A panel of judges will hear the case brought by the Clean Train Coalition against Metrolinx on Monday, Nov. 19 in courtroom 3 at 130 Queen Street West, starting at 10 a.m.
The Coalition has launched a judicial review against Metrolinx, arguing the provincial transportation agency abdicated its legal responsibilities when it approved diesel trains for the new Air-Rail Link that will run by Sorauren Park on average every 7.5 minutes. The Coalition supports electric trains.
The Coalition launched the judicial review shortly after the World Health Organization revised its classification of diesel exhaust from a “probable” cause of cancer to a definite cause of cancer last June. The cancer risk increases with higher exposure. The rail corridor is a few metres away from Sorauren’s popular dog park and soccer field.
Metrolinx has hired a downtown law firm, Torys, to represent its case. The expenses of the Coalition’s lawyer are being covered by herself and donations. Citizens may donate at the Clean Train Coalition website.
The 2006 Metrolinx Act governs Metrolinx’s decisions. Among the Act’s “objects” is section 5.1(a)(iii), in which the agency is directed to support “a high quality of life, a sustainable environment and a strong, prosperous and competitive economy.”
Anyone attending the judicial hearing is reminded they will need to go through airport-style security and observe decorum in the courtroom.
The ARL has been envisioned by officials since 2001, always as an executive-class diesel service with few stops between downtown and Pearson International. It is expected to carry approximately 5,000 riders per day in the early years of service, though to date Metrolinx has not completed a business plan for the line. The ARL is expected to be in service for the Pan Am Games.
By comparison, Vancouver’s electric Canada Line between downtown and its airport, built for the 2010 Winter Olympics, carries more than 110,000 riders per day. Travel time between downtown Vancouver and the airport is 25 minutes, the same time projected for Toronto’s service. However, Vancouver’s line has 16 stops, compared to four planned for Toronto (including the terminal stations).
In addition to producing cancer-causing particulate matter, diesel trains are louder, heavier and slower, taking longer to accelerate and decelerate between stops.
Many transit advocates, including U of T professor Andre Sorenson, suggest the ARL rail corridor would be better put to use as the western leg of a downtown relief line for public transit.