Ontario government to purchase three trainsets to support future northeastern passenger rail service

Dec. 16, 2022
The C$139.5 million investment will see Siemens Mobility Limited manufacture the trainsets that will meet Tier 4 standards.

The provincial government of Ontario will purchase three trainsets for C$139.5 million (US$102.2 million) to support the planned reinstatement of passenger rail service between Toronto and Timmins. Previous passenger rail service ceased operation in 2012, and buses have provided transportation since then.

“This is a significant step forward in bringing back the rail service that northerners deserve,” said Stan Cho, Ontario 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.”

The provincial government explains mobility in the northern part of the province is primarily car oriented. Municipalities and Indigenous communities across northern Ontario face potential mobility restrictions due to the cost of existing options and weather-related challenges.

Metrolinx released an updated Initial Business Case to support Ontario Northland’s proposed reinstatement of passenger rail service between Toronto and Timmins with a connection between Timmins and Cochrane.

In April 2022, the provincial government committed C$75 million (US$54.95 million) toward the future service, and the procurement of the trainsets is another move toward service restoration.

The three trainsets will be built by Siemens Mobility Limited to be fully accessible and will be equipped with built-in wheelchair lifts, mobility aid storage spaces, galley style food services and fully accessible washrooms. The trainsets will meet the latest EPA Tier 4 emission standards.

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

“As our cities continue to expand and grow outside of our urban centers, rail is one the best options to meet the growing demand for mobility, and at the same time, achieve our climate targets. As we continue to build on opportunities in Canada, we are proud to provide people of northern Ontario with our most advanced technology, allowing them to connect more easily and efficiently while enjoying the greatest comfort,” said CEO of Siemens Mobility in Canada Yves Desjardins-Siciliano .

The service is expected to re-launch in the mid-2020s and will service 16 stops between Toronto, Timmins and Cochrane. Forecasts estimate between 40,000 to 60,000 annual boardings would occur by 2041, with service operating between four and seven days per week.

"This purchase is a key next step to support the Province and Ontario Northland's target of a mid-2020s in-service date for reinstating Northeastern Passenger Rail. The rail service will provide passengers more access to safe, reliable transportation options when traveling between northern Ontario and Toronto," said Interim President and CEO of Ontario Northland Transportation Commission Chad Evans.  

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.