MONTRÉAL, May 29, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - For the third consecutive quarter, customers have continued to recognize the value of VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) services and as a result, revenues have increased. This quarter saw a 2.6% increase in revenue compared to the first quarter of 2014, while operating expenses increased slightly by 0.5%. VIA Rail transported 912,000 passengers, compared to 928,000 in 2014, a decrease of 1.7%.
"During the first quarter, the positive trend in increasing returns continued although our passenger volumes declined. Unfortunately, during the three months of the first quarter, The Canadian, our western long-distance train, was suspended between Toronto and Winnipeg for 31 days due to several freight train derailments, resulting in reduced revenues and a lower volume of passengers", stated Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, VIA Rail's President and Chief Executive Officer. "Our On Time Performance (OTP), recorded at 63.6% across our main market, the Québec City – Windsor corridor, was the lowest in years. This was primarily due to a higher than normal number of significant mechanical problems which was exacerbated by the substantial increase in time to destination and train idling caused by freight traffic on the shared railway. Now that we have improved many areas of our business, from on-board to in-station and web-based services, we must focus on the reliability of our train operations. This requires better performance from our rolling stock and better access to railway infrastructure. By offering more frequencies and shorter trip times, we will become more relevant and thus, our ridership, in particular in the most populated communities in the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal corridor, will grow" continued Mr. Desjardins-Siciliano.
Notwithstanding the challenges above, the part of VIA Rail's business that remains steady and that the passengers' comments attest to is the outstanding service provided by our on-train and in-station staff as well as our call centre agents. Less visible, but just as important, is the dedication and professionalism of VIA Rail's equipment maintenance staff. In order to attract more customers, the Crown Corporation will continue to pursue all the necessary efforts.
The quarterly report is available at viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail/our-company/quarterly-reports.
2015 First Quarter Highlights:
- Safety remains VIA Rail's number one priority. Recent improvements to our practices and our Safety Management System as well as the strengthening of our operational structure have helped us better manage safety through the Corporation and are a reflection of the importance we place on safety.
Sales and Marketing
- New Business class service on certain shorter trips in the Québec City – Windsor corridor (on which Business class was not previously offered) for passengers departing from and bound for cities such as Alexandria, Cornwall, Brockville, Kingston, Belleville, Cobourg, Oshawa, Chatham and Drummondville.
- Launching of VIA Rail's Instagram account to showcase its travel experience and entice people to see Canada by train. To date, VIA Rail posted 15 images, shared images posted by passengers, bloggers and other photographers, and attracted 537 followers.
- New multimedia marketing campaign "Train Day" developed and rolled out to remind people that the train is the most reliable mode of transportation in winter. The first initiatives were launched in both the Toronto and Montréal markets this quarter.
- Launching of an SMS and email Train Status Alert Service. By subscribing to the service, customers receive email or SMS notifications about their VIA Rail train statuses, service disruptions and/or delays. By the end of the quarter, 51,500 subscribers had already registered.
- Overhaul of the LRC (Light, Rapid, Comfortable) cars: by the end of the quarter, 22 renovated Economy Class cars were completed, with another 22 Economy Class cars on the way.
- New Business class breakfast, lunch and dinner menus were introduced in the Québec City – Windsor corridor and several changes were made to increase passenger satisfaction, including the doubling of the number of menus from four to eight.
- Heritage Winnipeg honored VIA Rail at the 30th Annual Preservation Awards for its work and vision to preserve its historic Winnipeg Union Station, built in 1911.
- Establishment of a partnership with Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways. Both have signed up with AccesRail to publish air fare with rail fare as a combined through fare.
- Additional cars were added to existing long-distance Ocean trains in response to market demand. This resulted in a 25% increase of capacity in Economy class and a 13% increase of capacity in Sleeper class.
- Due to historically low average temperatures, increased capacity and poorer on-time performance, fuel consumption per gross ton mile has increased by 7.5% compared to the first quarter of 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 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
SOURCE VIA Rail Canada Inc.
Image with caption: "VIA Rail Canada logo (CNW Group/VIA Rail Canada Inc.)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20150529_C3417_PHOTO_EN_17191.jpg
Image with caption: "VIA Rail trains at a station (CNW Group/VIA Rail Canada Inc.)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20150529_C3417_PHOTO_EN_17192.jpg
For further information: Maxime Dupont-Demers Senior Advisor, Media Relations, VIA Rail Canada, 514 871-6137, 1 877 393-8787, Maxime_Dupont-Demers@viarail.ca, firstname.lastname@example.org; Stay connected with VIA Rail, Twitter @VIA_rail, Facebook /viarailcanada, Instagram @viarailcanada, Blog Evolution