For 101 years the ACR Passenger Train operated from Sault Ste Marie to Hearst, Ontario. In the last 20 years or so it was subsidized by the Canadian taxpayer. In 2014, Transport Canada gave the community one year to find a solution and Railmark Canada Limited was chosen by a legal RFP process by the community of Sault Ste Marie and then approved by CN. Railmark purchased the passenger train franchise from CN and obtained all necessary certifications and qualifications, then achieved operating status where it ran the ACR Passenger Train, renamed the ALgoma Spirit Passenger Train, until July 18th because the Sault Ste Marie government through the Economic Development Corporation would not work with Railmark to finalize and execute a Reimbursement Agreement on funding provided by Transport Canada during the Harper Administration.
The EDC went through another RFP process and all three candidates could not pass the standards of operations from CN as Railmark had. Now industry and businesses could fail if the train is not started soon, hopefully by mid-May. Railmark still has all of its certifications and is the quickest solution to resuming train service. Additionally Railmark has a plan with this train to significantly increase ridership, tourism and this the economy and employment. But there are forces that want to run the train the way its always been and that’s not fair to the Canadian taxpayer. Railmark’s plan drives the train operation to financial sustainability in five years to an average ridership of 60,000 per year at the end of the development plan.
If you are tired of government getting in the way of positive economic development for a train that is critical to the northern Ontario economy, then post your comments. Read the facts and the failures of the process to resume the train since July 18, 2015. There are so many other pressing economic issues for the area to address like the Essar Steel and other issues. The resumption of the ACR Passenger Train is one that is an easy fix. All the way since Railmark offered to operate the train on a month to month basis up and through today when we have kept our certifications, approvals and qualified train crews in tact to resume the train, we remain the surest and quickest option.
Local government has enough to do. Fixing this passenger train is an easy one now. People have to be willing to come to the table. Railmark Canada Limited has never left the table and remains committed today to develop this train into one of the greatest train experiences in North America.
Let us hear from you.
Editor’s Note: All comments will be forwarded to Railmark Canada.