Electrification Comment

How is it that just about every jurisdiction in Europe can install and run electric locomotives but here in Toronto, it’s beyond our ability? The use of the Pan-Am games to justify diesel (Metrolinx claims electrification cannot be achieved by 2015) is either faulty reasoning or a flimsy excuse. The 16-day Pan-Am games will manage just fine without a rail link.

Politicians need to understand, people don’t want smelly, noisy diesel locomotives barreling through suburban neighbourhoods several times an hour.

Electric locomotives are cleaner, quicker, quieter and more efficient. People would support this project enthusiastically if electrification were the goal. Let’s not get stuck with a poor choice because of lack of determination on the part of politicians or Metrolinx officials.

St John calls emergency meeting

St John the Evangelist Catholic school has called an emergency meeting to discuss the tunnel that will be built very close to its property:

Dear Parent, Teacher & Neighbour

A meeting at St.John the Evangelist, will be held at this Wednesday [November 17, at 7:00 pm]  by Metrolinx to discuss the train tunnel at the back of the school yard.

Questions to be addressed

  • Noise
  • Safety
  • Disturbance to the classes and portables
  • Transportation when Church and King are closed temporarily

Please try to join us at the school if you were unable to attend the other meeting

Metrolinx plans coming under fire

As the board meets today (and the Clean Train Coalition protests), there are several signs that the public transportation agency is moving toward greener commuting.

After decades of resistance, Metrolinx is slowly coming around to the idea of electrification, according to several reports. At an press conference on Monday, a representative said:

Electric locomotives are cheaper to operate than their diesel counterparts, they are faster and more environmentally friendly, said Ms. Pitre, but there’s a price tag attached to changing the rolling stock, building the overhead catenary system and supplying power. “Everyone has always acknowledged that there are benefits” to electrification, Ms. Pitre told a room full of journalists gathered Monday for a study briefing, but “do the costs justify the benefits?”

The Air Rail Link, however, is still a source of much irritation for the Coalition and transportation thinkers. Steve Munro, Toronto’s foremost independent transportation pundit, said

Particularly galling is the comment that this line will not serve commuters. Those who work at the airport and those who travel in the Weston corridor can look elsewhere for their travel needs. For $300-million (the cost of the spur, airport station and vehicles) plus the ARL’s share of infrastructure upgrades in the Weston Corridor (two of eight tracks), the cost of infrastructure to serve 5,000 tourists and business travellers per day is getting rather high.

The Coalition has also responded in a thoughtful letter to the chair and board of Metrolinx. While the letter is technical (and brutally reproduced by the Star), I think the CTC’s objections can be summed up as:

  1. Metrolinx is putting the cart before the horse and buying diesel trains before the electrification study has been completed
  2. The diesel trains will be much less environmental than the cars they replace
  3. The ARL is an expensive way to serve tourists, not a part of public transit

Albanese votes against G20 inquiry

Laura Albanese voted earlier this month against an inquiry into government actions and spending at the G20 gathering that took place this summer.

According to Peter Kormos, who sponsored Bill 121, the inquiry would “report on the decisions and actions of the government of Ontario and of Ontario’s law enforcement agencies in connection with the G20 summit, and make recommendations to the government of Ontario and to Ontario’s law enforcement agencies about how to reduce spending, reduce arrests and reduce violence in connection with similar events”.

The G20 meeting has come into the news again as the final bill is being released. The Globe also ran a series of stories covering

  • Who was really caught in the ‘kettles’ police set up
  • Violations of the police spending policies
  • Dropped charges against protesters

Despite the recent controversies, bill 121 was soundly rejected. Only members of the NDP voted for it.

ARL to be diesel, made in Japan

As Metrolinx prepares to meet tomorrow, news is coming out about their plans for the Airport Rail Link.

According to the Toronto Star, the airport shuttle will be tier 4 diesel, not electric, and likely made in Japan, not in Canada.

“No one in Canada makes these vehicles. In Canada you can buy light-rail vehicles through Bombardier. We do not have a buy-Canada kind of requirement,” said Metrolinx President Gary McNeil, who is leading the air-rail project until a new executive is hired, probably in January.

The Clean Air Coalition has criticized the estimated number of passengers and said that it still doesn’t make sense to build the link. According to Metrolinx, 5000 riders will use the service per day. The coalition says it would actually make more environmental sense for those riders to drive:

5000 per day (within 5 years) is 37 per train, or 18 per railcar.  The trains, if Diesel, will emit 3 times the [greenhouse gases] as automobiles… [the emissions are] a wash at 56 passengers per railcar.

Another swarming in Weston

At about 1:15 in the morning on November 9, four young people between 11 and 19 years old swarmed a 31-year-old man in the area of Weston and Rectory roads. Two males punched and kicked the victim then stole his backpack. They were aided by two females. The group fled, and the victim sustained minor injuries.

As always, you can view a map of the muggings in Weston here. Some patterns are beginning to emerge from the data; the north-west corner of Weston is dangerous, especially at night. There have been three robberies along Weston Rd between Rectory and Oak. All occurred after 9 pm, and all were quite violent: one was a gunpoint robbery, one was a stabbing, and one was a beating.

Pine and Lawrence is also a very dangerous area. Three reported muggings happened at that intersection in the past month. Two more happened nearby, in the development between Lawrence and Denison. The robberies in this area were somewhat less violent; the perpetrators seem to favour stealing  phones from teens.