Government of Canada and VIA Rail announce new station for Brockville

BROCKVILLE, ON, Nov. 13 /CNW Telbec/ - At a ceremony in Brockville, Ontario, Leeds-Grenville Member of Parliament Gordon Brown, Acting Mayor Stewart Williams and Mr. Pierre Santoni, VIA Rail's National Sales Director, announced VIA's plans for a new station with improved and expanded facilities.

"Investment in a new VIA station for Brockville will not only create new jobs and stimulate the economy, but also allow VIA to provide better service to its local customers," said MP Brown. "By investing in rail services and facilities such as those here in Brockville, our government is stimulating economic activity and job creation, contributing to environmental sustainability and improving Canada's passenger rail system for years to come."

VIA's Mr. Santoni added, "The investments here in Brockville and across our coast-to-coast route network will create a top-notch passenger rail service. A rail service that is safe, sustainable, and designed for Canadians in the 21st century. VIA is delighted that the citizens of Brockville are going to be a part of this new era in rail travel."

VIA's new Brockville station will be a fully-accessible and aesthetically-pleasing structure adjacent to the existing building. VIA is currently studying options for the design of the new station, with the final design to be selected early next year.

VIA estimates that it will invest as much as $7 million for the new station and related improvements from recent capital funding for VIA announced by the Government of Canada. Of the project's total cost, $3 million will come from the Government of Canada's Economic Action Plan. The existing Brockville station, opened in 1872, is no longer large enough to accommodate all customers at peak travel periods. Furthermore, VIA's previously-announced, $300 million Kingston Subdivision Project will add sections of new main line tracks and will include rearranging the track layout in some locations to increase safety, train frequency and service reliability. In Brockville, this involves adding one new main line track and a second platform, as well as building a new track crossover and reconfiguring the track layout. This cannot be done while still making use of the existing station.

"This rail service is as relevant today as it was decades ago, when the Grand Trunk's first train steamed into town," said Acting Mayor Williams. "We are now committed to preserving and expanding passenger train service for future generations."

VIA's Brockville Station Project is linked with other work now or soon to be underway throughout the Quebec-Windsor Corridor, which generates almost 90% of VIA's ridership and 75% of its revenue. In combination, these projects will allow for increases in safety, frequencies and on-time performance, as well as reductions in travel time.

Major upgrading work is also underway on key elements of VIA's locomotive and rolling stock fleets for corridor, transcontinental and remote service. Other infrastructure projects are aimed at improving service quality and cost efficiency at other points across VIA's coast-to-coast route network. These upgrades are part of an unprecedented $923 million capital investment in passenger rail modernization and expansion by the Government of Canada that is stimulating job creation, skills development and private sector activity across the country.

About VIA Rail Canada

As Canada's national rail passenger service, VIA Rail Canada's mandate is to provide efficient, environmentally sustainable and cost-effective passenger transportation, both in Canada's business corridor and in remote and rural regions of the country. 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 travelers increasingly turn to train travel as a safe, reliable and environmentally responsible alternative to congested roads and airports. In 2008, VIA safely transported 4.6 million passengers - the most since 1989, when the network of services was much larger - and set an all-time record of $299 million in revenue.

    
    Backgrounders:
    -------------

    VIA's CN Kingston Subdivision Project
    Other Capital Investment Backgrounders


    Backgrounder

    Investing in passenger rail

    This investment will help VIA to maintain and improve the reliability of
passenger service across the country, and ensure that the service remains both
cost-effective and sustainable in the future.

    - A major investment to rebuild and modernize VIA's oldest equipment will
      improve reliability and comfort for passengers and better respond to
      the needs of today's travelers, while reducing maintenance costs.
    - In the Quebec City - Windsor Corridor, improved track and signaling
      will help to eliminate train delays caused by traffic congestion, and
      increase capacity for faster, more frequent train service.
    - VIA will modernize key passenger stations to better address customer
      needs, and to meet changing operational and safety requirements.
    - Investments will also upgrade VIA's maintenance facilities and
      information systems that are critical to the efficient management of
      the service.
    

Equipment

Modernizing locomotives

VIA's total fleet includes 53 F-40 locomotives, which are more than twenty years old. These locomotives are used in all parts of Canada - on VIA's western and eastern transcontinental services, in the Quebec City - Windsor Corridor, and for remote services.

The F-40s are nearing the end of their normal life cycle. As they age, more frequent mechanical problems result in more train delays, and escalating maintenance costs.

VIA will completely rebuild and modernize the F-40 locomotives, extending their service life by 15-20 years at less than half the cost of buying new equipment. Rebuilding will not only bring the F-40s back to their original, as-new condition, but upgrade the locomotives to meet current environmental, safety and operating standards. The rebuilt equipment will provide more reliable train service to travelers, and reduce maintenance costs by up to 15 percent once the project is complete.

Renewing the LRC passenger cars

VIA currently has 98 LRC ("light, rapid, comfortable") passenger cars used for both first-class and coach service in the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor. Although they make up less than a quarter of the entire fleet, the LRC cars generate more than 50% of VIA's total passenger revenues.

The LRCs have been in service for more than 25 years, and they no longer meet the expectations of travelers in terms of comfort and amenities. Obsolete parts are becoming increasingly expensive to maintain, and reliability is deteriorating.

VIA will rebuild the LRC cars to better-than-new condition, and extend their service life by another 15-20 years. This investment will reduce maintenance costs and improve reliability, while upgrading passenger comfort and amenities to meet current standards in the marketplace. New technologies will also make the operation of this equipment more environmentally sustainable.

Improved accessibility

In keeping with its commitment to provide accessible service, VIA is undertaking a number of equipment modifications to make rail service more convenient and comfortable for travelers with restricted mobility. These include enhanced sleeping accommodations on the eastern transcontinental service, along with larger washroom facilities, improved tie-down areas for those with wheel-chairs, and accommodation for service animals. Equipment used in the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor will also be modified to enhance accessible seating arrangements.

Environmental benefits

VIA works continually to reduce the environmental impact of passenger rail operations. Since 1990, VIA has reduced fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 15 percent, building on the inherent environmental benefits of train travel.

The investment in modernizing equipment will further enhance these benefits. New technologies included in rebuilding the F-40 locomotives will ensure that they meet current environmental standards for locomotive emissions. The rebuilt LRC cars will also incorporate environmental enhancements, including new, more efficient heating, cooling and ventilation systems. Together, these modifications will result in an additional 9 percent reduction in fuel consumption and GHG emissions.

Infrastructure

Most of the rail infrastructure used by passenger trains is owned by, and shared with, freight railways. In the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor, VIA's busiest market, increasing freight traffic has resulted in congestion and frequent delays for passenger trains.

VIA will work with the freight railways to upgrade the infrastructure, with major projects on all Corridor routes. This will allow VIA to improve service between all major cities, including Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Kitchener, Brantford, London, and Windsor - as well as the many smaller communities in between served by VIA trains.

This investment in infrastructure will include:

    
    - Upgraded track, along with new sidings and "passing" track in key
      locations;
    - Improved rail/road crossings and crossing protection;
    - New pedestrian over- and under-passes;
    - Enhanced security;
    - Improved signaling, with VIA's Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) system
      extended to cover all Corridor infrastructure.
    

Improved infrastructure will enhance safety, while eliminating many delays caused by congestion, and allow passenger trains to operate at higher speeds. As a result, capacity will increase, allowing VIA to provide faster and more frequent service throughout the Corridor. VIA projects that it will accommodate more than one million additional passengers - an increase in ridership of 32 percent over 2006 - when the infrastructure improvements are complete.

Stations

Along with infrastructure improvements, VIA will upgrade and modernize key passenger stations to serve customers more efficiently, and to address operational and safety needs. Major station projects include improved platforms, lounges, lighting and boarding gates, interior and exterior renovations, and in some cases expansion or new facilities.

Investing for efficiencyThe Government of Canada's five-year investment plan also addresses the need to keep key facilities and business systems up to date, to support efficient operations. VIA will upgrade its maintenance facilities, including machinery and tools. In addition, VIA is upgrading information technology systems to improve the efficiency of functions such as ticketing and managing customer information.

    
    Media Contacts:

    Elizabeth Huart                   Ashley Doyle
    Corporate Communications          Corporate Communications
    (514) 871-6119                    (416) 956-7613
    Elizabeth_huart@viarail.ca     Ashley_doyle@viarail.ca


    Backgrounder

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    THE CN KINGSTON SUBDIVISION
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    

Canada's Steel Speedway

ABOUT THE PROJECT:

VIA's two-year CN Kingston Subdivision Project, valued at more than $300 million, will greatly expand the capacity of what is one of North America's most heavily used and fastest rail lines. It will relieve congestion at key locations on this double-track line and smooth the flow of time-sensitive VIA passenger and CN freight traffic. This will allow for the addition of new passenger services and assure on-time performance by both railways.

The Kingston Subdivision Project will build on the improvements underway or soon to begin on other segments of VIA's Quebec-Windsor Corridor, which generates about 90% of VIA's ridership and revenue. The project is also strategically linked with the current rebuilding of the locomotive and rolling stock fleets.

This work is all part of an unprecedented $923 million capital investment by this government - including $407 million under the Economic Action Plan - to improve and expand VIA's safe, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly passenger rail service.

Phase I of VIA's CN Kingston Subdivision Project includes:

    
        - Additional main line track
    

Sections of third main line track will be added to the existing double-track line west of the Brockville station, between Mallorytown and east of Gananoque, from Napanee West to the Belleville station, between Grafton and the Cobourg station, and at Oshawa. With this additional track, three or more trains - VIA passenger and CN freight - will be able to safely and quickly overtake or pass each other without stopping. A fourth track will be built at Belleville to further expand capacity at this busy station.

As well, additional remotely-controlled crossovers and signalling that allow trains to move quickly from one main track to another will be installed at various locations. Warning systems will be modified and upgraded at all public road level crossings within these areas.

    
        - Expanded freight siding and yard track
    

In the Greater Montreal Area, sidings and yard tracks at Turcot, Les Cedres and Coteau will be extended and rearranged so CN freight trains may stop to perform work without blocking the main line.

At Brockville, Belleville, Cobourg and Oshawa, new island platforms will be built between the tracks. These will eliminate the need for all trains to cross over to one side of the main line to board or disembark passengers at the current station platforms. The new platforms will be connected with the stations by fully-accessible bridges or tunnels, so passengers will not have to cross the tracks.

ABOUT THE PROJECT'S BENEFITS:

The main transportation benefit of the first phase of VIA's CN Kingston Subdivision Project will be the creation of enough capacity to safely and efficiently handle two additional daily roundtrips on the Montreal-Toronto and Ottawa-Toronto routes, as well as further additions to the Montreal-Ottawa service.

Additional departure and arrival times - as well as assured on-time performance - are key factors in encouraging more travellers to choose environmentally-beneficial passenger rail for journeys within and beyond VIA's Quebec-Windsor Corridor. Trains emit only one-third the greenhouse gases per passenger of intercity automobiles and planes.

The VIA Kingston Subdivision Project will also stimulate much new economic activity and job creation. To date, CN has hired 100 workers to undertake this project on behalf of VIA. Additional jobs will be created throughout the two-year span of the project. The project will also generate additional economic activity and employment for those private firms supplying track, signal and construction materials and services to VIA and CN.

ABOUT THE LINE:

The CN Kingston Subdivision - over which VIA operates its most frequent and fastest trains - was built by the pioneering Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) as part of a scheme with two major objectives. First, it would link the largest cities and towns of British North America with a flat and direct route along the shores of the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. The GTR's promoters accurately described it as "the Canadian Main Line."

Equally important, it would be an international line providing the shortest and fastest route from the U.S. railway hub of Chicago to the ice-free Atlantic seaport of Portland, Maine. The Toronto-Montreal section was at the heart of this system.

Incorporated on November 10, 1852, the GTR's Canadian and British investors aimed to create a railway that would exert the same nation-building influence as the Roman Empire's trunk roads - hence its name. Its construction was a combination of Canadian and British railway "know-how." When the Toronto-Montreal section was opened on October 27, 1856, the inaugural train of one wood-burning steam locomotive and seven cars took 14 hours to traverse the route at an average speed of 50 km/hour - a far cry from the 160 km/hour service of today's VIA passenger trains.

Today, the CN Kingston Subdivision is a 539-kilometre double-track line linking Montreal Central Station with Toronto Union Station and numerous important intermediate stations. The Scarborough-Union Station section was triple-tracked in 2008 with federal and provincial funds for expanded GO Transit commuter rail service.

The CN Kingston Subdivision consists of track built with high-strength steel rails rolled in specialized mills in Canada, the U.S. and Germany, which weigh 132 to 136 pounds per yard (Canada's railways continue to use Imperial units of measure in order to match the standards employed continent-wide). The 78-foot rail sections are welded into continuous lengths - often referred to as "ribbon rail" - a quarter-mile or more in length. This continuous welded rail largely eliminates the romantic "clickety-clack" sound of old, but it is smoother and less maintenance intensive than jointed or bolted rail.

The rail is positioned and held in place under the tremendous dynamic and lateral forces of the trains with steel tie plates and rail anchors, and then spiked to treated hardwood crossties. The ties are spaced 22" apart, requiring 3,110 ties per mile of single track. The track is laid to the standard gauge of 4' 8 1/2" between the railheads. This track structure is built on top of a three-part roadbed that consists of a layer of clean earth sub-grade, gravel sub-ballast and crushed rock ballast on top.

One mile of main line track on the CN Kingston Subdivision requires 240 tons of rails, six tons of spikes, 63 tons of tie plates and 2,730 tons of ballast. Building a single-track section without bridges or diverging track switches costs about $3 million per mile.

The mix and density of rail traffic that operates over this robust track structure is among the most complex in North America. Over various segments of the route, it accommodates everything from VIA's 160-km/hour passenger trains to 100-km/hour CN trains carrying various types of freight to the 120-km/hour commuter trains of Toronto's GO Transit.

In total, the various segments of the CN Kingston Subdivision are traversed on a typical weekday by as many as 130 trains, including:

    
                - 36 VIA intercity passenger trains;
                - 22 CN freight trains; and
                - 72 GO Transit commuter trains.
    

Due to the speed, length and weight differences between intercity passenger and freight trains, the most complex section of the line is between Kingston and Pickering Junction, where the majority of CN trains diverge on to the freight bypass line that takes them north of Toronto to the city's main hump classification yard in Maple. GO's Oshawa-Toronto commuter trains enter the Kingston Subdivision here, using a parallel GO-exclusive line from Oshawa to this busy junction point. GO's Stouffville commuter trains enter the Kingston Subdivision farther west at Scarborough Junction.

Operations on the Kingston Subdivision are directed by computer-assisted Centralized Traffic Control under the direction of rail traffic controllers (RTCs) at CN's Rail Traffic Control Centres in Toronto and Montreal. Train movements are governed by signal indications and radio instructions from the RTCs.

ABOUT VIA'S QUEBEC-WINDSOR CORRIDOR:

VIA's 1,150-kilometre Quebec-Windsor Corridor serves the most densely populated and industrialized area of the country, which is home to more than half of Canada's population. The corridor is at the heart of VIA's 12,500-kilometre transcontinental route network, generating more than 3.5 million trips annually and accounting for nearly 90% of the corporation's ridership and revenue.

VIA's Quebec-Windsor Corridor services include five primary routes:

    
        - Quebec-Montreal;
        - Montreal-Ottawa;
        - Montreal-Toronto;
        - Ottawa-Toronto; and
        - Toronto-Windsor.
    

Two additional connecting routes within this region extend VIA's reach to cities such as Kitchener-Waterloo, Stratford, Sarnia and Niagara Falls.

More than 400 of VIA's 503 weekly passenger trains operate on the five main corridor routes every week. The Montreal-Toronto route is the most frequent in the VIA network, offering travellers six weekday departures from its end terminals. Residents of the City of Kingston - who are also served by VIA's Ottawa-Toronto trains - have a choice of 11 convenient departure times for points west to Toronto.

Three railways own the lines over which VIA's Quebec-Windsor Corridor trains operate. VIA owns, maintains and operates three key segments of the Quebec-Windsor Corridor: Coteau-Ottawa, Ottawa-Smiths Falls and Chatham-Windsor. The Smiths Falls-Brockville line is owned by Canadian Pacific and all the other lines belong to CN. VIA reimburses CN and CP for the use of their line segments, which are shared with those railways' freight trains.

ABOUT VIA RAIL CANADA:

As Canada's national rail passenger service, VIA Rail Canada's mandate is to provide efficient, environmentally sustainable and cost-effective passenger transportation, both in Canada's business corridor and in remote and rural regions of the country. 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. In 2008, VIA safely transported 4.6 million passengers - the most since 1989 - and set an all-time record of $299 million in revenue.

ABOUT CN:

The Canadian National Railway Company and its operating railway subsidiaries span Canada and mid-America, from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to the Gulf of Mexico. CN serves the ports of Vancouver, Prince Rupert, B.C., Montreal, Halifax, New Orleans, and Mobile, Ala., and the key metropolitan areas of Toronto, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Duluth, Minn./Superior, Wis., Green Bay, Wis., Minneapolis/St. Paul, Memphis, and Jackson, Miss., with connections to all points in North America. CN shares are listed for trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol "CNR" and on the New York Stock Exchange under "CNI."

SOURCE VIA Rail Canada Inc.

For further information: For further information: Media: Elizabeth Huart, VIA Rail Canada, (514) 887-6119; Chris Hilton, Office of the Minister of State (Transport), (613) 991-0700


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