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Fuel cells to be studied as alternative to Toronto electrification

19 Jun 2017

CANADA: Ontario is to study the feasibility of using of hydrogen fuel cells ‘as an alternative to conventional overhead wires’ for the planned electrification of GO Rail and UP Express routes in the Toronto region.

According to the province’s Ministry of Transportation, recent advances in the use of hydrogen fuel cells to power trains mean it is important that the use of fuel cells is considered. A symposium is to be organised later this year to bring together fuel cell industry leaders to explore potential applications.

Meanwhile, Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca visited GO Transit’s Willowbrook depot on June 15 to announce that the province had begun the GO Rail Network Electrification Transit Project Assessment Process, which will consider the environmental impacts of electrifying core segments of the GO Rail network. Electrification is a key element of the C$21∙3bn GO Regional Express Rail programme, which comprised more than more than 500 upgrading projects across 40 municipalities. This is intended to turn Toronto’s commuter-focused rail services into an all-day regional transport network,  increasing the number of weekly services from 1 500 to nearly 6 000 by 2025.

‘Our work on GO RER is about transforming transit in the Greater Toronto & Hamilton Area by creating a sustainable, integrated, regional transit network that connects people and communities to jobs, services and activities in their everyday lives’, said Del Duca. ‘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. Electrification is an important step forward for regional rail in Ontario. It is critical that we get it right.’