Could passenger service in northern Ontario be back on the rails?

In the recent budget from the Ford government, no money was allocated for Ontario Northland to renew passenger rail service, but it was mentioned briefly, and now CTV News has learned the company is in talks with Ontario's finance minister, Vic Fedeli, about the issue.

The Ontario Northland Transportation Commission says it's been working with local government officials to come up with a plan on how to restore the service cut by the previous Liberal government.

Corina Moore is the Chief Executive Officer for Ontario Northland. She says the company is putting together a proposal for the government to consider.

“What we are doing is putting together a plan that highlights what the service needs to look like, and what the funding requirements need to look like, and what the implementation timeline would look like. And hopefully provide that in the November timeline.” said Moore.  

And for many, having passenger rail service back between Toronto and Cochrane would be welcome news.  Here is what some northerners had to say to CTV News about the idea;

“Absolutely, I really miss taking the train. It's such a nice ride.”

“For me, I would probably take more day trips down to Toronto and not have to worry about bringing my car and parking and that kind of thing. But it's also really good for economic development and tourism for North Bay to bring people up here who might not want to drive the distance.”

A return to passenger service is also something the City of North Bay would like to see.

“You look at GO transit in southern Ontario; it's an incredible infrastructure to move people around. And there's always a disconnect between the north and the south, so the passenger rail is another venue for our citizens, our northerners to be better connected in their province.” said North Bay Mayor Al McDonald.

Ontario Northland says in its pitch, it will emphasize the benefits of people having access to same-day travel for medical appointments, business meetings, and even tourism.

Moore says the company will submit a plan and a budget in November, but from there, she says it's in the hands of the government.