Ontario Taking Next Steps to Bring Back Northeastern Passenger Rail
Province investing in new rail cars as part of its plan to connect communities and unlock economic opportunities in the north
Originally published here on December 15, 2022
NORTH BAY – The Ontario government is purchasing three new trainsets as part of its plan to bring back northeastern passenger rail service. The $139.5 million investment marks a significant milestone in reinstating service between Timmins and Toronto, and unlocking the full economic potential of northern industries, resources and minerals.
“This is a significant step forward in bringing back the rail service that northerners deserve,” said Stan Cho, Associate Minister of Transportation. “The reinstated Northlander train will support our northern industries and resource sectors and provide a safe and reliable transportation option for Northern communities, especially in the winter months. This purchase demonstrates real progress, as we continue to take concrete steps to build a better transportation network for the north.”
The new rail cars will be built by Siemens Mobility Limited and will meet the latest EPA Tier 4 emission standards, making them one of the most environmentally friendly diesel locomotives on the market. The fully accessible fleet will include built-in wheelchair lifts, mobility aid storage spaces, galley style food services and fully accessible washrooms.
“People and businesses in Northern Ontario rely on a safe, convenient transportation network to get where they need to go and to keep our goods moving,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. “The reinstatement of passenger rail service will ensure access to essential services like health care and education, while supporting economic prosperity and tourism in the region.”
The trainset interiors will also feature spacious seating and modern amenities, including Wi-Fi connectivity and passenger information systems with audio and visual announcements.
Once reinstated, northeastern passenger rail service will be offered from four to seven days a week, based on seasonal travel demands.
- Ontario Northland Transportation Commission’s Northlander Passenger Train discontinued service in 2012.
- Ontario Northland currently operates four buses daily between Toronto and North Bay, and one to two buses daily from North Bay to Timmins and Cochrane.
- In April 2022 Ontario Northland Transportation Commission released the Updated Initial Business Case which included a preferred route from Toronto to Timmins with a rail connection to Cochrane.
- Cochrane will provide a connection to Polar Bear Express service to Moosonee.
- By 2041, annual ridership is currently estimated to be between approximately 40,000 and 60,000.
- Detailed design will focus on the route that includes 16 stops: Toronto (Union Station), Langstaff, Gormley, Washago, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, Huntsville, South River, North Bay, Temagami, Temiskaming Shores, Englehart, Kirkland Lake (Swastika), Matheson, Timmins and Cochrane.
- The new locomotives will meet EPA Tier 4 emissions standards and are equipped with particle filters reducing 95% of particles and 89% of Nitrogen Oxide emissions.
"This purchase is a key next step to support the Province and Ontario Northland's target of a mid-2020s in-service date for reinstating Northeastern Passenger Rail. The rail service will provide passengers more access to safe, reliable transportation options when traveling between Northern Ontario and Toronto."
- Chad Evans
Interim President and CEO of Ontario Northland Transportation Commission
"As part of our plan to build Ontario, our government is proud to be making this investment to help bring the Northlander back to the North. Passenger rail supports families, tourism, manufacturing jobs, innovation and economic growth, all while keeping the people of Ontario connected. As the long-time voice for this vital service, it's an absolute pleasure be part of a government that is bringing passenger rail back to Northern Ontario, once and for all."
- Vic Fedeli
Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and MPP for Nipissing
"Our government recognizes how important it is for Northerners to have reliable and convenient transportation options. We know that when people and goods can move freely, communities prosper. I am confident that today's investment will result in better economic and health outcomes for residents across the North and I feel that this signals true progress to returning services which should have never been discontinued."
- Greg Rickford
Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Minister of Northern Development, and MPP for Kenora – Rainy River
"This is a great next step for the future of rail transit in Northern Ontario. The return of the Northlander train will directly benefit communities in Parry Sound-Muskoka with four convenient stops, allowing people more options to get home, to work, to medical appointments and to experience the beauty of the North."
- Graydon Smith
Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, and MPP for Parry Sound-Muskoka
"The people of Timmins and northern Ontario are ecstatic about our government bringing back the Northlander rail that was discontinued in 2012. These communities need another affordable transportation option that connects them to the rest of the province and provides access to goods and services in other regions. This is an essential transportation corridor in northern Ontario that supports the entire economy because the movement of people and workers is critical for the resource sectors including mining and forestry."
- George Pirie
Minister of Mines, and MPP for Timmins