MONTRÉAL, Feb. 3, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) is pleased to announce the appointment of Susan Williams to the position of General Manager for Eastern Canada. This will involve adding value to the services offered to communities served in the Maritimes and Eastern Québec as well as business development activities intended to build on partnerships that began in 2014 with local community representatives.
Ms. Williams will be working to bring VIA Rail's service offering in line with this part of the country's needs and demands. This is one of the first steps of a larger strategy to better serve Eastern Canada. This appointment, which follows on a $10.2 million investment in the restoration of the Newcastle line as well as additional departures on the company's Ocean service during the holiday season, is intended to support the implementation of targeted strategies for building traffic and improving customer service.
"We have high hopes for Susan's success in developing an enhanced offering for our Eastern communities," declared Martin R. Landry, Chief Commercial Officer at VIA Rail. "Her impressive career path in both the travel and customer service fields will help VIA Rail attain its service redefinition objectives."
Susan Williams joined the VIA Rail team in 2006, as Director, Customer Experience-East. Prior to her appointment, she occupied the position of Regional Manager for Central Canada. She had previously gained extensive experience in the customer service field from hotel and call-centre sectors. Originally from Nova Scotia, Susan's great knowledge of the region along with her experience will help serve local citizens. Based in Halifax, she will share her time between Halifax and Moncton offices, and will fulfill her responsibilities in relation to services provided along the Ocean route, as well as VIA Rail's telephone sales offices in Moncton and Montréal.
"We would like to see VIA Rail as one of the foremost options considered by everyone in the region for inter-city travel, as well as for going elsewhere in the country," added Mr. Landry, "We were pleased to offer more train travel options over the holiday season and over the next few months, we intend to continue our efforts to better meet our customers' needs and align our services with schedules of local events."
Changes to Ocean schedule
Our Ocean service will be benefitting from recent improvements to infrastructure. Starting February 18, 2015, travel time for trains between Montréal and Halifax will be reduced slightly by approximately one hour each way. The change to the schedule was made possible by VIA Rail's $10.2 million investment announced in May 2014 by the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Lisa Raitt, allowing the restoration of CN's Newcastle subdivision.
The new schedules are as follows:
Train 14, Montréal-Halifax
Train 15, Halifax-Montréal
Departure from Montreal: 18:55
Departure from Halifax: 12 noon
Arrival in Halifax: 17:35
Arrival in Montreal: 09:15
Departure days remain the same. The full schedule is available on VIA Rail's website.
Passenger traffic during the holidays
Over the recent holiday season, VIA Rail offered six additional departures on its Ocean service in order to better meet the needs of the country's Eastern communities. Close to 7,700 people made VIA Rail their travel choice from December 17 to January 4, increasing traffic by 6.2% and revenues by 12% compared to the previous year. Most of these passengers travelled between Halifax, Moncton, Bathurst, Campbellton and Montréal.
"The addition of train frequencies during the holiday season represented an investment of close to
$500,000", stated Mr. Landry. "Although this initiative did not generate the expected results, we still have the intention of repeating the experience during other peak periods."
About VIA Rail's Ocean service
Since 1904, the Ocean has been travelling along a 1,346 kilometer railway network, following the St. Lawrence River, through the Matapedia valley. The train service links the cities of Campbellton, Moncton, Truro and Halifax with central and western Canada. Every year, this service - with its 28 stops - offers tens of thousands of passengers from across Canada and the world the opportunity to discover the Eastern Canadian provinces. A free Wi-Fi connection is available in the service cars. The Ocean service celebrated its 110th anniversary in 2014.
About VIA Rail Canada
As Canada's national rail passenger service, VIA Rail Canada (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 450 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. Read more about our transformation at viarail.ca/transformingvia.
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SOURCE VIA Rail Canada Inc.
For further information: Mylène Bélanger, Senior Advisor, Media Relations, VIA Rail Canada, 514 871-6137 | 1 877 393-8787, firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com