VIA releases 2008 Annual Report - Ridership and revenues up



    MONTREAL, May 5 /CNW Telbec/ - According to VIA's Annual Report for 2008,
the company carried 4.6 million passengers last year, ten percent more than in
the previous year, and increased passenger revenues by more than $14 million.
    VIA's performance in 2008 reflects a clear trend for Canadian passenger
rail over the past five years. Annual ridership has increased by almost
800,000 passengers since 2004, and annual revenues are up by more than $40
million over the same period.
    VIA President and CEO Paul Côté attributed the growth to VIA's
customer-focused business strategy. "Train travel is the most dependable,
environmentally sustainable, all-weather mode of transportation available,"
Mr. Côté said. "We offer good value, stress-free transportation with a high
level of comfort, and we focus everything we do on delivering the kind of
customer service that sets us apart in the marketplace."
    VIA's customer focus helped the corporation earn widespread recognition
in 2008, including the Agents' Choice award from travel agents, two awards
from the Railway Association of Canada, recognition from the Society of
International Railway Travelers, and awards for innovation in product design
and marketing. The annual report also notes a significant jump in VIA's
standing in both national and regional corporate reputation surveys.
    The report also details steps the corporation is taking to maintain and
improve its equipment and infrastructure, to ensure that passenger rail
continues to deliver reliable service in the future. Under the five-year, $516
million capital investment program announced by the Government of Canada in
the fall of 2007, as well as the $407 million in stimulus funding announced by
the government in its 2009 budget, VIA has undertaken major projects to
rebuild its aging fleet of locomotives and passenger cars, modernize passenger
stations and information technology, and upgrade VIA-owned track and
infrastructure. Negotiations have also progressed with the freight railways to
upgrade shared infrastructure and eliminate traffic bottlenecks, which will
improve on-time performance and allow VIA to offer faster, more frequent
service in the busy Quebec City-Windsor corridor.
    Commenting on VIA's future outlook, Mr. Côté said that all transportation
companies are facing serious challenges in the current marketplace. "While
2009 will not be a growth year like 2008 was, passenger rail is nonetheless in
a strong position to meet these challenges," he added. "It is the right
service for the times, a competitive, attractive service offering good value
to customers, with advantages that cannot be duplicated by other modes of
transportation. We are confident that our focus on excellent customer service,
along with products and pricing strategies geared to the market, will continue
to attract new customers to the train."

    As Canada's national passenger rail service, VIA Rail Canada provides
efficient, environmentally sustainable and cost effective transportation
services to more than 450 communities, with a network of inter-city,
transcontinental and regional remote trains operating across the country.

    A copy of the report can be found online at www.viarail.ca. (Media Tab -
Annual Reports section)




For further information:

For further information: VIA contact: Malcolm Andrews, Corporate
Communications, (514) 871-6604, malcolm_andrews@viarail.ca


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