|The Santa Claus Express is back on track
|October 31, 2005
Ontario Northland's 2005 Santa Claus Express is back on track! Thousands of children from communities throughout Northeastern
Ontario and Northwestern Quebec will be able to ride the train to the North Pole for a visit with Santa Claus thanks to a unique and
cooperative arrangement between Ontario Northland, the Ontario Northland Benefit Association and three employee unions.
"We're very excited to be able to run the Santa Claus Express this year and offer children throughout the region an opportunity to ride the
train and visit with Santa Claus," said Steve Carmichael, President and CEO of Ontario Northland. "I'm very proud of the way the
employees of Ontario Northland have rallied around the Santa Claus Express to make sure that it runs this year. It's a testament to our
commitment to the communities in which we live."
The Santa Claus Express runs in 13 communities across Northeastern Ontario and Northwestern Quebec, on weekends in November
and December and is operated by Ontario Northland in partnership with local community groups and volunteers. To date, 11 of these
communities have confirmed their intent to participate again this year. Nearly 5,000 children enjoy their train ride to the North Pole and
their visit with Santa Claus each year.
Direct participation by volunteers from the Canadian Auto Workers Union - Local 103 (CAW), the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference -
Division 723 (TCRC), and the United Transportation Union - Local 1161 (UTU), will enable the trains to operate over the entire region,
with Ontario Northland having only to incur the expense of the fuel to operate the locomotives.
"The Santa Claus Express is part of the Northern culture and as employees, we're very happy to be able to volunteer our time and provide
the resources that will allow Ontario Northland, in partnership with many community groups, to run the train this year," said Phil Koning,
President of the Ontario Northland's General Chairpersons Association, representing all of Ontario Northland's unionized employees.
Members from the CAW will maintain and clean the equipment, while the TCRC Locomotive Engineers will operate the locomotives.
UTU Conductors will be on board the train, alongside the many community group volunteers, and together they will oversee the safety of
the children on the train. The Ontario Northland Benefit Association will underwrite other related costs.
The 2005 Santa Claus Express had been cancelled as part of cost saving measures implemented by Ontario Northland to offset
reduced revenues resulting from a strike at one of the Company's major rail freight clients, the Kidd Creek Mine.
The Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC), an Operational Enterprise of the Province of Ontario, was established in
1902 and is a recognized leader in promoting sustainable economic growth by establishing and operating transportation and
telecommunication links throughout the North. Operating primarily in northeastern Ontario, ONTC's enterprises include: the Northlander,
Little Bear, and Polar Bear Express passenger trains; O.N. Rail freight services; Motor Coach scheduled and charter services; and
Ontera telecommunication services.
Source: CNW Group