Schein to launch electrification bid in Legislature today

Today May 3, Davenport NDP MPP Jonah Schein is putting forward a private member’s bill that calls for electrification of the Georgetown corridor Air Rail Link. Schein has long been campaigning for electrification along the line and is hopeful that the bill will become law. Private member bills can pass without bringing down a government and although the NDP do not have a majority in the Legislature, the NDP caucus is likely to vote en masse for the bill since Andrea Horvath, Ontario NDP leader is on record as supporting electrification. It will be interesting to see how the Tories and especially York South Weston MPP Laura Albanese will vote in this regard.

Here is the text of the announcement that came in an email from the Clean Train Coalition:

 

Hello again! On Thursday, May 3rd a private member’s bill calling for electrification of the Georgetown corridor for the Air Rail Link will be introduced at the Ontario Legislature by Jonah Schein, the MPP for Davenport. We have just received word from Queens Park that this is moved up on the schedule and is now to take place at 1 p.m. on Thursday. You are welcome to attend and view from the gallery when the bill is introduced.

Right now, with a minority government in Queen’s Park, we can win this vote by reaching out, once more, to members from all parties. Please help us in this effort by contacting your MPP and cc Premier McGuinty. Tell them that they must vote in favour of this bill. Tell them we do not accept the plan to run diesel trains though our neighbourhoods, next to our schools, our parks, our houses and businesses. And we will not sit by while our air is further polluted. Rather, we will fight for what we know is right: clean, electric, accessible and affordable transit.

Please, take a moment to email your MPP, and cc Premier McGuinty ([email protected]). The addresses of politicians along the corridor are below. A complete list of MPP’s contact details can be found here. In addition to emailing, call Premier McGuinty (416-325-1941) and tell him yourself: Toronto demands clean electric trains, not dirty diesels!

The Clean Train Coalition has a long history of building cross-partisan support for our goals. We have worked productively with members of all political parties.
Thank you for your support. Clean Transit is possible.
The Clean Train Coalition

 

LIST OF MPPs along the Union to Pearson rail corridor

  • Jagmeet Singh
    Brampton Gore Malton
    jsingh-qp@ndp.on.ca
    Queen’s Park: 416-325-1784
    Constituency: 905-799-3939
  • Shafiq Qaadri
    Etobicoke North
    [email protected]
    Queen’s Park: 416-327-6611
    Constituency: 416-745-2859
  • Laura Albanese
    York South-Weston
    [email protected]
    Queen’s Park: 416-212-9790
    Constituency: 416-243-7984
  • Jonah Schein
    Davenport
    [email protected]
    Queen’s Park: 416-325-0014
    Constituency: 416-535-3158
  • Cheri DiNovo
    Parkdale-High Park
    [email protected]
    Queen’s Park: 416-325-0244
    Constituency: 416-763-5630
  • Rosario Marchese
    Trinity-Spadina
    [email protected]
    Queen’s Park: 416-325-9092
    Constituency: 416-603-9664
  • AND…
    Premier Dalton McGuinty
    [email protected]416-325-1941!

Ball in Premier’s Court

Councillor Nunziata’s motion that City Council recommend electrification and at least eight additional stops along the Airport Rail Link survived a two-thirds majority referral hurdle and then passed easily.

Who knows, perhaps Andrea Horvath or Tim Hudak can make it a condition of propping up the Provincial Liberal Government as they try to survive the Budget vote. Stranger things can happen in minority government situations.

The ball is now in the Premer’s court. He’s on record as criticizing Tim Hudak for not respecting the will of Council. Now let’s see if he can take his own advice.

Update:

According to the Toronto Star, Metrolinx wasted no time in squelching any hopes for an early change from diesel to electric or additional stations along the way. No doubt Mike Sullivan will have some choice words at his Community Update Thursday April 12 at the Learning Enrichment Foundation, 1267 Weston Rd between 6:30 and 9pm.

Clean Train Coalition Protest

Tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. Toronto’s Clean Train Coalition is organizing a protest outside the Central YMCA (20 Grosvenor St. 2 blocks north of College). This is to express opposition to the likelihood of 140 diesel trains running through Weston every day once the Airport Link is built. Currently the line is used only 4 hours daily.

For cynical people such as myself, it seems as if Metrolinx is playing this game both ways and their logic is faulty. On the one hand it has recommended electrification of the route. On the other, it has already purchased the diesel locomotives for the route and so electrification is planned for sometime in the future. According to Metrolinx, electrification takes a long time, is very expensive and besides, they want the line to be ready for the 2015 PanAm games in spite of the fact that athletes and officials will travel by bus on dedicated lanes. Weston Community Coalition has more details in their latest update.

Metrolinx says no to electric trains

My grandfather went to work by electric train beginning in 1904. It was a wonder of the day with far less noise and pollution than steam trains. More than a century later, electric trains are even more efficient and are used in jurisdictions all over the world where clean, fast and quiet transportation is a priority. Quite simply, electric trains are quiet, efficient and far less polluting than any other mode of transportation except the bicycle. They are faster too, and can regenerate power when braking. Diesel is recognized to be noisier and more polluting although electrifying a rail line is an added cost.

More than 100 years later, Metrolinx is in the late stages of negotiations with a California counterpart (Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit) to purchase up to 18 Japanese built diesel powered locomotives for the route from Union Station to Pearson Airport scheduled for opening in 2015. This is in spite of a study forced on Metrolinx by politicians after a public outcry over plans to send dozens of noisy, polluting diesels through the heart of Weston every day. The electrification study report will be released in the middle of this month and Metrolinx will make a decision January 26th, for or against electrification based on the report’s findings.

Cynical souls like myself think that this is a done deal and that Metrolinx will claim that electrification will be too expensive, take too long (the two-week 2015 Pan-American Games again) and that their trains really aren’t that polluting. They might also do the right thing and electrify the airport link as a pilot study for the eventual conversion of the whole GO railway system (also under study). This is without even considering the thousands of jobs that could be created locally by Canadian manufacturing companies. We’ll see. In the meantime, the Clean Train Coalition is hoping that people will let the Premier and other elected representatives know how they feel. They have the support of local MPP Laura Albanese and recently delivered to the Ontario Legislature a petition with over ten-thousand names in support of electrification. The Clean Train Coalition is holding a general meeting this Thursday, January 6, between 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. at the Perth Davenport Neighbourhood Centre; 1900 Davenport Ave (at Symington Ave) and invite all interested people to attend. Refreshments will be served.