Government of Canada and VIA Rail expand renewal of passenger train cars and

MONTREAL, Sept. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - The Government of Canada and VIA Rail announced today a $20 million program to renew and improve two key components of its nationwide locomotive and rolling stock fleet, funded from the $407 million investment in passenger rail improvements under the Government of Canada's Economic Action Plan.

"It gives me great pleasure to announce the overhaul of 78 cars and 21 locomotives for improved service across VIA Rail's transcontinental network," said the Honourable Rob Merrifield, Minister of State (Transport). "Combined with the other capital projects announced recently, it will give Canadians a more efficient, reliable and comfortable passenger rail network".

"Equally satisfying for all of us at VIA is the fact that this program will create and maintain skilled employment, contributing to the government's strategy of employment and economic stimulus", said VIA Chief Operating Officer, John Marginson. "This initiative is creating 58 positions at VIA's Montreal Maintenance Centre (MMC): 51 positions for the HEP 1 project and seven positions for the P-42 locomotives. When coupled with our other fleet renewal programs, it adds up to the largest investment ever in Canadian passenger rail equipment", added Marginson.

This project includes the renovation and upgrade of 78 HEP 1 long-haul cars of various types and of 21 P-42 diesel-electric locomotives. The HEP 1 stainless steel cars are primarily assigned to VIA's world-renowned Toronto-Vancouver streamliner, the Canadian, which is an important contributor to Canada's tourism industry. The P-42 locomotives haul VIA's fastest trains in the busy Quebec-Windsor Corridor.

The first of the 78 HEP 1 stainless steel cars to be overhauled will be 40 Manor sleeping cars, followed by the dining cars, Skyline dome-buffet-lounge cars and other car types within the fleet. The overhaul will include new and brighter interior carpeting, wall designs and upholstery. Mechanical work will include the renewal of the electrical, drinkable water, heating/ventilating/air conditioning and underframe systems. This overhaul of VIA's long-distance trains will proceed at the rate of seven cars per month. The first cars are scheduled for completion this fall.

The P-42 program includes work on the underframe systems, main diesel engine, alternator and generator. As well, there will be minor structural repairs and touch-ups of the car body, along with winterization programs. This will prepare the P-42s for another 1.6 million kilometers or eight years of reliable service.

About VIA's fleet renewal program

These programs fleet renewal programs are part of an unprecedented investment by the Government of Canada in the improvement and expansion of passenger rail service across the country. It is being funded under a $516 million passenger rail capital improvement program announced in October 2007 and another $407 million investment under the Economic Action Plan.

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.

SOURCE VIA Rail Canada Inc.

For further information: For further information: Malcolm Andrews, Via Rail Canada Inc., (514) 871-6604; Chris Hilton, Office of Minister of State (transport), (613) 991-0700

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