Wednesday, July 17, 2024
HomeCanadaProvince buying 3 trains for return of Northlander service

Province buying 3 trains for return of Northlander service

Ontario Northland CEO says investment is ‘key’ step towards reinstating passenger rail service

The Ontario government is moving forward with plans to reinstate passenger rail service in northeastern Ontario. 

Ontario’s associate minister of transportation, Stan Cho, was in North Bay Thursday where he announced that the province will spend $139.5 million on three new train sets as part of the plan to bring back Ontario Northland passenger trains. 

Cho said many communities, businesses and individuals have been calling for the return of the Northlander, and the province has “heard those calls loud and clear.”  

“A reliable transportation network to get people where they need to go on time, safely, and with minimal stress is absolutely critical. And we know that a key part of such a network is a well functioning and convenient passenger rail system.”

The province said the new rail cars will be built by Siemens Mobility Limited, and will be fully accessible with built-in wheelchair lifts, storage space for mobility devices and fully accessible washrooms.

Service cancelled in 2012

The Northlander service, which ran from Toronto to Cochrane, northeast of Timmins, was cancelled in 2012.

The Progressive Conservatives promised to bring the service back, and have said the target date for reinstating the service is sometime in the mid-2020s. The province also announced earlier this year that the terminus for the new route would be in Timmins, with a connection to Cochrane, which would provide a connection to the Polar Bear Express service to Moosonee. 

Cho said Thursday that the new trains are expected to be delivered by the end of 2026, and that he’s “confident” the province will deliver on its promise to have the service up and running in the mid-2020s, though he did not provide a specific year.

Ontario Northland’s interim president and CEO, Chad Evans, said buying the trains is a “key next step” toward achieving the mid-2020s service start date. 

“As a northern agency we understand the unique needs of northerners. We understand especially the importance of working with partners to better connect rural Ontario to major centres, Ontarians to government services, seniors to medical appointments, and students to post-secondary institutions,” Evans said. 

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