VIA Rail Restores Ottawa-Toronto Morning Train, Skips Napanee

VIA Rail restores morning commuter train between Ottawa and Toronto, effective May 27, 2024, with stops in Kingston, Belleville, Cobourg, and Port Hope. Napanee, a stop in Lennox and Addington County, is excluded from the schedule due to operational constraints.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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VIA Rail Restores Ottawa-Toronto Morning Train, Skips Napanee

VIA Rail Restores Ottawa-Toronto Morning Train, Skips Napanee

VIA Rail has announced the restoration of a morning commuter train between Ottawa and Toronto, effective May 27, 2024. The new Train 641 will provide daily Monday to Thursday service, departing Ottawa at 4:19 a.m. and arriving in Toronto at 8:48 a.m., with stops in Kingston, Belleville, Cobourg, and Port Hope. However, Napanee, the only VIA Rail stop in Lennox and Addington County, has been excluded from the schedule.

Why this matters: The exclusion of Napanee from the restored train service highlights the challenges faced by smaller communities in maintaining convenient access to intercity transportation, which can have a significant impact on local economies and residents' quality of life. This decision may set a precedent for future transportation infrastructure development, emphasizing the need for policymakers to balance the needs of urban and rural areas.

The restoration of the morning commuter train comes after VIA Rail ceased its early morning service along the eastern Ontario corridor during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although most services resumed in June 2022, Train 651, which connected Kingston to Toronto, remained cancelled. A consortium of municipalities in eastern Ontario, including Kingston, Quinte West, Belleville, and the counties of Northumberland and Hastings, pressed VIA for action, releasing a report in September 2022 highlighting the importance of commuter train services for the region.

When asked about the exclusion of Napanee from the new Train 641 route, a VIA Rail spokesperson explained,"When developing the 641 service, VIA Rail carefully balanced the need to accommodate as many passengers as possible and ensure they could reach Toronto by 9 a.m., all within the time constraints set by the host railway for track access. As a result, some stops served by the previous Train 651, including Napanee, could not be included on the 641 route."

VIA Rail has attempted to mitigate the impact by incorporating Napanee into the schedule of Train 41, which arrives in Toronto at 10:02 a.m. The Town of Napanee expressed disappointment at the exclusion, but encouraged residents to consider alternative transportation options, such as Megabus, which departs from Petro-Canada at 6:55 a.m.

The new Train 641 service marks a significant step forward in restoring morning commuter train options between Ottawa and Toronto. However, the exclusion of Napanee highlights the challenges faced by smaller communities in maintaining convenient access to intercity transportation. As VIA Rail works to balance passenger needs with operational constraints, affected municipalities will need to explore alternative solutions to ensure residents can continue to travel efficiently to major urban centers.