SMITHS FALLS, ON, March 8 /CNW Telbec/ - Dean Del Mastro, Member of Parliament for Peterborough and Chairman of the All Party Rail Caucus Parliamentary Group, on behalf on Rob Merrifield, Minister of State (Transport), and VIA's Senior Director, Real Estate, Magdy Fahmy today announced the construction of the town's new station and rail line upgrading. Made possible by the Government of Canada's investments of close to $21 million for major rail infrastructure work, the projects will increase and improve the safety, frequency and speed of passenger rail service all along VIA's busy Toronto-Ottawa route. MP Del Mastro and Senior Director Fahmy were joined at the announcement by Smiths Falls Mayor Dennis Staples and Canadian Pacific (CP) Vice-President of Government Affairs Michael Murphy.
"The Government of Canada understands how important VIA's rail service is to Smiths Falls and hundreds of other communities and rail travelers across Ontario," said MP Del Mastro. "By investing in rail services and facilities such as these here in Smiths Falls, we are underlining our commitment to VIA's capital renewal as a wise way to stimulate economic activity and job creation, contribute to environmental sustainability and improve Canada's passenger rail system for years to come."
Senior Director Fahmy added, "These investments will create a passenger rail service second to none. A rail service that is safe, fast and sustainable. A rail service designed for Canadians - in the 21st century. VIA is very pleased that the citizens of Smiths Falls are going to be a part of this new era in rail travel."
"We're very pleased to work with VIA to implement upgrades to CP's Brockville Subdivision, and thereby help improve passenger rail service on this important segment of the network," said VP Murphy.
VIA's new Smiths Falls station will be fully-accessible and located just north of downtown. With its distinctive tower, the new station has been designed to blend harmoniously with the historic character and railway legacy of Smiths Falls. It will provide easy passenger access, ample parking and room for future growth. The new location will also reduce schedule conflicts between VIA passenger and Canadian Pacific freight trains at the old site, which is in the middle of a junction between four busy CP lines and VIA's Smiths Falls Subdivision to Ottawa. The construction of the new Smiths Falls station is due to be completed at the end of this year.
The rail infrastructure upgrading began recently on CP's Brockville Subdivision, which is the route of VIA's heavily-used Toronto-Ottawa trains. The project, scheduled to be completed at the end of 2010, includes two new passing sidings between Smiths Falls and Brockville, a new Centralized Traffic Control signal system, upgraded protection at rail/road grade crossings and strategic sections of safety fencing.
"Smiths Falls' connection with and affection for the railways goes back to 1859, when the Brockville & Ottawa's first train steamed into town," said Mayor Staples. "It brought with it so many opportunities for this town to grow and prosper. I'm convinced these VIA projects can and will do the same today."
VIA's Smiths Falls projects are closely linked with other work that is now, or will soon be, underway throughout the Quebec-Windsor Corridor, which generates almost 90% of VIA's ridership and revenue. Other corridor projects include similar upgrading of the VIA-owned Ottawa-Smiths Falls line and Canadian National's Montreal-Toronto main line. These projects combined will lead to increases in VIA train safety, frequency and speed.
The construction of VIA's new Smiths Falls station is part of the $516 million capital program announced by the Government of Canada for VIA Rail in 2007. This investment is stimulating job creation, skills development and private sector activity across the country. Additional infrastructure projects are aimed at improving service quality and cost efficiency at other points across VIA's coast-to-coast route network.
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 - in both official languages. 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 networks of services was much larger - and set an all-time record of $299 million in revenue.
SOURCE VIA Rail Canada Inc.
For further information: For further information: Elizabeth Huart, VIA Rail Canada Inc., (514) 887-6119; Robert Lynch, Office of the Minister of State (Transport), (613) 991-0700