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
An online town hall to discuss Muskoka region passenger rail was held on Thursday June 17th, with Corina Moore, NEORN co-chair Lucille Frith, and MPP Norm Miller, hosted by Pamela Steel – Metroland media managing editor for Muskoka, Almaguin, Parry Sound and North Bay.
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.