News   Jan 22, 2021
 577     0 
News   Jan 22, 2021
 333     0 
News   Jan 22, 2021
 845     3 

Ontario Northland and the End of the Northlander

micheal_can

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Dec 24, 2016
Messages
2,332
Reaction score
1,446
Normally, 'The Canadian' would serve that connection.

Its not very frequent (2-3x per week), even normally, its rather pokey; but it is there.

But its currently not running.

I don't think Toronto-Winnipeg is a particularly viable destination pair mind you; even if you got the frequency up to daily, its just not a remotely competitive trip time w/flying; and there's no path under which it will be either.

I'm a fan of shorter destination pairs, where demand warrants, and its practical to offer reasonable speed and frequency.

Thunder Bay-Winnipeg might make sense.

Sudbury to Thunder Bay might make sense

Toronto - Sudbury might make sense.

Toronto-Winnipeg is really pretty peripheral in terms of demand; its very hard to keep trip times reliable over that distance on shared track. So I expect that destination pair to really be served incidentally again in the future, as it has in the recent past.

The Canadian does not go near Thunder Bay.

My reason for the whole route is if you are going from Toronto to SSM, and then go further to Thunder Bay, it would be better to go to Winnipeg as it is the closer large city.

This potentially could happen if ONR owned the HCR and ACR. I know there would need to be some upgrading as the OVR has a speed of 25 mph, which is unrealistic. The connection through Sudbury is still there.
I'd doubt it would happen for at least 10 years after both HCR and ACR are owned by ONR. Even then, it would be doubtful.
 

Northern Light

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
May 20, 2007
Messages
9,627
Reaction score
12,835
Location
Toronto/EY
The Canadian does not go near Thunder Bay.

My reason for the whole route is if you are going from Toronto to SSM, and then go further to Thunder Bay, it would be better to go to Winnipeg as it is the closer large city.

This potentially could happen if ONR owned the HCR and ACR. I know there would need to be some upgrading as the OVR has a speed of 25 mph, which is unrealistic. The connection through Sudbury is still there.
I'd doubt it would happen for at least 10 years after both HCR and ACR are owned by ONR. Even then, it would be doubtful.

I didn't say The Canadian went anywhere near Thunder Bay.

Perhaps you could be less enthusiastic about correcting a mistake that was never made.

I answered a specific question, accurately.

****

As an entirely separate aside, I discussed my thesis for the manner in which I think VIA operations might be most effectively expanded; in some cases.

I gave examples; which I prefaced by saying 'might' work; because I don't know, and haven't studied the matter.

In the absence of evidence to the contrary, I will maintain that I do not perceive there to be material demand for a Toronto-Winnipeg trip as such; and that the obstacles posed in providing such a service in a useful way are material.

As such I would advocate other options be examined first, as resources permit.
 

lenaitch

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 5, 2017
Messages
2,509
Reaction score
2,053
The Canadian does not go near Thunder Bay.

My reason for the whole route is if you are going from Toronto to SSM, and then go further to Thunder Bay, it would be better to go to Winnipeg as it is the closer large city.

This potentially could happen if ONR owned the HCR and ACR. I know there would need to be some upgrading as the OVR has a speed of 25 mph, which is unrealistic. The connection through Sudbury is still there.
I'd doubt it would happen for at least 10 years after both HCR and ACR are owned by ONR. Even then, it would be doubtful.

Regardless of what happens with the HCR, OVR or even possibly the CN Soo sub, I highly doubt the Ontario government (ONTC) will be buying anything. At best they will lease usage, unless you know a drawer full of several spare millions the province has.

I'm not of the 'build it and they will come' camp. I would want to see a need for regular rain transportation between points like SSM and TBay (over a line that doesn't really want passenger service but grudgingly hosts it between Sudbury and White River anyway) , Toronto and SSM (where air routes already exist) or Sudbury and TBay.
 

Northern Light

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
May 20, 2007
Messages
9,627
Reaction score
12,835
Location
Toronto/EY
Regardless of what happens with the HCR, OVR or even possibly the CN Soo sub, I highly doubt the Ontario government (ONTC) will be buying anything. At best they will lease usage, unless you know a drawer full of several spare millions the province has.

I'm not of the 'build it and they will come' camp. I would want to see a need for regular rain transportation between points like SSM and TBay (over a line that doesn't really want passenger service but grudgingly hosts it between Sudbury and White River anyway) , Toronto and SSM (where air routes already exist) or Sudbury and TBay.

Someone may correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Sudbury-White River was premised on serving communities or cabins w/no road access.

Elsewise, I'm in complete agreement.

I think there is an obvious case in general terms for access from the near north to Toronto.

Likewise from Kenora area to T-Bay and/or Winnipeg, for access to post-secondary education and healthcare.

The question that ensues is whether road access is sufficient; and what level of rail service (if any) would be superior, and have a market; and then comes the logistics and cost of delivery, should such a route pass the first test.

For like reasons, I'm certainly prepared to entertain a case for SSM-Sudbury from one side and Mattawa-North Bay- Sudbury from the other; as Sudbury has the most advanced healthcare and education in that region.

But entertaining the hearing of such a case and agreeing to fund it, both capitally and operationally are different matters.
 

micheal_can

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Dec 24, 2016
Messages
2,332
Reaction score
1,446
I didn't say The Canadian went anywhere near Thunder Bay.

Perhaps you could be less enthusiastic about correcting a mistake that was never made.

I answered a specific question, accurately.

****

As an entirely separate aside, I discussed my thesis for the manner in which I think VIA operations might be most effectively expanded; in some cases.

I gave examples; which I prefaced by saying 'might' work; because I don't know, and haven't studied the matter.

In the absence of evidence to the contrary, I will maintain that I do not perceive there to be material demand for a Toronto-Winnipeg trip as such; and that the obstacles posed in providing such a service in a useful way are material.

As such I would advocate other options be examined first, as resources permit.

You did say it serves there. That is why I mistook it.

Across Canada, there are many places that should get new service before this does. However, in the province of Ontario, a line connecting Thunder Bay to Winnipeg is a logical connection that one day should happen. Connecting SSM to Toronto, and even up to Thunder Bay does also make sense. This route could be a short train, like the Northlander was. It could even operate just between Winnipeg and Toronto.

Regardless of what happens with the HCR, OVR or even possibly the CN Soo sub, I highly doubt the Ontario government (ONTC) will be buying anything. At best they will lease usage, unless you know a drawer full of several spare millions the province has.

I'm not of the 'build it and they will come' camp. I would want to see a need for regular rain transportation between points like SSM and TBay (over a line that doesn't really want passenger service but grudgingly hosts it between Sudbury and White River anyway) , Toronto and SSM (where air routes already exist) or Sudbury and TBay.

It is likely that CP will retain ownership of the HCR sub. The operator could be ONR/Millman like the news is suggesting.

The ACR section could be done like the Newmarket Sub, owned by CN, but operated by ONR(for the Northlander), and possibly fully operated by the ONR. If the ACR was shut down, the city of SSM might buy part of it to keep their popular Agawa Canyon Train going.

Someone may correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Sudbury-White River was premised on serving communities or cabins w/no road access.

Elsewise, I'm in complete agreement.

I think there is an obvious case in general terms for access from the near north to Toronto.

Likewise from Kenora area to T-Bay and/or Winnipeg, for access to post-secondary education and healthcare.

The question that ensues is whether road access is sufficient; and what level of rail service (if any) would be superior, and have a market; and then comes the logistics and cost of delivery, should such a route pass the first test.

For like reasons, I'm certainly prepared to entertain a case for SSM-Sudbury from one side and Mattawa-North Bay- Sudbury from the other; as Sudbury has the most advanced healthcare and education in that region.

But entertaining the hearing of such a case and agreeing to fund it, both capitally and operationally are different matters.

This is why I initially suggested SSM-Sudbury-North Bay-Toronto as a first step. Then, there is the possibility that residents along the ACR ask for service. The challenge is, there is no good spot north of SSM to terminate, besides Thunder Bay. It could end in Hearst or Cochrane, but I don't know if that would make much sense.

The one thing going for any passenger rail service in the North is the fact that our highways tend to get closed in winter on many occasions. A train usually wouldn't stop for bad weather.
 

lenaitch

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 5, 2017
Messages
2,509
Reaction score
2,053
Someone may correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Sudbury-White River was premised on serving communities or cabins w/no road access.

Elsewise, I'm in complete agreement.

I think there is an obvious case in general terms for access from the near north to Toronto.

Likewise from Kenora area to T-Bay and/or Winnipeg, for access to post-secondary education and healthcare.

The question that ensues is whether road access is sufficient; and what level of rail service (if any) would be superior, and have a market; and then comes the logistics and cost of delivery, should such a route pass the first test.

For like reasons, I'm certainly prepared to entertain a case for SSM-Sudbury from one side and Mattawa-North Bay- Sudbury from the other; as Sudbury has the most advanced healthcare and education in that region.

But entertaining the hearing of such a case and agreeing to fund it, both capitally and operationally are different matters.

As far as I know, you are correct. The Sudbury-White River VIA is operated under their Remote Service mandate.

Access for services such as post-secondary education and advanced healthcare are legitimate, but I'm not sure service at the frequency level suggested would be supportable.

I'm also not sure about the viability of passenger rail to service a town of under 2K (Mattawa).

You did say it serves there. That is why I mistook it.

Across Canada, there are many places that should get new service before this does. However, in the province of Ontario, a line connecting Thunder Bay to Winnipeg is a logical connection that one day should happen. Connecting SSM to Toronto, and even up to Thunder Bay does also make sense. This route could be a short train, like the Northlander was. It could even operate just between Winnipeg and Toronto.

It is likely that CP will retain ownership of the HCR sub. The operator could be ONR/Millman like the news is suggesting.

The ACR section could be done like the Newmarket Sub, owned by CN, but operated by ONR(for the Northlander), and possibly fully operated by the ONR. If the ACR was shut down, the city of SSM might buy part of it to keep their popular Agawa Canyon Train going.

This is why I initially suggested SSM-Sudbury-North Bay-Toronto as a first step. Then, there is the possibility that residents along the ACR ask for service. The challenge is, there is no good spot north of SSM to terminate, besides Thunder Bay. It could end in Hearst or Cochrane, but I don't know if that would make much sense.

The one thing going for any passenger rail service in the North is the fact that our highways tend to get closed in winter on many occasions. A train usually wouldn't stop for bad weather.

The Newmarket sub (north section) is not operated by ONR, nor was it operated by ONR when the Northlander ran. ONR had running rights.

The City of SSM and partners have been trying for a couple of years to find a viable operator for the tour train, so far without success. I would imagine if the city proposed to buy a 114 mile rail line simply to operate a tour train - with no other revenue - and pay somebody to run it, the taxpayers would run them out of town on rails that may no longer exist.

The problem with "residents along the ACR" is that there are hardly any. Other than the terminal communities, the only ones of any size are hawk Junction (~200) and Dubreuilville (~620), both of which have road connections. The biggest impact when the ACR passenger train was cancelled was to remote tour operators. It seems the problem with the regular passenger train was not enough people in Hearst wanted to go to SSM and visa versa. If you are in Hearst and have a hankerin' for a city, you go to Timmins.

I lived and worked in both the northeast and northwest for a number of years. Other than post secondary and healthcare as Northern Light mentions (which are certainly not done on commuter-type frequency), people even in the larger centres don't habitually travel to other centres except perhaps for business or the occasional family visit. The only time we went to SSM, TBay or Wpg was the occasional shopping trip, once or twice a year (probably Walmart now - can't do Sears anymore). Heck, if you're in TBay and need to hit a Costco, Duluth is closer.
 

micheal_can

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Dec 24, 2016
Messages
2,332
Reaction score
1,446
The Newmarket sub (north section) is not operated by ONR, nor was it operated by ONR when the Northlander ran. ONR had running rights.

The City of SSM and partners have been trying for a couple of years to find a viable operator for the tour train, so far without success. I would imagine if the city proposed to buy a 114 mile rail line simply to operate a tour train - with no other revenue - and pay somebody to run it, the taxpayers would run them out of town on rails that may no longer exist.

The problem with "residents along the ACR" is that there are hardly any. Other than the terminal communities, the only ones of any size are hawk Junction (~200) and Dubreuilville (~620), both of which have road connections. The biggest impact when the ACR passenger train was cancelled was to remote tour operators. It seems the problem with the regular passenger train was not enough people in Hearst wanted to go to SSM and visa versa. If you are in Hearst and have a hankerin' for a city, you go to Timmins.

I lived and worked in both the northeast and northwest for a number of years. Other than post secondary and healthcare as Northern Light mentions (which are certainly not done on commuter-type frequency), people even in the larger centres don't habitually travel to other centres except perhaps for business or the occasional family visit. The only time we went to SSM, TBay or Wpg was the occasional shopping trip, once or twice a year (probably Walmart now - can't do Sears anymore). Heck, if you're in TBay and need to hit a Costco, Duluth is closer.

Sorry if you misunderstood. I know ONR has running rights. It does not operate freight south of North Bay.

Duluth isn't open for TBay residents as the border is closed. So, I'll bet many are doing the trek to Winnipeg.

I am not suggesting SSM will buy the whole line. However, if the Ring of Fire ferrocrome smelter is in SSM, the city buying it has secured the future of that city. If they can, residents, especially the ones working for the new smelter would likely be thankful, and vote for the politicians that made it happen.

I realize anything between Thunder Bay and SSM is more of a pipe dream than anything else. Mind you, SSM to Toronto, through Sudbury and North Bay could be possible if the line was in better shape. I could see OVR asking ONR to take over if they take over HCR. The maintenance costs are enough to want to get out of it.

If SSM doesn't want ACR, I'd bet that ONR would take it, and just run what little freight currently goes on it, and then push to have the ore from the RoF go by rail. This might see the old CN line between Nakina and Calstock reactivated for the Ring of Fire.

So, let's play a timeline of my thoughts out.
Less than 1 year HCR becomes part of ONR.
1-2 years, Northlander service reactivated.
2-3 years Ontario General election.
2-3 years, ACR to be operated by ONR or SSM
5-10 years Ring of Fire is connected to the rail system If ONR is running between Hearst and SSM, there is a possibiluty of 500km of new track being laid(https://www.northernontariobusiness...fire-road-construction-and-mine-start-2632567)
5-10 years OVR wants out and ONR takes over.
15-20 years A passenger service runs between SSM and Toronto.
20+ years Service between Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, SSM and Toronto starts.

The things within 5 years are very likely with what is in the news. The things between 5-10 are realistic, but depend on a lot of factors, much of which most of us would have no access to. Anything beyond 10 years is a guess on how things could progress, but is doubtful unless the Northlander is a massive success and voters cry for similar service.

The big wild card will be what happens with HCR. If in 2021, it is business as usual, then my timelines are junk, except fort he Northlander. Vic won't get voted in if that does not happen.
 

lenaitch

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 5, 2017
Messages
2,509
Reaction score
2,053
^^ If the refinery goes to SSM as per Noront's plan, and assuming fed by rail (which seems reasonable) there is no need to re-lay rail east of Nakina; the CN mainline meets the Soo sub at Oba.

To paraphrase the Lotomax commercial, 'the dude knows how to dream'.
 

micheal_can

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Dec 24, 2016
Messages
2,332
Reaction score
1,446
^^ If the refinery goes to SSM as per Noront's plan, and assuming fed by rail (which seems reasonable) there is no need to re-lay rail east of Nakina; the CN mainline meets the Soo sub at Oba.

To paraphrase the Lotomax commercial, 'the dude knows how to dream'.

That also depends on running rights and traffic.

I do know how to dream. However, I also know how to look at what is going on and make reasonable guesses at things. For instance, the Northlander will return otherwise Vic is not getting elected in North Bay. Loosing HCR or ACR would hurt the PCs chance of reelection in SSM.
 

HighIron905

New Member
Member Bio
Joined
Oct 28, 2020
Messages
36
Reaction score
44
Milman Industries is in the news again. Eacom has also made a statement on the importance of the rail line. This is actually pretty interesting. Maybe we should start taking bets for who will be running the line as of 2021.

 

micheal_can

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Dec 24, 2016
Messages
2,332
Reaction score
1,446
Milman Industries is in the news again. Eacom has also made a statement on the importance of the rail line. This is actually pretty interesting. Maybe we should start taking bets for who will be running the line as of 2021.


I am betting it will be run with ONR livery.
 

lenaitch

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 5, 2017
Messages
2,509
Reaction score
2,053
If HCR walks or defaults, to keep the line operating somebody will need a lease agreement with CP (plus possibly running rights agreements in Sudbury - not sure on that one) and a railway operating certificate. Milman does not have one and I don't know how long it takes to get one and what hoops they have to jump through. A far as I know they don't operate equipment off their own property. There is no indication on their website that they are set up for MOW. ONR has a certificate and road trained operating and maintenance crews. Likely not enough to take on new mileage but a basis to build from.
 

micheal_can

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Dec 24, 2016
Messages
2,332
Reaction score
1,446
If HCR walks or defaults, to keep the line operating somebody will need a lease agreement with CP (plus possibly running rights agreements in Sudbury - not sure on that one) and a railway operating certificate. Milman does not have one and I don't know how long it takes to get one and what hoops they have to jump through. A far as I know they don't operate equipment off their own property. There is no indication on their website that they are set up for MOW. ONR has a certificate and road trained operating and maintenance crews. Likely not enough to take on new mileage but a basis to build from.

If it does get leased by ONR, there's no reason not to rehire all of HCR's crews and train them on the ONR engines.
 

Top