Province proposes passenger train connecting Toronto to central, northern Ontario
WASHAGO, ONT. -- A passenger rail service from northern Ontario to Toronto may be on the horizon.
Ontario Northland, along with Metrolinx and the provincial government, proposed plans for a 13-stop route between Northern Ontario and downtown Toronto.
The train would also make stops in communities such as Washago, Gravenhurst and Bracebridge.
"They took the Northland away, and now they're bringing it back, which is exciting," said Mike Burkett, Severn Township mayor.
The project is not slated to be completed until the mid-2020s, but Burkett said once it is, it will attract more visitors to the area.
"The train will bring people to Washago that didn't even know it existed other than passing through. Hopefully, people make it a destination," said Burkett.
He's not the only cottage country mayor excited about the prospect of more visitors.
Gravenhurst Mayor Paul Kelly said half of the population are seasonal residents, but over the last year, more and more have made the area their permanent home.
Now, with the announcement of a proposed train that can take residents to downtown Toronto from the small Muskoka community, Kelly said it's just another bonus of living there.
"They are doing their work online, so having the opportunity to go back and forth from the office with reliable and on-time rail service, it's going to be real important," said Kelly.
Kelly said before the passenger train service left in 2012. Residents had issues with train schedules being late - an issue that Ontario Northland said it would address.
"We certainly learned a lot from the last service that was up and running. There are things that we will do very different with regards to schedules," said Corina Moore, CEO of Ontario Northland.
Moore said over the next year they would be planning and undergoing design work.
There's no clear timeline for when the passenger train will be up and running, but it could be another five years.