HUNTSVILLE – Premier Dalton McGuinty is keeping mum on what he has done with a Huntsville Train Station guest book.
Train station staff packed one of its guest books and sent it to McGuinty’s office earlier this month ahead of the cancellation of the Ontario Northland passenger rail service. The province is discontinuing the publicly funded service as of Sept. 28.
The book included comments from station visitors about the train and its importance to them, said Huntsville Train Station Society president Lucille Frith.
Frith said comments included one young rider writing he or she was travelling on the train with his or her grandmother and wasn’t it sad the train was being cancelled.
Other comments spoke about the train’s importance in a rider’s trips for medical appointments in Toronto, a student using the train on Mondays to get to school and on Fridays to get home again, and seniors who used it for errands and appointments.
The purpose of mailing the book, said Frith, was to show provincial officials how integral rail travel is to those in the region.
As of press time Tuesday, train station staff had not received a response from the premier’s office regarding the book’s content, nor would the office confirm the location of the guest book.
The provincial government has opted to sell its Ontario Northland communication and transportation assets in a bout of economic belt-tightening. It has stated that the subsidy for Ontario Northland assets is about $100,000. The subsidy for the Northlander alone sits at about $24 million.
The cancellation of the Northlander will be followed by a due diligence period in which the province will take stock of every facet of the asset before it puts the passenger rail asset up for sale.
Provincial representatives say the province has received about 30 expressions of interest from those looking to purchase various Ontario Northland assets.