Direct Toronto to Muskoka train service takes next step with station reveal

The Ontario government is moving forward with the return of the Northlander passenger train to Muskoka. The plan will reinstate train service between Toronto and Timmins, with a rail connection to Cochrane.  The train service was discontinued more than 10 years ago, in 2012.

On Friday, the provincial government awarded three contracts to design and manufacture nine new station shelters, enhance rail safety, and complete warning system upgrades.

Enseicom Inc. was awarded a contract to design and manufacture nine new station shelters. Remcan Ltd. was awarded the contract for track improvements to enhance rail safety, decrease maintenance, and reduce derailment risks. X-Rail was awarded a contract to complete warning system upgrades along the Northlander corridor north of North Bay.

“People and businesses in northern and central Ontario deserve the same access to safe and reliable transportation as the rest of the province,” Vijay Thanigasalam, Associate Minister of Transportation, said in a statement. “Reinstating the Northlander will not only support our northern industries and resource sectors, but it will also pave the way for a more integrated transportation network that connects communities from the north to the south.”

The route will include 16 stops: Toronto (Union Station), Langstaff, Gormley, Washago, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, Huntsville, South River, North Bay, Temagami, Temiskaming Shores, Englehart, Kirkland Lake (Swastika), Matheson, Timmins, and Cochrane. Service is scheduled to begin in 2026 and by 2041, the annual ridership on this service is estimated to be between approximately 40,000 and 60,000.

Right now, to get to Timmins from Toronto, one would have to fly (3 hours), drive (7+ hours), ride a bus (11+ hour), or take a VIA Rail train to Gogama station (10+ hours) and then drive the rest of the way (1.5 hours).

“By restoring this vital link between Timmins and Toronto, we are unlocking the economic potential in the northeast, making the Northlander a cornerstone for building Ontario,” Greg Rickford, MPP for Kenora, Rainy River, said.

Over the next two years, new station shelters—equipped with seating, lighting, and heating—will be installed in Matheson, Kirkland Lake, Temiskaming Shores, Temagami, South River, Huntsville, Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, and Washago.

Construction of station platforms, parking areas, and pathways will start this summer, along with track improvements to enhance rail safety, reduce derailment risks, and decrease train maintenance.

Once reinstated, the Northlander passenger rail service will operate from four to seven days a week, based on seasonal travel demands.

“People and businesses historically rely on a safe and convenient transportation network to thrive. The return of the Northlander will ensure access to essential services like health care and education, while supporting economic prosperity and tourism across the region,” Jill Dunlop, MPP Simcoe North said in a statement.

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