What the liberals take away, the Tories can replace and the cost be damned. The Ontario Northlander rail service from Toronto to Timmins and Cochrane is expected to be back in service within the next three years. While the service is certainly needed despite the subsidies required from the province, the government of the day is looking backwards instead of forward. They are spending for the benefit to be in time for the next provincial election instead of the long term needs of Northern Ontario.
When the clear direction of Ontario is to electrify commuter and regional train services, the conservatives want to add three more diesel trains to the mix at a cost of $139 million. At the same time, they are spending additional funds on track upgrades and stations. This would have been the ideal time to electrify the line.
With the planned 16 stations over the 700 kilometres, it is an ideal application for a higher speed electrical service. The time savings alone would draw people away from the up to nine-hour trip by automobile.
The Northlander has a noble history. It had been in service for 110 years when the Kathleen Wynne government axed it as a cost saving measure. I once spent some time in Timmins and visited one of the still operating gold mines. I realized then the wealth that the Northlander has contributed to Ontario over many years. Watching the liquid gold pouring into the moulds is quite impressive.
My only conclusion on this Northlander business is that the Ford conservatives must have their hard little hearts set on winning some Northern Ontario seats in the next Ontario election. It is unlikely they can offset the seats they are going to lose in the Toronto and the Golden Horseshoe.
Copyright 2022 © Peter Lowry
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