Category Archives for "Intercity Rail and Bus"

Mar 16

Public-Private Partnerships in Canada’s Rail Infrastructure

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus



Canada’s rail system has recently been beset with crises ranging from an inability to move a bumper crop of grain, to derailments, to drastic cuts in passenger rail.  What is common to all of these issues is a lack of capital investment in Canada’s rail infrastructure.


There has been increasing discussion on the need for Canada to follow the lead of the USA and engage in public-private partnerships, involving the railways, the federal government and provincial governments,  to develop a fully functional rail system.


Greg Gormick, noted transportation writer and colleague of Transport Action Ontario, has started a discussion in this area, with more to follow.  His op-ed, published by the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal on March 16, 2014 can be viewed here:  NDR ThunderBayOpEd 2014-03-16



Mar 07

VIA Rail Canada Act introduced by Olivia Chow, M.P.

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus


On March 3, 2014, NDP MP Olivia Chow introduced Bill C-577, an Act respecting VIA Rail Canada.  This private member’s bill is comprehensive.  It requires the maintenance of VIA’s route system prior to the 2012 cuts, it gives VIA trains scheduling and operational preference over freight services, adds resolution protocols if disputes between VIA and other railways, requires public consultation, and more.  It is an encouraging first step to meeting a pressing need for a national passenger rail act in Canada.

The act can be viewed here</>


Olivia Chow had reached out to Transport Action Ontario (TAO) last fall and asked us to comment on earlier drafts of this Bill.  We engaged our colleague Greg Gormick, independent consultant, for this work.   Greg is extremely knowledgeable in this area and we felt he would have valuable comments.   Greg produced two memos, one for each draft of the bill, in November and December, 2013, which were forwarded to Olivia Chow and her staff.

There are several points that Greg raised that did not make it into the final draft and they should be out for discussion.  Therefore, in the interest of assembling a complete file, Transport Action Ontario is including those two memos in this post.  They can be viewed here:


TAO-NDP VIA Rail Canada Act Draft2 Review 131212

TAO-NDP VIA Rail Canada Act Draft1 Review 131129


There was one item in Greg’s December memo that raised some controversy within TAO.  This was with regards to the relocation of VIA’s headquarters out of Montreal.  We wish to clarify that this opinion was based on a statement in the cited government report, and does not reflect the position of TAO.   TAO has no position on where the headquarters of VIA should or should not be located.

Transport Action Ontario is very supportive of this Bill.  We have long been concerned that VIA Rail merely exists as a Standing Order in Council and requires legislated rights, obligations, objectives and budgets similar to Amtrak in the USA.  However, we are aware that other attempts to legislate on behalf of VIA Rail have been unsuccessful.
Feb 17

Algoma Central Railway – Major Advocacy Program to Stop Termination of Passenger Service

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


On January 27, 2014, CN announced the termination of passenger service on this railroad from Sault Saint Marie to Hearst, as the Federal government had ended the subsidy that pays for the passenger service.  As a result CN announced that service would end on March 31, 2014 (subsequently extended to April 29, 2014).


A major advocacy program is underway,  led by local municipal governments and our affiliate organization, the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPT).  For a complete update on the CAPT activities, click the link here.


The advocacy includes conducting three Town Hall meetings – in Sault Ste. Marie, Wawa and Hearst to increase citizen awareness and understanding.  Transport Action’s past president, Harry Gow, will be the guest speaker.  A copy of the Transport Action presentation can be viewed here:  NDR Slides SSM Wawa-Feb 2014




Jan 31

US Rail Passenger Association Urges Canada to Maintain Threatened Services

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



The National Association of Rail Passengers (NARP) is a US non-government organization advocating for improved passenger rail and rail transit.   They have sent a letter to Canada’s ambassador to the US, Honourable Gary Doer, expressing concern with the announcement that Sault Ste. Marie – Hearst rail service (Algoma Central) will end March 31 and a CBC report this week that Montreal-Halifax VIA Rail Canada service could end in as early as June.


The NARP letter can be viewed here.



Jan 31

All-Party Rural and Northern Ontario Transportation Committee

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


On November 28, 2013, Bill Walker, MPP Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, presented a resolution at Queen’s Park to immediately strike a Rural and Northern Transportation  Committee to study transportation needs in these regions.    Transport Action Ontario was very pleased to see that all parties in the Legislature supported this resolution.


In January, 2014, Transport Action Ontario wrote to Mr. Walker offering congratulations, describing our organization, and providing some preliminary comments on one of our projects  (North Main Line).  We asked to be given the opportunity to speak to this committee.


Our letter can be viewed here:  TAO-letter-Bill Walker


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