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Plans underway for northeastern Ontario passenger rail service

The target completion date for the next stage of planning is 2022, which would allow for a possible in-service date of the mid-2020s. The Canadian Press Images/Stephen C. Host

Plans are currently underway for a passenger rail service that will connect Toronto to Timmins or Cochrane, Ont., through a 13-stop route.

Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney announced the plans on Tuesday, with the public release of the project’s initial business case.

Read more: How Greyhound Canada’s permanent end of bus services in Ontario could impact communities

“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,” Mulroney said in a statement Tuesday.

“This important milestone in the planning process brings us another step closer to building a better transportation network in the north.”

The government said service would be offered based on seasonal travel demands and would range from four to seven days a week.

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The service would allow passengers coming from northern Ontario to travel overnight to reduce the need for overnight accommodations in Toronto, if preferred.

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The target completion date for the next stage of planning is 2022, which would allow for a possible in-service date of the mid-2020s.

“Today we reached a very important milestone in our plan to reinstate passenger rail,” Corina Moore, president and CEO of Ontario Northland, said in a statement.

“An enhanced transportation network that integrates rail and bus services provides an exciting opportunity for the region to grow and improve.”

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The news to reinstate the northeastern Ontario passenger rail service comes just weeks after Greyhound Canada announced it would cut all its bus routes.

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Previously, Ontario Northland provided a passenger rail service called the Northlander, which connected Cochrane, North Bay and Toronto. It was discontinued in 2012.

Ontario Northland currently operates four buses daily between Toronto and North Bay and/or two buses a day from North Bay to Timmins and Cochrane.

The route being planned includes 13 stops in Toronto, Langstaff, Gormley, Washago, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, Huntsville, North Bay, Temagami, Temiskaming Shores, Englehart, Matheson and Timmins or Cochrane.

Ontario Northland, the provincial government and Metrolinx are currently planning a 13-stop route that would connect Toronto to Timmins and Cochrane. Supplied/Ontario government. Supplied/Ontario government

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