Metrolinx wants input on diesel noise wall to be erected at park

Metrolinx noise wall

The Metrolinx diesel noise wall will be 5-metres high, shown here in a mock-up built by Kevin Putnam of the Junction Triangle Rail Committee. A wall is planned for Sorauren Park.

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED: The diesel air-rail Link (now renamed the Union-Pearson or UP Express) is coming, connecting Union Station to Pearson Airport along the rail line by Sorauren Park, and Metrolinx is looking for community members to advise on the 5-metre high noise and sight barrier it is planning to install in the park and elsewhere along the corridor.

Metrolinx says the wall is needed to dampen the din from the increase in diesel train traffic expected with the new UP Express, from existing GO Transit rail traffic, and from expected increases in GO Transit traffic over the years. The UP Express (already dubbed the UP Yours Express by some wags for the message Metrolinx is sending to communities along the corridor) is planned to be running in time for the Pan Am Games in 2015.

Although Metrolinx has not completed a business plan for the service, it has said the trains will leave the terminals every 15 minutes, meaning a train will pass every 7.5 minutes on average during operating hours.

Residents wishing to have input into the wall can connect with Metrolinx by visiting the GO Transit web site here. The provincial agency will be holding public consultations regarding the wall in 2013.

The Metrolinx wall will be higher than the Berlin Wall, shown in this comparison prepared by the Junction Triangle Rail Committee

The wall has raised concerns about graffiti vandalism, community safety, spoiled sight lines and property values.

The non-profit Clean Train Coalition has been pushing for quieter electric trains which may not require the wall, though the Coalition’s main concern is diesel pollution along the corridor. Last June the World Health Organization re-classified diesel exhaust from a “probable” cause of cancer to a definite cause of cancer.

The Coalition lost its recent legal challenge against Metrolinx regarding the diesel train purchase. The court ordered the all-volunteer Coalition to pay $33,500 in costs to Metrolinx. The Coalition is considering an appeal.

Metrolinx and the Minister of Transportation have expressed a desire to convert the line to electric propulsion, possibly as early as 2017, but that won’t be in time for the Pan Am Games. The manufacturer of the diesel trains purchased by Metrolinx says the units can be converted to electric, though that has not been done previously.

Clear cutting for Metrolinx noise wall

Recent clear-cutting of trees and foliage along the Georgetown-Kitchener rail corridor in Mount Dennis (the same line runs by Sorauren Park) in preparation for grading work and drainage to accommodate the expansion of the rail line

A Metrolinx staff reported released in 2011 recommended electrification. The province has funded an environmental assessment to further study electrification, expected to be completed in 2014.

The Vancouver Canada Line from downtown to the Vancouver airport was also built in time for a major sporting event, the 2010 Winter Olympics. Here’s a comparison between Vancouver’s service and the Ontario government’s plan for the Toronto ARL:

Toronto ARL vs Vancouver Canada Line


  1. Manuel


    As a member of the Metrolinx Georgetown South Project team, I would like to clarify that the clearing of vegetation and debris within the rail corridor is in preparation for the grading work that will enable the additional tracks and draining infrastructure to be constructed as part of the corridor expansion, and not because of the noise walls.

    We are hosting nine community advisory committees in 2013 to discuss the design of the planned noise walls. The input from these committees will help inform the design of the planned noise walls. Please contact our community office at 416-581-1300 for more information.

    [Thank you Manuel. The story has been updated. – Editor]

  2. David Oleson

    The only type of wall that should be built at the railway edge of Sorauren Park is a “green wall” covered with vegetation. And it should be as low as possible. Metrolinx should take into consideration the existing topographic conditions behind the wall; for instance at the eastern edge of Sorauren Park, with a steep slope down to the tracks (effectively a berm) an additional level of crash safety is already in place.

    From an acoustic standpoint trees and shrubs and vines covering any wall will be most effective. (Of course, a lower level of noise with electric instead of diesel trains would make a big difference.)

  3. Stefan Soldovieri

    Given the high volume of programs for children at Sorauren Park, it is completely irresponsible to have diesel trains running by it in such close proximity and at the planned frequency. It is beyond me how this decision was made. Young lungs should be protected from diesel pollution. Electrify this line.

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