Canada's New Government revitalizes inter-city passenger rail services in Canada



    OTTAWA, Oct. 11 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister
of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, along with the Honourable Jim
Flaherty, Minister of Finance, today announced a new funding package for VIA
Rail Canada Inc., a Crown corporation, to revitalize inter-city passenger rail
services in Canada. The funding totals $691.9 million over the next five
years.
    "Today, Canada's New Government is acting to provide faster, cleaner,
more frequent and reliable passenger rail service across Canada," said
Minister Cannon. "The corridor between Quebec City and Windsor has the largest
passenger volumes and will benefit from infrastructure improvements that will
make the entire passenger rail system more efficient and accessible."
    "VIA Rail has a proud legacy of serving Canadians, and our government is
taking steps to make this wonderful service even better," added Minister
Flaherty. "We are launching the largest capital program in VIA Rail's history.
It will allow for the renewal of VIA Rail's fleet, the upgrading of the
existing network and it will support a stronger economy, a cleaner environment
and a safer Canada."
    "I would like to thank the Government of Canada for this welcome and
timely investment in VIA Rail Canada," said Donald A. Wright, VIA's chairman.
"It is an important recognition of the entire team at VIA, whose hard work
over the past decade has earned VIA solid marks for its excellent customer
service and sound management. This investment is also recognition of the
potential of the current passenger rail service to meet the growing
transportation needs of Canadians in an environmentally responsible, efficient
and cost-effective manner."
    This new investment addresses VIA Rail's capital needs, ensuring that its
current network and service levels are sustainable into the future.
    Of the total funding package, $516 million in capital funds will be
allocated over five years for infrastructure improvements and equipment
refurbishments, beginning in 2007. This investment will be targeted towards:

    
    - fleet renewal, through refurbishment of the F40 locomotives and Light,
      Rapid and Comfortable (LRC) passenger cars;
    - strategic infrastructure improvements to eliminate bottlenecks in the
      Quebec City -Windsor corridor; and
    - station refurbishments.

    The equipment refurbishment will also help improve the company's
environmental performance through increased fuel efficiency and reduced
greenhouse gas emissions per passenger.
    The remainder of the funding, a total of $175.9 million over five years,
will be directed towards VIA Rail's operating costs. This additional funding
is needed to sustain VIA's national network until the capital program is
completed. VIA expects to reduce its maintenance costs after the equipment is
rebuilt and to attract more passengers as it moves to provide faster, more
frequent service on its trains in the Quebec City - Windsor Corridor.
    "Once the F40 locomotive rebuilding program is complete, VIA will have one
of the most fuel efficient fleets of diesel locomotives of any passenger rail
operator in North America. The locomotives will also meet the new emissions
standards set by the recent Memorandum of Understanding between the Government
of Canada and the Railway Association of Canada - which includes VIA Rail,"
concluded Minister Cannon.
    Funding improvements to the national transportation system is one of
Canada's New Government's priorities for investments in infrastructure.
Through its unprecedented $33-billion Building Canada infrastructure plan, the
Government of Canada is making partnership investments to support a stronger
economy, a cleaner environment, and a more secure Canada.

    VIA Rail Canada Inc., a Crown corporation, was created in 1977 to operate
Canada's national passenger rail service.

    A backgrounder on the new funding is attached.

    A complete shot list as well as the B-Roll is also available at:

    On-Demand Coordinates/URL available from 3:00PM ET, Thursday,
    October, 11, 2007

    http://cnw.pondeserver.com/story_details.asp?fn=137


                                 Backgrounder
                                 ------------
                                 ------------

                       NEW FUNDING FOR VIA RAIL CANADA
                       -------------------------------

    Canada's New Government recognizes that investments are required to ensure
the long-term viability of passenger rail services and to improve VIA Rail's
financial performance.
    This new funding, totalling $691.9 million, will improve the
sustainability and reliability of passenger rail services in Canada and
provide more frequent, faster, cleaner and safer services along the Quebec
City - Windsor Corridor. The proposed equipment and facilities investments,
combined with strategic infrastructure improvements, will address VIA Rail's
capital needs and improve its operational performance. The funding will allow
VIA Rail to rebuild its aging fleet of locomotives and cars, upgrade stations,
and improve strategic infrastructure to eliminate bottlenecks and enhance
capacity for faster, more frequent and reliable service.
    These investments will benefit Canadians across the country. For example:

    - The F40 locomotive rebuilding program will improve the reliability of
      VIA services, lower maintenance costs and help to improve the company's
      environmental performance through increased fuel efficiency and reduced
      emissions. The rebuilt locomotives will ensure another 15 to 20 years
      of service on the eastern and western transcontinental trains, on the
      regional service to Gaspé (Quebec) and on remote services to such
      points as Parent (Quebec), Churchill (Manitoba) and Prince Rupert
      (British Columbia). They will meet the new emission standards for
      railway locomotives set by the recent Memorandum of Understanding
      between the Railway Association of Canada, Environment Canada and
      Transport Canada.

    - Light, Rapid and Comfortable (LRC) cars will have their operating
      systems and interiors rebuilt. Travellers will enjoy new seats, better
      lighting, computer outlets and washrooms, while VIA will lower its
      maintenance costs and energy requirements, thereby saving fuel and
      reducing emissions.

    - Several stations across the country will be refurbished.

    - Strategic infrastructure improvements, which will be spread
      throughout the Quebec City - Windsor corridor, will:
        - increase track capacity and alleviate bottlenecks;
        - improve on-time performance;
        - reduce trip times through increased speed;
        - allow for more trips; and
        - improve safety and reliability of service.

    With a total investment of $516 million in capital planned over the next
five years, VIA Rail's passenger services will continue to bring modern,
affordable, safe and efficient travel options to Canadians.
    The government will also provide VIA with $175.9 million in additional
operating funding over the next five years. While VIA Rail's annual funding
level was frozen in 1998, the effects of inflation over the past decade have
had an impact on the purchasing power of this Crown corporation and its
ability to maintain its aging fleet of locomotives and cars. Once the capital
investment program is completed, VIA will be able to operate without this
additional funding.

                                                                 October 2007
    




For further information:

For further information: Karine White, Press Secretary, Office of the
Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Ottawa, (613) 991-0700;
Media Relations, Transport Canada, Ottawa, (613) 993-0055; Chisholm Pothier,
Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Finance, Ottawa, (613) 996-9611;
Malcolm Andrews, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, VIA Rail Canada,
(514) 871-6658; Transport Canada is online at www.tc.gc.ca. Subscribe to news
releases and speeches at http://www.tc.gc.ca/listserv/and keep up-to-date on
the latest from Transport Canada. This news release may be made available in
alternative formats for persons with visual disabilities.


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