Metrolinx Train Update
April 4, 2009: Last Friday residents around the Junction discovered how noisy old technology pile drivers were. GO transit is driving 2100 steel girders into the earth to support the rail-to-rail grade separation there. The noise level at the nearby school is 105 Decibels. The vibrations are shaking nearby houses. GO has offered earplugs and ear muffs to residents who complain.
On Monday the province fired the politician members of the Metrolinx Board of Directors and have started to replace them with appointees of the government. Such notables as David Miller, Adam Giambrone and Hazel McCallion were removed. The province hired Robert Prichard, who recently resigned as CEO of Torstar Corporation – to head up a ‘transition’ process. New board members on this ‘transition’ team are not public officials and have no transit backgrounds. Several old board members were kept, including Paul Bedford from Toronto, and Peter Smith from GO Transit.
The province also announced the merger of GO Transit and Metrolinx (Metrolinx takes over GO).
On Wednesday the province announced $9.2 Billion in transit funding, including $4.2 Billion for an Eglinton streetcar from Kennedy to the airport.
On Thursday, Metrolinx announced the beginning of the 120 day Environmental Assessment for the Air-Rail-Link and the GO Expansion plans. Their announcement indicated that the plans had been amended taking public comments into account. However, there is NO detail of the plans available, and there won’t be until April 14. Public open houses begin April 15 and run to April 22. They will follow the same format as before, except there will be significantly less time available at each open house. The schedule is below.
Councillor Nunziata asked Metrolinx to attend a public meeting she wanted to hold on the subject of the Air-Rail-Link and GO expansion here in Weston. They have refused to attend such a meeting. They will only attend small group sessions such as their open house. And as we discovered, depending on who you talked to in that format, you got different answers.
Although there are NO details available officially from Metrolinx, we have been able to confirm that the plans:
Will NOT consider electrification of the lines. Despite the health risks to residents of Toronto, and the fact that they are creating the single busiest diesel rail corridor on the planet, with 350-415 trains per day, and despite the fact that NO other city in the world is building a diesel train to its airport. Metrolinx advises that their timeframes are too short (must be finished by 2014, probably in time for a Pan Am games bid) to consider electrification.
Will NOT consider additional stops except at Woodbine Racetrack (where no one lives). Residents of Carleton Village, Brockton Village, Liberty Village etc., can just whistle as the train goes by.
Will NOT make the Air-Rail-Link public transit. It will be a private train on public infrastructure, free to charge whatever it can, just like 407.
Will CLOSE John Street in Weston and replace it with a switchback pedestrian bridge.
Will NOT consider tunnelling the trains through densely populated areas. Weston’s ‘tunnel’ will be only 300 metres long between Church and King.
Will NOT provide a bike path along the entire corridor.
Will ACQUIRE (they don’t like to use the word ‘expropriate’) some homes and land to allow a grade separated crossing at Denison.
The Weston Community Coalition has some new allies in the neighbourhoods to the south. In addition we have made a deputation to Peel Region Council to remind them that residents west of the Airport (London, Kitchener, Guelph, Georgetown, Brampton, Bramalea) who want to go by rail to the airport, will have to go past the airport on VIA or GO, then get off at Weston or Dundas West, change to the Air Rail Link, pay another fare, and go back. We have also contacted a number of environmental groups and associations. The Toronto Environmental Alliance has stated its opposition to this project. We are also dealing with Toronto’s Board of Health, the Canadian Medical Association, Health Canada, etc. Study after study has shown that air pollution, particularly from diesel trains, is bad for your health.
We have come to the conclusion that the EA process is a ‘project and defend’ type process. Metrolinx will merely defend their choices, rather than change the project to deal with valid objections. We believe that only through political pressure will electrification happen, will it be true public transit, with additional stops, and a bike path, and keeping roads open. Below are the contacts for the politicians along the corridor, and their leaders. Please, please, write or phone. Copy us on anything you write. Tell them you want this corridor electrified NOW, and that you want additional stops, and that it should be public transit.
Weston Community Coalition