It's been a little over a year since the Ontario government announced the purchase of three new trainsets as part of its plan to bring back northeastern passenger rail service — and I, for one, believe strongly that reinstating the service will bring plentiful benefits to cottagers, and the cottage country community at large.

Discontinued in 2012, the cottage country passenger train service, known as the Northlander, provided — and will again provide — a massive shift and boost in flexibility for how people traverse Ontario.

According to the Ministry of Transportation, the passenger rail is slated to provide service from Toronto to Timmins, with a rail connection to Cochrane. Unquestionably, the re-establishment of the Ontario Northlander train service is good news for those seeking cost-effective, hassle-free access to cottage country — and northern Ontario.

READ: Transit-Oriented Cottages: How The Return Of A Train Line Will Prove Transit Can Change Everything

For those individuals who are wary of undertaking the 2.5-hour (to, potentially, 3.5-hour) drive up Highways 400 or 11 to visit Muskoka, and northern Ontario at large, riding by rail is a sane and cost effective alternative.

Increased accessibility to and from Ontario's north is positive for those seeking a stay at a cottage getaway, of course. What today requires lots of travel and vehicle prep — not to mention the drive itself, which can sometimes be stressful due to heavy traffic — will soon become a "sit back and relax" type of experience.

The ripple-effect of easier access for cottagers will be: positive impacts on the small cottaging communities they visit. Increased ease of tourism means higher patronage for small-owned shops, restaurants, and attractions, which supports local economies and helps these beautiful destinations continue to thrive.

READ: Toronto to Cottage Country Train Service Is One Step Closer

Interestingly, this decision to re-activate the Northlander seems to align with a world-wide trend in support of rail travel.

Indeed, the New York Times recently published an article citing a growing trend in Europe rail service that shows that demand for the lower cost and environmentally friendly travel rail service option has never been higher and expansion plans are well underway.

Proposed route for northeast passenger rail showing stops at Union Station (Toronto), Langstaff, Gormley, Washago, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, Huntsville, South River, North Bay, Temagami, Timiskaming Shores, Englehart, Kirkland Lake (Swastika) Matheson and Timmins (South Porcupine) with a rail connection to Cochrane. (Ontario Ministry of Transportation.)

Further, rail service to Muskoka has a long and storied history in the area as the Muskoka Lakes rail service was originally established in the early 20th century by US steel barons from Pennsylvania who wanted easier access to their favourite Northern lakes hunting and fishing playground.

Soon later, visitors from all parts of Canada followed suit by rail, and the rest is history.

Muskoka as we know it was already well on its way to becoming the darling of lake districts for decades to come.


This article was produced in partnership with STOREYS Custom Studio.

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