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 […]

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 […]

Northern Ontario : More isolated than ever

An open letter to the management and customer relations department of VIA Rail Canada I wanted to provide some feedback regarding the negative impacts I have felt as a result of VIA’s decision to reduce passenger train service in Northern Ontario and the need to restore it immediately. Over the last year and half, travellers […]

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 Canada Je 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

A tale of two transit systems

The Ministry of Transportation has finally unveiled the results of its northeastern Ontario rail corridor survey. Unsurprisingly, two thirds of respondents indicate they would use a future rail service if provided with an option to depart once a day with costs equivalent to intercommunity bus. This concept shouldn’t be so foreign to politicians and bureaucrats […]

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? […]

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 […]

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 […]

“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 […]

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 […]

VIA Rail Canada

Forty years ago this Monday (October 29), VIA Rail Canada was born as an operating railway when it assumed the operation of The Canadian, the Super Continental and the other remaining Western Canadian passenger trains from Canadian Pacific (CP) and Canadian National (CN). The reality is the high hopes of the Canadian public and the […]

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 […]

NortheastLynx Update

Dear Mayor George Lefebvre, My colleague, Éric Boutilier of All Aboard Northern Ontario, has asked me to provide you and your colleagues with an update on our upcoming NortheastLynx proposal for the revival of the former Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) rail passenger service linking Temiskaming, Cochrane, North Bay and Toronto. We have made tremendous […]

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 […]

Volume #5 – Your Stories (Vos histoires)

HOW HAS THE CANCELLATION OF THE NORTHLANDER TRAIN AFFECTED YOU? Comment l’annulation du Northlander vous a impacté? Name / Nom: Margaret Perrault Comments / Commentaires: Used to take the train regularly to visit relatives in Hamilton. Arriving in Toronto, went to the lower floor, walked across the street and got a bus that took me to […]

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 […]

Volume #4 – Your Stories (Vos histoires)

HOW HAS THE CANCELLATION OF THE NORTHLANDER TRAIN AFFECTED YOU? Comment l’annulation du Northlander vous a impacté? Name / Nom: Rhona Comments / Commentaires: We used to take the train to go to Sick children’s hospital twice a year and our kids used the train to go to university and college. Now, as adults, they all live […]

Rail advocates applaud ONTC bus expansion

NORTH BAY, Ontario – Two Ontario rail advocacy groups say the recent expansion of Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) bus service is not only the first sign of hope for northern public transportation users in many years, but it also paves the way to better rail service in the future. “Any improvement of our system […]

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 […]

Volume #2 – Your Stories (Vos histoires)

HOW HAS THE CANCELLATION OF THE NORTHLANDER TRAIN AFFECTED YOU?Comment l’annulation du Northlander vous a impacté? Name / Nom: Martha HeidenheimComments / Commentaires: I live in Hearst and recently retired. Winter driving has become more difficult in the north, the highways are not as well cared for as they were in the past and yes, I am […]

Volume #1 – Your Stories (Vos histoires)

HOW HAS THE CANCELLATION OF THE NORTHLANDER TRAIN AFFECTED YOU?Comment l’annulation du Northlander vous a impacté? Name / Nom: B.M.Comments / Commentaires: I have had extensive ortho surgery in Toronto. I used to be able to travel to Toronto via bus for appointments and return by train.. Since it was cancelled I now must wait for return […]

Northlander Revival

FOR RELEASE: October 26, 2017 Five years after the provincial government canned the Northlander passenger train without so much as a single public hearing, is there any point in launching a new campaign to revive it? A more appropriate question might be whether Ontarians are all entitled to transportation that is as safe, reliable, comfortable […]

All Aboard Northern Ontario announces launch of new citizens’ rail passenger advocacy campaign

NORTH BAY, ONTARIO – All Aboard Northern Ontario, a new grassroots advocacy group, today launched its campaign for the restoration of the Northlander passenger train and improvements to other rail and intercity bus services across Northeastern Ontario. “The time for a determined and well-researched campaign to revive the Northlander is now,” says Éric Boutilier, founder […]