Will Diesels Roar Through Minister’s Loophole?

Ever since Ontario’s Minister of the Environment, John Gerretsen, announced that the Georgetown South expansion of GO services, plus the link to Pearson Airport, would be allowed to proceed subject to a number of conditions, there has been much spin in the press by both side of the argument.

My position is quite clear in two previous posts:  the numbers used by Metrolinx to substantiate their claims about comparative pollution of auto and train travel are seriously flawed to the point that claims made by Metrolinx and the govenment are simply not true.

One additional problem came to light earlier today.

On its website, Metrolinx characterizes the decision as follows:

Trains operated by GO Transit on the Georgetown rail corridor and the Union Pearson Rail Link service must use Tier 4 state of the art engines when the service expansion begins or as soon as the technology is commercially available.

However, the order actually reads:

2. All trains utilized for GO Transit that travel to, from or through Georgetown along the Georgetown South Corridor shall be Tier 4 compliant when service begins or when Tier 4 compliant technology becomes commercially available.

3. All trains utilized for the Union-Pearson Rail Link in the Georgetown South Corridor shall be Tier 4 compliant when service begins or when Tier 4 compliant technology becomes commercially available.

The wording of item 2 above is curious.  Only trains that “to, from or through Georgetown” are subject to the order.  This omits the following services from the scope of the order:

  • Proposed frequent short-turn service to Brampton,
  • Trains to Milton which use the corridor south of West Toronto diamond,
  • Trains to Barrie which use the corridor south of Dundas Street, and run parallel to it for some distance to the north,
  • Trains to Bolton, a proposed new peak period GO line, which uses the corridor to the point where it turns west over the Humber River.

However, Metrolinx has no compunctions about including these trains in its calculations of diverted trips, saved emissions and, of course, the benefits of Tier 4 diesel technology.

Either the order is oddly and badly drafted, or there is a deliberate attempt to limit its scope while giving the impression that all new trains will have the latest in pollution controls.  The former would be mere incompetence.  The latter casts both Metrolinx and the Government’s position in a much darker light.

The Minister of the Environment owes everyone a clear statement regarding the intent of his order.  If it applies to all trains that will operate on the rail corridor beginning roughly at the Strachan Avenue grade crossing and ending at Georgetown, then say so.  If not, then explain why the frequent services planned for the heavy Milton (future Cambridge) and Barrie routes will operate with Tier 2 diesels.

43 thoughts on “Will Diesels Roar Through Minister’s Loophole?

  1. Steve: Thanks for the clarification. As mentioned earlier in the thread, there’s a lot of extra technology to carry around in the name of energy conservation, and it’s only effective for a duty cycle that maximizes use of the energy storage system

    Well, it is and it isn’t. With the new batteries, there is no weight penalty for the hybrids. And if they could ever get the technology mature enough, it is a lot more durable than mechanical transmissions, and a hell of a lot more efficient too. The newer versions (2010 and on) will be all electric, meaning more efficiencies and hopefully less risk of fire from faulty hydraulics.

    There’s no doubt though that it is just not mature enough though, and frankly jumping in with both feet this quickly seems to have landed us in the proverbial quicksand.

    Dan
    Toronto, Ont.

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  2. Every single medical study done on the effects of diesel pollution points to increased deaths from heart related medical problems, lung related asthma and breathing problems and various forms of increased cancers. And yet there are still bozo’s out there who believe the drivel that the Ontario govt has been spreading around as an Environmental Assessment.

    Don’t worry, we’re just going to go from 49 diesel locomotives per day to over 464 per day, and it won’t hurt you one bit! Trust us. That’s 14,000 diesels a year to over 140,000 diesels a year…but don’t worry!

    This is the same government that has given us the eHaelth fiasco, the OLG scandal and now they want us to trust them with out health. HA!

    I wouldn’t trust them with my cats health let alone my daughters health. They haven’t earned the trust. They keep passing off pure crap as scientific studies. Scientists look at them and wonder what they were smoking when they put the reports together as they can’t duplicate the findings with the data given!

    I will trust them when they tell us the truth. Which they haven’t yet.

    We’re going to see 57 MP40’s running through until 2017 (that’s when GO Transit will have all the MP40’s upgraded to Tier 4 technology) and the remaining F59PH’s will be “upgraded” so that they can run even longer spewing less than Tier 0 pollution up and down the track. Since they need 70 locomotives plus 10-15% spares they will need to put 20 or so more older locomotives through the upgrade to get them to run longer.

    All this AFTER the so called EA.

    It’s a farce!

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  3. Kevin Milburn – I’m betting that in a couple of years there will be protesters seeing your studies and raising you 10 more on EMF health effects.

    For crying out loud this is a province that is saying with a straight face there needs to be 8 football fields between houses and wind turbines (how many people has the turbine at the Ex “killed” – inquiring minds want to know) and there are people claiming we shouldn’t put turbines in Lake Ontario.

    Regardless of the technology, somebody’s going to be against it.

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