Our new MP has let little grass grow under his feet before exposing another Metrolinx contradiction. According to an article in the Toronto Star, Sullivan discovered that there is a two-foot difference in height between GO trains and the proposed airport link diesels. This will require a separate, higher platform for the ARL.
Sullivan says that in the past, he was fobbed off by Metrolinx who claimed that because of the need to match floor height with GO trains, there were no eligible electric trains. Now it turns out that not even Metrolinx trains meet this requirement as platforms for the new diesels will need to be two feet higher than GO train platforms.
Just a quick reminder that the movie ‘Bending The Rails’ will be screened tonight at Weston Park Baptist Church (1871 Weston Road). The movie covers the proposal to run diesel trains between Union Station and Pearson Airport. There is no charge for admission and in addition, the maker of this documentary, Jeff Winch and MP Mike Sullivan will be there to answer questions.
Up for consideration at City Council today is a motion to find out whether the Air Rail Link between Pearson Airport and Union Station can be electrified in time for the Pan Am Games in 2015. If experts say it can’t be done (Metrolinx says it can’t), the motion calls for alternative transport arrangements for the games rather than beginning with diesel trains and later electrifying the line. This is in spite of the fact that diesel trains have already been purchased. Apparently the plan is to convert them to electric in 2017.
Who is behind this motion? None other than our own Councillor Frances Nunziata and Mayor Ford’s brother Doug. With backing like that, you can be sure the motion will pass handily and that in this election year, the Provincial Liberals will be torn between stonewalling and keeping the Ford boys happy.
You have to hand it to the Clean Train Coalition for keeping this issue alive and getting representatives at all levels actively involved.
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.
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.