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Ontario Considering Fuel Cells to Electrify GO trains

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Ontario's Minister of Transportation, Stephen Del Duca, delivered some electrifying news at a media event yesterday.

The minster told a gathering of reporters at GO Transit's Willowbrook maintenance facility near Mimico GO Station that the Ontario government and its regional transit agency, Metrolinx, were proceeding with plans to power GO trains with electricity. But that announcement, which was not unexpected, certainly wasn't the most electrifying part of his news. It's this: Del Duca says that his government is studying the feasibility of using hydrogen fuel cells to electrify GO and UP Express trains.

According to Del Duca, "Recent advances in using... 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."

The government plans to work with the University of Toronto to bring together fuel-cell industry leaders during a symposium this fall. The symposium will explore the potential of applying that technology in electrifying the GO rail network.

After consulting with the public during a series of meetings late last year, the government is now starting the formal transit project assessment process for converting GO trains from diesel-fuel to electricity. The minister says that electrifying the service is a major step toward creating GO's regional express rail (RER) network, with trains operating, at most, every 15 minutes at all times of the week.

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