A Manitoba-based transportation expert is throwing cold water on any hope for the return of regular passenger-rail service throughout Northern Ontario.

“From an economic perspective, and in the context of allocation of resources, regularly scheduled passenger rail does not appear to make sense for Northern Ontario,” Al Phillips said this week in a report for the Northern Policy Institute think-tank.

Phillips said it would make more sense for the province to subsidize busing services, such as Ontario Northland, which are cheaper to operate than rail.

Though the North lacks the population density to support regular passenger-rail service, it makes sense to maintain short lines that service seasonal tourism industries, the report said.

Earlier this year, Ontario Northland extended its bus service from White River all the way to Winnipeg following the 2018 pullout of Greyhound Canada.

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