-time private partner, SNC Lavalin. Instead, it will be entirely run by Metrolinx, a public agency. Until now, the train to the airport was supposed to have been a public-private partnership, and the partnership had been quite controversial. The proposed one-way fare was $20, much higher than public transit fares, and SNC was going to use 50-year old, refurbished diesel trains.

Now all that will change.

Rob Prichard, the Metrolinx Chairman said

We’ll use new, tier 4 convertible locomotives. They could be converted to electric if at sometime the province decides to convert the Georgetown corridor to an electric service. We’ll build the infrastructure and acquire the vehicles to accommodate electrification, if that is to come at some future date.

The deal with SNC Lavalin did not collapse from public pressure, however. Both Metrolinx and SNC blamed the credit market. The Sun says, though, that SNC could not get the government or its lenders to shoulder enough risk, should the trains be unprofitable.

Steve Munro, a transit pundit, is optimistic about the change:

This long-overdue change in the [air rail link] scheme should bring the project into public view where all aspects of its design, financing and operation will be subject to the same scrutiny and openness as other Metrolinx projects.  Issues such as service levels, equipment provisioning and, most importantly, electrification will no longer hide behind the veil of “commercial confidentiality”.

Author: Adam Norman

I am raising my two children in Weston.