Dear Mayor George Lefebvre,
My colleague, Eric Boutilier of All Aboard Northern Ontario, has asked me to provide you and your colleagues with an update on our upcoming NortheastLynx proposal for the revival of the former Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) rail passenger service linking Temiskaming, Cochrane, North Bay and Toronto.
We have made tremendous progress over the summer and we are now aiming for a public launch of the proposal in late October, immediately following the municipal elections.
At the outset, let me say that we have received tremendous support and input from numerous members of the rail industry, retired and active, and the new provincial government. These have included Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli, members of Minister of Transportation John Yakabuski’s staff, ONTC staff, MP Charlie Angus, MPP John Vanthof and retired Amtrak president David Gunn, who now resides on Cape Breton.
Our NortheastLynx proposal draws on many of the service-proven concepts I employed in the development of my SouthwestLynx plan for Oxford County. It may be accessed at:
SouthwestLynx is part of a four-component plan for the improvement of rail and public transportation throughout Southwestern Ontario, much of which is adaptable to the needs and the realities of transportation in Northern Ontario. The four-part series of reports, under the banner Connecting Southwestern Ontario, may be accessed at:
Like this plan, NortheastLynx is not merely a proposal for rail passenger service restoration, but a plan for integrated, multi-modal transportation that optimizes the resources and services of the ONTC and local transit operations.
The NortheastLynx draft report will be completed at the beginning of next week and, after peer review by industry experts, it will proceed to graphic design. Among the major points we have developed are:
(1) A phased implementation plan to deliver an interim Cochrane-Temiskaming-North Bay-Toronto rail service by 2019 with coordinated improvements to ONTC and provincially-owned GO Transit feeder bus services;
(2) A second phase that will improve the interim Cochrane-Toronto service in 2020;
(3) A third phase that will add a second North Bay-Toronto rail frequency in 2021;
(4) Opportunities to take advantage of economies of scale, should certain aspects of the SouthwestLynx plan be adopted and implemented by the Government of Ontario;
(5) Strict adherence to the financial limits placed on ONTC rail service restoration by the new provincial government in the policy statements issued during this year’s election campaign;
(6) Benefits for the freight service provided on the entire line by both the ONTC and the Canadian National Railway;
(7) Longer-range improvements that can be undertaken on an incremental basis on the Cochrane-Temiskaming-North Bay-Toronto corridor, including a westward extension to Kapuskasing, and on the Toronto-Parry Sound-Sudbury rail corridor; and
(8) Scalability based on the actual ridership generation and financial performance of each phase of the NortheastLynx plan.
As endorsed by our advisers, we have taken an approach to NortheastLynx that can best be described as “adopt, adapt and optimize.” Everything in the plan rests on techniques and technologies that have been proven elsewhere and may be readily adapted for implementation here. It also aims to optimize the use of the existing resources of the ONTC and its partners in the delivery of this service.
Please feel free to forward this brief update to your fellow council members and the members of the Temiskaming Municipal Association, the Northeastern Ontario Municipal Association, and the District of Parry Sound Municipal Association to whom we are most grateful for the generous support you have all extended to us. If you or any of your colleagues require further information in advance of our delivery of the NortheastLynx plan, please feel free to contact Eric or me at any time.
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