The politics and precarious nature of travel in the North

The familiar sound of a passenger train can once again be heard in areas of Northern Ontario that are served by VIA Rail Canada. The Crown corporation officially restored passenger rail services to pre-pandemic levels after more than two years of on again, off again, limited or indefinitely suspended train schedules. Life appears to have … Continue reading The politics and precarious nature of travel in the North

The return of passenger rail is moving forward … at a snail’s pace

If a political promise is made in Northern Ontario, but there's nobody around to see it through, does it still mean we get a passenger train back? The provincial government made an announcement regarding the return of passenger rail service between Timmins, North Bay and Toronto. On the surface, this appears to be good news, … Continue reading The return of passenger rail is moving forward … at a snail’s pace

Smoke and mirrors checking the choo-choo tracks

There was a lot of hype and publicity surrounding Ontario Northland's most recent test train to measure transit times between North Bay and Toronto. For the first time in nine years, a passenger train operated on this route with the purpose of collecting data to support the ONR's latest business case for reintroducing passenger rail … Continue reading Smoke and mirrors checking the choo-choo tracks

Double standards in the deployment and delivery of train service

Northerners are once again finding themselves taking a back seat to the transportation interests and concerns of politicians in Southern Ontario. The Ministry of Transportation very recently unveiled a pilot project for GO Train service between Toronto and London — by way of Kitchener, Stratford and St Mary's. The trial runs are expected to cost … Continue reading Double standards in the deployment and delivery of train service

Le Nord de l’Ontario : plus isolé que jamais

Une lettre ouverte à l'équipe de gestion et du service à la clientèle de VIA Rail CanadaJe vous fais parvenir mes commentaires entourant l’absence de certaines fréquences de vos trains dans le Nord de l’Ontario et du besoin de les remettre en service immédiatement. Au cours de la dernière année et demie, des voyageurs comme … Continue reading Le Nord de l’Ontario : plus isolé que jamais

Missing the mark on the North’s passenger rail plan

The Ministry of Transportation and Ontario Northland have finally unveiled an Initial Business Case for passenger rail in Northeastern Ontario ... and it's about time the public was provided with an update. It only took a mere three years into the current government's term (and a freedom of information request), but Northerners now have a … Continue reading Missing the mark on the North’s passenger rail plan

VIA’s Canadian remains reliably unreliable

For the first time in 15 months, a passenger train provided service to Northern communities situated between Winnipeg and Toronto. The Canadian, one of only three intercity passenger trains active in the region, made its first run through remote sections of Northern Ontario since the beginning of the pandemic. Unfortunately, old habits die hard when … Continue reading VIA’s Canadian remains reliably unreliable

What is the government hiding in its passenger rail plan for the North?

Secretive ... Aloof ... Lacking Transparency ... These are just some of the terms one might use to describe the provincial government's handling of restoring passenger rail services in north-eastern Ontario. Over the span of a thousand days, various politicians, ministries and agencies of the Crown have provided the public with a series of Coles … Continue reading What is the government hiding in its passenger rail plan for the North?

Connecting the North : an exercise of consistently getting it wrong

The Ministry of Transportation will be publishing sometime soon the results of a passenger rail survey it conducted in the region. The government claims this is an integral part of the process of keeping people safe, providing reliable transportation options and connecting communities in the North. Politicians of all stripes have long talked a good … Continue reading Connecting the North : an exercise of consistently getting it wrong

Passenger rail policies: procrastination over progress

The provincial government unveiled a fancy new proposal titled Connecting the North: A draft transportation plan for Northern Ontario. The MTO has indicated they are exploring options for passenger rail services between Toronto, North Bay, Timmins and Cochrane. However, the proposal fails to answer one obvious question: When exactly is our train supposed to return? … Continue reading Passenger rail policies: procrastination over progress

So what’s taking so long to restore the Northlander?

The Ministry of Transportation is seeking feedback from Northerners to "better understand the unique transportation needs of people and businesses" situated along the Toronto, North Bay and Cochrane rail corridor to "help develop a plan to improve the transportation system" in the region. Remind me again... didn't Ontario Northland just submit its very own business … Continue reading So what’s taking so long to restore the Northlander?

Anti-rail report flawed and counterproductive

The Northern Policy Institute (NPI) recently published a report titled "The Thin Case for Passenger Rail in Ontario's Northern Regions" which has left me in a state a profound dismay and disappointment. It contains some very misleading information and does little to improve sustainable transportation options desired by Northerners. The document in question attempts to … Continue reading Anti-rail report flawed and counterproductive

“A goal without a plan is just a wish…”

This quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was what motivated me to establish All Aboard Northern Ontario (AANO), a grassroots advocacy group which has set out to produce a viable public passenger transportation solution for the region. When I volunteered to launch this project 18 months ago, I wanted to demonstrate to our elected officials that … Continue reading “A goal without a plan is just a wish…”

Rail union fumbles golden opportunity to help fight VIA Rail’s ongoing deterioration

The All Aboard Northern Ontario citizens’ rail action committee is severely disappointed by Unifor National Council 4000’s planned nationwide protests of two unrelated VIA Rail Canada issues, which are scheduled for tomorrow morning (December 12). “They should have just highlighted VIA’s intention to scrap Canadian jobs by contracting out a portion of their on-board services … Continue reading Rail union fumbles golden opportunity to help fight VIA Rail’s ongoing deterioration

Citizen rail advocates see CN takeover of SW Ontario line as trouble for VIA

As part of their observance of National Railway Day on November 7, the All Aboard St. Marys and All Aboard Northern Ontario citizens’ rail action committees are advising politicians to closely watch Thursday’s CN take-back of the Kitchener-London section of the Guelph Subdivision used by four of VIARail Canada’s Southwestern Ontario trains. “We’d like to … Continue reading Citizen rail advocates see CN takeover of SW Ontario line as trouble for VIA

The VIA Rail Lottery … How late will your train arrive today?

Westbound Arrivals (Train #1) CAPREOL STATION ---> Click to expand           HORNEPAYNE STATION ---> Click to expand           SIOUX LOOKOUT STATION ---> Click to expand         Eastbound Arrivals (Train #2) SIOUX LOOKOUT STATION ---> Click to expand           HORNEPAYNE STATION ---> Click to expand   … Continue reading The VIA Rail Lottery … How late will your train arrive today?

VIA Rail’s once-proud Canadian: Death by a thousand CN blows?

Despite twice lengthening its already-excessive trip length and agreeing to cut out one of its three weekly transcontinental runs next summer, VIA Rail Canada’s Canadian is routinely running hours late all across Canada due to slipshod performance by Canadian National (CN). “CN’s inconsiderate handling and lack of passenger priority is destroying the Canadian public’s flagship … Continue reading VIA Rail’s once-proud Canadian: Death by a thousand CN blows?

Volume #6 – Your Stories (Vos histoires)

HOW HAS THE CANCELLATION OF THE NORTHLANDER TRAIN AFFECTED YOU?Comment l'annulation du Northlander vous a impacté? Name / Nom: JoseeComments / Commentaires: I've only moved to Northeastern Ontario in 2016 and the lack of public transportation has made it near impossible for family and friends to visit. Some live in Ottawa/Montreal, some friends are abroad. When they … Continue reading Volume #6 – Your Stories (Vos histoires)

St. Marys citizens’ rail committee to Premier-Designate Ford: We’re watching you closely

ST. MARYS, ONTARIO – The election of Doug Ford’s majority Progressive Conservative (PC) government on June 7 is viewed as both good and bad news by the All Aboard St. Marys citizens’ rail action committee. “The good news is there is a handful of MPPs in this government who have shown concern – if not … Continue reading St. Marys citizens’ rail committee to Premier-Designate Ford: We’re watching you closely

More smoke, mirrors and studies for Canadian rail passengers in Budget 2018

For the third straight year, the federal Liberals have produced nothing but unsubstantiated promises and $5 million more for studies while VIA Rail Canada continues to disintegrate. “Unfortunately, the VIA tidbits in Budget 2018 are exactly what we’ve come to expect from this government,” says Robert Wightman, president of the citizens’ advocacy group, All Aboard … Continue reading More smoke, mirrors and studies for Canadian rail passengers in Budget 2018

Volume #3 – Your Stories (Vos histoires)

HOW HAS THE CANCELLATION OF THE NORTHLANDER TRAIN AFFECTED YOU?Comment l'annulation du Northlander vous a impacté? Name / Nom: Lisa FentonComments / Commentaires: The Northlander Train is an extremely important means of travel in Ontario. Our family used it often in travelling to our summer place in Muskoka. What a beautiful way to avoid the … Continue reading Volume #3 – Your Stories (Vos histoires)