Weston Treasures: Weston GO Station

Weston is lucky to have access to downtown in 17 minutes via the GO train. Just to put that in perspective, TTC subway from Royal York to Union involves a line change and takes 33 minutes on a good day. Property values around Royal York Station are astronomical in no small part because of the subway. Here in Weston, we can get downtown in half the time and don’t have to change trains. The only thing faster to downtown than the GO from Weston is a helicopter. Unfortunately GO’s service is a commuter run only with 7 Union Station bound trains in the morning and 6 Weston bound trains in the evening (go figure).

According to InsideToronto.com about 450 people get on or off at Weston each day. Assuming that most are on a return trip, that’s fewer than 250 actual people. The lack of parking at the station has long been cited as a problem. Weston’s GO station’s new location just south of Lawrence Avenue later this year may help. The relocation will almost double the number of parking spots to 200 and access will be from Weston Road. A temporary platform will be in place by November and a fully functioning station, platforms and even more parking will be ready for the opening of the Airport Rail Link in 2015. GO transit is anticipating an increase in ridership from Weston with the additional parking spots and a doubling of service levels in 2015 by which time the Airport Rail Link will be making stops here too. With electrification of the line, the service will be quieter and even faster.

The new Weston GO station should help revitalize the Village of Weston as 2015 approaches, if it’s constructed to reflect the wishes of the community. Congratulations and thanks should be extended to those fighting for a better implementation of the Airport Link stop as well as to those fighting for electrification.

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.

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.