A rail company in southern Ontario says it has approached the provincial government about buying parts of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission — and it’s a proposal that’s upsetting to those trying to keep the rail system in public hands.

TGR Rail Canada said it wants to purchase the freight, rail and refurbishment division.  Company president Kevin Street said the company's proposal would keep the office in North Bay and would protect the positions of current employees for five years.

"To go in there and send everybody packing doesn't make any sense," he said. "We actually need [existing employees] to help us create a viable entity."

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TGR Rail Canada said it wants to purchase Ontario Northland's freight, rail and refurbishment division. (CBC)

Street noted the proposal does not include the Northlander Train.

"It's not being used by the locals and it's losing a lot of money and will discontinue," he said.

Street added the proposal does include setting up a new passenger train service — a line that would run daily return trips from North Bay to Toronto.

MPP Gilles Bisson for Timmins James Bay said he doesn't want any private companies to take over the ONTC and said he will continue to fight against any sale of the ONTC, especially the death of the Northland rail service.

"We need to make sure that we have services that provide fair access to people in northeastern Ontario," Bisson said.

Officials with the province say they are not accepting actual bids at this time, although it has received about 30 expressions of interest, including TGR's

The province is currently in a pre-market stage and says it is creating profiles for each of the divisions that will be put up for sale.