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No costs yet for Metrolinx rail options

by Jonathan Jenkins
Queen’s Park Bureau

The Metrolinx estimated cost for scrapping diesel on its GO train commuter lines is going down but how far down — and from what number — is still not known.

“The cost of electrification is going down,” Karen Pitre, project director for Metrolinx’s electrification study said Monday. “We’ve stripped out the incremental costs.”

Under pressure from community groups concerned about pollution from expanded rail service along the Georgetown Corridor, which cuts through west Toronto, Metrolinx initiated the electrification study in January.

Pitre said it’s almost done and all the numbers, including costs, will be going to the Metrolinx board, likely in January.

A progress report, including details on the electric locomotives deemed the most cost-effective rolling stock and six options for which rail lines could be switched over to electric power will go before the board Tuesday.

Those six options will be compared against what is operating now — an entirely diesel rail system.

Pitre also said there are no plans to try and electrify the proposed Union Station to Pearson Airport rail link Metrolinx is now in charge of building because it would not be cost-effective to have just that line on electric and it couldn’t be completed before the Pan Am Games in 2015.

Metrolinx is now looking at buying Japanese-made diesel locomotives for the air-rail link.

“Our elected officials should make their decisions based on the long-term best interest of Torontonians rather than on a two-week sporting event,” Clean Train Coalition spokesman Keith Brookes said in a news release.

“It’s time that government officials at all levels start getting serious about this issue. How can a world-class city like Toronto turn its back on 21st century technology and realistically embrace diesel trains as an acceptable solution? That’s not the ‘green’ solution this province deserves. We need to stop this from going down the wrong track.”

The coalition plans a demonstration at the Metrolinx board meeting Tuesday.