Stephen Lipkus, Executive Director of Metrolinx’s Georgetown South Project, has left the Provincial agency for a career opportunity with another engineering firm. His last day with GO Transit was July 12. While not always agreeing with his approach or liking his answers about electrification, Mr. Lipkus at all times worked with the community in a professional manner and made an effort to keep communications open.
The Georgetown South Project involves expansion of the rail corridor between Union Station and Pearson Airport to handle increased diesel GO rail traffic as well as the new diesel UP Express link, which is to start service in 2015. The Georgetown line, starting with UP Express, is the focus of Clean Train Coalition efforts to replace carcinogenic diesel trains with cleaner, greener, faster, lighter, cheaper-to-operate electric trains.
Largely as a result of CTC continuing advocacy efforts, electrification of Georgetown South is now the cornerstone project for Metrolinx’s plans to electrify the regional GO train network, and Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Glen Murray is now on record as wanting this to happen by or before 2017.
During Mr. Lipkus’s tenure as project Executive Director, numerous public meetings on the Georgetown corridor were held in neighbourhoods along the line. Commitments were made publicly that the work of the project was “protecting” for future electrification, as well as adequately dealing with vibration and noise issues. Clean Train Coalition is concerned that these commitments need to be clearly conveyed to the incoming Executive Director.
Mr. Lipkus’s replacement is Gordon Troughton, an engineer who has worked as the Manager of Design and Construction for the Town of Halton Hills. It is not known if Mr. Troughton has any experience in electric rail or if performance towards electrification will be included in the evaluation measures with his contract. CTC feels this is a reasonable expectation, given that this area of work will need to begin immediately to deliver an electric Air Rail Link “by or before 2017” to meet the Minister’s aspirations. We will endeavour to clarify how organizational capacity is being prepared for implementing electrification on Georgetown South.
CTC is now calling for a meeting with GO Transit Vice President of Capital Infrastructure Greg Percy and the new GTS Executive Director Gordon Troughton to review and reaffirm commitments made to the community about electrification and mitigation of sound and vibration for the Georgetown South corridor in order to begin the transition to new project management on solid footing. We look forward to continuing the conversation.