Toronto Pearson Airport train battle goes to court

Rick Ciccarelii of the Clean Train Coalition stands on a footbridge crossing train tracks that...

Rick Ciccarelii of the Clean Train Coalition stands on a footbridge crossing train tracks that Metrolinx plans to run diesel trains on by the start of the 2015 Pan Am Games. This CTC filed court papers challenging the move.

TERRY DAVIDSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:30 PM ET

A citizens’ group is taking the Metrolinx transportation agency to court over its plan to run diesel trains from downtown Toronto to Pearson airport in time for the 2015 Pan Am Games.

The Clean Train Coalition (CTC), a non-profit organization representing west-end residents, is seeking to scuttle Metrolinx’s plan to use diesel trains on the route.

CTC officials, who’ve filed an application with the Ontario Divisional Court of Justice, put the spotlight on the issue Wednesday beside a small portion of the rail line in a residential area around Bloor St. and Lansdowne Ave.

They’re calling for a judicial review of what they call a “dirty diesel” plan and a potential health hazard to the thousands of people living “right beside where the diesel trains are going.”

Timothy Noronha, who lives three blocks away from where trains will be speeding along, cited concerns about what diesel fumes could do to the health of his two children.

“My biggest fear is the pollution involved with diesel trains, the amount of poisonous gases ... and exhaust coming from the train,” Noronha said.

CTC chair Rick Ciccarelli would like to see electric trains used on the rail line, saying they’re “the only healthy way” to provide a link between Union Station and Pearson.

“In the corridor between Union Station and Pearson airport, there are about 300,000 residents living within half a kilometre (of the rail corridor) ... There are 37 schools, 40 daycares and four long-term care facilities.” said Ciccarelli, adding that electric trains “do not pollute ... are faster, quieter and more energy efficient.”

The CTC alleged Metrolinx compromised its own “statutory requirement” to consider long-term, environmentally-friendly goals — such as using electric trains — and chose diesel to ensure the project’s completion by 2015.

Metrolinx, an agency created by the Ontario government to coordinate transportation in the GTA-Hamilton region, has reportedly committed to buy 12 diesel trains from the U.S. arm of Japanese train-maker Sumitomo Corp., with possibly more to come.

The court application includes a call for Metrolinx to conduct a review of diesel versus electric and to reverse its decision based on the World Health Organization’s recent re-classification of diesel exhaust as a harmful carcinogen.

terry.davidson@sunmedia.ca


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