Province offers passenger train linking Toronto to central and 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, has 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,” Severn Township Mayor Mike Burkett said.

The project isn’t expected to be completed until the mid-2020s, but Burkett said once it is, it will bring more visitors to the area.

“The train will bring people to Washago who didn’t even know it existed other than passing through. Hopefully people will make it a destination,” Burkett said.

He’s not the only cottage country mayor excited about having more visitors.

Gravenhurst Mayor Paul Kelly said half the population are seasonal residents, but over the past year more and more have made the area their permanent home.

Now, with news of a proposed train that can take residents of the small community of Muskoka to downtown Toronto, Kelly said it’s just another bonus to live there.

“They do their work online, so having the ability to come and go from the office with reliable, on-time rail service is going to be really important,” Kelly said.

Kelly said before passenger train service started in 2012. Residents were having trouble with late train schedules – a problem Ontario Northland said it would fix.

“We certainly learned a lot from the last service that was operational. There are things we will do very differently when it comes to schedules,” said Corina Moore, CEO of Ontario Northland.

Moore said that over the next year they will plan and undertake design work.

There is no specific timetable for the passenger train to come into operation, but it could take another five years.

Jose P. Rogers