Algoma Central, CN seek passenger service operators

From Railway Age:

algomacentralsThe Algoma Central Railway Passenger Service Working Group is seeking a contract operator for ACR’s passenger service between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst, Ontario, and has issued a request for Expressions of Interest (EOI). The purpose of this non-binding invitation is to pre-qualify companies to participate in an upcoming Request for Proposal (RFP) process that will identify one or more parties to be part of a stakeholder plan to have a third party operate the service.

The Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corp., on behalf of the ACR Passenger Service Working Group, issued the EOI on Sept. 3 with the endorsement of CN, which owns the rail line and Algoma Central Railway Inc. Proponents have until September 19 to make submissions. The EOI is available online at

“Stakeholders, through their own efforts, were successful in working with CN and the Canadian federal government to keep the ACR passenger line operating in the short term, and we’re now focusing on long-term solutions,” said Working Group member Tom Dodds, CEO of the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corp. “If there are any rail companies or other parties that are interested in operating the ACR passenger service, we’d like to hear from them. We encourage everyone to get the message out about this unique passenger service opportunity.”

In parallel, CN issued a separate EOI related to its Agawa Canyon Train Tour. The company is seeking a qualified third-party operator to run the regional tourist attraction. CN said its core business is running a freight railway, and it believes “a qualified third-party operator could capitalize on opportunities to grow the tour train service, leverage back office functions, and market the product effectively.” To receive the CN Agawa Canyon Tour Train EOI, contact CN Director of Passenger Services Terry O’Brien 514-399-6673 or CN Director of Corporate Development Fady Mansour at 514-399-4840.

The two EOIs are separate undertakings, though parties may consider submitting an EOI to both.

“This is a critical step in our efforts as key stakeholders to secure the future of the ACR passenger service,” said Working Group member Sylvie Fontaine, Executive Director of the Hearst Economic Development Corporation. “Stakeholders represent a broad range of people, tourists, businesses, communities, and First Nations who depend on the passenger service. There are significant opportunities to increase ridership and revenues while, at the same time, reducing costs. As a group of well-organized stakeholders who represent interests along the railway and throughout the region, we are keen on working with a private, third-party operator to enable it and the passenger service to be successful.”

The ACR Passenger Service Working Group, which represents a larger committee of interested stakeholders, consists of individuals from the City of Sault Ste. Marie (its CAO chairs the Working Group), Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation, Municipality of Wawa, Town of Hearst, area First Nations, Township of Dubreuilville, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie (representing local tourism operators), Algoma Kinniwabi Travel Association (representing regional tourism operators), Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPT), and land and cottage owners serviced by the ACR passenger line.

“This is another opportunity for First Nations in our area to work with our neighbors, fellow stakeholders, other governments and the private sector to develop a successful outcome for the mutual benefit of the region, province and country,” said Working Group member Jason Gauthier, Chief of the Missanabie Cree First Nation, which is part of the Northeast Superior Regional Chiefs’ Forum. “We see a number of opportunities to support the sustainability and growth of this important passenger rail service. The Northeast Superior Regional Chiefs Forum is pleased to be a partner in this initiative.”