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Ontario making major investment in passenger rail for Northern Ontario

Service will need $450 annual operating subsidy

A Via Rail Seimens trainset

The Ontario government is buying  three new trainsets as part of its plan to bring back Northern Ontario passenger rail service. The cost of the train sets will be just under $140 million.  The rail service will also require an annual operating subsidy of approximately $450 million per year.

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 area was served by buses over the past decade but road travel can be challenging in winter and subject to traffic delays in the tourist season.

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.

 “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,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation.

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.

Quick Facts

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.

Its estimated the new service will be in place  around 2025.

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