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Toronto-Muskoka Rail Service

Again...those are single point destinations and the bus runs right to them. Using Algonquin as an example, the closest the train gets to Algonquin is Huntsville.....32km to the south east of Algonquin Outfitters at the southern tip of the park. So still needing some transport to get to the park...about 30 minutes by road along 60....if I recall the Northlander was scheduled for a bit more than 3 hours to get to Huntsville (never experienced it being on time and my longest journey was a bit more than 4 1/2 hours)....so allowing for transfer time at the station...a train to bus (or other modern "last 32km solution") has a travel time of about 4 hours.....parkbus takes 4 hours to the same location without any transfers (and the uncertainty they present).

I am all for spreading economic wealth throughout Ontario and encouraging local tourism (vs spending money overseas). We need more opportunities for people to explore the towns and cities around Toronto who don't have a car (Huntsville, Stratford, KW/St Jacobs, Niagara, Kingston, etc). And if there is a way to do it without blowing the bank even the better. Huntsville may be the best bet (after Niagara).

There are a lot of families who stay up in Huntsville area over the summer while one person works downtown (so the kids/spouse can afford the cottage). If the target market is this spouse the last mile is not the problem. They will be met at the station.

To get to Huntsville it normally takes 2.5 hours. On a Friday it will take between 3.5 and 4.5 hours if you leave at 4:30pm. Plus bringing a second car up to the cottage (if you have a second car).

GO does have lots of train sets sitting empty after 6pm. If you continued an existing Richmond Hill train north that was out of service at the end of the day Friday then the capex would be minimal. It would only have operating costs.

If they can make it to Huntsville in 3.5 hours there would likely be summer demand. The Ontario Northland schedule was 3 hours (but GO will have to make its regular stops along the route so 3.5 is reasonable). It can stop at Rama (replacing Washago), Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Huntsville. The existing GO stops can be used by people not working downtown to get to the service and park for the weekend.

The bigger resorts (Deerhurst, Marriott, etc) would likely run a shuttle (and advertise it for those living downtown without a car). A second target market can be kids going to summer camp....to ease the parents concern you can have each camp reserve the top floor and have an employee or two start the camp experience on the train (get to know each other games). And there would not be locals trying to make a few extra bucks (quite a few are struggling) by offering a shuttle to a cottage.

Schedule would be one train out of Union around 5pm on Friday. Back Sunday night (leaving around 5pm). If there is demand there can be a second train on Sat AM (leaving at 8:30am) and returning Monday AM (5:30am to get to Union at 9am).

Of course there is the cost of having crew up in Huntsville over the weekend (or transporting them back to Toronto). Probably purchase a mini-van for them to use to get them back (stays in Huntsville over the weekdays).
 
I think GO Bus service to Huntsville and Parry Sound from Barrie would be a good first step.

New stations need to be built with the following:

1) Car rental
2) Car share
3) Long term parking protected from elements
4) Location near highway - no need to enter the city

The use cases they need to deal with are:

1) Families where it's easier for the person who works to get up there via GO (meet us up there)
2) Families who live in Toronto and would leave their car up north for the summer (or winter for ski'rs)
3) Vacationers who would rent
4) Short term trips where car share makes sense

They also should see if parkbus will pickup from barrie...which would allow for trips to Algonquin.

Trains need some modifications...ability to bring gear (bikes, bags, etc.) on during rush-hour. Go Busses as well.

Obviously more bi-directional trips at different hours would help as well.
 
With the advent of GO-RER, some bilevels and diesels will be retired, as some runs, like to Barrie, will be entirely electrified.

It would be cool if Ontario used these trains to create a real Government of Ontario transit system. You know, one that serviced all of Ontario.

Including Muskoka, I'd imagine service to Collingwood, Orangeville, Peterborough, Cambridge, return of the Ontario Northlander to North Bay with additional service to Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay.
 
GO does have lots of train sets sitting empty after 6pm. If you continued an existing Richmond Hill train north that was out of service at the end of the day Friday then the capex would be minimal. It would only have operating costs.

If they can make it to Huntsville in 3.5 hours there would likely be summer demand.
Question is what's the max anyone wants to sit on a GO seat? ONR did a trial of a GO coach on Northlander just before the end.
 
If they can make it to Huntsville in 3.5 hours there would likely be summer demand. The Ontario Northland schedule was 3 hours (but GO will have to make its regular stops along the route so 3.5 is reasonable). It can stop at Rama (replacing Washago), Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Huntsville. The existing GO stops can be used by people not working downtown to get to the service and park for the weekend.

The track at Rama is gone. It was on the old CN Newmarket Sub alignment. The 1990s rail service to Casino Rama took the CN Bala Sub (GO Richmond Hill Corridor) as far as Washago, then backtracking down the Newmarket to the casino property, which was at that point the end of track (a factory in Longford was the main reason part of the old route was maintained south of Washago). The direct route via Barrie and Orillia was already abandoned north of Allandale.

So a Rama stop is not an option. The casino expansion was built on top of the old alignment.

It's a shame the Newmarket Sub was taken out - it would have made for a more useful passenger rail line to North Bay, and served larger communities.
 
It's a shame the Newmarket Sub was taken out - it would have made for a more useful passenger rail line to North Bay, and served larger communities.

I think the smartest option is once Allendale has all day two way service. Would be to model the station after Oshawa and Aldershot. That is as a hub and transfer point for GO and local buses. Run GO bus service to Collingwood, Midland, Orilla, and Huntsville.

Although the track is gone, it's better to have rail service from Toronto run via Barrie on the way to Huntsville. It won't be cheap but GO could build a parallel rail line to CP around Barrie before running parallelish towards Orilla and then on to Washago. Having a rail line that connects Barrie, Orilla, Washago, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, and Huntsville with direct service is a non-brainer (but expensive) imo. Highway 11 is already very busy and I think a private operator runs a intercity bus service from Huntsville to Barrie. Can't remember the name.
 
I think the smartest option is once Allendale has all day two way service. Would be to model the station after Oshawa and Aldershot. That is as a hub and transfer point for GO and local buses. Run GO bus service to Collingwood, Midland, Orilla, and Huntsville.

Although the track is gone, it's better to have rail service from Toronto run via Barrie on the way to Huntsville. It won't be cheap but GO could build a parallel rail line to CP around Barrie before running parallelish towards Orilla and then on to Washago. Having a rail line that connects Barrie, Orilla, Washago, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, and Huntsville with direct service is a non-brainer (but expensive) imo. Highway 11 is already very busy and I think a private operator runs a intercity bus service from Huntsville to Barrie. Can't remember the name.
It really is a shame that successive governments have allowed key rail corridors like this to be carved up and built on. They should have acquired them even if no immediate plans existed to bring back service. With the re-establishment of Barrie GO service and now the line being converted to RER, extending it north as you described would have been an absolute no-brainer. Now that route is a very expensive option at best.
 
Since we can't extend Barrie line north east, why not take it north west to Collingwood? It would allow people wanting to go up to Wassaga Beach and Blie Mountain to take the train. A morning trip up from Toronto and back down in evening would be popular with city folks without cars for a stress free way to get out of the city and do swimming hiking skiing, etc...
 
Since we can't extend Barrie line north east, why not take it north west to Collingwood? It would allow people wanting to go up to Wassaga Beach and Blie Mountain to take the train. A morning trip up from Toronto and back down in evening would be popular with city folks without cars for a stress free way to get out of the city and do swimming hiking skiing, etc...

I could be wrong, but I understand Metrolinx quietly provided some funds to the municipal owners of the rail line between Barrie and Collingwood to protect for future service. They did not publicly make it known, because they did not want to create the expectation that they would initiate service. they just wanted to protect for the possibility that may never happen.
 
I could be wrong, but I understand Metrolinx quietly provided some funds to the municipal owners of the rail line between Barrie and Collingwood to protect for future service. They did not publicly make it known, because they did not want to create the expectation that they would initiate service. they just wanted to protect for the possibility that may never happen.

Metrolinx, I believe, also owns the track into Uxbridge to protect for future service (CN was abandoning the line from Stouffville to Lindsay in 1991 and GO picked it up), but the only operators there are the York-Durham Heritage Railway. It was fortunate, though for GO, because it made it a lot easier to build the Lincolnville Station and yard.

There's almost no chance that GO will extend train service to Uxbridge, but it's not an impossibility.
 
Since we can't extend Barrie line north east, why not take it north west to Collingwood? It would allow people wanting to go up to Wassaga Beach and Blie Mountain to take the train. A morning trip up from Toronto and back down in evening would be popular with city folks without cars for a stress free way to get out of the city and do swimming hiking skiing, etc...

In the near term I think this makes immense sense. The number of my friends, especially those who are a bit younger who don't hold driver's licenses is substantial, the number not even owning cars is greater. This is among folks who could afford such things for the most part.

That's s substantial market not merely for commuters, but regional tourism and of course connections for those in more rural areas to healthcare, and education as well.

The market in muskokas remains smaller, for now.

Serving it by bus from Allandale makes a great deal of sense.

But in the long term, I think a train connection probably should be re-established.

Using the Collingwood track to get to the 400 ROW then using that, followed by the 11 ROW to reestablish the connection to Bala makes sense to me.

But the cost justifications just aren't there right now, and the only thing for now should be buses and protection of future ROW.
 
Ocne the land around Allendale gets more and more built up, I have a feel that Metrolinx will seriously consider building a big commuter parking station similar to Lincolnville to act as the park and ride for the region as well as a train storage area just west of the 400 in some brownfield.
 
In the near term I think this makes immense sense. The number of my friends, especially those who are a bit younger who don't hold driver's licenses is substantial, the number not even owning cars is greater. This is among folks who could afford such things for the most part.

That's s substantial market not merely for commuters, but regional tourism and of course connections for those in more rural areas to healthcare, and education as well.

The market in muskokas remains smaller, for now.

In general, I think GO creating a "weekend day trip" market is in idea worth pursuing. They already have the model they use for Niagara Falls, which as far as I know gets pretty decent ridership. Similar trains to Wasaga and/or Collingwood, Huntsville, and even places like Kingston could be pretty popular. It could even be a boost to the hotel market in some of these areas, as a "weekend getaway" type of thing.

People are right that this type of service wouldn't be a replacement for the family of 4 with 2 young-ish kids going to the cottage for the weekend, but it may cater to the couple looking to go away for a weekend and doesn't want to battle the traffic.
 

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