Discussion of Canadian Passenger Rail Services such as AMT (Montreal), Go Transit (Toronto), VIA Rail, and other Canadian Railways and Transit

Moderator: Ken V

  by labaienordique
There is currently a survey on the Coalition for Algoma Passenger trains pertaining to a passenger rail service between Sault Ste Marie (ON), Sudbury & North Bay.

My question pertains to the lack of service in this area. There is currently no connecting passenger rail service between Montréal, Ottawa, North Bay, Sudbury & Sault Ste Marie. There is a line owned by the Canadian Pacific (operated by Ottawa Valley Railway between Pembroke, North Bay & Sudbury; Huron Central between Sudbury & the Soo). While the future of this line is uncertain; the infrastructure is place that a passenger service could operate successfully along this stretch. I find it perplexing that there is a service between White River, Chapleau & Sudbury, (with a combined population of around 165000) yet none between the three largest cities in Northeastern Ontario & the Nation's Capital...

On the topic of the White River service, why doesn't this train service communities up to Thunder Bay? This would be like having the ONR's Northlander servicing communities all the way to Southern Ontario (and rather than concluding the service in Toronto - the largest city in the region - as it does currently), concluding the service short at Washago (a community of about a couple hundred). Thunder Bay is the largest community in Northwestern Ontario (roughly 125000 people), and the Budd Car service stops short in White River (4-5 hours to the East) with a population of less than a 1000.
  by Ken V
The answer to your question can be summed up in one word: roads.

Ontario Highway 17 (the Trans Canada Highway) passes through every major Northern Ontario population centre between Ottawa, Thunder Bay, and beyond. The highway was originally constructed following the same route as the CPR. A key exception is the route between Sudbury and White River in which the railway takes a, more or less, direct path, whereas the road goes round about by way of Sault Ste Marie. That's why the VIA RDC service is there - to serve this missing link. While the Budd cars serve a crucial role in getting people to and from these remote towns an equally important purpose is getting equipment and supplies into this region.

While using the White River Budd service may not be a valid comparison to a passenger route between Ottawa and the Sault, using the Northlander certainly is. ONR's passenger service follows Highway 11 all the way between Toronto and Cochrane.
  by labaienordique
What's frustrating is there are corridors in the North that with passenger rail service, could provide effective correspondence stops for people wishing to travel by train.

This one is a given:
Sault Ste Marie - Sudbury - North Bay - Ottawa

North Bay (ONR Train #697, #698)
Ottawa (VIA Corridor Trains)
Sault Ste Marie (ACR Train #631, #632)
Sudbury (VIA Train #185, #186)
Sudbury JCT (VIA Train #1, #2)

There is the Hearst - Kapusasking - Cochrane corridor. I recall talking to the conductor on the Algoma Central train about making connections to the train. He said that if the ONR wanted to staff the train from Hearst to Cochrane & return it, that an arrangement could be made between the two (given the track between Hearst & Cochrane is Ontario Northland's). Given there's one bus per day in each direction along that corridor, offering an alternative service would be beneficial for the ONR.

The other is between Swastika, ON (near Kirkland Lake) - Rouyn-Noranda, QC - Val-d'Or, QC - Senneterre, QC. Via Rail has a service between Montréal & Senneterre however like the Lake Superior Train, stops short of the bigger cities in the remote areas.