Gare du Palais: VIA Rail celebrates 100 years

QUEBEC CITY, Aug. 24, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - The centennial of the Gare du Palais was marked today by the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, along with François Blais, Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity and Minister responsible for the Capitale-Nationale region, Quebec City mayor Régis Labeaume and Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and Chief Executive Officer of VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail). Also on hand for the event were VIA Rail employees and distinguished guests from the Quebec City area.

The official inauguration of the Gare du Palais was held on August 10, 1916. Currently, the station serves several hundred thousand passengers every year, and the train represents a smarter choice for the many tourists, families and business people travelling to and from Quebec City.

"Over the past 100 years, countless passengers have come to this magnificent building to take the train to visit family and friends, or for business travel. While the Gare du Palais has seen some changes over time, it has always been ready to serve travellers," said the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, on behalf of the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport. "This station will benefit directly from a portion of the $34.4 million in funding recently announced by the federal government, which will be used to replace some of the Gare du Palais' equipment and facilities, to ensure they remain safe, secure and accessible to both travellers and employees."

"The Gare du Palais has been an inseparable part of the landscape of Quebec City for 100 years," added the Mayor of Quebec City, Régis Labeaume.  "I am delighted that this building is, and has been for all these years, the entry point of choice for thousands of visitors and tourists to Quebec City. We can be proud, especially since its remarkable architecture and historic character mirror that of our beautiful city."

"The Gare du Palais is an iconic building that calls to mind the imposing presence of the grand architectural creations of yesteryear," said Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and Chief Executive Officer of VIA Rail. "It underwent major renovations in 1984-1985, so this beautiful century-old building is an eloquent demonstration of how our historic institutions can also make a sustainable future a reality. VIA Rail would like to see the Gare du Palais continue to play a pivotal role in sustainable mobility in Quebec's capital. It is a key part of our dedicated track project – a three-pronged initiative comprised of increased frequencies, shorter travel times and properly adapted, reliable schedules that will bring more travellers to Quebec City. We can all help reduce greenhouse gases by choosing to take the train."

As a major stop in VIA Rail's popular Québec City-Windsor corridor, passenger traffic at the Gare du Palais reached 235,000 in 2015 – a 17% increase over 2005. In the past decade, more than $1.2 million was invested in washroom renovations, heating system and environmental upgrades – the latter including the replacement of underground storage tanks – and improvements to the ticket office, water supply system and other components. In 2016 and 2017, a further $1.5 million will be invested in making renovations to the entrance doors, the skylight in the arrivals area and the air conditioning systems, as well as in automation of other building systems.

100 years of history

This prestigious structure – built by Canadian Pacific during World War I, from plans by American architect Harry Edward Prindle – is now a designated heritage building with a rich history. The company sought to provide Quebec City with a rail terminal that would rival the grand stations of North America. Quebec City has long been considered a hub of Canada's rail network. A hiatus in passenger rail service in the downtown area began in 1976, since the trains interfered with the free movement of automobile traffic. The station was re-opened in 1985.

About VIA Rail Canada

As Canada's national rail passenger service, VIA Rail (viarail.ca) and its 2,600 employees are mandated to provide safe, efficient and economical passenger transportation service, in both official languages of our country. VIA Rail operates intercity, regional and transcontinental trains linking over 400 communities across Canada and about 180 more communities through intermodal partnerships, and safely transports nearly four million passengers annually. The Corporation was awarded seven Safety Awards by the Railway Association of Canada over the last eight years. For more information, visit About VIA Rail at www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail.

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SOURCE VIA Rail Canada Inc.

Image with caption: "VIA Rail Canada marked the centennial of the Gare du Palais in Quebec City today along with a hundred distinguished guests. Pictured are (from left to right), Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume, Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity and Minister responsible for the Capitale-Nationale region, François Blais, the President and Chief Executive Officer of VIA Rail, Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, and the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. (CNW Group/VIA Rail Canada Inc.)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160824_C5892_PHOTO_EN_759115.jpg

For further information: Mariam Diaby, Senior Advisor, Media Relations, VIA Rail Canada, 514 871-6010, 1 877 393-8787, mariam_diaby@viarail.ca, media@viarail.ca

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