MONTREAL, June 27, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - VIA Rail Canada announced today,
as part of its ongoing modernization, that it is taking action to
better meet customer demand. VIA is introducing significant
improvements to its operations, including to tracks, stations and
trains, better interconnectivity with other carriers, enhanced customer
experience and e-services. This next phase of VIA's modernization
includes adjusting frequencies on specific routes to better reflect
customer demand, while maintaining service on all current routes. This
is necessary to allow VIA to focus resources on improving service and
attracting more customers on routes where demand is strong and growing.
VIA President & CEO Marc Laliberté said these service adjustments will
unfold from July to end of October and are part of VIA's many steps to
modernize Canada's national passenger rail service. The travel market
is evolving and service providers must keep up. Laliberté explained the
changes that are unfolding are fostering the VIA of tomorrow, including
services that match market demand, safe, efficient and reliable
passenger rail transportation and value to customers and taxpayers.
"By the end of the year, we will complete work to expand track capacity
between Montréal and Toronto, where demand for more rail service is
high," Mr. Marc Laliberté said. "We will begin operating a completely
refurbished fleet of modern, high-efficiency locomotives
coast-to-coast. We will start introducing vastly improved passenger
cars offering more accessibility for Canadians with disabilities. We
will be opening new and renovated passenger stations at key points
across our network, and offer e-services so that passengers can better
connect in the transportation network and work while on board our
trains. Adjusting our services to better align with customer demand is
an important step of our modernization - making sure we offer the right
level of service to meet customer needs today, and building capacity to
serve more customers in markets where demand will grow in the future."
"Where the demand varies dramatically by season, we need to adjust
frequencies in order to remain efficient," Mr. Laliberté added. "In
growing markets, we are adding more frequencies to meet customer
demand. In addition, mandatory services in regions where there are
limited transportation alternatives will remain. We are not eliminating
rail service on any routes where we operate today and we are
maintaining the flexibility to adjust service levels in the future, as
customer needs evolve."
As part of aligning services to customer demand, VIA is partnering with
other passenger services, including those of other publicly-funded
providers, to better harmonize schedules and to sell fares in an
integrated way on VIA's website. These changes not only contribute to
an interconnected national passenger transportation system, but it is
also expected to further reduce costs and increase revenues for the
Over the past two years, VIA has been working to improve both its
operations and financial performance and to increase service
reliability. As a result, over that period, it has required $30 million
less in government funding for operations (before pension costs).
Relying on an extraordinary pool of dedicated talent, VIA intends to
continue delivering significant improvements to passenger rail
services, for its customers and taxpayers.
As a result of this announcement, VIA's unionized workforce is expected
to be reduced by some 200 full-time positions, a decrease of about 9%.
Over the last three years, VIA Rail's annual attrition rate has been,
on average, 8%. Since 2009, VIA has reduced its management workforce by
About VIA Rail Canada
As Canada's national rail passenger service, VIA Rail Canada's (www.viarail.ca) mandate is to provide safe, efficient and cost-effective passenger
transportation, in the country's two official languages. VIA operates
intercity, transcontinental and regional trains linking 450 communities
across its 12,500 kilometres route network. Winner of the 2011 RAC
Safety Award, VIA transports over four million passengers annually.
Find out more about the capital investment program at viarail.ca/transformingvia.
Join the Evolution Blog at: http://www.viaevolution.ca/
THE MODERNIZATION OF PASSENGER RAIL
Capital Investment: Modernizing Trains, Track and Stations
With funding from the Government of Canada, VIA is completing a $923
million investment in:
Locomotives: improving efficiency, reliability, and environmental
performance, and reducing maintenance costs.
Passenger cars: Improving comfort, reliability, accessibility of
passenger cars used in all parts of cross-Canada network.
Track: increasing capacity in the Quebec-Windsor Corridor for faster,
more frequent trains
Passenger facilities and stations: renovating and expanding existing
stations, building new stations where needed, to improve comfort and
service to customers.
Detailed information on capital investment projects is available online
To improve the efficiency of its operations, VIA has adopted a lean
management focus - streamlining operations to increase productivity and
customer value, and eliminate waste. At the same time, key investments
in technology will improve service to the customer, including:
New electronic ticketing services, with anywhere/anytime mobile phone
Real-time, GPS enhanced train arrival and departure information;
Integrated schedules and ticketing with other public transportation
Improved operational efficiency through automation, including on-board
For more information on recent initiatives, see VIA's 2011 Annual Report
at http://www.viarail.ca/about-via-rail/our-company/annual-report/2011-annual-report. VIA's latest quarterly reports are available at http://www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail/our-company/quarterly-reports
Adjust services with market demand
Better integration and alignment with markets will allow VIA to focus
energy and resources on delivering more value to more customers, in
markets where demand is high and growing. VIA will reconfigure and
monitor the performance of services:
To better match passenger rail capacity on all routes with the demand
for service on those routes;
To partner with other passenger services by aligning our schedules and
selling their fares on VIA's website; and
To make service adjustments that most effectively reduce costs and
The Canadian: The Canadian currently provides three round trips per week, year round, between
Toronto and Vancouver. Demand for this service is strong and growing
during the summer months; VIA has invested more than $55 million to
improve service along this route, and is upgrading equipment to meet
Demand for this service during the off-peak season, however, is much
lower, and has fallen steadily for the past 15 years. Three round
trips per week during the off-peak season are no longer needed to meet
demand. Beginning this November, The Canadian will offer two round trips per week during the off peak season.
The Ocean: The Ocean currently provides six round trips per week between Montréal and
Halifax. VIA has invested more than $25 million to improve this
service, and will continue to improve the value of this service to
However, the current schedule, which has been essentially unchanged
since 1990, no longer reflects current ridership or foreseeable market
demand - ridership has dropped consistently for 15 years as other
travel options (highways, air and bus services) have improved.
Beginning this November, The Ocean will operate three round trips per week year round.
Quebec - Windsor Intercity Trains
The Montréal-Ottawa-Toronto triangle, where the demand for efficient intercity transportation is
high and growing, is VIA's busiest market. In January 2012 VIA added
new frequencies, including express services, between Montréal, Ottawa
and Toronto. More frequencies will be added this year, and faster
trains will reduce overall trip times.
The Southwestern Ontario market includes some of VIA's poorest-performing train services, where
customer demand is very low. At the same time, new air services, and
expanding commuter rail services in the Greater Toronto area, are
further reducing the need for some weekday and weekend VIA services.
Accordingly, VIA is reducing frequencies on some routes in Southwestern
Ontario and will provide better integration with other public
Montréal-Quebec City is a high demand market, and VIA hopes to add an additional frequency
on this route later this year to meet the needs of customers.
Summary of Schedule Changes and e-Ticketing Introduction
What's happening in my region?
In the Corridor
Montréal-Ottawa: trains 630 & 631 are cancelled (Saturday only)
London-Windsor: train 70 will originate at London on Sat and Sun; train 75 with
terminate at London on Fri and Sat
Aldershot-Toronto: train 740 is cancelled (daily except Saturday)
London-Toronto: train 686 is cancelled (Friday only)
Toronto-Niagara Falls: train 92 is cancelled on Sat and Sun; train 95 is cancelled on Fri and
The London-Sarnia segments of trains 85 and 88 are cancelled
July 29, 2012
Frequencies or segments being eliminated are the poorest performers in
terms of ridership and revenues (except for mandatory services).
New frequencies are being added where demand for intercity service is
strong or growing.
VIA's operating and cost structure is designed for intercity service,
not commuter service.
By eliminating services that duplicate those offered by commuter
operators, VIA can focus on its core mandate: intercity service.
In Southwestern Ontario, the ridership from cancelled trains can be
absorbed by GO Transit services.
We are working with other service providers like GO Transit and AMT to
create seamless intermodal connections.
Aligning VIA's service offering with those of other publicly-funded
service providers represents a more efficient and effective use of
Toronto-Niagara Falls: train 90 is cancelled; train 95 remaining frequencies (Sun-Thurs) are
Toronto-Kitchener-London: trains 89 and 86 are cancelled
End of October
New round-trip express train between Ottawa and Toronto
Additional services in the Quebec-Montréal-Ottawa-Toronto corridor
End of 2012
To be determined
In the East
The Ocean will be reduced from 6 to 3 round trips per week, year round.
The Montréal-Gaspé service will remain at 3 round trips per week; the schedule will be
adjusted to coincide with the new Ocean schedule.
End of October
Ocean ridership has dropped by 50% over the past 15 years, despite
improvements to the quality of the service.
Other transportation options have evolved in this region; better
highways and air service are changing this market.
The reduced frequency of the Ocean reflects current ridership levels, and will allow for better use of
VIA's rolling stock.
We remain committed to the eastern transcon, and are investing in
equipment and stations for that reason.
In the West
The Canadian will be reduced from 3 to 2 round trips per week in the off-peak
(October to April). Service will return to 3 round trips per week in
the peak season.
No change to mandatory services between Montréal-Senneterre, Montréal-
Jonquière, Sudbury-White River, Winnipeg-Churchill, or Jasper-Prince
End of October
Demand for the Canadian is highly seasonal. Demand drops sharply in the off-peak, and has been
declining steadily over the past 15 years. Demand during the peak
season is still strong and growing.
Customers on the Canadian buy a product, not necessarily a schedule. The travel experience matters
more than the frequency of departures.
We remain committed to the western transcon, and are investing in
equipment and stations for that reason.
E-ticketing will be tested first on the Montréal-Quebec City service,
and then rolled-out across the network.
The travelling public has come to expect e-ticketing; it will simplify
and enhance the customer's experience, and modernize VIA's image.
SOURCE VIA RAIL CANADA INC.
For further information:
Senior Advisor, Media Relations
VIA Rail Canada
514 871-6137 | 1 877 393-8787
Senior Advisor, Community Relations
VIA Rail Canada