Union Pearson Express electrification gets nudge

Written by Douglas John Bowen
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Ontario Environment Minister Glen Murray has ruled no environmental assessment will be needed to electrify the Union Pearson Express (UPX) route linking Toronto's Union Station and Lester B. Pearson International Airport.

The decision, apparently reached earlier this month, has cheered Ontario passenger rail advocates who have argued the route should have been planned for electrified service from the outset. Union Pearson Express is scheduled to open for service this summer, in time for the Pan Am Games. Sumitomo diesel multiple-unit (DMU) trains will operate on the line.

Murray ruled that power supplier Hydro One will not need an environmental assessment to build a substation to supply power to the tracks that run northwest of Union Station to a spur into the airport, obviating any environmental assessment.

Still unresolved, however, is funding for electrifying the line. But the electrification of the Kitchener GO Transit route toward the airport that will be used by UPX is widely expected to be the first phase of the overall electrification of the GO Transit network managed by Metrolinx, the public transportation agency overseeing the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

Earlier this month Metrolinx 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.

Last August the first of 18 DMUs was delivered to GO Transit in preparation for the opening of the UPX line this year.

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