On October 5th 2009, the Ontario Minister of the Environment, John Gerretsen, approved Metrolinx’ plan to run over 450 diesel trains through west Toronto despite urgent requests from the Clean Train Coalition, the Toronto District School Board, the Medical Officer of Health, and thousands of concerned citizens for electrification of the corridor before any expansion of rail traffic is allowed. The Minister has attached some conditions, notably that Metrolinx use Tier 4 diesel trains.
Diesel exhaust is a known health hazard and any further pollution in Toronto’s already overburdened airshed is not acceptable. Furthermore, while electric technology is available and would entirely eliminate the local heatlh risks, Tier 4 diesel trains do not yet exist. It is disappointing that the Minister didn’t require Metrolinx to electrify the rail corridor, but the struggle is far from over.
On the up side, the decision by the Minister has finally vaulted our call for clean electric trains into the media spotlight. We’ve been covered by all the major newspapers, on most of the television networks, and on radio as well.
Here’s a sample, and there are more links in our “In the News” section.