The province’s plan to bring passenger rail service back to the northeast includes the purchase of three new trainsets.
$139.5 million is being spent on the new rail cars by Siemens Mobility, which the province says meet the latest emission standards, making them one of the most environmentally friendly diesel locomotives on the market.
“These are going to be delivered by the end of 2026,” says Stan Cho, Associate Minister of Transportation. “We’re going to deliver on the promise to have operations back on the Northlander passenger service by the mid-2020s.”
Cho says these are state-of-the-art trains that are coming to our region.
“We looked at every option but we’re piggy-backing off of a larger order, which means these trains are going to be delivered in record time,” he says.
Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli says reinstating the service, which was cancelled by the Liberals a decade ago is a big job. “It was a snap of fingers that cancelled it and destroyed things along the way that all have to be rebuilt,” he says. “These are major investments that need to be made. I’ll be frank, I wouldn’t settle for less than brand new rail cars, as well.”
Fedeli says in the long run this will shore us up for the product northerners deserve.
The fully accessible fleet will include built-in wheelchair lifts, mobility aid storage spaces, galley-style food services and fully accessible washrooms.
“People and businesses in Northern Ontario rely on a safe, convenient transportation network to get where they need to go and to keep our goods moving,” says Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. “The reinstatement of passenger rail service will ensure access to essential services like health care and education while supporting economic prosperity and tourism in the region.”
The trainset interiors will also feature spacious seating and modern amenities, including Wi-Fi connectivity and passenger information systems with audio and visual announcements.
The province says the northeastern passenger rail service, once reinstated, will be offered from four to seven days a week, based on seasonal travel demands.
“This is a great next step for the future of rail transit in Northern Ontario,” says Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Graydon Smith. “The return of the Northlander train will directly benefit communities in Parry Sound-Muskoka with four convenient stops, allowing people more options to get home, to work, to medical appointments and to experience the beauty of the North.”
***With files from Richard Coffin