Strict Conditions Placed On Metrolinx Rail Transit Expansion
McGuinty Government Requires Newest Diesel Technology, Health Risk Studies
Environment Minister John Gerretsen is attaching 18 strict conditions to the approval for new rail services planned by Metrolinx in the Greater Toronto Area.
Metrolinx has been given the green light for expansion of the GO Transit Georgetown South rail corridor and new rail service between Union Station and Pearson International Airport, as part of the Regional Transportation Plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).
This project would improve air quality by shifting people from cars to state-of-the-art diesel trains. The engines on these trains would meet the toughest emission standards when new technology is expected to be commercially available.
This means that the trains that will go through Weston each day would have the newest technology, resulting in approximate reductions of 90 per cent particulate matter and 80 percent nitrogen oxides over current engines.
The Georgetown expansion is part of the GO Transit Rail Improvement Program (GO TRIP), a $1-billion expansion initiative funded by the federal and provincial governments and local municipalities through the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund.
To ensure the rail line expansions are operated in a way that protects human health, the 18 conditions on its approval require Metrolinx to:
- Conduct further studies regarding predicted human health risks from train traffic, develop mitigation measures for unacceptable risks that are identified, and implement those measures after they are approved by the Ministry of the Environment (MOE).
- Develop and implement an ambient air monitoring and reporting plan in consultation with the public. Metrolinx will be required to report the results to the MOE and make the data publicly available.
- Metrolinx is an agency of the Ontario government that provides leadership in developing an integrated, multi-modal transportation network in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. It is responsible for the operation of the GO Transit and the provision of other transit services.
- The state-of-the-art emissions standards expected to be in place in 2015 are the Tier 4 standards that have been set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The Metrolinx project is expected to begin operating in 2015.
- New diesel technology, in combination with low-sulphur diesel fuels, is expected to make reductions of 90 per cent particulate matter and 80 per cent nitrogen oxides over current engines.
- When planned transit improvements to the current GO system are complete and the system is operating at a maximum level, we expect decreases in emissions that are equivalent to removing tens of millions of car trips a year from our roads. For example, greenhouse gas emissions (in the form of carbon dioxide [CO2]) could be reduced by over 100 kilotonnes annually.
“The conditions on the Metrolinx approval would help us deal with the health and environmental impacts from transit growth. As we work to improve transit, we must protect the health and well being of citizens who may be affected by these projects.”