VIA Extends Long-Distance Train Suspensions

VIA Rail Canada has indefinitely extended the suspension of two long-distance trains due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Toronto-Vancouver Canadian and Montreal-Halifax Ocean had been set to resume operation on Nov. 1.

But in an announcement made last week VIA said the suspensions have been extended to an unspecified date due to due to a rise of COVID-19 cases in some regions of Canada and recommendations of health authorities.

The carrier also said sleeping car service on its Winnipeg-Churchill route also will remain suspended.

In a news release, VIA said it is working on a safe resumption of service plan.

“The authorities indicate that this situation is worrisome as we are heading into autumn and winter, which are seasons presenting a high risk for respiratory diseases,” VIA said in a statement.

“Current sanitary conditions would thus not allow for a safe service offering, especially given the duration of these trips and the close proximity between employees and passengers.”

VIA is continuing to operate some corridor service between Quebec City and Windsor, Ontario, via Toronto and Montreal.

A VIA spokesperson told Trains magazine in mid September that the passenger carrier is reviewing “ventilation systems, classes of service, schedules, and food and beverage, in order to offer a safe travel experience.”

He said the close proximity between employees and passengers and the duration of long-distance trips made it difficult to offer a safe environment.
The VIA news release cites “recent bulletins by authorities show that a second wave of the pandemic has begun in some regions of the country.”

In some regions of Canada travel restrictions limit travel to residents of the same or an adjacent province.

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