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
CAPT Joins Northern Ontario Mayors: Ride the ONR to Help Save the ONTC
  by Tadman
Question: If Ontario pays for Algoma Central's two passenger trains (Agawa tour train and Hearst train) while CN operates the freight on their own accord, why can't the same arrangement be set up for a privatised ONR - a private carrier buys the railroad and operates the freight while Ontario subsidizes only the passenger trains. Since the equipment for the passenger trains is already purchased, there's little startup costs.
  by atsf sp
Why cant VIA just take over the service?
  by labaienordique
Possible scandal in the works?

FOI (freedom of information) reveals ONTC fire sale started long before the Drummond report

“We always suspected that MNDM staff was intent on demolishing the ONTC and this January 2012 email removes all doubt that the fix was in. It is also apparent that they were proud to be modeling the selloff of ONTC on the scandal riddled BC Rail model” stated GCA spokesperson Brian Kelly.

To my knowledge, the Algoma Central Railway receives federal funding/investment while the Ontario Northland Railway receives provincial & federal funding/investment. As to Via Rail, they have long abandoned their passenger rail service along the Toronto-North Bay-Cochrane-Kapuskasing corridor. http://fr.scribd.com/doc/53636750/VIA-R ... ct-30-1988

As a taxpayer & occasional rider, I would prefer decisions to be made in North Bay, rather by a committee elsewhere in the country.
  by labaienordique
Conservatives team up with Liberals to block ONTC amendment: Unions

Fedeli’s amendment squashed by Liberals
http://www.northbaynipissing.com/2012/0 ... -liberals/

NDP’s Bisson blasts Fedeli as 'fair-weather' friend to the North

GCA not surprised Conservatives blocked NDP ONTC amendment
  by Tadman
Can you give us the "Clif's Notes" version of what happened?
  by Ken V
In 25 words or less (sort of), the Ontario Provincial Government has decided to divest itself of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) lock, stock, and barrel. The "plan" is to sell off the rail freight, bus, and communications services, plus whatever else anyone is willing to buy, to private interests and to drop any financial support to passenger rail.

Communities in Northern Ontario were, understandably, strongly opposed to this plan.

The Ontario Liberal Party has a slight minority position in the Ontario Legislature and needs the support of at least some members of the opposition parties to pass any bills. The recent provincial budget, which included the ONTC sell-off, was being unequivocally opposed by the Progressive Conservatives (for other reasons) and the Liberals needed the support of the New Democratic Party (NDP) to pass their budget or face an election. The NDP had demanded a number of amendments to the budget, including removal of the sale of ONTC, to secure their support but had since softened their position. The budget. including the ONTC plan, recently passed with the full support of the NDP.
  by labaienordique
Northern MPPs should get facts straight on ONTC - Bartolucci

Fedeli responds to Bartolucci comments on ONTC issue

GCA responds to Bartolucci's letter
  by labaienordique
Ruling from 1993 regarding continuing passenger rail service in Northeastern Ontario

Decision No. 588-R-1993


With respect to the annual losses incurred by CN in operating the service, the Agency heard many suggestions that efforts to increase ridership, improved scheduling, marketing and negotiation of trackage fees would reduce annual losses. While it is impossible to say that the current schedule is the most effective for attracting clients, it is doubtful that changes to the schedule would significantly improve ridership. The Agency does, however, encourage continued review of the scheduling of the service in an effort to improve ridership totals. The Agency finds that ridership volumes necessary to bring the service to a break-even financial situation are unlikely in the near future. Unless costs can be significantly reduced, the passenger-train service will continue to incur substantial annual losses. The losses for 1993 are now estimated to be over $4,000,000.

With respect to alternative transportation services, the Agency finds that competition between the ONTC bus service and the ONR rail service cannot be discounted. The rail routing from Toronto to Timmins/ Kapuskasing, Ontario is paralleled by an ONTC bus service, for example, and the fares for each mode are now quite similar. If people cannot afford to fly, or choose not to drive, the bus service is indeed a reasonable alternative. In fact, from Porquis/Cochrane, Ontario, buses are utilized as part of the ONR rail service to major points such as Timmins, Hearst and Kapuskasing. The Agency finds that in the area immediately served by the passenger-train service, alternative transportation services are available, such that current rail users could continue to access their destinations, and that these alternatives are, at the least, adequate.

The Agency finds that the effect of the discontinuance of the passenger-train service on other services and carriers would be significant, especially for the highway system. However, given the decreases in both the number of accidents, and the accident rate, the Agency is not persuaded that the highway system would become so crowded that safety would be compromised. As to the effect on other carriers, the Agency is persuaded that the discontinuance of the passenger-train service could mean the eventual termination of the northern segment of the freight and passenger-service now operated by the ONR.

The Agency finds that the discontinuance of the Toronto-North Bay segment of the service would likely result in the demise of the segment north of North Bay. It must be noted, however, that this statement is based on the assumption that no other entity, such as the Province of Ontario, ONTC, or the type of private short-line operator suggested by Mr. Howard Restoule, Chairman of the Aboriginal Peoples Alliance of Northern Ontario, might purchase and operate the service.

With respect to the probable future transportation needs of the area, the Agency finds that the evidence before it does not support expectations of future population growth or industrial development and, as a result, transportation needs for these purposes are not expected to increase in the foreseeable future. With respect to comments regarding recent ridership levels, the Agency is of the opinion that consistent ridership levels represent support for the service, but notes that this is not a situation unique to ONR. VIA Rail Canada Inc. ridership levels in recent years show the same relative consistency.

In terms of other public interest issues, the Agency finds that the discontinuance of the passenger-train service would have significant effects on the population served by this service. The Agency recognizes that the passenger-train service represents an important component of the economy of northeastern Ontario, and that the area is undergoing a difficult economic transition from a resource base to other industries such as tourism. Discontinuance would have serious adverse implications for this economy at this time.

The Agency also finds that while bus service is an adequate alternative for many travellers, the requirements for the accommodation and comfort of individuals with medical needs, seniors and persons with disabilities are often better served by the train.

Because persons travelling to the larger centres of Timmins, Hearst or Kapuskasing must transfer between rail and bus, the Agency is not convinced that the rail service represents a "seamless link" as suggested by ONR. The Agency is however of the opinion that the service is an important link between northern and southern Ontario.

In so far as environmental issues are concerned, the Agency is subject to the Environmental Assessment and Review Process Guidelines Order, SOR/84-467 (hereinafter the EARP Guidelines Order). The Agency developed in cooperation with the Federal Environmental Assessment Review Office an Agency Exclusion List, pursuant to subsection 11(a) of the EARP Guidelines Order, identifying the types of proposals that would not produce any adverse environmental effects and that would, as a result, be automatically excluded from the Environmental Assessment Review Process. In subjecting this application under section 266 of the Act to an environmental screening pursuant to subsection 10(1) of the EARP Guidelines Order, the Agency determined that this proposal is of a type identified on the Agency Exclusion List and, as such, may automatically proceed. Further, the Agency in its review of the submissions before it has not been persuaded that potentially adverse effects or public concern warrant a full screening or a referral to the Minister of Environment for public review.

The Agency finds that, at this time, the economic and social impact of this service on the region it serves outweighs such factors as the losses incurred by the service, and that retention of the service is in the public interest.


The Agency determines that the passenger-train service comprised of Train Nos. 121 and 122, jointly operated by the Ontario Northland Railway and the Canadian National Railway Company, between Toronto and North Bay, in the province of Ontario, is uneconomic, but that this passenger-train service is in the public interest and should not be discontinued.
  by labaienordique
Excellent article.

Design for Democracy: Ontario Northlander, treasured transit
http://rabble.ca/columnists/2012/08/des ... ed-transit

NDP MP’s in North Bay Wednesday
http://blog.rogersbroadcasting.com/ckat ... wednesday/
  by Ken V
Ontario Northland wrote:Notice to ONTC passengers

After September 28, 2012, the Northlander train will no longer be in service. The Northlander will operate on its usual schedule until its closure.
The full announcement is at http://www.ontarionorthland.ca/index.php/en/
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