MONTRÉAL, Nov. 27, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - For the second consecutive period since May, 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 6.7% increase in revenue, while operating expenses decreased by 2.6%. During the period, VIA Rail launched new passenger-oriented campaigns. It also enhanced its value proposition to frequent travellers in the Ottawa-Toronto segment by adding one more train in each direction to its schedule as of October 31. Though the total number of passengers on the network decreased, ridership grew by 1.8% between Montréal and Toronto and by 6.2% on the Canadian during the third quarter of 2014, compared to the same period in 2013.
"In this quarter, all of us at VIA Rail have focused on delivering greater value to our passengers. From on-board food and beverage to simplified booking and train connections, we are dedicated to superior service that enhances the travel experience of our customers," stated Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, VIA Rail's President and Chief Executive Officer. "From a financial perspective, this is good news for VIA Rail. It gives its employees - from front-line staff who serve the passengers to maintenance centre as well as headquarters employees - reason to be optimistic and proud. But in order to attract more customers, we must continue to pursue all the necessary efforts. This includes discussions with our railway partners to address the issue of our congested rail infrastructure, which affects on-time performance of both freight and passenger rail companies and prevents them from optimising their respective services."
The operating loss decreased by 12.1%, which represents a reduction of $9.1 million. This decrease is mostly explained by a reduction in contributions to the various pension plans. Government funding decreased by 9.4% (or $8.6 million) compared to the third quarter in 2013, due to reduced operating loss.
The quarterly report is available at viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail/our-company/quarterly-reports.
2014 Third Quarter Highlights:
Sales and Marketing
- First new accessible Prestige Park car put into service on VIA Rail's Canadian train, running between Toronto and Vancouver;
- Milestone of 120,000 fans reached on VIA Rail's Facebook page, an increase of 11% since the beginning of the year;
- Introduction of two new products for the student market: a 20/20 discount card and a Semester Pass;
- Launching of a new campaign targeting the Business class market;
- Introduction of an unlimited travel pass for youth;
- Creation and production, in house, of a new train safety system using GPS tracking – the first of its kind in Canada. This safety system will assist Locomotive Engineers by providing notifications of upcoming speed changes or restrictions, approaching changes in applicable rules and upcoming landmarks along the route;
- Launching of a new version of the mobile portal page.
- Upgrade of the complementary On Train Entertainment system and addition of video content;
- Overhaul of the LRC (Light, Rapid, Comfortable) cars: by the end of 2014, there will be 22 renovated Economy Class cars and 26 overhauled Business Class cars completed;
- Launching of a renovation project at VIA Rail's Brockville station;
- Official opening of the overhead walkway and heated central platform at Cobourg station;
- Establishment of a partnership with the passenger rail carrier alliance company AccesRail, extending VIA Rail's distribution reach to over 120,000 travel agencies around the world;
- New partnership with Hainan Airlines;
- New partnership with Union Pearson (UP) Express, which will link Toronto Union Station with Toronto's Pearson airport;
- Introduction of two more trainsets within the Québec city – Windsor corridor, providing over 5,000 additional seats weekly;
- Reduced fuel consumption by 2.8% compared to the same period in 2013.
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.
SOURCE: VIA Rail Canada Inc.