Work continues behind the scenes towards reinstating northern passenger rail service.  

Ontario Northland President and CEO Corina Moore provided a wide-ranging update on the ONTC to the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) Annual General Meeting this week.  

She says reinstating northern passenger rail has been a personal goal of hers for a long time. “I believe it is integral to how we provide transportation services in the north.  It creates this integrated service between rail and bus and allows us to do more with what our services provide,” Moore says. 

Huntsville’s Mayor Karin Terziano told the MyMuskokaNow.com newsroom in March she was happy to see $5 million set aside in the province’s budget to help towards the return of passenger rail service. “I think that, with the cost of transportation and with the climate, and everything like that, anything we can do to maybe make more efficient transportation between here and southern Ontario instead of all the car traffic,” she said. “It’s just going to help us with climate change, and I think the Northland was very much appreciated in our area when it was here. One of the main problems was that the timing didn’t work for day trips. So, that’s something we’ve been talking to CN about, revamping the timing of the routes south and north too.”

The budget announcement came just a month after Huntsville council passed a motion calling on Premier Doug Ford to bring back the Northlander.

Moore says the next step involves a couple of other partners. 

“We’re going to be working with Metrolinx and the [Ministry of Transportation] to update the initial business case and provide basically an implementation plan of what the service would look like, what the infrastructure needs are specifically, what the passenger cars would look like.  We already have a good understanding of what we think the service needs to look like in terms of schedule,” she says. 

Moore also says they’ll be reaching out to communities that are impacted by the service to collaborate and provide input on what that looks like, and what they believe is the right service. 

With files from Richard Coffin