Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation, announced that the Ontario government is improving transportation in the North by taking the next step towards bringing passenger rail service to people in the northeast with the release of the Initial Business Case. The province is building a better transportation network for Northern Ontario, making it easier and more convenient for people to get where they need to go.

“We have listened to people, businesses and Indigenous communities across Northern Ontario who have long awaited the return of train service on the northeast corridor,” said Mulroney. “This important milestone in the planning process brings us another step closer to building a better transportation network in the North.”

The province, Ontario Northland and Metrolinx are moving forward with further planning for a 13-stop route that would provide service from Toronto to Timmins or Cochrane. As part of the 2021 Ontario Budget, the government committed $5 million to support this planning and design work.

Service would be offered based on seasonal travel demands and would range from four to seven days a week. The service would allow passengers coming from the North to travel overnight to maximize their day in the Toronto area and reduce the need for overnight accommodations in Toronto, if preferred. The target completion date for the next stage of planning and design work is 2022 which could allow a potential in-service date in the mid 2020s.

“We made a commitment to return passenger rail to the North and we are one step closer to fulfilling that commitment,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade and MPP for Nipissing. “The planning we’re doing today will help to determine the details, and we are confident that the proposed service route would provide the best value and options to support economic opportunities, the tourism industry and access to healthcare, education and other critical services.”

“Improved passenger rail would provide people across Parry Sound-Muskoka with another way to travel both north and south to access services and it would give visitors to our local tourism operators a comfortable way to travel to the area,” said Norman Miller, MPP for Parry Sound–Muskoka. “I look forward to seeing this project progress and welcoming the many benefits improved rail service will bring to our region.”

“Today we reached a very important milestone in our plan to reinstate passenger rail,” said Corina Moore, President and CEO of Ontario Northland. “An enhanced transportation network that integrates rail and bus services provides an exciting opportunity for the region to grow and improve. We are proud to be moving this plan forward.”

“The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities welcomes the additional funding in the 2021 provincial budget directed toward passenger rail for Northern Ontario,” said Danny Whalen, Councillor for the City of Temiskaming Shores and President of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities. “The Board also supports the cautious approach being used by Minister Mulroney. Let’s all follow the minister’s lead and ensure that we do this properly with a safe rail system and schedules that meet the needs of the public.”

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