Increased revenues and focus on communication during the second quarter

MONTRÉAL, Aug. 31, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - For the fourth consecutive quarter, VIA Rail Canada's (VIA Rail) efforts paid off as its revenues increased.

This quarter saw a 5.2% increase in revenues compared to the second quarter of 2014, while operating expenses decreased by 3.3%. VIA Rail transported 912,900 passengers, a slight increase of 0.1%, compared to 2014.

"Our revenues increased compared to last year, showing that our efforts are yielding results. Despite our success in this area, On Time Performance (OTP) continues to deteriorate due to increased freight traffic on third-party owned railways. We continue to look for creative ways to improve services within these limitations, in cooperation with our infrastructure partners", said VIA Rail's President and CEO Yves Desjardins-Siciliano. "In order to address the challenges associated with sharing the railway with freight trains, we have been working on a plan for dedicated passenger rail for the busiest Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal routes. It would allow for a greater number of frequencies, shorter trip times and ultimately a safer and more reliable service."

"This quarter, we also focused on reaching out to many different communities, listening to the needs of these various groups, and taking these needs into account", continued Mr. Desjardins-Siciliano.  

As co-chairman of the National We Day, VIA Rail's President and CEO spoke to an audience of 16,000 youths about taking action and making choices that are good for the planet, such as transport sharing and taking the train. He also addressed community and business leaders at several Chambers of Commerce in Southwest Ontario including London, Stratford, Sarnia and Windsor, where VIA Rail is working to increase and improve train services in 2016. Finally, VIA Rail's plan for dedicated tracks was presented at both The Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships in Toronto and the Institut pour le partenariat public-privé in Montréal.

In an effort to expand its service offering and increase its passenger base, VIA Rail added more train departures to the summer schedule between Montréal-Toronto and Montréal-Ottawa, and additional stops at key stations in the Corridor.

To attract even more people to its trains, VIA Rail launched the new, comprehensive "Who's On Board" marketing campaign, which highlights real stories from VIA Rail's train-loving passengers. "Although we were hoping to capture the true experience of people who take the train, we were not expecting the heartfelt and inspiring stories and testimonials volunteered by clients and we thank them whole-heartedly for their participation", concluded Yves Desjardins-Siciliano.

The quarter's report is available at viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail/our-company/quarterly-reports.

2015 Second Quarter Highlights:

Safety

  • VIA Rail continued to ensure the safety of its operations and inform the public about safety around railroads.
  • VIA Rail made significant progress in the second quarter in updating its Safety Management System (SMS) to comply with new Transport Canada regulations. The new SMS will be implemented by October 1, 2015, as per Transport Canada's required timeline.

Fleet

  • VIA Rail debuted a new seat configuration in one Business class car and introduced one Economy car with the new seating to VIA Rail employees. The new seat arrangement, which will be used in all of our refurbished LRC cars to be completed by 2016, means we can operate more efficiently and add additional departures to our schedule with greater ease and fewer operational constraints.

Sales and Marketing

  • VIA Rail launched a new marketing campaign which focused on the power of storytelling in order to demystify train travel, stimulate ridership, amplify passenger experience and encourage loyalty. The "Who's On Board" campaign is populated by real passengers telling true stories and was launched on the web, through VIA Rail's social media sites, on billboards, in newspapers and on the radio.
  • Canrailpass and Youth Summer Passes offerings have been renewed for the 2015 summer season. VIA Rail is also proud to introduce two new passes this quarter: the Commuter epass as well as the new Southwestern Ontario focused Bizpak.
  • VIA Rail added one train in each direction between Montréal and Toronto to its daily schedule, and one train in each direction between Montréal and Ottawa on Fridays.
  • Stops were also added in the Québec City – Windsor corridor. With up to 22 new stops per week at stations like Kingston, Ontario, in order to improve its service and increase its passenger base.

Inter-modality

  • The partnership with UP Express (linking Toronto's Pearson International Airport to Union Station) came into effect. As of May 11, VIA Rail started selling UP Express tickets through its website, and over 1,100 tickets were sold by the end of June.
  • VIA Rail partnered with Discount Car Rental in Ottawa to pilot their innovative kiosk technology project and test this door-to-door mobility solution.
  • VIA Rail's partnership with Montréal's AMT commuter train service was extended to include the line running from Mascouche, Québec to Montréal's Central Station.

Corporate Social Responsibility

  • VIA Rail took part in two important safety events: the North American Occupational Safety & Health Week, which focused on the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace, at home and in the community, and Operation Lifesaver's Rail Safety Week. Events took place in Montréal, Toronto, Ottawa and Winnipeg. In addition, VIA Rail hosted a very successful "open doors" event for passengers and the public at its station in Halifax, Nova Scotia, attracting over 6,000 people.
  • VIA Rail supported Canada's youth with the co-chairing of the National We Day as well the sponsorship of the national YMCA Summer Work Student Exchange and the Children's Breakfast Clubs.
  • VIA Rail supported 275 non-profit and charitable organizations with Travel credit donations representing $219,859.
  • VIA Rail's long standing support of the Canadian Armed Forces continued with the patronage of events hosted by the Vimy Foundation, Canada Company, the Régiment des Fusiliers Mont-Royal and of the Royal Military College of St-Jean. VIA Rail also welcomed 120 young cadets from Charlottetown onboard the Ocean and transported them from Moncton to Ottawa as part of their training program.
  • Facing a great number of retirements in the coming years, VIA Rail is making considerable efforts to attract new talent and hired over 200 new unionized employees this quarter.
  • VIA Rail has completely revised its Code of Ethics; it highlights the values of the organization and demonstrates its commitment to implementing best ethical practices.

About VIA Rail Canada
As Canada's national rail passenger service, VIA Rail (viarail.ca) and its 2,500 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 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, and was the recipient of the 2012 Agent's Choice Award voted by Canadian travel agents and presented by Baxter Travel Media. Since 2007, the Government of Canada has invested almost a billion dollars in VIA Rail. VIA Rail information at a glance: www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail  

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SOURCE VIA Rail Canada Inc.

For further information: Maxime Dupont-Demers, Senior Advisor, Corporate Communications, VIA Rail Canada, 514 871-6137 | 1 877 393-8787, Maxime_Dupont-Demers@viarail.ca, media@viarail.ca

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