It’s about to get easier to get to Northeastern Ontario -- including cottage country -- if you don’t have a car. 

Today, the Ontario government announced it is purchasing three new trainsets as part of its plan to bring back northeastern passenger rail service. Ontario Northland Transportation Commission’s Northlander Passenger Train discontinued service in 2012, making it more of a challenge for some to get to certain parts of the province.

Now, the $139.5M investment marks a significant milestone in reinstating service between Timmins and Toronto -- something the Province says will unlock the full economic potential of northern industries, resources, and minerals. It will also make it simpler to get to the most coveted parts of cottage country, like Gravenhurst and Huntsville.

“This is a significant step forward in bringing back the rail service that northerners deserve,” said Stan Cho, Associate Minister of Transportation. “The reinstated Northlander train will support our northern industries and resource sectors and provide a safe and reliable transportation option for Northern communities, especially in the winter months. This purchase demonstrates real progress, as we continue to take concrete steps to build a better transportation network for the north.”

toronto cottage country timmins train ontario northeasternOntario Ministry of Transportation

According to the Province, the new rail cars will be built by Siemens Mobility Limited and will meet the latest EPA Tier 4 emission standards, making them one of the most environmentally friendly diesel locomotives on the market. The fully accessible fleet will include built-in wheelchair lifts, mobility aid storage spaces, galley style food services, and fully accessible washrooms.

“People and businesses in Northern Ontario rely on a safe, convenient transportation network to get where they need to go and to keep our goods moving,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. “The reinstatement of passenger rail service will ensure access to essential services like health care and education, while supporting economic prosperity and tourism in the region.”

The trainset interiors will also feature spacious seating and modern amenities, including Wi-Fi connectivity and passenger information systems with audio and visual announcements.

The train will be a game-changer on the transportation front: Ontario Northland currently operates four buses daily between Toronto and North Bay, and one to two buses daily from North Bay to Timmins and Cochrane. Once reinstated, northeastern passenger rail service will be offered from four to seven days a week, based on seasonal travel demands.

Detailed design will focus on the route that includes 16 stops: Toronto (Union Station), Langstaff, Gormley, Washago, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, Huntsville, South River, North Bay, Temagami, Temiskaming Shores, Englehart, Kirkland Lake (Swastika), Matheson, Timmins and Cochrane.