Growth Continues at Via Rail: Q2 Results Released

  • Ridership up 9.5%
  • Passenger revenues up 15.7%

MONTRÉAL, Aug. 31, 2017 /CNW Telbec/ - VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) reports strong results during the second quarter of 2017, its 13th consecutive quarter of growth. Ridership increased by 9.5% compared to the same period in 2016 and passenger revenues rose by 15.7%. A total of 364 million kilometers were travelled over the quarter, up 9% from 2016.

"We are pleased to see that the pattern of growth continues. The summer schedule adjustment, which increased our capacity by 7% starting May 29, had substantially contributed to the 15.7% increase in passenger revenues over the quarter," said VIA Rail's President and CEO, Yves Desjardins-Siciliano. "Though success has almost become the norm after 13 consecutive quarters of growth, we are not resting on our laurels. We continue to put our passengers first and improve the customer experience to encourage more Canadians to take the train."

Putting Passenger First
After focusing on improving the Economy class menu at the beginning of the year, this quarter VIA Rail enhanced the Business class menu selection with more Canadian products. Business class passengers can now enjoy Montréal's famous St-Viateur Bagels for breakfast and, at lunch or dinner, choose from a new selection of seven Canadian wines on board.

Capacity on the most in demand trains was increased. Travellers now have the option of new direct connections between Ottawa and Québec City, as well as a new Sunday afternoon departure in both directions and one more direct train to Québec City during the week. In order to further expand commuter options to and from Montréal, two more stops were added at Saint-Hyacinthe during rush hours.

Strengthening our assets
VIA Rail has begun to execute the infrastructure projects planned for 2017-2019 as announced in the March federal budget. The planned investments in its facilities total $54.3 million over three years. Additional infrastructure investments totalling $45 million are also planned for the next three years. These projects include track and bridge maintenance projects ($30 million) and network improvements ($15 million).

During the second quarter, 15 capital projects at our maintenance centers and stations, which represent a total of $6.5 million in funding, were completed.

Innovating for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth

Sustainable mobility is an integral part of VIA Rail and how it conducts its business. Over the second quarter of 2017, VIA Rail made significant progress on projects that are aligned with its sustainable mobility pillars:

Provide the Best Customer Experience

  • In response to extensive customer and employee feedback and industry benchmarking, VIA Rail launched a more customer-friendly and simplified baggage policy.

  • Over the quarter, all VIA Rail passengers between the ages of 2 and 11 started to receive a new CHOO CHOO CLUB bag which includes an activity book and lots of other fun surprises.

  • Onboard and station employees have been outfitted with new VIA Rail uniform accessories that increase their visibility in stations and on trains, and are more in line with VIA Rail's branding.

Operate Safely and Efficiently

  • VIA Rail partnered with Operation Lifesaver to pursue ongoing efforts to keep the public safe around railways by organizing passenger safety information booths at several stations across the country. Passengers got to experience firsthand the new "Look, Listen, Live" virtual reality video campaign which aim to raise awareness of the dangers of playing or trespassing on railway property.

  • As part of VIA Rail's commitment to creating a work environment that promotes good health and well-being and fosters a strong safety culture, VIA Rail participated in the North American Occupational Safety and Health Week.

  • VIA Rail's On-Time Performance (OTP) in the Québec City – Windsor corridor remained fairly low for the second quarter of 2017 at 76%. The Ocean's OTP reached 90%, and OTP on the Canadian was 17%.

  • VIA Rail's service from Gillam to Churchill in Northern Manitoba was suspended indefinitely due to flooding.

Supporting Socio-Economic Development

  • VIA Rail participated in several events organized by groups that support the military and veterans, such as the Black Watch of Canada Foundation, Canada Company, Prince's Operation Entrepreneur, Wounded Warriors and Esprit de corps. In April VIA Rail partnered with the Vimy Foundation to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

Reduce our Environmental Impact

  • The Montréal Maintenance Centre's Environmental Management System (EMS) certification was renewed to the ISO 14001 international standard.

Be an Attractive Employer

  • As part of VIA Rail's commitment to increasing gender diversity in management positions as part of our 2020 sustainable mobility strategy, Linda Bergeron, Chief Human Resources Officer, led workshops with female management employees in Montreal, Halifax, and Toronto.

Maintain the public trust

  • VIA Rail's 2017 Annual Public Meeting took place on May 30 at 2pm via webcast when VIA Rail's Shareholders and the Canadian public had a chance to hear about the company's 2016 and 2017 first quarter results from the President and CFO. Over 600 questions were received from the public.

For more information on VIA Rail's quarterly report, you can download the full electronic version at: viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail/governance-and-reports/quarterly-reports

About VIA Rail Canada
As Canada's national rail passenger service, VIA Rail (viarail.ca) and its 2,700 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. For more information, visit: www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail.

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SOURCE VIA Rail Canada Inc.

For further information: Mariam Diaby, Media Relations, VIA Rail Canada, 514 871-6010 | 1 877 393-8787, mariam_diaby@viarail.ca | media@viarail.ca

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