At the last Wawa Municipal Council Meeting, Council supported a resolution recognizing the efforts of the Algoma Passenger Train Working Group and the initiative of Missinabie Cree First Nation’s Mask-wa Oo-ta-ban (The Bear Train) to re-establish the Algoma Passenger Train service.
A study completed in 2015 concluded that the Algoma Passenger Train supported $38-48 million in direct and economic impact, 170-220 direct and indirect jobs and $5.12 – 6.45 million in tax generation. This same study also conclude that at least 75% of the residents and property owners served by this rail corridor do not have another safe or reliable year-round access to their residences or properties.
The Group will develop a not-for-profit organization, a collaboration addressing remote access and socio-economic needs of the Algoma rail corridor with a Board of Directors of First Nations, communities, tourism, property owners and socio-economic stakeholders. They will establish operations as soon as possible in a two stage process:
- First stage: A contract with a railway with a current ROC (Railway Operators Certificate) to provide short-term operations of Mask-wa Oo-ta-ban, the Algoma passenger train (3-6 months) and mentor the development of the not-for-profit rail organization, Mask-wa Transportation. Keewatin Railway Company, a railway owned by three First Nations in Northern Manitoba, the Mathaias Colomb Indian Band,Tataskweyak Cree Nation, and the War Lake First Nation, operates railway passenger, freight and maintenance services in Northern Manitoba has agreed in principle to undertake a contract to operate the Algoma passenger train and mentor the development of Mask-wa Transportation. Keewatin Railway Company has been in the news lately because of their initiative to acquire the Hudson Bay Railway and the Port of Churchill. The plan is to have Keewatin Railway initially operate the Algoma Passenger Service while mentoring the development of the Algoma Passenger Train Not-For-Profit Mask-wa Transportation.
- Second stage: After securing its own ROC, Mask-wa Transportation will take over operational responsibility for Mask-wa Oo-ta-ban, the Algoma passenger train with continued supervision by Keewatin Railway Company for the remainder of the year contract.
CN stated last year, “The passenger train service between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst, Ont., will cease July 15, 2015. The termination stems from the inability of the trains current operator, Railmark Canada Ltd., to obtain financing.”.