MONTRÉAL, May 30, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - The Board of Directors of VIA Rail Canada (www.viarail.ca) approved the Corporation's financial statements for the first quarter of 2014. During this period, the occupancy rate for the network as a whole rose six percentage points compared to the first quarter of 2013, increasing from 52% to 58%. Passenger volumes remained steady within the Québec City - Windsor corridor, compared to the same quarter in 2013. VIA Rail transported 890,000 passengers, compared to 887,000 in 2013, and passenger-miles (the total number of miles travelled by passengers) increased over the quarter to 155.5 million miles, compared to 154.5 million miles during the first quarter of 2013.
A very harsh winter meant that more maintenance work needed to be performed on rolling stock, which caused some travel delays. In addition, other railway companies with which VIA Rail shares tracks were affected by the cold weather, and there was a noticeable rise in rail traffic overall. As a result, the Corporation's on-time performance deteriorated significantly in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same period last year, decreasing from 82% to 71%.
Passenger volumes across the network fell slightly to 928,000 passengers, compared to 936,000 in 2013. It should be noted that the Easter holiday, which has a positive impact on ridership, was recorded during the second quarter this year, while it was included in the first quarter results in 2013.
Passenger revenues, totalling $53.6 million, saw a 1% drop compared to the same quarter in 2013. Funded operating expenses for the period rose by $3.2 million, a 2.2% increase compared to the first quarter of 2013. Government funding for the quarter also increased by $3.8 million, up 4.6% compared to last year.
"These financial results are disappointing," stated Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, VIA Rail's new President and CEO. "More importantly, the deterioration of the on-time performance of our trains is of great concern as it impacts customer satisfaction and may limit our ability to grow revenues in the coming quarters. Working with our railway partners, we must reverse this trend if we are to meet our financial targets."
The quarterly report is available at www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail/our-company/quarterly-reports.
2014 First Quarter Highlights:
Modernization and Equipment
- Overhaul of LRC (Light, Rapid, Comfortable) cars: by the end of the first quarter 2014, there were 18 renovated Economy class cars and 11 overhauled Business class cars in service;
- Development of the Maintenance Optimization Program, which increases time available for repairs;
- Upgrade of internal technology to facilitate their maintenance and evolution, and reduce operational costs. Estimated annual savings of $1.2 Million.
VIA Rail: A Green Choice
- Fuel consumption reduction of 12.6% with 9.84 million litres of fuel used in the first quarter 2014, compared to 11.26 million litres of fuel used in the first quarter of 2013;
- New telemetry-equipped locomotives, which enabled VIA Rail to improve the efficiency of train handling, have led to a fuel savings of $314,0000 for the quarter, compared to the same quarter in 2013.
About VIA Rail Canada
As Canada's national rail passenger service, VIA Rail Canada's (viarail.ca) and its 2,713 employees are mandated to provide safe, efficient and economical passenger transportation service, in both official languages of our country. VIA operates intercity, regional and transcontinental trains linking 450 communities across its 12,500-kilometre route network, 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 is 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. Follow the progress of our transformation at viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail/capital-investment.
SOURCE: VIA Rail Canada Inc.