News Lobby group says there’s a place for rail passenger service in the north SHARE ON: Rocco Frangione, staff Wednesday, Feb. 20th, 2019 Photo credit: Supplied The lobby group Northeastern Ontario Rail Network is hoping the Ford government’s spring budget talks about the plan to restore rail passenger service in Northern Ontario. The Legislature resumed on Tuesday, and NEORN says with MPPs back at Queen’s Park it won’t be long before the budget is released. NEORN is reminding northerners that during last year’s election campaign, Doug Ford promised to bring back passenger rail if he was elected Premier. NEORN says the need for rail in the north remains unchanged. It says people need a safe and reliable service, especially during the winter. NEORN says passenger service is environmentally responsible and affordable. The lobby group also says there’s a bit of irony at play here in terms of how the funding for rail plays out. It says the province spends $3.4-billion for various rail services in Southern Ontario. It adds a further $17-million is spent by the provincial government on the Polar Bear Express to provide service from Moosonee to Cochrane. NEORN says the irony is the Polar Bear Express qualifies for funding under the Federal Remote Passenger Rail Program. NEORN says if the feds paid for the Polar Bear Express, then that would free up the $17-million the province now pays for the service and it could apply that money to the Cochrane to Toronto service. NEORN says there’s a growing case to restore passenger rail. It says with the drive to bring more immigrants to Northern Ontario, the newcomers wouldn’t feel as isolated living in the north if they had rail service connecting them to family and friends living in Southern Ontario. Passenger rail in the north was cancelled in 2012 by the former Dalton McGuinty government. NEORN says rail passenger service means tourism dollars and economic development.