Two thumbs-ups for electric trains

The Government of Ontario and Metrolinx both gave their approval yesterday to electrifying the trains to the airport.

Metrolinx’s board approved the staff report that recommended electrifying the Lakeshore, Georgetown, and Airport Rail Link lines. I don’t think this came as any suprise.

Delightful, though, was the speed with which the province ratified the decision. Kathleen Wynne, the Transportation Minister, gave the go-ahead to electrifying the ARL. The province also said it would pick up the tab for the environmental assessment.

The province only gave the nod to the ARL, however. According to The Star, “Facing an $18.7 billion provincial deficit, Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne said it would be ‘irresponsible’ for her government to commit to the entire $1.8 billion project.”

The Globe says that the province is giving a cautious approval because the Liberals fear losing the York South–Weston seat.

In the short term, endorsing any electrification could help the Liberals hang on to two vulnerable Toronto seats in this fall’s election…

Although pleased that Metrolinx supports electrification, the Clean Train Coalition is vowing to unseat two local Liberals if electric trains aren’t on the tracks by 2015.

“They didn’t win by very much last time,” Mike Sullivan, co-chair of the Clean Train Coalition, said of Tony Ruprecht, MPP for Davenport, and Laura Albanese, MPP for York South-Weston. “They’ve got to be shaking in their boots.”

Metrolinx did not say that it would be using electric trains right away. The plan is still to start with diesel trains, then convert them to electric some time in the future. Karen Pitre made a remarkable confession to The Globe, however: she “acknowledged the agency couldn’t find any transit authorities that had converted diesel locomotives to electric.”

Author: Adam Norman

I am raising my two children in Weston.