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Passenger train timeline up around the bend?

'We’re working diligently on this. We want to get this right and we will not take shortcuts.'

"We're going to do it right,"  when it comes to restoring northern passenger railway said Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli, Thursday, during a virtual news conference to release the province's new transportation plan. 

Fedeli called Connecting the North: A Draft Transportation Plan for Northern Ontario "especially exciting for Nipissing. Dependable and efficient passenger rail has long been awaited."

The multi-million dollar question is when?

More than two years into the Ontario Progressive Conservative government's mandate, no timeline has been released regarding the restoration of some form of passenger rail service along the Toronto–North Bay–Timmins–Cochrane corridor.

See related story: Passenger rail supporters expect new government to make good on campaign promise

Fedeli has consistently expressed a need for patience when it comes to the province fulfilling that 2018 election promise.

During Thursday's call, he lauded the northern transportation plan and its promise to build "a stronger and safer transportation network," calling it "ambitious" in the ways it "accounts for the unique needs and challenges," of the population.

For more on Connecting the North: A Draft Transportation Plan for Northern Ontario, click here.

Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney observed her northern colleagues are not shy about advocating for the transportation needs of their constituents. She added, the input from the northern MPPs and respondents to MTO surveys helped frame the transportation plan.

Fedeli agreed with Mulroney's assessment. "Rail is important for our Northerners, we're not shy about sharing our viewpoints."

The MTO, in partnership with the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development, and Mines recently concluded a public survey seeking feedback on options to improve travel from Toronto along the Cochrane/Timmins corridor, including train service. 

See related story: Rail advocacy group 'optimistic' province is moving forward with northern passenger train

"Our government is committed to identifying opportunities for a modern, sustainable transportation system in the north. We’re working diligently on this. We want to get this right and we will not take shortcuts," the MTO tells BayToday.

So where does the northern railway plan stand?

The MTO confirms there is no exact timeline but reports, "We are making progress on our plan for passenger rail service in the North. We are working with the ONTC to speed up work on a track audit on a section of the North Bay corridor." 

The MTO says it has also received the initial business case for Northeastern passenger rail. "We’re continuing to work on this and refine the contents of it."

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