A Trip on Ontario Northland Railway’s ‘Northlander’ (Cochrane, ON – Toronto, ON)

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On May 28, 1977, the Ontario Northland Railway (ONR) inaugurated a new passenger service from Toronto to Cochrane called the ‘Northlander’. This was done on recommendation from the Urban Transport Development Corporation who had been assigned the task of developing alternate modes of transport in response to the gas shortages of the early 1970’s.

In its later years, equipment on the train consisted of Ontario Northland FP7Au diesel locomotives manufactured by General Motors Diesel in London, ON, and ex-GO Transit single-level cars that had been modified for inter-city use. The cars included coaches plus snack cars offering cafeteria-style meal service.

One could travel in safety & comfort from downtown Toronto up through the Don Valley & into the hinterland on the CN line to North Bay, before switching to ONR trackage & continuing north past quaint stations like Temagami & through the mining town of Cobalt before reaching Cochrane in the evening, where one could retire at the Station Inn and had the option of continuing north to James Bay on the ‘Polar Bear Express’ train the next day.

Alas, while the Polar Bear Express managed to escape the axe, as of September 2012 the Northlander is no longer in service. So enjoy these views of General Motors F-units pulling passenger trains through Ontario’s northern wilderness.

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