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 goodnightjohnwayne
Tadman wrote:This is good to hear. What is the chance of the Northlander being restored (versus political promises that aren't kept)? I always wanted to ride the ONR end-to-end (coupled maybe with a ACR ride, too).
The odds of the Northlander service being resumed are still about zero. Keep in mind that there is leadership race in the Ontario Liberal party to see who is going to replace the current Premier, Dalton McGuinty. So there are a few glad handing politicians, but the reality is that once the contest is over, the new Premier is going to face the same budget issues as the outgoing Premier. Moreover, this region is NDP, not Liberal, so it doesn't matter one bit in the Liberal leadership race? Maybe the quoted Liberal candidates didn't have a clue what this proposal is about, how much it would cost or where it's located?
  by goodnightjohnwayne
labaienordique wrote:A New Deal … A Brighter Future for Northern Ontario

The New Deal for Northern Ontario will revitalize the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) while creating significant economic opportunities and thousands of new jobs in the province’s North.
It's a pity that it isn't a credible plan. This is just a website put up by the General Chairman's Association. There are no business interests, or business leaders behind this, just organized labor.
labaienordique wrote: The plan, which enjoys broad and growing stakeholder support, will preserve transportation services and hundreds of existing jobs, and provide access to the massive Ring of Fire mineral deposits. Ownership of ONTC’s railroad and other assets will be transferred from the provincial government to a new ports authority.

The new "port authority" hasn't be around for more than a couple of months and the "CEO" is just a former VP of the ONTC. The farfetched plan for provincial funding of an extension of Ontario Northland to the speculative mining project was proposed in the middle of October and rejected before the end of October.

Here's the bad idea:

http://www.canadianmanufacturing.com/di ... fire-81738

Here's the common sense rejection of the bad idea:

http://www.timminspress.com/2012/10/28/ ... --province

labaienordique wrote:
7. Would the New Deal restore the Northlander and all passenger services?
We are looking to reinstate and revitalize passenger rail services along the Highway 11 corridor. We will work with the provincial government and Metrolinx to find the best way to do this. This will take time, and is part of our plan.
How exactly is this magical "port authority" going to fund a money losing passenger train? Oh, that's right, first the province builds and extension to mythical mines, which generates imaginary freight revenues, which apparently support the resumed Northlander. It's a lovely fairytale, but too implausible for even a bedtime story.

The reality is that the Ring of Fire project is still relatively uncertain and years in the future. It can be derailed by commodity prices, environmental concerns or legal challengers from various native bands. Moreover, it's hard to build a rail line, even where there is a vital commercial interest and an experienced Class 1 freight behind the project. The Tongue River Railroad project in Montana is still at the talking stage after 25 years, and it's still far from a certainty, even with a new 42 mile route and BNSF behind it. What chance does this sort of farfetched Northern Ontario proposal have? None. This sort of effort is just a sad postscript to a century of taxpayer subsides.
  by goodnightjohnwayne
labaienordique wrote:New Deal tops priority list
http://www.nugget.ca/2012/12/28/new-dea ... ority-list
A Conservative MP doesn't have a voice in the upcoming Liberal leadership election, and most likely won't have a voice after the new Premier is chosen in late January, short of an unexpected election this year.
  by Ken V
While I'm not that optimistic that the "New Deal" will actually pan out you should keep in mind that Mr. Aspin is a member of the ruling federal party. Also, the Port Authority would be under the domain of the federal government rather than the province. While a Conservative back-bencher may not have much influence on the policies of the Prime Minister, he may be able to provide some small input.
  by labaienordique
MP sets sights on nine-figure goal
http://www.northbaynipissing.com/2013/0 ... gure-goal/
For the coming year, Aspin said he would be shifting his focus slightly to be more involved with pushing forward with the New Deal for Northern Ontario and the retention of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission assets and services.

“Ontario Northland is a fundamental piece of North Bay and a fundamental piece of Northern Ontario. So it’s retention in the short term (is a priority). I mean it took 110 years to put all that in place. So we’re certainly not going to let it go overnight.

“I’m so in favour of this that I want to grow that and the best way to grow it is to hook it up with a growth area, the Ring of Fire. The expertise coupled with the huge deposit of minerals will generate jobs and economic growth,” said Aspin.

Aspin says he isn’t working directly with the unions and newly created James Bay Lowlands Port Authority but is clearing room for the New Deal to happen under the Canada Marine Act.

“What I’m doing is softening the shoulders in Ottawa right now. What I’m doing, ‘Is heads up guys. This is coming and when it does it’s good news.’ The two primary gentlemen involved the Prime Minister has directed me to them. They are Tony Clement (Minister of FedNor) and Denis Lebel (Minister of Transport),” said Aspin. “…I’ll be talking to them in January and I’ve already talked to them and they’re fully aware of what’s on the table.”

Aspin says he believes there is still time to make the move on ONTC before it is broken up by the province.

“I think if you talk to the proponents… the whole process is slowing down and there are people in the Ontario government who are saying, ‘What are we doing?’ That’s what the proponents have to do. They have to slow the process down and they’ve got to apprise all of the new Liberal candidates of this opportunity because there will be a new leader and a new government whether it is a new cabinet or a different government entirely in the not so distant future.”
  by marquisofmississauga
Ken V wrote:...While a Conservative back-bencher may not have much influence on the policies of the Prime Minister, he may be able to provide some small input.
I have a Conservative back-bencher as my MP as does a friend of mine about 130 miles away. Both of these MPs are as much use as a chocolate teapot. I have written two polite letters on the subject of passenger rail to my member and my friend has written about six to his (his MP has been his member for several years) and neither of us has received as much as an acknowledgement of our concerns. I have been a voter for over 40 years and have had MPs and MLAs from all three major parties and all have responded, even if they didn't agree with my comments. One Conservative back-bencher from the prairies wrote an article about his trip on the Canadian, which was favourable. But on the subject of the train being cut back to twice a week operation he said he had not received a single letter of protest from a constituent. So even if an MP doesn't care what we think, it's important to write because if we don't they will say that nobody cares.
  by Tadman
Aspin says he believes there is still time to make the move on ONTC before it is broken up by the province.
This bugs me. You have multiple issues here under the ONR umbrella:
1. Northlander service
2. Polar Bear Express
3. ONR freight
4. ONR's extensive shops
5. ONR Bus
6. Other ONR activities

If you want to save the Northlander, why do you care if ONR is broken up? You have to muster much more support to save an entire railroad than to save a passenger train. If you want to save the Northlander, don't waste your time trying to save the shops or a bus system. It's my understanding that the shops are quite extensive and able to handle many outside contract jobs while keeping the ONR fleet up to par. This is an old-fashioned mentality. It requires the gov't managers to be viable at running a repair shop and a passenger train, two totally different tasks. If the shops are sold to a contract rebuilder (CAD Rail, NRE, MPI, et al) you can focus on running necessary passenger operations and have the maintenance done on a contract basis at the most efficient shop of your choice. Now you don't have to focus on keeping a heavy repair facility booked with repair jobs that are far beyond the scope of keeping a handful of coaches and geeps ready for Northlander service.
  by labaienordique
  by Gilbert B Norman
Mr. Nordique, there is something about the immediately linked article, that shows a complete disconnect with the issue at hand. That is, to a layman reader, the continuation of ONTC as a government sponsored enterprise (GSE is a recognized acroynym for such below the 49th) is simply all about passenger trains. Handling freight traffic to the reporter (I'm ASSUMING this is an article, but as I read I had to question such), Ms. Calabrese, is some kind of ancillary activity.

The fact remains that there is a paralleling highway Toronto-Cochrane that would appear adequate to meet the passenger transportation needs of the region. Where there is no parallel highway, let alone any highway, Cochrane Moosinee, passenger service remains. Considering the diminishing support for passenger trains that appears evident "up there", it is no wonder that The Northlander got whacked. At national level, it appears that there is recognition that the only intercity passenger train market is Quebec-Windsor - and with big ???? being raised about Toronto-Windsor. Services such as Montreal-Senneterre and Winnipeg-Churchill are there because there are no parallel highways (yup; I have been to Kapitachuan Club in this life - an experience I could have happily done without). The Canadia/en represents a service that your tourism industry, which I acknowledge represents a far greater piece of your GDP than such does down here, has sufficient "lobby" in Ottawa to maintain, but point to point transport for an average Canadian? - not sure about that.

The other Provinces that have found themselves in the railroad business, BC, Alta, PQ have all gotten out of such; ON is simply following suit. The discontinuing of a marginal passenger train operation hardly represents that the railroad is being abandoned - even if that appears to be the case with the reporter, Ms. Calabrese.

Either here or at a related topic I asked if there were any sweetheart Labor Agreements regarding such as crew consists in place on the ONR property, I got a response (Mr. Ken V I believe) that there were none (C & E only unless requirements of service called for an additional Brakemen). So yes I know that loss of the passenger train caused displacement, but volks, anyone "hiring on" knows that is simply part of a railroad life.

I understand that the Telecommunications properties have already found a new owner, that CN will take over the freight operations, and that private sector ownership of the Shops and Bus lines are "in the works". The essential service will continue forth; sorry the Northlander was simply not one of them.

If private sector ownership of these facilities results is a less bloated bureaucracy in Cochrane; I learned a great three word phrase when I was in military service: "sorry 'bout that".

Activists; time to move on and find another cause.
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