There are new developments in the province’s plan to bring passenger rail back to the northeast.
Caroline Mulroney, Transportation Minister, announced on Twitter Thursday that Timmins has been chosen as the terminus station in the north.
George Pirie, Mayor of Timmins, welcomes the province’s decision.
“This is positive news for residents, local business and industry,” he says in a release. “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.”
Pirie says he knew from working with the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission that Timmins has been its favourite site.
“If you remember, the original announcement said Timmins or Cochrane. But because of Timmins’ size and the fact that it’s a transportation hub, it was the logical choice,” he says.
The mayor of Cochrane says he’s disappointed.
Denis Clement says he’s particularly frustrated that he learned about it on Facebook.
He says in dealings about the return of passenger service, the biggest plus in Cochrane’s favour has been the infrastructure already in place.
“That’s our understanding of things and that’s why we’re certainly advocating that fact. The tracks are here, the station’s here,” he says.
Clement says it also makes more sense for people coming by train from Moosonee to continue on to Toronto without having to be bused to Timmins.
The province is planning to bring passenger rail back to the region by the mid-2020s.
North Bay is included in the list of stops with the train to travel to Toronto’s Union Station.
Nick Eakins, Communications Advisor in Minister Mulroney’s office issued a statement on the decision:
“Our government is moving forward with the re-introduction of passenger rail services in the northeast, with Timmins as the terminus, after the previous Liberal government abandoned it in 2012. As one of the largest municipalities in Northern Ontario after North Bay, Timmins is home to a large population and employment base making it a key hub for the region. Supported by our government’s $5-million investment toward the re-introduction of passenger rail service in Northeastern Ontario, we are working diligently on feasibility work to assess the route. This includes working with ONTC to speed up work on a track audit on a section of the North Bay corridor that will examine safety and infrastructure needs for potential future train service. We want to get this right and will not be taking any shortcuts. We will also continue to explore opportunities to connect Cochrane with any future Northeastern Passenger Rail service.”
The Northlander passenger train ceased operations in 2012.
The province also announced former Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities president and Kapuskasing Mayor Al Spacek has been appointed chair of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission.
North Bay-born RJ Falconi is vice-chair.
Falconi is the Managing Director of RayleeValleyGroup and has been a Commissioner of the ONTC since January 2020.
The province says both will lead the agency’s modernization and help strengthen the transportation network in the north.
**With files from Bob McIntyre
Our government is taking another step forward in bringing back passenger rail service to the North! 🚆
We have named Timmins – one of the largest municipalities in Northern Ontario and a major employment hub – as the terminus station.
— Caroline Mulroney (@C_Mulroney) November 4, 2021