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Friday, February 28, 2014

New ONTC Plan Submitted to Government

The ONTC management and the ONTC unions have submitted their joint business proposal to the Ontario Government. The proposal, which outlines how to sustain a more efficient ONTC into the future, was requested by the province earlier this year. The North Bay Nugget has a very good summary of the situation (although the actual report is confidential at this point), while Bay Today has released the statement from Michael Gravelle's office.

This development is significant for several reasons. Firstly, it marks the first real cooperation between management and the unions, parties which until now have been kept separate by the government. Also, it adds weight to the claims that transformation is the preferred way forward, rather than divestment.

It is expected that the government will decide whether to act on the plan within the next few weeks.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A busy week for CAPT

Just a brief update on the activities of the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains. The group recently had a very busy week of meetings, media events and travelling. In related news, CN has announced a 1-month extension of passenger service.

Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains Media Release | Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Call of the Northland Update

It has been quite a while since I have posted any updates on Call of the Northland, my current book project detailing the ONTC divestment process. However, eagle-eyed readers may have noticed an update last month on the book's website hinting at a fall release date.

It's true! The December 2013 Auditor General's report was a turning point and divestment appears to have become transformation. As the various stakeholders and interested parties are holding more open and transparent discussions towards a sensible end to the ONTC saga, my work on the divestment is nearing an end. I am now starting into the gruelling editing, formatting and proofing for publication.

What's next? For those of you waiting for the book, here are a few important dates and points to bear in mind:
  • In order to meet the planned fall release date, I will not be accepting any material or information for inclusion after April 1st. If you have information that you think might help the project, PLEASE contact me before then.
  • If you sell books, or things related to northern Ontario, I would like to hear from you! It's hard for people to read a book if they can't buy a copy. Dealer enquiries are always welcome. The book will be available for purchase online, but I would love to support local book stores too.
  • No new developments will be included in the book after April 1, but I will continue to post updates on this website.
Stay tuned for more updates. In many ways, the easy part is now behind me, now I need to get the word out. After all, what use is a book if nobody reads it?

Back to the editing...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Monday, February 10, 2014

"All Aboard ---Save ACR Passenger Train" series of town hall meetings

As you can imagine, much of my railway-time at the moment is being occupied by revisions to Call of the Northland. However, I am keeping an eye on the Algoma Central situation too. As expected, the federal government's decision to abolish funding for the Sault Ste Marie-Hearst passenger train has not been popular. The Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains is at the forefront of the fight to save the service and I defer to them for coverage of developments. There will be a series of town hall meetings in the next few weeks. Please spread the word and attend if you can.

>>>"All Aboard ---Save ACR Passenger Train" series of town hall meetings<<<

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Management plan a 'template'

Tentative optimism as the ONTC management and unions are set to meet next week to draft a proposal for the government regarding the future of the ONTC. While Ontera remains for sale, it is said to be included in the plan. Since the report is not public, it is hard to tell what information will be made available.

>>>Management plan a 'template' | North Bay Nugget<<<

Friday, February 07, 2014

Mallard on the Main Line / Mallard sur la voie principale

Via Flickr:
Heading for Shildon, Mallard is towed on the East Coast Main Line at York, 5 February 2014. / En direction de Shildon, Mallard est remorquée sur la ligne principale de la côte est à York, le 5 février 2014.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Wynne discusses ONTC

The meeting everyone had been waiting for. Yesterday, Premier Kathleen Wynne visited North Bay and, among the stops, was a meeting between the ONTC unions, the ONTC and the North Bay municipal governement. Apart from reiterating that divestment was not the only option, the meeting also served as the start of more cooperation and dialogue between the parties, with the unions taking a more prominent position in planning the future of the ONTC.

>>>Wynne discusses ONTC | North Bay Nugget<<<

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Union Station should be renamed after first PM, councillor says

Recently, I deconstructed the new Canadian $10 bill using memory-based historiography to show how Canada's railways are at risk. A few days later, CN announced the end of the Sault Ste Marie-Hearst passenger train, reinforcing my argument.

Now, Toronto City Council is looking to rename Union Station after Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. This would be done to commemorate "one of his greatest accomplishments," the Canadian Pacific Railway. Let us not forget that the Canadian Pacific actually toppled Macdonald's government and brought large-scale political corruption to Canada with the Pacific Scandal. There is no doubt that the construction of the Canadian Pacific was crucial to resisting American territorial expansion, even if NAFTA let the US dominate Canada anyway, and the transcontinental railway continues to play an important role in the Canadian psyche, even if most Canadians never actually interact with passenger trains.

Those in favour of the plan suggest that the station should be renamed to honour Sir John and erase the current name, which is shared by countless stations across North America. While Canada's first prime minister (and a very colourful character to boot) deserves recognition, I do not believe that the station should be renamed. Anyone familiar with public transport in North America will immediately recognise the union station as being the main hub for travelling and renaming it would lead to confusion. As long as GO, the TTC and VIA share Union Station, the name is appropriate. Perhaps more importantly, while Canadian Pacific's name continued to adorn the frontage of Union Station, CP hasn't operated passenger trains since VIA Rail was established in the 1970s. Further, CP do not even have a stake in the Union Station Rail Corridor (oh, you'd need to rename that too) anymore and CP trains haven't used the tracks for the better part of a decade. Once again, it would seem that renaming the station is just another lieux de mémoire commemorating a chapter in Canadian transportation history which no longer exists.

>>>Union Station should be renamed after first PM, councillor says - CBC News<<<

Correction Feb. 5: The original version of this post stated that CP was a co-owner of the Union Station Rail Corridor, the Corridor has been purchased by GO Transit/Metrolinx, so CP and CN are no longer co-owners.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Mild Winter Morning / Matin hivernal frais

Via Flickr:
A Scarborough-bound train crosses the River Ouse at York, February 1, 2014. / Un train vers Scarborough traverse la rivière Ouse à York, le 1er février 2014.