VIA Rail Canada and Santa get on track for the kids - Eight special trains
operate between Jasper and Northern BC

EDMONTON, Dec. 4 /CNW Telbec/ - Now in its 10th year VIA's Santa Trains have been helping bring holiday cheer to children in the communities of Jasper, Prince George and Prince Rupert. So popular is this annual event that tickets sell out within a few days with proceeds benefiting local charities as well as the Kids Cancer Society.

Planning for these special departures begins in August with VIA's Guy Larochelle, VIA's manager Train Operations in Edmonton coordinating a schedule with Canadian National. Along with a team of volunteers from Jasper, Prince George and Prince Rupert, the success of these trains also depends on the participation of community volunteers.

"These trains represent the true meaning of Christmas" says Guy Larochelle, "It starts with the volunteers, from our agents in Jasper and Prince George who assist in ticket sales, our locomotive engineers to locals who help welcome the children at the stations and even the jolly ole man himself who passes out candy canes on board - all donate their time to this most worthy cause."

This year eight (shuttle-type) trips are scheduled between December 1st and 8th with an anticipated 2,000 merry-makers boarding one of the special trains. Enroute children receive "grab bags" filled with VIA train cut-outs, crayons and colouring books. The first two departures from Jasper were sold out as were the Prince George and Prince Rupert departures scheduled later this week. Special memories are a part of every departure but there seems to be some special holiday magic that accompanies the evening departures.

With all the work being carried out by volunteers, 100% of the proceeds go towards the designated charities. Last year the VIA's Santa trains helped to raise close to 7.5 thousand dollars.

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.

SOURCE VIA Rail Canada Inc.

For further information: For further information: Catherine Kaloutsky, (647) 228-1127

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