There will be no more Agawa Canyon Snow Train.
Effective immediately the train has been cancelled.
"This isn't something we just decided last night," says CN Public and Government Affairs Regional Manager Lindsay Fedchyshyn. "It's something we've been watching for quite some time."
Fedchyshyn says ridership of the Agawa Canyon Snow Train would have to increase by 200 percent to justify keeping the tour train on the tracks for the winter.
"Since 1996 when ridership was at its peak, the snow train has gone from running 25 trains to six trains annually due to insufficient ridership to justify more trains," she said. "From 1995-2005 the Snow Train averaged 550 passengers per train."
That would be difficult to do for a season that consists of only six trips.
"We've had cancelations because people got stuck and just couldn't make it," she said. "And then there are the issues of wear and tear on the equipment in the winter. The extreme cold is a challenge. We could have plumbing freeze or any number of other issues."
Fedchyshyn says the company has been consulting with political stakeholders and tried to be sensitive to the community needs for tourism but it just wasn't realistic to expect to be able to increase ridership that much.
Instead, CN has reaffirmed its commitment to work with community stakeholders to continue to increase ridership on the summer and fall Agawa Tour Train.
Fedchyshyn says this decision will have no impact on the regular winter passenger service.
"One does not affect the other as they are separate services," she said.
Railway will focus on growing successful summer and fall tour business
TORONTO - (November 19, 2013) - CN - today announced that it is terminating operation of the Agawa Canyon Snow Train because the seasonal excursion service is incurring rising operating losses as a result of stagnating passenger demand.
CN said it will focus its attention now on continued operation of its successful summer and fall Agawa Canyon excursion trains.
The Snow Train typically operated six Saturday excursions each winter north of Sault Ste. Marie Ontario to the Agawa Canyon.
Despite CN’s efforts to promote the service, passenger counts have failed to grow, remaining at approximately 1,500 per season.
John Orr, CN vice-president, Eastern Region, said: “Since 2011 when we launched our new train, we have actively promoted the Snow Train and its newly refurbished equipment. Unfortunately, ridership has stagnated and the service is not economically sustainable. CN remains committed to Sault tourism and will focus its resources on promoting and growing ridership on the summer and fall tours where we have seen success.”
In the summer and fall, passengers can disembark from the train and tour the Agawa Canyon for about 90 minutes before it returns to The Sault.
This service operates seven days a week over a 17 to 18 week-long season.
The canyon tour, along with the newly- refurbished train cars offering a higher level of enjoyment and passenger satisfaction, has attracted an increasing number of passengers. In the last two years, ridership on the summer and fall excursions has increased by more than 10 percent.
“CN is very pleased by the success of the summer and fall excursion trains,” said Orr. “Working with our partner Tourism Sault Ste Marie, we will continue to invest in the promotion and delivery of this featured excursion train service”.
Information on how to book an excursion on the Agawa Canyon Tour Train can be found at http://www.agawacanyontourtrain.com/ or by calling 1-800-242-2987.
CN is a true backbone of the economy, transporting approximately C$250 billion worth of goods annually for a wide range of business sectors, ranging from resource products to manufactured products to consumer goods, across a rail network spanning Canada and mid-America, from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to the Gulf of Mexico. CN – Canadian National Railway Company, along with its operating railway subsidiaries -- serves the ports of Vancouver, Prince Rupert, B.C., Montreal, Halifax, New Orleans, and Mobile, Ala., and the metropolitan areas of Toronto, Chicago, Detroit, Duluth, Minn./Superior, Wis., Green Bay, Wis., Minneapolis/St. Paul, Memphis, and Jackson, Miss., with connections to all points in North America. For more information on CN, visit the company’s website at www.cn.ca.