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Timmins chosen as terminus station for passenger rail

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There are new developments in Ontario’s plan to bring back passenger rail to the northeast

The province’s Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney tweeted Thursday evening that Timmins has been chosen as the terminus station. 

“This is positive news for residents, local business and industry,” Timmons Mayor George Pirie says in a statement. “While studies are ongoing, the fact that Porcupine has been chosen as their terminus location is a great start. Timmins’ position as a regional hub will be enhanced by having another transportation option available.”

When representatives from Ontario Northland spoke to the District of Muskoka council last month about the impending return of passenger rail to the region, they said the terminus would either be in Timmins or Cochrane. 

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Pirie says because of Timmins’ size and the fact that it’s already a transportation hub, it’s the “logical choice.”

In Thursday’s fall economic update from the province, a section was included detailing how they will “improve connections to Northern Ontario.”

“The province, the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) and Metrolinx are moving forward with feasibility work for a route that would provide service from Toronto,” states the fiscal update. “Over the last year, the ONTC has conducted tests on the tracks to assess their readiness for service and the amount of work required to restore them to operating condition.”

The province is also planning to introduce legislative amendments to the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission Act. 

“The proposed legislative amendments will better position the agency to deliver transportation services in Northern Ontario that ensure connectivity and contribute to economic prosperity by providing access to work, businesses, education and leisure activities,” it goes on to say in the economic update.

What is still not known is when a test train will be run. Senior Director of Passenger Operation Tracy MacPhee said last month they expected to do that “very soon,” but added it depends on how quick negotiations with the Canadian National Railway (CN) go. CN partly owns the track Ontario Northland plans to operate on.

MacPhee said the plan is to see passenger rail return to the area by the mid-2020s.

The proposed route will see a southbound train leaving overnight and arriving in the mid-to-late morning at Toronto’s Union Station at a speed of around 60 miles per hour.

The original incarnation of the Ontario Northlander train last operated on September 28th, 2012.

With files from Bob McIntyre and Richard Coffin

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