Four years ago, soon-to-be Premier Ford and Minister Vic Fedeli promised to return passenger rail service to northeastern Ontario before the end of their mandate.
Well, here we are — the election is June 2 — and no passenger train!
Not even a purchase order for one!
But there is a provincial budget looming ... and the announcement of $75 million to bring passenger rail service back to northeastern Ontario will restore a key transportation option for residents, businesses and visitors.
Corina Moore, president and CEO of Ontario Northland Transportation Commission and her team, working with Metrolinx, have successfully processed the business plan for the return of passenger rail service through a variety of milestones over the past few years. The stage is now set for the spring budget — with the promise of $75 million in the upcoming budget, will a purchase order now be issued for the rolling stock?
While this government’s major investment will not keep the original promise of the return of passenger rail service by the end of their current term, it will enable our government to provide passenger rail service as suggested by Minister Mulroney by mid-2020s. Reality is it takes up to four years to build a train set — engine, passenger cars — rolling stock. It’s not like acquiring materials (gravel and asphalt) to build a bridge or road. We have the (rail) road and now we need the vehicles to carry passengers from Toronto to Northern Ontario on the railroad. The highway for trains. This Ministry of Transportation is not just the ministry of roads and highways but of transportation.
Premier Ford promised! Minister Fedeli promised!
If all goes well, Minister Mulroney will have funds in the spring budget to acquire the equipment needed to provide passenger train service to northeastern Ontario. Otherwise, the “mid-2020s” delivery promise won’t be kept.
And the promise of 2018 will not be kept!
Voters believe in election promises, or should they?
The announcement is promising!
Lucille Frith, Co-Chair
Northeastern Ontario Rail Network (NEORN)