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Pearson-Union Station rail link construction to kick off in the spring

Looking west towards the CN Tower (left) and office buildings (right). Construction on a long-awaited express line from Canada’s biggest airport to downtown Toronto will begin this spring, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced on December 19, 2011.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Construction on a long-awaited express line from Canada's biggest airport to downtown Toronto will begin this spring, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced on Monday.

The air rail link connecting Pearson International Airport to Union Station is set to be in service in time for the Toronto Pan/Parapan Am Games in 2015.

Toronto has been waiting years for train service that could whisk travellers from the airport to downtown. The 25-minute shuttle service will operate along a three-kilometre "spur line" to the airport.

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The transit line will help meet demand for a direct service by connecting the busiest airport in Canada with the busiest transit and passenger rail hub in the country, Mr. McGuinty said.

"The Air Rail Link is good for jobs and the economy, for visitors to Ontario and for our own families who travel and use Canada's busiest airport," he said in a statement.

Engineering giant SNC-Lavalin was supposed to build and operate the line without public funds. But it bowed out last year because it couldn't finance the project. Metrolinx, the province's regional transportation authority, took over the project and vowed to open the shuttle service by the spring of 2015.

But Metrolinx's decision to purchase diesel trains for the shuttle run was a blow to local residents and business owners who've been demanding that the transit authority buy electric vehicles for the line.

However, the president of Metrolinx has said there is no way the $300-million project can be electrified in under five years.

When complete, the shuttle service between Union Station and Pearson will branch off the Georgetown GO station south corridor and connect to a new passenger station at Terminal 1.

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About the Author

Karen Howlett is a national reporter based in Toronto. She returned to the newsroom in 2013 after covering Ontario politics at The Globe’s Queen’s Park bureau for seven years. Prior to that, she worked in the paper’s Vancouver bureau and in The Report on Business, where she covered a variety of beats, including financial services and securities regulation. More

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