MONTRÉAL, Nov. 27, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) closed the third quarter with positive results across all its services, from inter-city and long-distance to regional services. The growth in revenues and in ridership was accompanied by improvement in employee engagement results.
This quarter saw a 10% increase in overall revenues compared to the third quarter of 2014, and a 4% growth in passengers on VIA Rail's trains. For the Québec City – Windsor corridor, ridership went up from 893,660 to 924,270 or 3.4% compared to the third quarter of 2014 and revenues increased by 8%.
"All services completed the quarter with higher revenue and more passengers than the same period last year - an astounding accomplishment. Of particular note is the increase in both revenue and passengers on the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal corridor. This growth confirms our confidence that there is an ever-increasing demand for reliable, safe and environmentally-responsible inter-city passenger rail services", said VIA Rail's President and CEO Yves Desjardins-Siciliano. "This significant progress on all fronts is evidence that our growth strategy and the dedication and efforts of all of us, experienced through VIA Rail's superior customer service, can produce great results."
This quarter, VIA Rail received the results of a company-wide employee engagement survey report. More employees participated in the survey and the outcome shows an increasing level of engagement. However, work and change still need to happen before the employee engagement can reach the level of the best Canadian companies. "Over the coming months, action plans are being developed across all departments with the involvement of front line employees. Our best is yet to come", stated Mr. Desjardins-Siciliano.
The Government of Canada confirmed capital funding of $102 million for VIA Rail this quarter. It will be used to improve the VIA Rail-owned infrastructure and its services in and around the Ottawa area.
These improvements come all the while on-time performance (OTP) continues to be a challenge. During the last quarter, on rail lines owned and controlled by freight operators, VIA Rail trains OTP ranged from 25.3% on the Canadian to 79.5% on the Ocean and 73.8% on the Quebec-Windsor corridor, a further reduction of 4.9 percentage points over last year's results. Meanwhile, punctuality on the limited infrastructure owned by VIA Rail is in the mid-90%. "The plan we are developing to build a dedicated passenger rail infrastructure within the busiest Toronto – Ottawa – Montréal triangle will eliminate the challenges of sharing tracks with freight trains", added Yves Desjardins-Siciliano.
The quarter's report is available at viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail/our-company/quarterly-reports.
2015 Third Quarter Highlights:
Safety: VIA Rail continued to ensure the safety of its operations and inform the public about safety around railroads
- New siding installed and now in operation in the Ottawa region - allows more flexibility in managing train meets and provides relief where crossings are frequent and close one to another.
- Installation of a centralized traffic control (CTC) system between Kitchener and London expected to be operational by the end of the year. With this upgrade, all infrastructures owned by VIA Rail in the Québec City - Windsor corridor will be equipped with the CTC system.
- Although reliability improvements have already been noted in the third quarter, VIA Rail will review the tools and processes used to maintain its aging rolling stock to gain performance and continue increasing reliability
- Launch of the mobile app and the mobile site (m.viarail.ca) for purchasing tickets, modifying bookings, reviewing reservation details, e-boarding pass, automatic insertion of travel information into calendar and real-time updates of train status.
Sales and Marketing
- "Back to School" campaign includes inserts in school agendas, door hangs, posters around university campuses and new student testimonials to encourage youth to get on board our trains.
- "Back to Work" campaign targets the business community, explicitly small business owners and self-employed professionals.
- Unlimited semester pass renewed for the 2015 fall semester: offers 120 days of unlimited travel to students within the Québec City – Windsor corridor for as little as $499.
Corporate Social Responsibility
- Continued implementation of various initiatives to reduce our environmental footprint including training of Locomotive Engineers and the use of scorecards to help reduce the idling of the train when in rail yards and improve train operations techniques to minimize the fuel consumption from train operations.
- On-site presence at The Fergus (Ontario) Truck Show in collaboration with the Operation Lifesaver national office, informing truck drivers about safety around railways.
- Re-certification program for Locomotive Engineers launched with a stronger focus on human factors to improve vigilance in train handling.
- Unionized and non-unionized employees received training to be able to administer Mental Health First Aid.
- The 2015 Employee Engagement Survey participation rate reached a record high of 63% (as compared to 54% in 2011): overall employee engagement increased by 5%.
- Supported 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games and Para Pan Am Games. Over 200 athletes and 100 officials from 41 countries in the Americas boarded VIA Rail trains from Toronto to Niagara Falls to see the legendary falls.
- Committed to a three-year partnership with the National Capital Open, supporting the Military Families Fund, which in turn supports the Canadian Armed Forces and their families.
- Sponsored the 8th Annual Canadian Army Run and offered a special 20% discount for participants and family members travelling to Ottawa for the race, as well as train travel prizes.
- Partnered with the Canada Company Military Employment Program, an initiative developed to help members of the Canadian Armed Forces, reservists and veterans to transition out of the military into the civilian workforce.
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 | firstname.lastname@example.org