Posts Tagged ‘Agawa Canyon Train’

Algoma Canyon Excursions Have Resumed

September 23, 2022

The fabled Agawa Canyon excursion train resumed operations last month between Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and Agawa Canyon Park.

The 113-mile excursions are now operated by short line holding company Watco, which earlier this year acquired the former Algoma Central route from Canadian National.

The Agawa Canyon train was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and made a limited number of trips in fall 2021. The first 2022 train ran on Aug. 1.

The 10-hour excursion passes lakes, rivers and splendid scenery as it traverses more than 800 curves in the Canadian wilderness.

The trip includes a 90-minute layover in Agawa Canyon Park.

Groups Seek AC Passenger Service Resumption

February 17, 2022

A Canadian First Nation group hopes to work with short line operator Watco on restoring rail passenger service to the former Algoma Central in Ontario.

The Missanbie Cree First Nation wants to see the service restored over 296 miles between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst.

Scheduled passenger service on that route ended in 2015 after then owner Canadian National was unable to find a suitable contractor to operate the service.

Another passenger operation on a 114-mile portion of the route, the seasonal Agawa Canyon tourist train, did continue operating on the former Algoma Central, but was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is unclear if Watco will allow that train to continue and tourism officials in Sault Ste. Marie are hoping to meet with Watco officials about the matter next month.

The chief of the Missanabie Cree, Jason Gauthier, also hopes to meet with Watco officials about restoration of passenger service to Hearst.

He noted that when Watco announced in 2021 that it would acquire the former Algoma Central from CN that the Missanbie Cree signed a memorandum of understanding about its desire to restore passenger service to Hearst from Sault Ste. Marie.

Watco acquired the former Algoma Central as part of a transaction that included picking up former Wisconsin Central lines in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Gauthier wants the Canadian government to spend C$2 million on underwriting the Hearst service. He said other groups also are also pushing for the federal funding.

“We are known for doing things in the long haul, so these delays are not surprising to us. I know we will get through it,” he Gauthier told the Sault Star.

Agawa Canyon Train to Resume in Fall

September 17, 2021

The Agawa Canyon Tour Train in Ontario will operate on a limited schedule this fall.

Officials of Canadian National, which owns the tracks used by the train, said the shorter schedule is due to reduced capacity prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The shortened season runs from Sept. 25 to Oct. 11, and all trips are already sold out. 

“It’s obviously really good news for us and the tourism and hospitality industry,” said Travis Anderson, Sault Ste. Marie’s director of tourism and community development. “It was a big gap in our portfolio last year and it presents a really good shot in the arm in terms of economic impact to the community.”

Watco to buy CN Branch Lines

March 31, 2021

Short line operator Watco will buy 650 miles of branch line track in Michigan, Wisconsin and Ontario from Canadian National.

Watco will also begin operating the Agawa Canyon Train, which will use 250 miles of track the short line company is buying between Sault Ste. Marie and Oba, Ontario.

It has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Missanabie Cree First Nation regarding forming a partnership to operate the Algoma Central Railway.

The Agawa Canyon Train offers one-day excursions over 114 miles north of Sault St. Marie.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. CN had been offering the affected line for sale since last July.

In the United States Watco is purchasing lines now operated by CN affiliate Wisconsin Central.

The acquisitions in the U.S. must be approved by the Surface Transportation Board approval.

Agawa Train Expected to Return

December 22, 2020

Officials in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, are optimistic that the Agawa Canyon Tourist Train will operate in 2021 even if Canadian National sells the Algoma Central Railway as it is seeking to do.

Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Christian Provenzano said the city knows about the sale efforts and has been “in constant communication with CN and the investment bank hired to market the asset.”

Provenzano said the city plans to continue to emphasize the importance of the tourist train to the community and Ontario’s tourism industry.

That thought was echoed by a tourism official who said CN is continuing its preparations to run the train even if the rail line has a new owner.

CN is seeking to sell lightly-used lines in Ontario, Wisconsin and Michigan.

CN Looking to Sell Algoma Central

December 21, 2020

Canadian National has been reported to be in the process of selling the Algoma Central Railway.

News reports in Canada said CN has confirmed that is has initiated the sale process and has been contacted by interested parties.

The Algoma Central runs for 296 miles in Ontario between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst.

CN inherited the Algoma Central in 2001 when it acquired the Wisconsin Central.

The sale is said by industry observers to be in line with CN’s previously announced plans to sell low-traffic lines in the upper Midwest and Canada, including lines in Wisconsin and Michigan.

The Algoma Central is known for its passenger trains, which CN ceased operating in May 2015.

Those trains were operated for a time by contract operator Railmark, but CN ended that arrangement less than three months after it began.

Efforts to revive the service to Hearst since then have yet to yield success.

However, the Agawa Canyon Tour train continues to use a portion of the line, although it has not operated this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Agawa Canyon Train Canceled for 2020

June 12, 2020

The Agawa Canyon Tour Train will not operate in 2020.

The operator announced this week that it was canceling this year’s season “in the interest of public health and safety.”

A notice posted on its website indicated that the cancellation “is in line with existing restrictions at both the provincial and federal levels.”

The train provide a 114-mile excursion from Sault Ste. Marie

However, work is continuing on building a new station in Sault Ste. Marie, funded partly with $5 million from the province of Ontario.