TORONTO -- Ontario is studying the feasibility of using hydrogen fuel cells to power electric trains on the GO Transit rail network.

The Liberal government has been promising electrification of the system for years and Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca announced today that an environmental assessment has started.

Del Duca says it is a critical step in beginning a procurement process to pick a vendor to convert the system from diesel to electric.

He says as part of this process, Ontario will be considering the clean electric technology of hydrogen fuel cells as an alternative to overhead wires.

Ontario has earmarked $13.5 billion to implement GO Regional Express Rail and expand two-day, all-way service.

The government has said it aims to have core segments of the network electrified by 2024.