THE Ontario government has announced that it is to spend $C 139.5m ($US 102m) on purchasing three trains from Siemens Mobility as part of its plan to reinstate the Northlander passenger service between Toronto and Timmins by the mid-2020s.
The trains will comprise diesel locomotives that meet EPA Tier 4 emissions standards as well as passenger coaches with built-in wheelchair lifts, mobility aid storage spaces, galley-style food services and fully-accessible washrooms. The interiors will also feature spacious seating and modern amenities, including Wi-Fi connectivity and passenger information systems with audio and visual announcements.
Operator Ontario Northland says that the new trains will be delivered in 2026. Ontario Northland’s Northlander service between Cochrane, North Bay and Toronto was withdrawn in 2012 and Ontario Northland currently operates four buses daily between Toronto and North Bay, and one to two buses daily from North Bay to Timmins and Cochrane.
The announcement of the new trains follows Ontario’s April 2022 investment of $C 75m to help revive the service, and the release of an Updated Initial Business Case (UIBC) to advance planning of the preferred route, which will run from Toronto to Timmins with a rail connection to Cochrane, where there will be another connection with the Polar Bear Express service to Moosonee.
The 740km line will serve 16 stations: Toronto Union, Langstaff, Gormley, Washago, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, Huntsville, South River, North Bay, Temagami, Temiskaming Shores, Englehart, Kirkland Lake (Swastika), Matheson, Timmins and Cochrane.
The rail corridor between Toronto and Timmins or Cochrane - also known as the Northeastern Rail Corridor- comprises five main railway subdivisions owned by Metrolinx, Ontario Northland and Canadian National Railway (CN). The corridor is used primarily for freight.
When the Northlander service is reinstated, the Ontario government says it will be operated from four to seven days per week, based on seasonal travel demand. The government estimates annual ridership will be between approximately 40,000 and 60,000 passengers by 2041.
The rolling stock contract awarded to Siemens Mobility “demonstrates real progress, as we continue to take concrete steps to build a better transportation network for the north,” says Ontario’s associate minister of transportation, Mr Stan Cho. He added that the return of Northlander service “will support our northern industries and resource sectors and provide a safe and reliable transportation option for Northern communities, especially in the winter months.”
“This purchase is a key next step to support the province and Ontario Northland’s target of a mid-2020s in-service date for reinstating Northeastern Passenger Rail,” says Ontario Northland interim president and CEO, Mr Chad Evans.
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