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article imageOp-Ed: Towards a better transit system

By Savia D'cunha     Jan 28, 2013 in Travel
Toronto - Metrolinx, an organization that operates the transit system in the Greater Toronto area, is responsible for overseeing the construction of new diesel trains by 2015.
The electrification proposal was brought to Metrolinx by the Clean Train Coalition, a grassroots group that advocates for electrification of the Georgetown rail line that connects Union station to Pearson airport, Brampton and Georgetown.
Electrifying the transit system would speed up the service as electric trains move faster than diesel. Travelers would spend less travel time. It could also save on operating costs. It would be quieter without the roar of diesel engines, and healthier without the diesel fumes. It is anticipated that the construction of the spur line will support and create more than 1,200 jobs."
The data collected from years of experience show that electrification is a proven technology. It’s been around for 100 years and is already in use in Japan, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S., among others.
Metrolinx is currently engaged in the preliminary design and environmental assessment (EA) for the electrification of the ARL service. The ARL (DMUs) vehicles are fully convertible to electric, and the track upgrades and spur line are being built to allow for electrification. The EA is a critical step toward electrification and the study is expected to be completed in 2014.
According to Toronto’s former medical health officer, Dr. David McKinnon, "diesel exhaust is a hazard that causes respiratory disease, asthma, and cardiac issues. It is also risky technology and expensive to manufacture."
An Electrification Study conducted concluded that electrification would not materially reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions, since GO Transit is such a small percentage of the overall emissions in the region. According to Meterolinx, The vehicles to be used will be Tier 4 diesel multiple units (DMUs), the strictest non-road engine emissions standard set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Tier 4 technology reduces airborne particulate emissions by 90% and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 80% compared to currently used Tier 2 engines.
"The estimated incremental capital cost to electrify the ARL corridor is approximately $440 million (2010 dollars)", says Greg Gormick, an electrification report writer and a Ontario transportation consultant.
The service will be delivered in time for the Pan Am/ParaPan Am Games in summer 2015.
Overall Metrolinx contributions (GO Transit and ARL vehicles) to emissions in the Kitchener corridor will be less in 2015 than they were in 2010.
Electrification of GO lines is part of The Big Move, Metrolinx’s regional transportation plan.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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