VIA RAIL MEETS THE PUBLIC AND TALKS ABOUT PERFORMANCE AND TRANSFORMATION

VIA Rail Canada held its 2011 Annual Public Meeting today

OTTAWAL, June 14, 2011 /CNW Telbec/ - VIA Rail Canada held its first Annual Public Meeting today at the Ottawa Train Station. Broadcast simultaneously on the Internet, the meeting provided an opportunity for the public to learn about VIA's business operations, financial performance and VIA's projects for improvements.

It also gave the public a chance to speak directly with Mr. Paul G. Smith, Chairman of the Board, Mr. Marc Laliberté, President and Chief Executive Officer, and Mr. Robert St-Jean, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, during an open question period. The Chairman and executive officers also answered questions sent by email from members of the public who could not attend in person.

Major investment program
Mr. Smith mentioned that, with an unprecedented investment by the Government of Canada of $923 million, VIA is transforming the future of passenger rail.  "It is the biggest capital investment program in VIA's history," Mr. Smith said.  "It will give VIA the tools -- the infrastructure and equipment -- to ensure that passenger rail provides relevant, vital services connecting Canada and Canadians across the country in the years ahead."

Mr. Laliberté noted that infrastructure improvements in the Quebec-Windsor corridor will expand the capacity of passenger rail, allowing VIA to carry more people.  He added that "this is essential for one of our top priorities -- connecting more Canadians by offering more frequent train services, faster and better schedules, and more reliable performance."

Performance
In an overview of VIA's performance in 2010, Mr. St-Jean said that travel markets continued to struggle following the 2009 recession and despite that context, VIA revenues increased by 3.2%.

"This means that we are earning more revenues per passenger," Mr. St-Jean added.  "And if we look at the first quarter of 2011, things look even more encouraging.  Compared with the first quarter of 2010, passenger revenues are up 6.3%, and passenger volumes increased 2.7 percent. So revenues continue to increase, due in large part to better revenue management, and we've got ridership back on track for growth."

Transforming VIA
Mr. Laliberté also outlined VIA's strategy to achieve two further goals -increase our services in a value for taxpayers perspective, and making passenger rail "not only the safest, but most operationally efficient mode of public transportation in Canada."

Commenting on prospects for the future, Mr. Laliberté said that "2011 will be a pivotal year, as key investment projects move forward and reach completion.  As we continue to focus on the immediate challenge -- maintaining steady growth in the months ahead -- I am confident that this pivotal year will mark an important step towards our vision for the future. "

Additional Information

About VIA Rail
As Canada's national rail passenger service, VIA Rail Canada's mandate is to provide efficient, environmentally sustainable and cost effective passenger transportation, in both official languages. Every week, VIA operates 503 intercity, transcontinental and regional trains linking 450 communities across its 12,500 kilometre 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. Follow VIA at twitter.com/via_rail and facebook.com/viarailcanada.

SOURCE VIA RAIL CANADA INC.

For further information:

Media contacts:

Malcolm Andrews
Media and Community Relations
VIA Rail Canada
Office: (514) 871-6604
Cel.: (514) 946-4160
malcolm_andrews@viarail.ca

Anne-Sophie Desmeules
Media and Community Relations
VIA Rail Canada
Office : (514) 871-6137
Cel.: (514) 234-9668
anne-sophie_desmeules@viarail.ca

 


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