Want passenger trains to return to Huntsville? Add your voice before July 15.

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A Multimodal Transportation Strategy for Northern Ontario must include passenger trains.

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) & the Ministry of Northern Development & Mines (MNDM) are currently developing a Multimodal Transportation Strategy for Northern Ontario (NOMTS). This initiative will define the improvements for the movement of people & goods over the next twenty five years, throughout the Cambrian Shield.

COMMENTS NEEDED FROM NORTHERN ONTARIANS

The Northern & Eastern Ontario Rail Network (NEORN) encourages every resident & stakeholder in Northern Ontario to provide comments & remarks regarding the importance and the need for frequent and reliable passenger trains & corresponding bus shuttle services in the region. The deadline to have input is July 15, 2016.

Northern Ontario is becoming more and more isolated. This severely inhibits new inward investment and access to the burgeoning, global tourism opportunity. Between 2011 & 2014, there have been over 674 highway closures in the Northeast region of the province. Communities have witnessed nine motor coach route reductions or service eliminations within the previous year.

Connecting Northern Ontario with the rest of the province & the country is critical. Your comments provided to the NOMTS will assist in demonstrating to the provincial and federal governments of the need for publicly supported investments in passenger rail.

We encourage everyone to participate by providing their remarks at nomts.ca/contact-us.

(Read Doppler’s previous story about NEORN’s efforts here.)

“I don’t want to see our trains in a museum, I want to see them on the track.‎I will work to restore passenger service in the north because northerners have as much right to properly-funded public transportation as urban dwellers.” — Charlie Angus, Member of Parliament for Timmins-James Bay

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46 Comments

  1. I took the Northlander train for years between Huntsville and Toronto, especially in the winter. It was a safe way to travel to see my family when highway conditions could be dangerous or too busy with summer traffic. Since the train has been gone I have thought about seniors or people who need to get to Toronto for medical reasons, and thought of them on the bus…it’s a horrible thought. Trains are solid and with the right supervision – reliable.

    Please bring the trains back and when you do focus on schedules, customer service, and youth advertising outreach.

  2. Karen Cassian on

    Tourism is fast becoming one of the largest industries in Muskoka. We all know that travelling the 400 and highway 11 by car on summer weekends is not fun. Alternate transportation has been reduced to daily buses and airport vans.
    I have fond memories of taking the train from Union station to Huntsville. My husband used the train to come up on Friday nights for the weekend. After a stressful week in the city, he enjoyed relaxing and having a beer in the bar car. I know that cottagers from Orillia, Gravenhurst and Bracebridge enjoyed the same privileges.
    From an arts and culture point of view it would be great for the tourism industry to offer package trips for bicycles and theatre patrons to come up by train and stay at our resorts and motels, eat in our restaurants, enjoy our theatre and galleries and everything else that Muskoka has to offer.
    Lets bring back Northern passenger trains!

  3. I’d like to see the trains return. It would make weekend treks to the city more adventurous and less stressful. Allow for more Toronto shows, and entertainment without concern for traffic and weather.

  4. Ken & Chris Thompson on

    We really would like to see the train service return to Huntsville.
    The traffic on the highways is crazy and it would be great for everyone to hop a train to the city and to allow an easy way for tourists to enjoy our town

  5. Kent MacNeill on

    Not only should the passenger services of the Ontario Northland railway be fully reinstated, all transportation in Northern Ontario needs to be improved. We lack sufficient air transport services, there is no train service west of White River on the CPR line, and Via routinely hints at cancelling the Sudbury to White River Budd Car service. We pay our taxes, have many of our resources extracted and traded with huge profits for companies yet, unlike the Scarborough subway, GO Train and Meteolinx rail service in GTA, which are highly subsidized by all Ontario taxpayers, the North is forgotten. We deserve better!

  6. That doesn’t even look like a passenger train to me. Passenger trains are sleek and fast. They provide inexpensive transport on time and frequently. The cars are comfortable with WiFi and food and coffee served. Let’s get intelligent in this country about moving people.

  7. Anne Yarrow on

    I don’t want the trains to return to Northern Ontario, I NEED the train service to be reinstated. Hwy. 11 in the winter is a death trap as we all know ( check the OPP stats on the fatal and personal injury accidents please)… I cannot believe the amounts of money spent on Highways and GO service etc., in Southern Ontario yet we get nothing. The train is a necessity for those who must seek medical treatment in Toronto and most are Seniors who are terrified to drive in the winter. The train is also required for those who attend Universities in Northern Ontario and would like to visit their home towns during breaks. It’s an absolute outrage that it was stopped in the first place… This Provincial Government wastes billions of dollars yet they refuse to look after the people of this Province..

  8. Hilary venecek on

    Train ride to Toronto from Huntsville is a lot safer than driving Hwy 400.
    Hwy400 can be closed for many reasons, apart from the atrocious traffic jams.
    Please reinstate the train.
    I enjoy driving but Hwy 400 is an if, but and maybe way of getting wherever!!

  9. Anne Millyard on

    Yes, please bring back the passenger train service to Huntsville and points north.

    It used to be a pleasant, relaxing experience, vastly easier for families with small
    children and last not least lets THINK OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND
    GET CARS OFF THE HIGHWAYS WHERE WE CAN.

  10. Canada and Ontario are so backward and out of date regarding rail transport. The decision to cancel the rail service with Ontario Northland was foolish and totally no thought out. We need GO type service or at least VIA rail and it should have priority not freight as was done in the past. ON was a freight railway and never even tried to run a passenger centered, service centered railway. Housing and building are out priced and running out of usable space in the south. Commuter type rail service would re-establish the idea that living in the north and working in the south, was possible.

  11. Angela Dunnett on

    I would love the train service to return to the north. I have fond memories of travelling from Huntsville to Union Station in Toronto. I would also love to travel north without having to worry about driving conditions. It is a relaxing way to travel. Please return this needed service to our area. I live in Magnetawan and would love to be able to get on the train in South River, Huntsville or even North Bay. It would also be great for my son. He is in North Bay for university. He could take the train on weekends, getting on and off in Sundridge or Burks Falls.
    Thank you for considering returning this service.

  12. Donna Rowan on

    Even though I have never used the train, I know several people who do. They use It for medical reasons which is much more comfortable than the bus.

  13. Lorraine Alles on

    Not only would I love to have the passenger trains return to Huntsville and points north ; I dream of a time when the number of trains could be at least two a day.
    I believe the public would pay for modern, good and frequent service.

  14. Myrna Barager on

    I loved riding the train. The comfort, the sound, the view from the windows, there is nothing to equal a train ride.

  15. Chris Morrison on

    We would love to see the train back as it was a tradition to ride from Union station to Temagami. I rode when I was younger, then I took my wife on it and we talked about taking our kids on it. I hope it returns first for the wonderful people of Northern Ontario and we will be riding it right along with you.

  16. Reuben Pyette on

    The Rail System in Ontario is under utilized and is in need of a revamp. This is an intregal part of infrastructure that has been neglected for years. It is far less expensive to maintain a transport system that worked for 100 years + than to add highways airports and bus services to already taxed infrastructure.
    I think trains should be seriously looked at over buses. This would take buses off the roads and adding freight only makes sense.
    How about old time luxury cars and cabins. Make it an adventure not a chore

  17. Johnny Langille on

    With our bus schedules so limited, and the dangerous nature of the roads, train service is very much needed. In particular for older and physically disadvantaged persons. Rail flourishes in all nations, save Canada. We need a reasonably priced alternative. For a wealthy area, our options and services are too few.

  18. Michael Pearce on

    I was looking for ways to get to Bracebridge as Our families share a cottage,my wife drives and I do not and I need to return midweek to Toronto for medical reasons,it would be fantastic to be able to get there by train as I use to love to ride the train to Brantford in the past,it is very relaxing it would save time,less stress on the roads and create employment ,please consider adding pasanger trains to this route as the only other alternative is the bus,Porter air is also thinking of adding routes into this area so it would be fantastic to have choice

  19. Lynda Baker on

    It is SO important to have an alternative to driving all those cars down to southern Ontario! Our world needs every step to be taken to minimizing pollution and overuse of resources. Let’s try to start on our way to catching up with Europe’s ideas on transit!

  20. Janet Gautby on

    I moved to Huntsville in 1989, best move ever. The hard part is being over 200 klms from my family. Over the years many things have changed. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the absolute necessity of having a automobile; that is really the only mode of transportation available when you live in the north or near north as the establishment likes to call it. Over the years of traveling back and forth I have observed many changes. The volume of traffic on the highways has increased by, I hazard a guess , 40 percent; especially on the 400 corridor between Barrie and Toronto. That no longer just pertains to the weekend warriors; that is said in reference to any given day in any given week ! The cost of gas; don’t get me started ! The IDIOT drivers on those highways; over time ” what a nice day for a drive ” to ” I’m glad I missed that if I had been a few minutes sooner ……” . I know you are thinking take a bus; well yes I could do that but , and here it comes, same mode of transportation, same volume of traffic, same idiots , same traffic jam, same slow down for highway maintenance, the only difference; a three hour trip by car turns into a five to six hour trip by bus and the kicker is you have to find another bus or hire a taxi to get you to your destination. Enough said. BRING BACK THE TRAIN !!! THANK YOU, I’M CANADIAN EH !

  21. Robert Rhodes on

    My mother would love it and so would I. You see she doesn’t like to travel to she us in Huntsville in the winter due to the road conditions the train would be a great alternative

  22. Esther Hannaford on

    As a recent widow who doesn’t drive, I would love to have the train service returned. I am sure there are many seniors in my position who would love to see this happen. At the moment I have to rely on family to visit friends in Toronto but with their busy lives this is not always possible. It also makes so much sense with our Canadian winters not always making Highway driving safe.

  23. I miss the train service. I worked on the Northlander in the 80’s, took it as a passenger right up to its shut down. In the winter it is so much safer than driving! Please return our train.

  24. I live beside the tracks. Used to see lots of people ride the train till it was gone. Now nobody can enjoy the scenery along the ride on the tracks. I would personally take the passenger train for a activity to do. Also would be way easier then driving places. Please bring the train back.

  25. Bill Wright on

    Lots of comments above…Has everyone visited the nomts.ca website posted in the article above to post their comments??? if not, then your voice won’t be heard…unless Doppler is going to repost everything.

    Biggest problem with the last train service was their lack of track ownership…so every train had to yield to the track owners trains, resulting in perpetual delays and running late

    • Elizabeth Rice - Doppler Publisher on

      Good point Bill. We will look into getting all the comments over to the nomts.ca site.

  26. Linda Moore on

    Over the years my family used the train, and liked the convenience very much. What a wonderful way to travel to Toronto safely. Please bring back the service.

  27. Brian Tapley on

    The train was a nice alternative to driving and used to have much more class than a bus.
    Unfortunately, they tore up the rails between Washago and Barrie so it makes it kind of difficult to go to Toronto now.
    Trouble was that although most people professed a love for the train, they did not use it and it was uneconomic so, in the post Mike Harris Ontario, it had no choice but to go.
    The simple technical problem was that the cost to run the train was way too high for any amount of passenger traffic to fund it.

    In the future we may need to find a way to go back to the train, not just for passengers, but for freight as well. The train can move product for about a tenth of the cost of a truck on a “per ton mile” basis but even this advantage cannot make a train competitive when the total trip is considered and time is factored in.
    In the trains favor, it can carry a LOT of people at a time and it is fairly weather proof so those winter storms should not cause it the problems we see on Highways. It is also generally safer than any car

    It has been proven time after time that people will pay for (1)- Speed and (2)- convenience. The old train was reduced to a schedule and service level that provided neither of these features. Unsurprisingly it closed down.
    The challenge is to find a way to make trains economic again.

  28. People without cars need transportation to and from Muskoka. People travelling to Toronto for medical appointments are also in need of good transportation, along with people visiting families.
    Students in college and universities need two way transportation. Please bring the train back.

  29. John Rivière-Anderson on

    The Swiss and other European transportation planners have put bikes, cars and containers on short-haul trains for decades. Need your car in Muskoka or points north for the summer? Like to cycle on the weekends and holidays? Put you and your wheels on the train. Plan with train holiday packages. Rent one of the town’s fleet of electric vehicles available at the station. As trucking profit margins continue to dwindle, your shift to train-transported goods will decrease your costs and improve your margins. Further, it will increase rail efficiency and profit.

    Studying with a sandwich on the table in a cosy Euro-style compartment on the way to class after work mid-week in Toronto remains for me a fond memory. It is so good to relax in safety.

    While we’re at it, because it’s tough to market unpredictably late trains, let’s double-track to avoid passengers waiting on sidings for freight trains to pass. A lane of the huge empty highways, those north of us, would provide fine rail road bed.

    Affordable trains that are planned and marketed carefully to meet public needs remain the best form of ecological transportation social justice.

  30. Emmersun Austin on

    Passenger rail service is essential & required immediately. Plus, don’t be fooled by the photo included in this story: #ontario & #canada can & will provide the best & most “up-2-date” equipment possible (why settle 4 anything less?). Also, the Huntsville train station is in need of substantial repair & overhaul, so it seems times are right to seriously focus $um infrastructure dollar$ in the right places & our friends @ #CN will have to sit honestly & openly at the negotiating table.

  31. Hilary venecek on

    Like most things, communication is the problem. Everyone wanted the train but few used it.
    OKAY
    How do we correct this problem? Let’s work on it together!!

  32. This would bring a great deal of cultural and social activity to Huntsville and surrounding area! The Muskoka and northern area of Ontario is in great need of vitalization and the train service will enrich the area and increase all sorts of supporting business opportunities.

  33. I used the Northlander to Huntsville and back to Toronto every summer for many years. It was a relaxing and a civilized way to travel. The road traffic grows worse every year. Bringing the train back would help put a dent in the traffic congestion on highway 400. This train was a lifeline for residents all the way up the corridor the train travelled. It is worthy of being subsidized by the government if necessary to provide a reliable safe way to travel.

  34. Maxime Rivière-Anderson on

    Severe weather affecting driving conditions, dangerous and mind-numbing traffic on Hwy 400, increases in fuel costs, shrinking credit availability for auto loans, an increasing disinterest in vehicle ownership by a socially and environmentally-conscious younger generation, anthropogenic climate change, funds available now for worthy projects through Ontario’s green plan, increased access for international tourists and city-dwelling vacationers, opportunities for properly advertised travel packages by way of partnerships with local hotels and resorts, transportation for seniors and students, stageringly convenient downtown to downtown link…

    Not sure why we’re even having a debate; clearly restoring the train service is overwhelmingly worth it.

  35. This is a good reliable means of travel for people with medical appointments, especially from the north. Any mode of travel to relieve the 400 series of highways would be a big help. Europe has figured this out many years ago.

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