Premier Unveils First Refurbished Polar Bear Express Passenger Coach
Investments in the North Announced During Week-long Trip
Premier Kathleen Wynne was in North Bay today to unveil the first of 16 refurbished passenger coaches as part of the renewal of the Polar Bear Express train.
Ontario's $17-million investment in the Polar Bear Express will upgrade and modernize a rail service that provides an essential link for people and businesses in the North -- the only year-round ground transportation connecting Cochrane to Moosonee and the James Bay Coast. The refurbished rail cars will improve the travel experience for passengers, offering them new seats with electrical and USB charging, accessible washrooms, modern flooring, enhanced luggage space, comfortable dining cars and a family car.
This is one of a series of announcements the Premier made during her week-long trip to Northern Ontario to help deliver on the government's commitments to support job creation, economic growth and quality of life across the North. Other highlights of the trip include:
- Announcing an investment of $2.3 million for five film and TV productions shooting in Sudbury, while touring the TV set for Letterkenny, a successful comedy series
- Announcing $2.5 million in funding over three years for a pilot project for five rural health hubs -- four of them in the North -- while at the Espanola Regional Hospital and Health Centre
- Announcing an increase of $120 million in funding to repair and renew schools across the North, while at Northern Heights Public School in Sault Ste. Marie
- Attending a federal government announcement in Dryden to welcome its partnership in supporting the Experimental Lakes Area
- Highlighting the province's investments in economic development through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) during an NOHFC board meeting in Kenora
- Announcing expanded health care services for Indigenous people, while at the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre
- Announcing $1.5 million in support for a project to improve the Town of Moosonee's water supply through the Ontario Community Investment Fund, which is helping hundreds of small, rural and northern municipalities build and repair key infrastructure.
Later today, the Premier will be in New Liskeard to make an announcement about supporting agricultural expansion in the North.
Investing in Northern Ontario is part of the government's economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest infrastructure investment in hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and transit in Ontario's history and is investing in a low carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.
- The Polar Bear Express is being refurbished by the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. The project is supporting 25 local jobs in North Bay.
- The Polar Bear Express has operated continuously for over 50 years. More than 55,000 passengers travel on the train each year.
- The Growth Plan for Northern Ontario is helping to build a resilient and sustainable regional economy — with a focus on 11 existing and emerging priority sectors; expanding education, training and career opportunities for northerners; and attracting people and investments.
- Since 2013, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation has made total investments of more than $406 million across Northern Ontario, leveraging more than $1.2 billion in direct economic activity and helping to create or sustain almost 9,200 jobs.
- During her trip, the Premier was in Sudbury, Espanola, Little Current, Elliot Lake, Blind River, Sault Ste. Marie, Batchawana Bay, Wawa, Fort Frances, Emo, Dryden, Kenora, Sioux Lookout, Moosonee, Moose Factory, North Bay, New Liskeard and Kirkland Lake.
“Our government is building a strong economy for Northern Ontario that creates good jobs and supports vibrant communities. Through the initiatives I announced this week, including the refurbished Polar Bear Express, we are building on the North’s many strengths to ensure that people have the opportunities they need to live healthy and prosperous lives.”
“Our government remains committed to ensuring that Northern communities and industries benefit from viable, efficient and sustainable transportation systems. The new equipment on the Polar Bear Express will go miles in supporting this goal and in supporting transformation at Ontario Northland.”
“We are proud to deliver the first car of the Polar Bear Express remanufacturing project. The refurbished equipment has been thoughtfully built to meet the needs of our passengers, and it showcases the quality refurbishment work produced by our Remanufacturing and Repair Centre.”