Centre For Local Research into Public Space (CELOS)

See also Site Map

Citizen-Z Cavan Young's 2004 film about the zamboni crisis




Georgetown Rail Corridor Expansion in Media

posted on December 04, 2010

How to build a rail link to Pearson

A decades-long plan to launch a train service between Toronto and Pearson International Airport has become “job one” at the regional transportation agency known as Metrolinx, with officials underscoring a pledge to have it running in time for the Pan Am Games in 2015. But considerable opposition remains over the diesel-powered system that critics say should be electric. Officials insist that can’t be done by 2015. The Post’s Natalie Alcoba examines some of the finer points.

By: Natalie Alcoba
Published: November 17, 2010
Source: The National Post

What is the link?

Described as a “premium” 25-minute service that connects Pearson airport with GO stations at Weston, Bloor and Union, the Air Rail Link will operate a two-coach shuttle on the tracks used for the Georgetown South service. It will run every 15 minutes, is expected to move 5,000 passengers a day when it launches, and will add 140 trains to tracks that currently see 23 to 45 trains go by. Government officials have long touted it as a way to reduce gridlock. It is expected to cost $300-million, and fell to Metrolinx to see through after private firm SNC Lavalin couldn’t get the financing it needed. GO Transit is also spending $875-million to upgrade its infrastructure on the Georgetown South corridor by adding tracks and widening bridges.


spacingtoronto.ca (Wednesdays)

spacingtoronto.ca (Tuesdays)

posted on December 04, 2010

Electrifying Pearson rail link by 2015 ‘can’t be done’: Metrolinx

By: Natalie Alcoba
Published: November 16, 2010
Source: The National Post

UPDATE 6:42 p.m. Metrolinx, the regional transit agency, announced Tuesday that it plans piggy back on another transit agency’s bid process and enter into formal negotiations to purchase up to 18 diesel trains for an Air Rail Link from Union Station to Pearson airport.

The diesel multiple unit vehicles will meet stringent Tier 4 emissions standards, Metrolinx said in a statement, and will be convertible to electric in the event that Metrolinx decides to electrify the regional rail service. But it won’t be doing that in time for the launch of the rail service to the airport in 2015, GO Transit president Gary McNeil said definitively Tuesday, a position that has been met with loud criticism from residents who oppose more diesel trains on the corridor.


posted on December 04, 2010

Metrolinx defends decision to buy diesel trains for rail link to Pearson

Track from Union Station to airport can't be electrified for Pan Am Games in 2015

Published: November 16, 2010
Source: The Globe and Mail

The province's regional transportation authority has decided to start formal talks with a Japanese company to buy diesel trains for the long-awaited express line from Union Station to Pearson airport.

The Metrolinx board voted during an in-camera meeting Tuesday to enter into negotiations with Sumitomo Corp. of America to purchase as many as 18 two-car diesel trains for the shuttle run slated to open in time for the Pan Am Games.

The decision to plow ahead with a diesel purchase is a blow to the local residents and business owners who've been demanding Metrolinx buy electric vehicles for the line.


posted on December 04, 2010

No time to convert air-rail train to electric by 2015

By: Tess Kalinowski
Published: November 16, 2010
Source: The Star

Protesters who picketed the Metrolinx meeting on Tuesday, demanding a halt to plans to buy diesel trains for the Pearson airport run starting in 2015, weren’t given any hope by GO Transit president Gary McNeil.

In what’s thought to be the first definitive statement on the issue, McNeil told the Metrolinx board there simply wouldn’t be time to electrify the new airport service by the time of the Pan Am Games even if that was determined to be the best course of action.

Five years isn’t long enough to obtain all the environmental approvals, ground the track and hang the wires, he said. And electric trains might need six to nine months of track testing before the public could ride them.


posted on December 04, 2010

Protesters upset air-rail link will be diesel

Published: November 16, 2010
Source: Toronto Sun

Chanting slogans and waving hand-made signs, about 60 protestors staged a demonstration outside Metrolinx’s Bay St. offices before taking turns occupying the 10 seats set aside for the public at the transit planning agency’s board meeting.

“We wanted to come here to the board to let them understand it’s people that are affected by these decisions,” Keith Brooks, spokesman for the Clean Train Coalition, which organized the demonstration, said.

“It’s not just a plan that takes place on a piece of paper.”

The CTC has been pushing Metrolinx, which oversees GO Transit and is in charge of building the proposed Union Station-Pearson airport rail link, to electrify its diesel rail service, arguing investing billions of dollars into such a project would result in cleaner air and faster service.


posted on December 04, 2010

Electrifying GO Trains a good idea

By: Josh Hume
Published: Nov 16, 2010
Source: Now Toronto

About 40 protesters walked in circles Tuesday morning outside Metrolinx headquarters at the foot of Bay Street while the board met upstairs to ruminate over a presentation on the GO train electrification study. 

Afterwards, members of the Clean Train Coalition politely intruded on the meeting in rotations of ten at a time – those were all the seats available in the boardroom. Appropriately, the doorman brought in for the day was a transit security officer.

The study in question doesn’t add a lot to what is already known.

Electrification, the report says, would be cheaper over the long term, it would be cleaner and it would slightly reduce commute times. 

The document identifies six options going forward that range from electrifying single lines to converting the whole system. And while the study makes no recommendations, it is the first time the possibility of a full conversion of all seven corridors of the GO rail system has been studied.


posted on December 04, 2010

GO Transit considers switching from diesel to electric

By: Natalie Alcoba
Published: November 15, 2010
Source: The National Post

An ongoing Metrolinx study has underscored the benefits of electrifying GO Transit, but it will be the new year before the cost and timeline of such an undertaking is disclosed.

The final report will detail six electrification options – from converting just the Lakeshore corridor to the entire 509-kilometre network – and compare cost, environmental and service impacts to the current diesel-powered system. It will be up to the regional transportation agency’s board, and ultimately the province, to decide how to proceed, said Karen Pitre, project director for the electrification study.

Electric locomotives are cheaper to operate than their diesel counterparts, they are faster and more environmentally friendly, said Ms. Pitre, but there’s a price tag attached to changing the rolling stock, building the overhead catenary system and supplying power. “Everyone has always acknowledged that there are benefits” to electrification, Ms. Pitre told a room full of journalists gathered Monday for a study briefing, but “do the costs justify the benefits?”


Electric Or Diesel?, Wednesday November 17, 2010.

posted on October 27, 2010

Diesel trains topic du jour in Ward 18

By: Lisa Rainford
Published: October 20, 2010
Source: www.insidetorontovotes.ca

The electrification of Metrolinx’s Georgetown line tunneled its way through to the top of community groups’ priority lists when asked what they believe is their most important municipal election issue in Ward 18 Davenport.

“There is much concern about Metrolinx’s plans to run diesel trains through the neighbourhood,” said Ann Homan, director of Dig In (Dupont Improvement Group: Improving Neighbourhoods), an organization whose initiatives contribute to sustaining a community that is green, clean, safe and civil by improving its social, environmental, cultural, economic and physical makeup.“This is very much a health and quality of life issue. It will require a strong councillor who understands government process and isn’t afraid to stand up for Ward 18 and Toronto against the province of Ontario.


posted on April 20, 2010

West-end bridges to be expanded for Pearson rail link

By: Steve Darley
Published: April 16, 2010
Source: The National Post

The federal and provincial governments today announced $16.6-million to expand west-end railway bridges to increase Go Transit capacity and facilitate the rail link between Union Station and Pearson airport.

The money, split equally between the two governments, will go to widen six rail bridges to allow for a fourth track.

“GO Transit trains in the Georgetown South corridor are already operating at capacity and that’s why we need to move forward with this expansion right now,” Ontario Transport Minister Kathleen Wynne said.

“In addition corridor improvements will help enable the rail link between Union Station and Pearson airport, which is a key transportation initiative supporting the Pan-Am Games, and in fact was part of the bid book.”


posted on April 10, 2010

Metrolinx drops West Diamond appeal

Victory for Junction residents means noise is reduced at the expense of speed

By: Tess Kalinowski
Published: April 9, 2010
Source: The Star

In a major victory for Toronto’s Junction community, Metrolinx has agreed to drop its appeal of a decision that limits the amount of noise it can make in the west-end neighbourhood.

“This is about working with the community and repairing any damage that has been done and building a good relationship,” said Ontario Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne

“These transit projects are going to be going to go on for a number of years, as they should be. That means there will be disruption in the communities,” she said.


posted on February 05, 2010

Relief for the Junction

Published: February 05, 2010
Source: The Star

West Toronto residents tormented by pounding noise and house-rattling vibration from railway construction through their area have won another round in an ongoing battle against GO Transit. The commuter railway doesn't appear ready to quit, however.

The Canadian Transportation Agency examined residents' concerns about noise and vibration levels and GO Transit's arguments for continuing unabated. After weighing all the evidence, the agency concluded last December that the disruption being caused by extended piledriving was unreasonable and required mitigation. The ruling was cheered by residents in the affected area at Keele and Dundas, known as the Junction.


posted on December 18, 2009

German Study shows Airport Noise can increase the risk of strokes.

By: "mark.middleton-smith@virgin.net" mark.middleton-smith@virgin.net osterleypark
Published: Dec 16, 2009
Source: Tristana Moore Time.com Berlin, Tuesday 15th December 2009

Living under a flight path can seriously damage your health. German researchers have discovered that people who are exposed to jet noise have a substantially increased risk of stroke, high blood pressure and heart disease. The findings are bound to provide further ammunition to anti-airport campaigners and make uncomfortable reading for world leaders at this week's climate summit in Copenhagen.

According to the unpublished study, commissioned by Germany's Federal Environment Agency, men who are exposed to jet noise have a 69% higher risk of being hospitalized for cardiovascular disease. Women living under flight paths fare even worse, logging a 93% higher rate of hospitalization with cardiovascular problems, compared with their counterparts in quiet residential areas. The study found that women who are exposed to jet noise (of about 60 decibels) during the day are 172% more likely to suffer a stroke.

posted on December 11, 2009

GO ordered to reduce noise in west-end construction

Published: December 10, 2009
Source: CBC News

GO Transit has promised to comply with an order to tone down the noise from its track construction in a west-end Toronto neighbourhood.

Earlier this year residents in the neighbourhood near Dundas Street West and Dupont Street complained to the Canadian Transportation Agency that GO's pile drivers were making unbearable noise during the track construction project.

GO claimed the noise was an unfortunate, but necessary, byproduct of improving service on the Georgetown line.

But after listening to both sides the CTA ordered GO to use different equipment to reduce noise. GO must also update its construction schedule daily.


Where's Tony Ruprecht

posted on October 08, 2009

Fun With Figures at Metrolinx

By: Steve Munro
Published: October 7, 2009
Source: Steve Munro’s Web Site

Monday’s approval of Metrolinx’ plans to run diesel trains on the Weston/Georgetown corridor stirred up lots of discussion here, in the mainstream media and at City Hall. If this approval rested on solid data and projections, we could simply argue the fine points and debate rollout plans. However, the claims made by Metrolinx for emissions from the project, comparisons with auto travel and supposed reductions by redirected auto travel depend on calculations that are transparently wrong.

In brief, Metrolinx assumes that every GO train trip, both ways, every day, all day in the corridor will be completely full of passengers, all 1,900 of them (a fully seated load on a 12-car train). This absurd premise overstates the likely ridership by a factor of at least 4, probably greater (details follow later in this article) with the following effects:

  • Pollution caused by the trains is a fixed number determined by how many trips they make. If there are fewer passengers, the pollution per passenger trip is much larger than claimed by Metrolinx.
  • If there are fewer passengers, then fewer auto trips are diverted to rail. This does not affect the pollution saving per trip (presuming that one even agrees with this premise), but the total saving is greatly reduced because so many fewer trips are diverted.

Opening day (2015) traffic projected for the corridor is 184 GO trains and 140 UPRL (Airport) trains. The total trips calculated by Metrolinx for the corridor GO services is 349,600 per weekday. To put this in context, the entire GO rail system carries about 180,000 passengers per day today.

posted on October 08, 2009

I don't sing the body electric

Published: October 7, 2009
Source: The Globe and Mail

It's too damn bad
We never learn;
to look into the children's eyes
when progress is concerned;
So raise your voice, Ontario:
"Diesel stinks, Metrolinx,
electric is the way to go."


posted on October 08, 2009

Diesel trains the way to go, Ontario

With tough new rules on emissions for GO Transit service, it's hard to justify the expense of electric

Published: October 6, 2009
Source: The Globe and Mail

It's too damn bad We never learn; to look into the children's eyes when progress is concerned; So raise your voice, Ontario: “Diesel stinks, Metrolinx, electric is the way to go.”

You have to hand it to the Clean Train Coalition: They put on a heck of a protest. The folksy tune above comes from a slick YouTube video on their campaign against expanding diesel-train traffic through Toronto's west end.

The proposed rail expansion would step up GO Transit service to the northwest of Toronto and link Pearson airport to Union Station downtown. That would improve air quality by taking tens of thousands of motorists out of their cars and putting them in commuter trains instead.


posted on October 08, 2009

Georgetown track cleared for diesel trains

But minister imposes 'very tough' conditions, on technology, air tests

Published: Oct 06 2009
Source: The Star

GO Transit's expansion of the Georgetown rail corridor has been given a green light by Ontario's environment minister.

But in a partial victory for residents along the route who have campaigned for an electric line rather than running 400-plus diesel trains a day, John Gerretsen has imposed 18 "very tough" conditions on the $1 billion project.

The main requirement will be that GO trains and the planned air-rail link from Union Station to Pearson must run so-called Tier 4 diesel locomotives as soon as the expansion becomes operational or the technology is available. Residents have protested the use of diesels and what they believe will be unacceptable pollution levels.


posted on October 08, 2009

Metrolinx gets the green light for Pearson rail link

Published: Oct. 06 2009
Source: cp24.com

A major rail expansion project that will bring train service to Pearson Airport and the suburbs has been given the green light from Ontario’s environment minister.

The $875-million Metrolinx plan was approved Monday, but it’s been slapped with 18 conditions including a requirement to use clean diesel technology that’s still in the works.


posted on October 08, 2009

Community groups concerned about Metrolinx diesel trains

Ontario Government said electric trains are too expensive for Metrolinx

By: Michael Nasmith
Published: 06 October 2009
Source: http://www.thedailyplanet.com

Community groups are expressing scepticism and doubt that diesel trains scheduled to run on the Metrolinx lines will be better for health and the environment.

“It’s pointless,” said Suri Weinberg-Linsky, founding member of the Weston Community Coalition, a group that has joined with the Clean Train Coalition to fight problems with the Metrolinx system. “There’s no such thing as clean diesel. It may be cleaner than what we have now, but it’s not clean.”


posted on October 08, 2009

Environment Minister Issues Positive Decision on Metrolinx Study

Published: October 5, 2009
Source: http://www.metrolinx.com

Metrolinx received the approval with conditions announced today by Minister of the Environment John Gerretsen of the Environmental Assessment conducted for the Georgetown South Service Expansion and Union-Pearson Rail Link project.

“We are pleased that Minister Gerretsen has approved the environmental assessment with conditions,” said Rob Prichard, President and CEO of Metrolinx. “We accept the conditions. They are constructive and consistent with our commitment to mitigate any adverse impacts of the project on the surrounding communities. When completed, the Georgetown South Service Expansion will make a major contribution to improved transit in the Greater Toronto Area, reduced congestion and better air quality.”


posted on August 20, 2009

Health risks feared in GO plans

City medical officer says increasing diesel trains on Georgetown line will put area residents at risk

By: Donovan Vincent
Published: Aug 20, 2009
Source: The Star

Boosting diesel traffic by as many as 400 trains a day on GO Transit's Georgetown line will put the health of residents at risk, Toronto's medical officer of health has told Ontario's environment minister.

In a strongly stated submission to John Gerretson, Dr. David McKeown voiced his objections to a Metrolinx plan to use diesel locomotives to expand GO service and provide a new rail link to Pearson International Airport.


posted on August 14, 2009

Litigation or potential litigation by the city Re:Metrolinx Rail-to-Rail Diamond Grade Separation Project

By: Junctioneer
Published: August 5, 2009
Source: breakingprojects.com

From the city staff report

This report is about litigation or potential litigation that affects the City and contains advice or communications that are subject to solicitor-client privilege. (which the city redacted)

This report has been prepared for submission directly to City Council as requested by Council at its meeting of May 25, 26 and 27, 2009 to provide Council with information respecting the status of the formal noise/vibration complaint made by the West Toronto Diamond Residents Group to the Canadian Transportation Agency (“CTA”) and recommendations as to the City’s possible involvement in the process to support the local residents’ concerns.


posted on June 08, 2009

Analysis Finds Elevated Risk From Soot Particles in the Air

Published: June 2, 2009
Source: The New York Times

A new appraisal of existing studies documenting the links between tiny soot particles and premature death from cardiovascular ailments shows that mortality rates among people exposed to the particles are twice as high as previously thought.

Dan Greenbaum, the president of the nonprofit Health Effects Institute, which is releasing the analysis on Wednesday, said that the areas covered in the study included 116 American cities, with the highest levels of soot particles found in areas including the eastern suburbs of Los Angeles and the Central Valley of California; Birmingham, Ala.; Atlanta; the Ohio River Valley; and Pittsburgh.


posted on May 27, 2009

Metrolinx to study all-electric GO trains

Agency moves to try to snuff out two controversies plaguing its rail expansion plans in the west end of the city

Published: May 27, 2009
Source: The Globe and Mail

Metrolinx, the province's recently reorganized Toronto-area transportation agency now headed by former Torstar boss Robert Prichard, moved yesterday to try to snuff out two controversies plaguing its rail expansion plans in the west end of the city.

Facing concerns from activists and residents that plans to run trains to Pearson Airport and dramatically expand GO Transit service rely on polluting diesel locomotives, Metrolinx announced yesterday that it will study the electrification of all of GO Transit's train lines and set up an "external advisory committee" of community representatives, riders and technical experts.


posted on May 26, 2009

UK: State 'spying on Heathrow critics' as dossiers compiled of legit

By: Ian Drury
Published: May 25, 2009
Source: Daily Mail

Civil servants are compiling dossiers on opponents of Heathrow Airport expansion and handing them over to police, it emerged yesterday.

Communications staff at the Department for Transport are gathering data on legitimate objectors to the £9billion third runway and offering the information to Scotland Yard.

Last night, Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Norman Baker warned that the activities of the DfT's supposedly non-partisan civil servants were another step towards a 'Stasi-like police state'.

posted on May 19, 2009


Does This Make Toronto A World Class City?

Published: May 2009
Source: bloornews.com

Did you know Berlin, Copenhagen, Melbourne, Munich, Oslo, Rome and Stockholm are considered world class cities? One of the major reasons they gained their status is thanks to their electric trains that stop intermediately along the route.

Toronto is merely aiming in that direction as construction for high-speed, diesel fueled trains going from Pearson Airport to Union Station is in full effect. This translates into $300 million of tax money being spent on a private sector, allowing over 100 noisy, pollution causing trains to go by each day.


posted on May 04, 2009

Shaken residents give GO ultimatum

Agency faces mediation if it doesn't offer plan to muffle piledriver

By: Tess Kalinowski
Published: May 04, 2009
Source: The Star

GO Transit's promise that it will test less nerve-jangling construction techniques on the Georgetown rail line hasn't quieted the concerns of residents living near the West Toronto Diamond rail expansion.

They have issued a deadline of Friday for GO to cease the ear-splitting, ground-shaking diesel piledriver operation that has been a daily feature of life in the Junction since January.

In a letter last Thursday, residents asked the transit agency to issue a firm schedule today of when and where alternative techniques and noise-baffling measures will be in place.


posted on May 01, 2009

Bad vibes compel GO to replace piledriver

Noise complaints finally bring concessions at Junction rail site

By: Patty Winsa
Published: Apr 30, 2009
Source: The Star

After months of agitation by residents and elected officials, GO Transit is finally testing quieter equipment at its West Toronto Diamond rail expansion.

And the commuter service has agreed to allow the Canadian Transportation Agency to mediate its dispute with the community, which has complained about the noise and vibrations during construction.


posted on April 22, 2009

GO plans anger residents

Neighbours living along Georgetown line worried about pollution, noise, huge structures

By: Tess Kalinowski
Published: Apr 22, 2009
Source: The Star

What started as a pocket of opposition in Weston is rapidly becoming a river of outrage running down the GO Georgetown line, where one of the biggest transit expansions in Toronto history is underway.

As GO and Metrolinx host open houses this month outlining the grade separations, bridges and tunnels they say are needed, residents living near the tracks are holding their own gatherings, morphing into larger groups, spreading their concerns and ideas – and in at least one case, hiring lawyers.

"The plan has awoken the sleeping giant, which are the folks south of St. Clair," said Mike Sullivan of the Weston Community Coalition.


posted on April 21, 2009

Residents seek relief from GO construction noise

Published: Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Source: CBC News

A group of tired and frustrated Toronto business owners and homeowners say they've had enough with GO Transit's new track construction near Dundas Street West and Dupont Street.

At a public meeting on Monday night, some residents described the noise from construction as "disgraceful and inhuman." The noise comes from the machinery driving massive pilings into the ground.

It's expected to take another year before construction is complete.

Warren Kotler, who works on nearby Hook Avenue, said his import business is losing clients and he can't concentrate because of the constant pounding.


Clean Air task Force

No Escape from Diesel Exhaust – Findings

April 19, 2009

Findings Exposure to Fine Particles has Deadly Consequences Particulate matter is a potent pollutant. In fact, medical researchers believe that fine particulate matter pollution in the air is responsible for at least 70,000 deaths a year. , Two analyses by Abt Associates for the Clean Air Task Force, following EPA Science Advisory Board-approved methodologies, have estimated that approximately 45,000 American lives are lost prematurely each year from exposure to particulate matter pollution from two sources of particles— 21,000 from diesel engines and 24,000 from power plants. This is roughly equivalent to the 44,000 motor vehicle deaths per year in the U.S. each year

Read More>>

posted on March 28, 2009

West end joins Weston to fight train

New residents' groups are waking up to the fact that the airport express may bring noise, dirt and pollution

Published: MARCH 28, 2009
Source: the Globe and Mail

Catherine Hume and her children, 10-month-old Phoenix and four-year-old Rivi, live on Golden Avenue, a west-end street of modest and mismatched homes that dead-ends against a green sheet-metal wall. Beyond it are the GO Train tracks that carry commuters home to Brampton and beyond.

Ms. Hume, 41, and her neighbours - their brood of toddlers and preschoolers running around in the early spring cold - say they don't mind the noise of the 50 or so trains a day. One mother, just a door from the tracks, even teaches music lessons in her foyer.

But for the hundreds of thousands who live along the Georgetown rail line, which cuts through gentrifying west-end Toronto neighbourhoods such as the Junction, Roncesvalles and Liberty Village, life may be about to change.

There could be 220 trains a day by 2013, when privately operated express trains from Union Station to Pearson Airport start running 140 times a day and GO Transit has also dramatically increased the frequency of its service. By 2031, there could be more than 350 trains a day. And all of them would be powered by diesel locomotives, producing what activists warn will be a cloud of pollution equal to the exhaust of a dozen highway lanes.


posted on February 28, 2009

Secret draft highlights agency's strategy

Transportation agency urged to 'salt' public sessions with supporters to avoid having its plans hijacked

Published: February 27, 2009
Source: The Globe and Mail

A confidential draft of a Metrolinx communications strategy advised the province's Toronto-area transportation agency to "salt" its public consultation sessions with supporters in order to avoid having its plans "hijacked by nimbies or local politicians on the make."

The Globe and Mail obtained most of the document through a request under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. But one paragraph from the eight-page draft strategy, drawn up in advance of Metrolinx's 25-year plan released last year, was withheld under an exemption in the act for "advice to government."


posted on February 28, 2009

Metrolinx document condemned by Miller, other board members

Published: February 28, 2009
Source: The Globe and Mail

An internal Metrolinx document advising the province's Toronto-area transportation agency to "salt" consultation sessions with supporters was "unacceptable," Mayor David Miller says.

Mr. Miller, who has clashed with Metrolinx over his Transit City light-rail plan, is one of the 11 mostly local politicians who sit on the board of the regional agency assigned to stickhandle billions in new public transit investments.

He said he was surprised and disappointed by the document, revealed in The Globe and Mail, which was never submitted to the board or made official Metrolinx policy.


Content last modified on May 27, 2011, at 06:08 PM EST