The Government of Ontario may have finally taken its first real tangible step forward to make passenger rail service in the northeast a reality. The Associate Minister of Transportation, Stan Cho, and his ministerial colleagues — Victor Fedeli (MPP for Nipissing), George Pirie (Timmins) and Graydon Smith (Parry Sound-Muskoka) — were among those who announced … Continue reading Northlander train set order: A time to celebrate or remain vigilant?
Is the government truly committed to "Get it done"? "To the people of Northeastern Ontario, you have my word. We will bring the Northlander back to Timmins and Cochrane" said Premier Ford during his swearing-in ceremony at Queen's Park this summer. Folks, this could only mean one thing; we're getting our passenger train back ... … Continue reading Carrot dangling the return of train service
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
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
Platform at White River Station in 2021 "Connecting the North", "A more humane way to travel" and "Love the Way" are just some of the marketing catch phrases used by Ontario Northland and VIA Rail Canada to attract and entice customers. Whether by bus, train or a combination of the two modes, these publicly owned … Continue reading ONTC, VIA neglecting Northerners
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
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
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 … Continue reading Northern Ontario : More isolated than ever
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
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
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
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?
LEFT : Gormley GO Station Test Train (Photo : Metrolinx) RIGHT : North Bay ONR Station 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 … Continue reading A tale of two transit systems
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
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
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?
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
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 … Continue reading Northlander Revival