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Ontario Northland offers new service aboard the Polar Bear Express


Come spring 2024, it's going to be a whole new experience aboard the Polar Bear Express. Ontario Northland is in the process of installing Wi-Fi technology.

It's a service customers have been requesting during the five-hour journey for some time.

“People in northern Ontario expect and should receive the same level of service from the provincial government as they do everywhere else in the province," said Al Spacek, chair of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission.

"So we’re very excited about this very significant investment in technology in the Polar Bear Express.”

The province is spending about $2.1 million to allow passengers to connect while riding the train.

"Because there’s no cellular signal, we had to find a different way and it’s with the onset of low-Earth orbit satellite Internet that we’ve been able to find a solution and partner with Icomera," said Chad Evans, chief executive officer of Ontario Northland.

Icomera is a global provider of integrated connectivity solutions on public transportation.

The Polar Bear Express operates round trips between Cochrane and Moosonee four days a week. Come spring, Wi-Fi will be available. (Lydia Chubak/CTV News)

The mayor of Moosonee said he is looking forward to the upgrade so he can continue working while he's on board, but also so he can stay in touch with his loved ones.

“If the train breaks down along the track and we have no communication with to find out why our family members or where they are or what’s happening, so it’ll make a real difference that way," said Wayne Taipale.

"As well as, they can, you know, notify the police -- everybody else, too, so I think it’s a great thing.”

The Polar Bear Express operates round trips four days a week and the Wi-Fi connection will also allow employees to conduct point-of-sale transactions with customers and get updates on ticket sales.

“They’ll be able to get real-time passenger information which helps them to capacity plan for example on the way to Moosonee or back to Cochrane," said Evans.

The Wi-Fi service will also help keep people entertained during the long trip with the option to watch movies or television shows. Top Stories

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