Category Archives for "Latest News"

Nov 22

Extensive Media Coverage on Return of Passenger Rail to Northern Ontario

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News , Northern Ontario

There has been extensive media coverage recently referencing the return of passenger rail to Northern Ontario and the business case that is currently being developed between Ontario Northland and Metrolinx. The plan is slated to be presented to the Provincial Government for decision making by the end of the year.

Given below are links to recent media articles.

Passenger Rail promise will be fulfilled

Reference to passenger rail transportation proposal and rail solutions for northern Ontario

https://www.northbaynipissing.com/community-story/9706884-trains-planes-and-buses-for-nipissing-on-fedeli-s-2020-to-do-list/

Revival of Passenger Rail from Toronto to Cochrane

https://northernontario.ctvnews.ca/mobile/bringing-buses-and-trains-in-the-north-up-to-speed-1.4683248?cache=?ot=AjaxLayout

Passenger Rail Plan Closed to Being Unveiled

Nov 12

Provincial Assessment of GTA West Highway Corridor Continues

By Transport Action Ontario | Highways and Bridges , Latest News

In 2018, the new Ontario government announced it was reviving the Environmental Assessment (EA)  for the GTA West (Highway 413) corridor, proposed to run north of Highway 407 from Vaughan to Milton.  The EA had been stopped by the Liberal Government based on recommendations from an advisory panel in 2017.   Transport Action Ontario participated in the previous EA, emphasizing that existing infrastructure (rail, provincial highways, regional roads) should be expanded to full capacity first.

The 2017 advisory panel report has now been removed from the MTO website, but remains available through the Internet Archive:

https://web.archive.org/web/20190618160500/http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/publications/gta-west-report/index.shtml

The report was extremely thoughtful and comprehensive.  It concluded:

  • Future travel demand is very much more uncertain than when the EA was initiated 10 years ago.  This includes uncertainties in transportation technology (e.g. automated vehicles, shared mobility), economic changes (e-commerce, different manufacturing centres, bigger service economy) and policy changes (climate change mitigation, protection of valuable land, complete communities).  A broad range of scenarios should be modeled.
  • Four specific promising alternatives were modelled and should be considered before committing to a new highway:
    • Consider and prioritize planned and constructed extension and expansion of existing highways
    • Consider congestion pricing (offers much larger travel time saving than GTAW highway)
    • Consider providing truck priority on Highway 407
    • Consider slower growth and more compact land use patterns than assumed in EA, consistent with recent actual growth
  • Framework used in the EA was flawed, resulting in a failure to demonstrate that a new corridor was the only reasonable alternative
  • A preferred planning approach would be to develop a single unified transportation plan for the entire Greater Golden Horseshoe that would align with provincial policies and explicitly consider uncertainty

Despite this recommendation, the previous EA has been revived “as is” and is proceeding with detailed route evaluation.  Public information sessions were held in October.  There is mixed public reaction to the project, with concerns about induced vehicular demand and loss of valuable farm land being paramount.  TAO will consult with other non-government environmental organizations as to next steps.

Oct 13

Write to your Federal Candidates about Northern Ontario Passenger Rail and Bus Services

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News , Northern Ontario

With the federal election fast upon us, Transport Action Canada is conducting multiple campaigns to write to federal candidates about the importance of protecting and restoring inter-community rail and bus service. This includes Northern Ontario.

To send a letter regarding Northern Ontario service restoration, click on the button below:

Oct 11

Huron Central Railway threatens to cease operations

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News , Northern Ontario

A news article published in the Shoreline Beacon on October 7, 2019 portends a grim future for the Huron Central Railway. Genesee & Wyoming will cease operations in the new year if $40 million in funding over five years is not forthcoming for infrastructure repairs. This puts 3,400 jobs in the region at risk. Transport Action Ontario will be discussing this closure with government stakeholders with a view to rescuing this line.

Huron Central Railway says it will cease operations because it hasn’t received money from the federal or provincial government to make necessary improvements to its Sudbury-to-Sault Ste. Marie line.

“For the last few years we have worked diligently with elected officials in Toronto and Ottawa and a dedicated team of local leaders to develop a long-term strategy to sustain (Huron Central Railway)” said Louis Gravel, president of Genesee & Wyoming.

One option that we are asking the Ontario government to consider is merging the line into the Ontario Northland network, as proposed by local advocacy groups CAPT and NEORN.

https://www.sootoday.com/local-news/should-ontario-northland-take-over-huron-central-railway-942170

Photo: Huron Central train in Massey by P199

Oct 07

Bear Train Refined Business Plan Submitted to Transport Canada – Media Release

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News , Northern Ontario , Press Releases and Open Letters

Our affiliate, the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPT) issued the following media release regarding exciting news about the Bear Train.


On Friday, October 4, 2019, Chief Jason Gauthier, Chief of Missanabie Cree First Nation sent to Deputy Minister Michael Keenan a newly completed business plan for the proposed Mask-wa Oo-ta-ban (Cree for Bear Train) passenger service between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst. This third iteration of the business plan is more thorough, detailed and complete than the previous ones presented to Transport Canada. All of the many stakeholder groups from the Algoma rail corridor as well as several rail experts were consulted and contributed to the final version of the plan.

 This detailed business plan will illustrate to Transport Canada that Missanabie Cree First Nation (MCFN) has now completed the requirements to ensure the operation of this essential service.  The other requirements that they had previously successfully accomplished are:

      i.       Receipt of a Railway Operating Certificate

     ii.       Completion of a safety plan

The plan indicates how operational funding for the Bear Train from Transport Canada, that decreases over a period of five years, will be an excellent investment in at least three ways. It is a very low-cost way for the Federal Government to achieve a triple win by contributing to its objectives:

                           i.        Contribute to Reconciliation with Indigenous people

                          ii.        Mitigate Climate Change

                         iii.        Support Economic Development & increase employment 

Contribute to Reconciliation with Indigenous people

The Bear Train initiative is an opportunity for the Federal government to help correct the unjust acquisition of land and building of the ACR by ensuring that the passenger train service becomes essential transportation infrastructure for regional economic development of the First Nations through whose traditional territories it passes. It puts the MCFN in the leadership, managerial role for an important regional service that was previously an instrument of their colonization–an essential service for the local Indigenous, Anglophone and Francophone communities.    

Mitigate Climate Change

For Canada to meet the GHG reductions set out by the Paris Accord, Canadians are encouraged to opt for less polluting forms of transportation.  Since there are no roads into this rail corridor float plane travel is the only alternative to passenger rail since the Algoma passenger train service ended in 2015. Much of the environmental tourism market has been lost for the tourism resorts some of which can now only be accessed by float planes—a very polluting form of transportation.

Support Economic Development and increase employment, particularly for Indigenous Canadians

The Algoma Central Railway (ACR) corridor passes through the traditional territories of at least three First Nations between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst, including Constance Lake First Nation and Michipicoten First Nation.  These traditional territories have been used for many generations by First Nations for hunting, fishing, trapping and other socio-cultural activities. More recently these have become areas in which First Nations are developing eco and Indigenous tourism businesses, as well as forest management plans and other resource-based undertakings.

The Mask-wa Oo-ta-ban initiative is an opportunity for the Federal government to help to ensure that the passenger service plays its important role as essential transportation infrastructure for the regional economic development of the First Nations through whose territories its passes as well as for the local Anglophone and Francophone communities.    .

Mask-wa Oo-ta-ban (the Bear Train) is an economic development initiative of the Missanabie Cree First Nation to re-establish the essential passenger service from Sault Ste. Marie to Hearst to support the economic, employment, social and remote access needs of the First Nations, communities, residents, businesses and socio-economic stakeholders of the Algoma passenger train corridor.  The Algoma region is a distressed area for employment and economic opportunity.  The $40-$50 million in economic benefits (BDO, 2014) and the 100s of jobs the passenger train supported directly and indirectly are vital to the Algoma region’s economic sustainability—particularly in the tourism sector.  This employment is particularly needed by the Indigenous people of our region whose rates of unemployment are significantly higher than the rest of the population.

One of the principal forms of economic development that this train supports is tourism—particularly the growing niche markets of Indigenous tourism, eco-green tourism, accessible tourism and Francophone tourism. As Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie Melanie Joly recently stated, “Tourism is an inclusive sector that showcases Canada’s culture, diversity, natural beauty and unique experiences to the world.  It delivers economic benefits across the country by supporting one in ten jobs.” 

Over $50 million in annual economic benefits that came from the Algoma passenger train has been lost since the service stopped in 2015. We urge Transport Canada to end this loss by funding the Bear Train for the next five years according to the Bear Train Business Plan plan.

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