takes over to build link to Pearson airport
2010 | Source: National Post |
provincial Crown corporation will assume responsibility for the
construction of a rail link between Union Station and Pearson
airport after a private company pulled out on Friday.
Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin, which has been involved with the
project since November 2003, said on Friday it is abandoning the
project for financial reasons.
“The lending community is not prepared at this time to fund full
revenue-risk projects,” SNC spokeswoman Dominique Morval said in
an email. “When there are so many other infrastructure projects
that are proceeding at this time, the banks are not interested
in projects without a fixed income stream.”
The provincially owned Metrolinx, which already runs GO Transit,
is now in charge of the project, which means Ontario taxpayers
will be stuck with the bill.
“The taxpayer may be paying the brunt up front, but they’ll get
the return,” said Robert Prichard, president and CEO of
Metrolinx. “We believe it will be a successful venture,
delivering a great service to travelers and recovering its costs
from the revenue we receive.”
“There always was provincial money involved,” said Kathleen
Wynne, provincial Minister of Transportation. “As SNC-Lavalin
has said, we’re disappointed that it didn’t work out.
“Metrolinx will have the flexibility to maximize ridership and
minimize costs,” Ms. Wynne said. “I think this is the right
The project’s $300-million price tag is lower than SNC-Lavalin’s
estimate, Mr. Prichard said. He said Metrolinx will save money
because it has infrastructure SNC-Lavalin would have had to
build, such as a maintenance yard.
Metrolinx says the rail link will still be up and running by the
2015 deadline — a stipulation of Toronto’s winning bid for the
2015 Pan Am Games, but that doesn’t mean everybody is satisfied.
Many residents in the city’s west end have expressed concern
over the use of diesel trains.
“We don’t even think this deadline of 2015 can justify running
diesel trains through west Toronto,” said Keith Brooks,
spokesman for the Clean Train Coalition, a grassroots
organization that opposes the use of diesel trains in
Residents in the area favour electric trains instead, something
both the provincial government and Metrolinx say is being
researched. A report on the feasibility of not only electrifying
the airport link, but the entire GO system, will be released in
December, Mr. Prichard said.
“As the green Games, it should be a green train,” Mr. Brooks
said, referring to the 2015 Pan Am Games’ designation as the
most environmentally friendly Games to date.
Metrolinx and the ministry both say they are continuing to
explore the option of electrification and that they will release
a report on the subject in December 2010. However, Mr. Brooks
said this report is about electrifying the entire GO Transit
“It’s actually a waste of our taxpayers’ dollars. It’s
$4-million being spent on this study.”
The report’s recommendations will be non-binding and, regardless
of its outcome, Metrolinx is designing the system so it can be
converted to electric later on.
“On opening day they will be Tier 4 diesel trains, but we call
them shuttles,” Mr. Prichard said.
“Once you’ve got diesel trains, how quickly are they going to
shifted to electric?” Mr. Brooks challenged.
Nevertheless, he is hopeful.
“The province and Metrolinx should be much more accountable to
the public than SNC-Lavalin would have been.”