Ontario looking into the feasibility of running GO Transit on hydrogen

Jun 15 2017, 10:14 pm

The Government of Ontario is supporting GO Transit’s switch to electric energy.

In an announcement made today by Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca, the province confirmed that it is taking a step forward to electrify the GO rail network, which will support faster and more frequent service for commuters and families across the region.

The province has committed $13.5 billion to implement GO Regional Express Rail (RER) as part of a $21.3 billion transformation of the network from commuter transit to a regional rapid transit system, in a projects that span 40 municipalities.

Ontario has also begun the GO Rail Network Electrification Transit Project Assessment Process, which builds on public consultations held last year and assesses environmental impacts of the GO network and the impact of switching from diesel to electric. According to the province, this is an important step for the procurement process to select a vendor to electrify the network.

“Electrified service as part of GO RER will allow us to run faster, more frequent rail service across core sections of the GO rail network, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by removing diesel service where possible,” said Del Duca in a statement. “Electrification is an important step forward for regional rail in Ontario. It is critical that we get it right.”

Along with the assessment process, the province is also undertaking a feasibility study on the use of hydrogen fuel cells as an alternative technology for electrifying GO rail service and the UP Express.

“Recent advances in the use of hydrogen fuel cells to power electric trains in other jurisdictions makes it important that Ontario consider this clean electric technology as an alternative to conventional overhead wires,” reads a provincial press release. And this fall, the province will be bringing together industry leaders in fuel cell technology for a symposium to explore the potential application of hydrogen fuel cell technology to electrify the GO rail network.

The GO Transit transformation is currently the largest commuter rail project in Canada.

If all goes to plan, the province said it’s on track to electrify and expand the rail network, and bring more service to commuters by increasing the number of weekly trips from about 1,500 to nearly 6,000 by 2025.

“With this program, we are moving forward with one of the largest and most complex rail upgrades in the world,” said John Jensen, Metrolinx’s president and CEO. “This GO rail transformation will bring residents of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area a faster and more efficient way to travel.”

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