Interchange - Winter 2010 - (Page 8)

Côté Helped Change VIA’s Culture VIA president/CEO stepping down after 38 years in rail industry AS HE NEARS retirement as president and CEO, Paul Côté could boast about recent improvements at VIA Rail. But to him, most important has been how the company’s 3,000 employees have engaged in its operations. It was a topic he returned to several times during an interview reflecting on 38 years in the passenger train business in Canada. “One thing that has changed significantly in that time is how people in the business are managed and how they react to a customer issue,” he said. “I’m very proud to have been part of the changing of a culture. When I started in 1972, the employees on the front line had zero power. If there were any problems, you referred it to a higher level. You wouldn’t take any responsibility for the problem.” He claims the hierarchical system is now a VIA relic. “One thing I hear people say a lot is how impressed they are with the level of engagement and empowerment of employees on the front line,” he said. “When an issue comes up, it’s taken care of. People make decisions and take care of the customers. That’s very, very important. “I was living it on the front line in the 1970s. Now I manage it from the executive office and I can tell you that I’ve seen a significant change. Railways are very traditional in their rules and methods of work. And that’s what we’ve “I’ve said all along that the case for high speed has already been proven all around the world. High-speed trains can be effective and productive and have a significant place in the market. They can provide rapid movement of large numbers of people.” continued on page 10 8 Interchange Winter 2010

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Interchange - Winter 2010

Interchange - Winter 2010
Table of Contents
President’s Message
Côté Helped Change VIA’s Culture
High-Speed Trains Proven Around the World
Putting Teeth in Trespass Prevention
The Class of 2009
Moving the Olympic Spirit
Industry News and Developments
Index to Advertisers

Interchange - Winter 2010