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Metrolinx agrees to buy "diesel multiple units"
for Air Rail Link

The SMART commuter service through the northern suburbs of San Francisco will soon operate two-car diesel trains like this one. Similar trains will operate along the new rail Air Rail Link between Union Station and Toronto Pearson International Airport.

The Metrolinx board of directors today approved a plan to buy 12 “diesel multiple units” (or DMUs) from Sumitomo Corporation of America to operate the Air Rail Link between Union Station and Toronto Pearson International Airport.

The cost to buy the locomotives is about $55 million, which includes capital spare parts, special maintenance tools and contingencies resulting from any changes to the base design that Metrolinx may require.

The contract would also include an option to buy six more units for another $22 million. In a media release, Metrolinx says these unique vehicles are new to North America. The United States subsidiary of Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation will manufacture the DMUs, but, Metrolinx intends to work with the company to increase the amount of Canadian content, wherever possible. According to Metrolinx, no company in Canada manufactures similar vehicles.

SMART, the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit authority in California, is also buying similar DMUs for its future commuter rail line north of San Francisco. By piggybacking on SMART’s competitive tendering process, Metrolinx saved significantly on the cost for each vehicle.

Metrolinx says these “clean diesel” vehicles meet “Tier 4 emission standards” and that it can convert them to electric propulsion, once it “electrifies” the Georgetown South rail corridor in about ten years. The Government of Ontario has approved funding for an environmental assessment of Metrolinx’ plan to convert the line to electric power.

Residents living along the train corridor, members of the Clean Train Coalition, who believe the line should be electric from the outset, protested the purchase outside Metrolinx’s offices while the board met to discuss, and then approve, buying the locomotives.

Sumitomo will deliver a prototype of the new DMUs in the summer of 2013 and the rest would arrive in fall 2014. Metrolinx intends to open the line in time for the PanAm Games in summer 2015.

Air Rail Link trains would operate every 15 minutes in both directions. The trains run in two-car configurations, incorporating the engines in each 63-seat coach. The trains would operate every 15 minutes in both directions, stopping at Bloor and Weston GO Stations. A future station on Eglinton Avenue West in the Mount Dennis neighbourhood would allow passengers to connect with the future light rail line along Eglinton (if someone ever builds it!)

Tier 4 emission standards

Last month, the United States Environmental Protection Agency introduced the next phase of emission control regulations — or Tier 4 — which significantly limit the amount of oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide that diesel engines may emit. Environment Canada has aligned its regulations controlling emissions with those of the US.