The Northeastern Ontario Rail Network and Transport Action Ontario welcome publication of the long-awaited Initial Business Case for restoring Northeastern Passenger Rail Service by MTO and Ontario Northland on May 25th, and we are encouraged that the Government of Ontario plans to move forward with the restoration of passenger rail service based on the clear social equity need for this service and whole-economy spin-off benefits for the north.
To explain what this announcement means for the region, and what the next steps will be, Corina Moore, CEO of Ontario Northland, will be joining us for a live webinar on June 23rd
Passenger Rail Vision
Wednesday June 23rd, 11am
If you don’t have broadband Internet or can’t access Zoom, you can also dial in by phone. Please register online to get the phone numbers and passcode.
By Sarah Law, Gravenhurst Banner
By Sarah Law, Gravenhurst Banner
Today the Northeastern Ontario Rail Network (NEORN) is excited to announce the Ontario government has committed to funding the next step to moving forward on the project with $5M and hopefully then to the final stage: putting ‘bums in seats’ on the train between Toronto and Timmins/Cochrane.
Quoted from Page 106 Ontario Budget 2021:
“Ontario is committed to reviewing initiatives to meet transportation needs in the North to optimize bus services and to develop options for passenger rail services across Northern Ontario. In keeping with the draft Transportation Plan for Northern Ontario, the government is accelerating work to examine safety and infrastructure needs for potential future passenger rail service between Toronto, North Bay, Timmins and Cochrane. Ontario is investing $5 million to support planning and design work. An initial business case is being finalized and is expected to be released in spring 2021.”
Our expectation is the next steps in the ONTC/Metrolinx Business Plan will be to confirm costs and service plans as well as to work with CN on a track audit of the CN line south of North Bay to Toronto and ensure the performance expectations will be met. It is critical for all parties to continue engaging with key stakeholders including municipalities, First Nations, Colleges and Universities as well as the general public.
Howie and I thank all those invested in getting the Northlander back on the track for their ongoing and never wavering enthusiastic support over the last 8 ½ years. As Co-Chairs of the Northeastern Ontario Rail Network advocacy group, we were both holding our breath with this budget – hoping to hear about the return of passenger rail service to northeastern Ontario. And we did! Now we will continue to follow the MTO closely to ensure we continue to move forward at a good pace.
Next, we look forward to the soon to be published ONTC/METROLINX Business Plan.
Lucille Frith and Howie Wilcox, NEORN Co-Chairs
From October 23 to November 20, 2020, more than 7,200 people, including 8.3% of respondents that self-identified as Indigenous, shared their feedback about transportation opportunities along the rail corridor between Toronto, North Bay, Timmins and Cochrane.
View survey results: https://www.ontario.ca/page/consultation-transportation-opportunities-along-northeastern-ontario-rail-corridor
The Ministry of Transportation announced their draft northern transportation plan December 11. The draft states they are “Continuing to move forward on (their) plan for passenger rail services including advancing track audit work along the northeastern rail corridor”. This is a positive statement moving the plan forward. Let’s hope that the business plan puts the passenger train back on the tracks before the end of the current government’s term as they promised.
This is a DRAFT plan – stay tuned for comments.
MINISTRY OF TRANSPORTATION Survey!
Use this link to reach and complete survey presented below. Deadline is NOVEMBER 20!
We want to better understand the unique transportation needs of people and businesses along the rail corridor between Toronto, North Bay and Cochrane/Timmins. Your feedback will help us develop a plan to improve the transportation system in northeastern Ontario. We will report back on what we heard in Winter 2021.
October 23, 2020
TORONTO ― Ontario is launching an online survey as part of its commitment to improve passenger rail and bus services between Toronto, North Bay, Timmins and Cochrane. Responses to the Northeastern Ontario transportation survey will be used to explore options for passenger rail services and help inform the future transportation plan for Northern Ontario.
“We’re inviting everyone, particularly in Northeastern Ontario, to take our survey and help build a transportation network that works for their needs,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. “The feedback we receive will be an important component to improving transportation options for northern communities and supporting economic growth in the north.”
The Northeastern Ontario transportation survey seeks feedback on preferences for passenger rail and bus services in Northeastern Ontario, including departure times, train frequency, travel time and cost considerations. The survey is open to public feedback, including municipalities, Indigenous communities, businesses and industry, with the deadline for all submissions on or before November 20, 2020.
“As part of our government’s plan for passenger rail services in the North, we are seeking input and feedback on key details from the public,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade and MPP for Nipissing. “This survey will allow people in Nipissing and communities across the region to have their say in continuing to improve those vital connections.”
This survey builds on the province’s recent actions to improve transportation across Northern Ontario. This includes building and upgrading rest areas along highways in the North to provide drivers with safe places to stop and enhancing winter maintenance activities to clear roads faster. Through 2020-21, Ontario will invest $625 million to expand and repair northern highways, estimated to create or sustain approximately 4,370 direct and indirect construction jobs for the people of Northern Ontario.
“Our government recognizes the unique transportation needs and challenges of the North,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. “Improving transportation options and connecting communities will enhance quality of life by providing northerners with better access to services, medical appointments and family.”
Natasha Tremblay, Minister Mulroney’s Office, 437 778-3503 Natasha.Tremblay@ontario.ca
Michael O’Morrow, Communications Branch, 416 327-1158 MTO.firstname.lastname@example.org
As you may have an interest in seeing passenger train service resume in northeastern Ontario, the Committee Promoting Muskoka Rail Travel (CPMRT) and the Northeastern Ontario Rail Network (NEORN) are pleased to forward to you this recent media release from the Ministry of Transportation.
We urge you to complete the Ministry of Transportation survey as well as forward this content to your contacts who may share your interest in passenger rail service from Toronto to northeastern Ontario, through Muskoka to North Bay all the way to Timmins and Cochrane, connecting with the Polar Bear Express to Moosonee.
HELP GET THE TRAIN BACK ON THE TRACK —
TAKE THE SURVEY!!!!! NOW! DEADLINE NOVEMBER 20.
NEORN Co-Chairs THANK YOU
Lucille Frith email@example.com
Howie Wilcox firstname.lastname@example.org
The Northeastern Ontario Rail Network (NEORN) continues to advocate to the provincial and federal governments for:
Ontario Northland updates – sign in to receive updates: https://ontarionorthland.ca/en/northlander-passenger-rail-updates
Check out the Via website for more details on the new Siemens train set https://corpo.viarail.ca/en/projects-infrastructure/train-fleet/fleet-replacement-program
New VIA trainsets being tested now – this will shorten the time it takes to get our Northlander up and running as it is the same model as the VIA set. Ontario Northland was fortunate to be able to tag onto the end of their order. See attachment “Star Jan 2023” for more information.