Metrolinx RFI eyes EMU and locomotive options

Written by Douglas John Bowen
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Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area agency Metrolinx has issued a Request for Information (RFI) spanning a range of propulsion options for future GO Transit equipment, including electric multiple-units (EMUs), electric locomotives, and dual-power locomotives.

The RFI, Reference No. PR320074, issued Feb. 6, 2015, seeks responses by March 6, 2015, 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Metrolinx (and, by extension, GO Transit) has come under increasing criticism for failing to commit to electrification of the expanding GO Transit system, including a decision to initiate diesel multiple-unit (DMU) Union Pearson Express service, linking Toronto Union Station and Lester Pearson International Airport, instead of electrifying the new line, set to open this year.

But any commitment to electrifying GO Transit lines, a 10-year endeavor estimated to cost at least C$1.8 billion (US$1.4 billion), is still uncertain at best, Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig acknowledged last June.

Dual-powered locomotives could be used if GO Transit electrifies portions of its rail network, similar to the approach taken with some success by New Jersey Transit.

A Metrolinx spokesman told local media on Monday, Feb. 9, that the goal is to electrify GO lines to provide all-day, two-way service across the network, with 15-minute frequencies in “core areas,” a component of the Regional Express Rail (RER) project, projected to cost C$13 billion. The plan was presented to the Metrolinx board of directors last December.

At the heart of RER is the SmartTrack proposal, which involves using GO Transit’s Kitchener and Stoufville lines to create a 33-mile, 22-station east-west electrified route providing an express service across Toronto. The project could be completed within seven years using $C2.5 billion in funding from the city of Toronto; Toronto Mayor John Tory is an ardent supporter of the plan, campaigning for it in his election bid last fall. On Tuesday, Feb. 10, the Toronto City Council overwhelmingly approved an additional C$1.65 million to study the SmartTrack plan.

SmartTrack would be delivered and operated by Metrolinx, using the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) fare system.

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