The promised rail link from downtown Toronto to Pearson International Airport will take a step forward when construction begins next spring for completion before the 2015 Pan Am Games, Premier Dalton McGuinty said today.
The line — which piggybacks most of the way from Union Station on the existing GO Train tracks to Georgetown — will include a new three-kilometre "spur line" branching off from the GO line into the airport's Terminal 1.
The project is pegged at a cost of $128.6 million, creating about 1,200 jobs. It will get passengers downtown in about 25 minutes, said McGuinty, who brushed off concerns the train will initially be diesel and not a cleaner electric service.
He vowed the government will use "state-of-the-art" diesel technology and that electrification will be done later at an affordable cost. "The track and the cars are adaptable," he told reporters at Pearson's Terminal 1 airport "people mover" train station, where the new trains will also stop, allowing easy connections to other terminals.
"Today's announcement is great news for Mississauga," said Mississauga-Brampton South MPP Amrit Mangat in a press release. "It means more jobs coming to our community, more public transit to remove cars from our roads and a convenient source of travel for those trying to access our airport."
New Democrat MPP Jonah Schein, whose Davenport riding the new train will run through on its way to the airport every 15 minutes, said he remains concerned about air pollution from the diesel trains and the lack of a firm commitment on a date to electrify the line or on a cost for the conversion.
The chair of Metrolinx, the transit agency building the air-rail link, said it will take up to four years to do the environmental assessments needed before the line can be electrified. "We believe the Greater Toronto Area needs this project as fast as possible," said Rob Prichard. "Electric's not available at present," he added.
Fares for the new train won't be set until 2014 once all the bills are in, and the price of a ticket will be set on a cost-recovery basis. Fares will be more than a typical GO Train ride, but "well under" what is now typically a $50 cab or airport limo ride downtown, Prichard said.
The Pan Am Games are in 2015, but the goal is to have the rail link in service the year before. The spur line is not long, but it is a "huge" construction project because it will come through a congested area east of the airport roughly following Hwy. 409 from the 401 to Pearson, said Toby Lenox, Greater Toronto Airports Authority spokesperson.
The terminal at the airport will be on a platform between two lines of the existing "people mover" monorail that whisks passengers between terminals, so travellers can quickly get to the terminal they need.
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