Posts Tagged ‘VIA Rail Canada’

VIA Facing Record Deficits

July 3, 2020

VIA Rail Canada reported this week that its first quarter revenue fell by an average of $373,000 per day, which has the carrier facing a record deficit.

News reports indicate that revenues for the quarter dropped by 40 percent due service cancellations prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic and a series of First Nation blockades that hampered rail movements throughout the country.

“Funding levels will not be sufficient to offset the potential deficit,” according to a quarterly management report.

VIA Takes Steps to Improve Accessibility

June 30, 2020

VIA Rail Canada said last week that it is taking additional steps toward ensuring universal accessibility in order to meet requirements of the Canadian Transportation Agency.

The actions include creating a telephone reservations for riders with disabilities or functional limitations unable to make reservations on the website’ providing curbside assistance from select station entrances to the platform, which includes wheelchair assistance, guiding assistance and assistance carrying baggage; establishing relief areas for service animals at 80 stations; an improved digital strategy to make information more accessible; and on-demand availability of menus and safety cards in braille or large print on board trains.

VIA said it has launched a universal accessibility policy to guide its actions and decisions, and support its efforts to meet and exceed government regulations.

VIA Carried 5M Passengers in 2019

June 24, 2020

VIA Rail Canada said this week it carried 5 million passengers last year, its highest ridership in 30 years and a 5.5 percent increase over 2018 levels.

The carrier said that 96 percent of passengers traveled for inter-city travel, 3 percent for long-distance travel and 1 percent for regional travel.

The Quebec City-Windsor Corridor recorded ridership of 4.7 million riders, a 5.5 percent year-over-year increase.

Revenue for 2019 totaled CA$411.1 million, an increase of CA$18.5 million compared with 2018. Total operating expenses reached CA$691.8 million, a nearly CA$27 million increase.

VIA is not expecting 2020 ridership to be a bountiful due to substantial ridership declines during the COVID-19 pandemic and protest blockades earlier in the year that led to service suspensions.

“Our immediate challenge is to convince Canadians that we are the safe way to travel as our response to the COVID-19 virus evolves,” said VIA Rail President and CEO Cynthia Garneau said in a news release.

 

VIA Publishes New Schedule

June 23, 2020

VIA Rail Canada has updated the timetables that it posts to its website to show current services that are being operated.

The number of trains available are limited given that VIA has suspended several services including its flagship Toronto-Vancouver Canadian until late this year.

The timetables show what days of the week that trains operate and how routes connect with each other on the Quebec-Windsor corridor.

VIA’s action is in contrast to Amtrak, which removed online timetables about three months ago.

VIA to Restore Some Service on June 3

May 22, 2020

VIA Rail Canada will restore on June 3 some service in Québec and Ontario that has been suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Resuming service will be Trains 62 and 669 (Toronto-Kingston-Montréal) and Trains 52, 48, 59 (Toronto-Kingston-Ottawa).

The passenger carrier also said it expects to restore service in July on the Prince Rupert-Prince George-Jasper route.

In a news release, VIA said this service has been suspended due to “infrastructure and maintenance improvements” being performed by host railroad Canadian National.

VIA Extends Suspension of BC Service

May 15, 2020

VIA Rail Canada has extended the suspension of service in British Columbia Columbia to Aug. 1.

In a news release, the carrier cited “continued infrastructure issues” for the decision that affects trains operating Jasper-Prince George-Prince Rupert.

The news release did not elaborate on what those infrastructure issues involved.

VIA earlier extended the suspension of its Toronto-Vancouver Canadian and Montreal-Halifax Ocean to Nov. 1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

VIA Extends Long-Distance Suspensions to Nov. 1

May 8, 2020

The suspension of the Canadian and Ocean of VIA Rail Canada has been extended through Nov. 1.

In a news release, VIA said sleeper class service on its Winnipeg-Churchill, Manitoba, trains has also been suspended through the same date.

“While there is still a great deal of uncertainty as to when both domestic and international travel will resume, VIA Rail will continue to assess how it can support the recommendations of the public health authorities in their response to the pandemic and in preparation for the progressive service recovery,” the company said in the news release.

VIA said that during the service suspension it will accelerate an inspection and modernization program for its heritage passenger equipment that began in 2018.

The carrier said it will contact passengers who held reservations for travel on the affected trains about reimbursing their fare.

Passengers holding tickets during the suspension period also are encouraged to contact VIA by email at service@viarail.ca

VIA can be reached by phone at 888-VIA-RAIL(888-842-7245).

VIA CEO Cynthia Garneau said the carrier will continue to assess and identify which measures to implement in order to get back on track as soon and as safely as possible.

Garneau said the equipment overhaul program will enable VIA to progressively bring back its long-distance trains to full capacity for the 2021 peak season.

VIA has reduced the number of seats available on trains that are still operating as a way to promote social distancing.

Amtrak Mandates Some Workers to Wear Masks

April 21, 2020

Amtrak is requiring employees who interact directly with the public to wear a facial covering of some kind, preferably a mask if available.

Although passengers are not being required to wear face coverings, the carrier said it strongly encourages them and all other of its employees to wear one.

Amtrak’s new CEO William Flynn said employees should start each day with a new disposable mask or a freshly-washed cloth mask.

Flynn said Amtrak has disposable masks available at all staffed stations and crew bases.

The carrier will not provide masks for passengers. “If a customer refuses to wear a mask after an employee graciously asks, let it go. It’s not a requirement, just a recommendation,”  he said.

Amtrak Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer D. J. Stadtler, said the carrier is not mandating masks for passengers “because we travel through so many states and localities where rules are different.”

Stadtler said Amtrak is ensuring that passengers are practicing social distancing away from employees and other passengers.

At Amtrak shop facilities, wearing masks is not mandatory but the company has begun distributing 415,000 disposable masks in the past few days and expects to receive over a half a million more in the coming week.

In a related development, Canada’s Minister of Transport has asked passenger rail operators to require masks for passengers.

Airline passengers flying in Canada are being required to wear masks.

Passengers are being informed of that rule when buying a ticket and before boarding passengers must show that they have a mask in their possession.

Railroad company are being permitted to set and implement their own policies, including denying boarding to those who fail to comply with the rules.

VIA Rail Canada has “invited” passengers to wear masks, but they are not required except for international travelers using the train to reach their place of quarantine.

Pennsylvanian Suspension Extended to May 4

April 7, 2020

The suspension of Amtrak’s New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian has been extended until at least May 4.

The Pennsylvanian along with Keystone Service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, were suspended on March 19 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All of our measures in this regard have been aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19, in concert with Amtrak,” said Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokeswoman Alexis Campbell.

PennDOT pays Amtrak to operate Keystone Service and the Pennsylvanian.

Among the intermediate stops made by the Pennsylvanian are Greensburg, Latrobe, Johnstown, Altoona, Lewistown and Tyrone.

In a related development, VIA Rail Canada said the suspension of its Canadian and Prince Rupert-Prince George-Jasper service in Western Canada has been extended until at least June 1,

In a news release, VIA cited expanding travel restrictions and physical distancing measures, as well as ongoing infrastructure issues for the Prince Rupert service.

VIA Makes More Service Cuts

March 31, 2020

VIA Rail Canada said that beginning March 31 it will further cut service on most routes.

The new schedule calls for only one train per day on all routes in the Quebec City-Windsor, Ontario, corridor.

All trains will stop at every station on all routes.

Montreal-Jonquiere, Quebec; Montreal-Senneterre, Que; and Sudbury-White River, Ontario, routes will operate with one round trip per week.

The Winnipeg-Churchill, Manitoba, train is no longer offering Sleeper Plus service.

Other operations, including the Canadian and Ocean, have been suspended through May 1.

VIA said carry-on baggage assistance offered by employees is temporarily suspended on all trains across the network.

However, it said it will continue to offer the same level of assistance to passengers with disabilities and/or limited mobility.

Checked baggage service has been temporarily suspended on all routes except Sudbury-White River and Winnipeg-Churchill.

In the United States, Amtrak and CTrail Hartford Line trains have begun operating on an even more reduced schedule with a combined 11 round trips (six CTrail, five Amtrak) on weekdays and revised weekend schedules on Amtrak’s Hartford line between New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts.