By Ryan McGreal
Published June 11, 2009
A new campaign by the Clean Train Coalition is calling on Metrolinx and the Province of Ontario to electrify the GO Train network now, not at some ill-defined time in the next fifteen years.
Metrolinx, the provincial arms-length regional transit coordinator and recently merged with GO Transit, has plans to invest in an at least eightfold expansion of diesel-powered GO Train engines - from the current 50 to 400 or possibly 500.
The Clean Train Coalition argues that the exhaust from all these diesel engines "is a known danger to public health, linked to cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, cancers and premature death."
While the coalition supports the expansion of GO Transit, they argue that the right way is to electrify the network immediately, instead of sinking money into vehicles with such a heavy impact on air pollution.
In response, Metrolinx is launching a new comprehensive study into electrification of the entire GO Transit rail system. The organization is appointing a community advisory committee to establish terms of reference for the study.
The study itself will study the benefits and costs of electrification and develop a staged plan to implement it, considering "the economic, social, community, urban design, environmental and technological considerations that should bear upon a commitment to electrification," according to Metrolinx CEO Robert Pritchard.
The terms of reference should be completed by mid-Autumn 2009, and the study itself is expected by December 2010.
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