Monday, June 03, 2013

Metrolinx ponders electrified airport rail service

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Metrolinx, the Greater Toronto Area's regional planning agency, will hold a series of four open house events this month, commencing Tuesday, June 4, 2013, to revive plans of establishing electrified rail service linking Toronto's Union Station with Lester B. Pearson International Airport.

Metrolinx and GO Transit have been criticized by rail advocates and others in recent years for not pursuing electrification of the proposed route more strenuously. In 2011 an environmental group, Clean Train Coalition, accused Metrolinx of publishing misleading information on the Air Rail Link.

Objections also have included the financial and environmental costs of continued reliance on diesel locomotive use. In April 2011 Metrolinx awarded Sumitomo Corp. of America a C$53 million contract supply 12 diesel multiple-units (DMU) trains for the Air Rail Link (ARL) between Union Station and the airport.

Countering charges of foot dragging, Metrolinx notes, “As part of continuing to engage stakeholders in the project, Metrolinx held an initial Stakeholder Working Session on March 8, 2012 with key stakeholder groups representing a range of interests and perspectives. Additional stakeholder sessions will be held throughout the study to provide project updates and to seek feedback and advice.”

Metrolinx says the open houses are part of the Environmental Assessment process needed to design and implement the “Union Pearson (UP) Express.” Metrolinx will offer project updates on electrification concerns, including traction power supply, power distrigution, and maintenance requirements, and stresses it will “seek feedback” from the public.