Government of Canada and VIA Rail complete major improvements to Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto line

Upgrades on track that will lead to safer, faster service

OTTAWA, Nov. 4, 2011 /CNW Telbec/ - Today, the Honourable Steven Fletcher, Minister of State (Transport), and VIA Rail Chairman Paul G. Smith announced the completion of major track improvements between  Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto that will lead to improved and faster passenger service. The project included $55 million in infrastructure upgrades between Ottawa and Montreal (Coteau), and track and safety improvements on VIA's Ottawa and Brockville route, completing a major part of an over $300 million expansion of VIA's key Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto corridor.

"I am pleased to see the great progress already made to improve a line that is important to so many travellers between Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto" said Minister Fletcher. "The completed upgrades move us forward, as our government has committed, to providing Canadians with safer, reliable and faster passenger rail service, while creating jobs and supporting economic growth."

The track upgrades are part of the Government of Canada's $923 million investment to improve passenger rail services, including $407 million in stimulus funding. Funding from the Economic Action Plan alone represents some 5,000 jobs (direct and indirect person-years) over the period 2009-2013.

Improvements being made as part of the first phase of upgrades include sections of new track,  passing sidings (tracks alongside the main line to enable trains to pull into them so that another train can pass in the opposite direction) to reduce conflicts with freight rail operations and increased traffic control and signalling.

"Better track and increased capacity will mean that we can safely operate more trains, and maintain higher speeds more consistently, allowing us to deliver faster trip times and more frequent departure options to travelers," said Mr. Smith.  "We are working to meet the growing demand for robust, reliable passenger rail services, while also ensuring train travel meets the highest safety standards as well as being an environmentally green choice for travellers."

To learn more about VIA Rail please visit www.viarail.ca, or follow VIA on Twitter at twitter.com/via_rail and on Facebook at facebook.com/viarailcanada.

BACKGROUNDERS

The Government of Canada's Investment in VIA Rail

In 2007 the Government of Canada announced a five-year, $516 million capital investment in passenger rail infrastructure and equipment.  Another $407 million was made available for capital projects in 2009 through the Government's economic stimulus program, the Economic Action Plan.

With this overall federal investment, totalling $923 million, VIA is expanding track capacity, building better traffic control systems, modernizing passenger facilities and stations, and renewing equipment.  Once these major capital projects are complete, VIA will be able to operate more trains, deliver faster trip times, offer more frequent departures, and provide a better quality of service to Canadians.

Track Improvements

Track improvements in the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto triangle focus on reducing passenger service delays caused by conflicts with freight rail operations and expanding track capacity for more passenger trains. Measures are also being taken to ensure the safe operation of more passenger trains at higher speeds.  This will provide more reliable on-time performance for passenger services, provide more flexibility in scheduling services and reduce trip times, and also allow VIA to provide more frequent services.

Montreal-Ottawa (Alexandria Subdivision): $18M
This project began in 2008, and was completed in June 2010.  Improvements include: one new passing siding, located tied in with the existing Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) system on Alexandria Subdivision; replacement of jointed rail with new Continuous Welded Rail; and track and signal upgrades for speed improvements (max speed 100 mph).

Ottawa-Smiths Falls (Smiths Falls Subdivision): $16M
This project began in 2008 and was completed in September, 2011.  Improvements include: four new passing sidings located at Fallowfield, Richmond, Dwyer Hill and Montague; Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) System over the entire subdivision; upgrades to most public crossings; track upgrades for speed improvements (max speed 100 mph); new safety fencing; and an island platform between the mainline and siding at Fallowfield station.

Smiths Falls-Brockville (Brockville Subdivision): $20.4M
This project began in 2009, and was completed in June 2011.  Improvements include; two new passing sidings at Bellamy and Jasper; Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) System over the entire subdivision; upgrades to most public crossings; track upgrades for speed improvements (max speed 100 mph); and new safety fencing.

Montreal - Toronto (Kingston Subdivision): $317.9M
Work on this double-track route - the busiest freight/passenger rail line in Canada -- began in 2009, with work continuing through 2010-11.  Work will be completed in 2012.  The project includes the construction of a third track at key segments of the route, and major infrastructure improvements at Brockville and Oshawa.  The first segment of third track, near Gananoque, Ontario, was completed in September 2011 and is now in service.

Related Station Projects

VIA is renovating some stations and building new stations in the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto triangle to improve service to passengers and to accommodate track expansion and reconfigurations.  These projects are separate from, but coordinated with, the track improvements projects.  Station projects include renovations to the station at Cobourg, and new stations at Smiths Falls, Brockville, Belleville, and Oshawa.  The new Smiths Falls station was opened in October, 2011.

About VIA Rail Canada

As Canada's national rail passenger service, VIA Rail Canada's (www.viarail.ca) mandate is to provide efficient, more environmentally sustainable and cost-effective passenger transportation, in the country's two official languages. Every week, VIA operates 503 intercity, transcontinental and regional trains linking 450 communities across its 12,500 kilometres route network. The demand for VIA services is growing as travellers increasingly turn to train travel as a safe, hassle-free and environmentally responsible alternative to congested roads and airports.  Winner of the 2011 RAC Safety Award, VIA transports over four million passengers annually.

For further information:
Media Contacts        
Brayden Akers
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable
Steven Fletcher
Minister of State (Transport)
613 991-0700
Brayden.Akers@tc.gc.ca
  Media Relations
Transport Canada - Ottawa
613 993-0055
  Anne-Sophie Desmeules
VIA Rail Canada
514 871-6137

Anne-Sophie_Desmeules@viarail.ca