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Thread: The End of Ontario Northland

  1. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by k10ery View Post
    No. They're going to try to find somebody to take the Moosonee train off their hands.
    If the province thinks it's too expensive to subsidize, there's no way the private sector will want it.


  2. #32

    Default Northren/suthren divide

    Quote Originally Posted by Tuscani01 View Post
    Im actually happy with this announcement mainly because I get a direct benefit. Ontario Northland's trains are extremely loud and are the only trains that make my building shake as they pass by.
    Not sure if it is the railcars (and not the locomotives) making the racket but I understand that they are the original GO mono-level coaches. Northern Ontario kept using these (1960's?) cars, despite GO getting new cars and then refurbishing them (many at ONR).

    What else does the southern part of the Province of Ontario's railway network get? Extensions to Kitchener, Barrie, Niagara Falls and possibly to Peterborough. Note Queen's Park covers the cost of GO station infrastructure -- but Huntsville, Temagami and even Bracebridge had to initiate station upgrades themselves.

    And Metrolinx just paid what, +$300m for CN rail corridors (announced just a week after the ONR release). I'm not saying northerners are getting the shaft worse than Scarberians or anything ... but one provincial rail entity seems entirely separate from the other.

    ed

    PS: And what is GO's advertising budget, (considering the trains are already bursting)? How about the occasional ad for the Northlander? Nope.

  3. #33

    Default

    -Megamax. you got that right. I do feel bad about this loss actually, its part of our history as Canadians, and its a Provincial tragedy that now even more of Canada will only be accessible by boring old cars and icky old gas. Im just mad because its too far to bike my holier than thou' arse up to! hahaha.
    srsly tho, i really hope they at least maintain the tracks so it can go it again (like the Go line to Barrie did). even though I take the bus almost every day, buses are crap and everyone knows it.

  4. #34

    Default

    Looking over the line on Google Maps, it looks to be one of the most scenic railways in the GTA. Besides the trip through the Don Valley, it goes through some exceptionally pristine countryside in Stouffville and northern York Region, and travels right along the water's edge of Lake Simcoe. The people who work the line are very lucky people

    Maybe Casino Rama should look at purchasing it, and construct a split to better serve the casino. Besides the gorgeous trip from the city, it might encourage cottagers who felt going to the casino was too far out of their way to drive to a near by station and take the train to it. If a Toronto casino is built, improving access to their casino would be in their best interests.

    Finally, while for the most part in the city a flatbed truck is somewhat wasteful, it isn't necessarily the case in the rural north. Besides the heavier snow fall and rough roads making a more rugged vehicle more appealing, more people out there are blue collar workers and thus may use of its capacity more than a suburbanite would.

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Electrify View Post
    Looking over the line on Google Maps, it looks to be one of the most scenic railways in the GTA. Besides the trip through the Don Valley, it goes through some exceptionally pristine countryside in Stouffville and northern York Region, and travels right along the water's edge of Lake Simcoe. The people who work the line are very lucky people

    Maybe Casino Rama should look at purchasing it, and construct a split to better serve the casino. Besides the gorgeous trip from the city, it might encourage cottagers who felt going to the casino was too far out of their way to drive to a near by station and take the train to it. If a Toronto casino is built, improving access to their casino would be in their best interests.

    Finally, while for the most part in the city a flatbed truck is somewhat wasteful, it isn't necessarily the case in the rural north. Besides the heavier snow fall and rough roads making a more rugged vehicle more appealing, more people out there are blue collar workers and thus may use of its capacity more than a suburbanite would.
    It was a pretty trip.....but slow. As much as my train loving attitude allowed me to enjoy it....I am not beyond realizing that it really had little appeal to most cottage country visitors as it was less convenient....slower....more expensive than just getting in the car and heading up north.

    The scheduled time from Union to Huntsville was (IIRC) around 3 hours.....only one leg of my 3 return trips was on time and the longest journey took a bit over 5 (so it was slower even if you don't include the time from wherever you start to Union which...since Union is pretty much in south end of the city...is going in the opposite direction for most people from their ultimate destination). This is going back a few years but I think it was (+/-) $50 each way.....so a bit pricey to be also slower and less convenient.

  6. #36

    Default

    Recall that as a prelude to CN taking over BC Rail, the Province dropped passenger service on same. Now the Northlander is being dropped, and you can bet that CN will make a play for the freight operations on the ONR. I think part of the problem with the ONTC is that freight traffic on the ONR has been declining for years, and with that, revenue is down. This has been exacerbated by the overall downturn in the economy of the US, with the ONR's traffic principally forest and mineral, they haven't had a good time of it. CN wants a second exit from Northern Quebec and the ONR is it. Much faster to route traffic down the ONR rather than the current route via Quebec City. There is also that Agrum phosphate traffic near Kapuskasing that CN would like to protect.

    I can't see any reason why the old GO single level cars would be louder than anything else running on the Bala or Newmarket Subs. The power for the train are ONR's 1800 class GP38-2's which are not turbocharged and are 'throatier' than a turbo diesel. That and the first four were built before exhaust silencers were mandated in the early 1980's.

  7. Default

    If CN buys it then that's okay I guess. At least that'll mean the tracks will stay intact.

  8. #38

    Default

    And that is all that will remain, the tracks. The shop in North Bay will close and all work transfered to CN's shop in Vaughan, but not any of the jobs. CN will not have any interest in the line north of Cochrane, either, and doubtful even as far north as Cochrane since the Agrium traffic flows south down the former Algoma Central Rwy (now CN) via Hearst to CN's transcon mainline at Oba.

  9. #39

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    Northern Ontario (north of the French River) should succeed from Southern Ontario, either forming its own province or join Manitoba.
    Everything is simply too different and it is impossible for policies makers in the south to care much about the small number of people who live in the North.

  10. #40

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kkgg7 View Post
    Northern Ontario (north of the French River) should succeed from Southern Ontario, either forming its own province or join Manitoba.
    Everything is simply too different and it is impossible for policies makers in the south to care much about the small number of people who live in the North.
    succeed or secede. They still get their own team at the Brier. They haven't succeeded there for a while.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Tim_Hortons_Brier
    Last edited by BurlOak; 2012-Mar-30 at 12:37.

  11. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Drass View Post
    And Metrolinx just paid what, +$300m for CN rail corridors (announced just a week after the ONR release). I'm not saying northerners are getting the shaft worse than Scarberians or anything ... but one provincial rail entity seems entirely separate from the other.
    Yes Ontario just footed 310.5 million for those tracks. But they are tracks over which more than 17 million passenger trips were made in 2010 (http://urbantoronto.ca/forum/showthr...ership-Figures - Richmond Hill & Lakeshore West). The cost per trip for such an expenditure is only 18$ and change. And that cost only lasts for one year. But one-time capital expenses like that aren't really compatible to year operating costs of running a transit system which is a different beast all together. And in that respect GO transit recuperates 85-90% of its expenses per year, making it one of the least subsidized systems in the world. With GO's passenger volumes increasing by almost 6% per year (they are projected to double by 2030) its more than understandable as to why they would invest significant sums of money into the system. This increase will be largely driven by an increase in population density in the region, without a similar increase in road capacity. Hence, necessitating the need for additional rail service.

    Where as the Northlander provides for 320,000 trips per year on average, which is 50 times less that which GO serves on those two lines alone. Yet requires a ridiculous 400$ subsidy per passenger to function. The number of trips has remained stagnate over the past 10 years and there is little reason to believe this will change as population growth in the areas served by the Northlander will be negligible going forward (http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/economy/...s/projections/). Ultimately there is no real comparison between the two. As the demand is simply not there to justify the expenditure on the ONR when a similar level of service can be provide for by other means, where as that is not even a possibility with GO.
    Last edited by vegeta_skyline; 2012-Mar-31 at 17:47.

  12. Default

    I'm afraid v_s has convinced me.

  13. Default

    Problem number 1 is that ONR/ONTC is the responsibility of the Ministry of Northern Development and not the Ministry of Transport. This has a couple of implications but the most important is that it simply ignores the GTA as part of its mandate. Ontario Northland has very little visibility to a market of 2.5m in the 416 alone. The Northlander train is taking the blame for the losses with this "$400 loss" figure being thrown around without a breakdown of costs and revenues. The Province say they have "done all they can" to save ONTC but looking at the financials of this cobbled together industrial/telecoms/transportation hodgepodge but given the plethora of options available this is impossible to believe.
    • First rail stop north of Toronto is Washago - roughly 160km non-stop, the first 40km of which being some of the most densely populated parts of Canada. Despite running in the corridor north of 404/east of Lake Simcoe where you'd think a rail service might be useful to bridge the gap to 404 expansion, there are no stops there.
    • No integration with GO Transit - its express services compete on the Barrie-Toronto route and no stops at GO Richmond Hill Line stations (although this may be in part because GO has only one platform at stations with 2 or more tracks)
    • No integration with VIA Rail's reservation service as GO Transit has so through ticketing not simple to Canadian at Washago or the rest of the GTA VIA service at Union. I'm sure it's possible if you call VIA Reservations but if that was the answer we wouldn't have web booking engines.
    • Difficult to see how a train which runs out of Toronto at 0845 can be marketed to cottage country folks in Muskoka except for those leaving on Saturday and returning Sunday. Oh wait. No Northlander on Saturday.
    • Northlander uses a freight locomotive, a separate power generating car plus some elderly passenger stock. Hardly an attractive option to anyone but a railfan at a level crossing, camera in hand.
    • Despite ONTC having bus operations on the Highway 11 and 400/69 corridor and a brand new bus depot at Sudbury, there are no ONTC services in the Hwy 17 corridor, at least between Sudbury and North Bay. This territory has been left to Greyhound.
    Here's what I would do, if it were possible to stop the "SELL, KILL, SELL, KILL" juggernaut:
    • Demerge ONTC and dispense with the costly Commission layer governing the group. Ontera first - Rogers, Bell, Telus and whoever can fight over it. Split the passenger operations, the freight business, the North Bay-Moosonee railway infrastructure operation and the refurbishment operation into standalone operations so it's clear where the bleeding is. The last mentioned could be offered to the workers as a buyout with an equivalent loan to what would have been paid out in severance being offered as bridging finance.
    • Co-operate with Metrolinx such that ONTC buses which operate via Barrie to Toronto be redirected to GO bus and particularly GO train service. This would significantly reduce the mileage on the vehicles and cost to the passenger, compensating for the hassle of the transfer. ONTC could then operate more frequent service north of Barrie on both the North Bay and Sudbury routes.
    • Northlander: Contract VIA to operate from Toronto-North Bay with ONTC on-train personnel to be transferred to VIA. It would be hoped that the current federal subvention of $2,500,000p.a. would remain available to this arrangement. 7 day service in summer to chase business from BikeTrain and other excursion activities in the Simcoe-Muskoka region. With a shorter route it would be hoped that less timetable padding would encourage more use especially once track capacity expands south of Vandorf as part of the GO expansion. As the existing train doesn't leave until 0845 it may be that VIA could use the set for an existing commuter service into Union. Rolling stock would be an issue but in the short term an ex GO F59 could pull the existing Northlander stock. Finally I would reinstate a stop at Beaverton to provide possible transfers from the GO 69 and 81 service as well as day excursion traffic to east Lake Simcoe.
    • Contract VIA to operate Polar Bear Express from North Bay to Moosonee using a shared (enlarged) pool of baggage and passenger RDCs with those at Sudbury that operate the White River service.
    • Begin connective bus service between Sudbury and North Bay which would interconnect the Hwy 69/Hwy 11 bus services and as feasible the White River train (Sudbury), the Canadian (Sudbury Jct), the Northlander and the Polar Bear Express (both North Bay)
    Between the Richmond Hill Extension EA proposed additional track and the Doncaster Diamond grade separation a lot of additional flexibility should be available in the southern part of the line. Now is not the time in my opinion to engage in a panic manoeuver if other options can be at least tried.

  14. #44

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    Those all sound like great ideas to increase access and productivity. But the service still wouldn't cover its operating costs - passenger rail doesn't in Canada. So what are we trying to achieve? If it's preservation of the trains, then I would advocate taking 1% of the current operating subsidy and giving it to the Toronto railway museum at roundhouse park. (As far as I can tell they get zero provincial grants now.) That in my opinion would serve as many people as the current setup does, and generate more "spinoff" benefits.

  15. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by k10ery View Post
    Those all sound like great ideas to increase access and productivity. But the service still wouldn't cover its operating costs - passenger rail doesn't in Canada. So what are we trying to achieve? If it's preservation of the trains, then I would advocate taking 1% of the current operating subsidy and giving it to the Toronto railway museum at roundhouse park. (As far as I can tell they get zero provincial grants now.) That in my opinion would serve as many people as the current setup does, and generate more "spinoff" benefits.
    Not sure I understand what you are saying....it seems like you might be saying "any rail service that needs a subsidy {ie. all of them} should just be scrapped and a portion of the subsidy given over to a museum so that we can remember when we had trains".

    Again, apology if that is not what you are saying but it came across that way.

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