Tuesday, June 21, 2016

New bus schedule good news for Northerners

Some good news for travellers in northern Ontario: no more lengthy waits in North Bay in the middle of the night.

Charlie: New bus schedule good news for Northerners - Sudbury.com

Sunday, June 05, 2016

China would pay for rail into Ring of Fire

More details of Chinese involvement in the Ring of Fire. Essentially, China needs chromite - lots of chromite. Canada has chromite - lots of chromite. However, at the moment, nobody can reach it.

In exchange for chromite, it appears that China is wiling to fund the project. What this means for sovereignty isn't clear, but it seems that the actual ownership of the rail link would be split between KWG, the ONTC and native communities.

>>>China would pay for rail into Ring of Fire - KWG | Timmins Press<<<

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The ONTC and China

Could somebody please explain to me why every time there is a mention of a possible partnership between the ONTC and the Chinese state railways the link is taken down?

I recently posted a a promotional video for the Chinese government-owned state railway consultants who may be working on the transportation infrastructure for the Ring of Fire. Within hours, the video had been removed from public viewing.

The North Bay Nugget recently published an article on how the ONTC is ready to take part in the mining project should rail be the main mode of transportation. The article also briefly referred to the same Chinese consultants, who are working with various mining partners to study how to connect the Ring of Fire with existing transportation links. Within hours of being published, the article no longer existed on the Nugget's website and had also been removed from its homepage. You can read a cached version of the article here.

Also of note in the article, once you can find it, is the possibility of moving locomotive maintenance from North Bay to Cochrane, which would free up space for more refurbishment work. Corina Moore, President and CEO of the ONTC, also said that she hoped that continued growth in the refurbishment division and improved service on the Polar Bear Express would show Queen's Park that the ONTC "is just as good" as any of the province's other transportation agencies.

CP's Toronto Yard is Shrinking

CP 3021 & 2281, Toronto Yard

Friday, May 13, 2016

Premier stresses ONR's importance

Nothing really new, but calling for an integration of northeastern and northwestern transportation makes sense. While Ontario Northland has always been synonymous with the North, it has really focused on the northeast.

>>>Premier stresses ONR's importance | North Bay Nugget<<<

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ontario Northland, China and the Ring of Fire?

Edit 27 April: I received a message from Ontario Northland, explaining that the video was "supposed to be on private mode for internal view only" and it has since been deleted. The promotional video can still be found on KWG Resources' Youtube channel.

As the saga of the Ring of Fire continues, Chinese companies have taken a growing interest in the project. China is already one of the largest consumers of primary resources in the world and demand is expected to grow in the future. As a result, the Chinese government and enterprises are seeking new sources for the raw materials needed to fuel their economy.

This past month, a delegation from China Railway First Survey and Design Institute (FSDI) visited the development being undertaken by KWG Resources in the Ring of Fire. While the economic potential of the vast deposits of chromite was a key draw, the main reason for the visit was to allow a team of Chinese railway engineers to survey the possible routes for a rail link connecting the Ring of Fire with CN's main line.

After the delegation met with KWG, it held an introductory meeting with Ontario Northland before proceeding to Montreal for talks with CN. While nothing has been said regarding the meeting, Ontario Northland has since posted a translated promotional video for FSDI [edit 27 April: the video has since been removed] and has retweeted KWG's photo of the survey.

Screenshot of Ontario Northland''s Vimeo channel [Edit 27 April: video now removed]

FSDI is part of China's growing interest in railway construction. This includes such controversial projects as the Qinghai-Tibet railway, which human rights groups have claimed increases Chinese influence in the occupied territory. (FSDI is directly involved with the Tibet project). In 2006, a shareholder's proposal calling on Bombardier to adopt a robust human rights policy in light of their involvement with the project was defeated.

Other Chinese railway companies have been heavily involved in railway construction in Africa, including the ambitious East Africa railway project and the already-completed TAZARA Railway. The latter was the subject of a BBC documentary which demonstrated the lack of transparency in the project.

It is too soon to tell whether China will play a key role in the Ring of Fire, but recent developments have suggested that stakeholders are taking the possibility seriously. This leads to several important questions. To what extent would the Chinese government be directly involved in the Ring of Fire and its rail operations if FSDI or another company were to play a leading role in the project? How would China's human rights record play out with aboriginal communities, which make up the largest population in the Ring of Fire? If the BBC documentary on the TAZARA Railway is anything to by, how much transparency can be expected in a project which will likely receive funding from all levels of government in Canada?

The uncertainty surrounding the Ring of Fire and, by extension, the future of Ontario Northland has taken another interesting turn.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Old and new in the UK

Virgin Trains East Coast has now completed the process of rebranding its fleet of IC 125 and IC 225 trains. Despite being decades old, the new livery gives the trains a distinctly modern feel. 43309, London King's Cross 91120, South Otterington

In contrast, the Great Central Railway has done an excellent job trying to erase modernity from its property, as this image illustrates. D6535, Quorn & Woodhouse