Interchange - Winter 2012 - (Page 34)

transformation paying off VIA Rail is transforming its passenger train services to reduce its dependence on federal subsidies and position it to support sustainable transportation in the future, says Marc Laliberte, president and CEO. VIA has received nearly $1 billion in federal support since 2007 for rebuilding cars, locomotives and stations, he told an Economic Club of Canada meeting in Ottawa. “In the Toronto – Ottawa – Montreal sector alone, we have invested over $400 million to build a third track in areas where there was significant congestion. Thanks to these upgrades, the shortest trip time between Ottawa and Toronto has been reduced to less than four hours.” VIAs has also been trying to coordinate its operations with commuter rail operations like GO Transit and in the future, “we plan to push the envelope to maximize VIA’s contribution to the future of sustainable mobility in Canada,” he continued. Hopefully the transformation of its equipment will enable it where possible to operate in the black on “routes where market demand can sustain the cost of operation,” he pointed out. “Last year, despite generating $283 million in revenues, these three services lost $261 million,” he said. “Ticket revenue only covered 54% of our operating costs.” VIA’s train service to remote communities requires a $144 subsidy for every 100 miles a traveler rides. On the transcontinental routes, the subsidy is $42 for every 100 miles, in the full Quebec City to Windsor corridor it’s $21 per 100 miles, while in the Toronto-OttawaMontreal section, the subsidy is $12 for every 100 miles. Responding to criticisms of VIA’s reductions of train service in recent months as part of its campaign to reduce its reliance on federal subsidies, Laliberte announced some new services would begin in the coming months. In addition to two new Toronto-Ottawa trains already in operation, more TorontoMontreal and Toronto-Ottawa runs will be launched on Dec. 10 as well as new direct service between Ottawa and Quebec City. VIA is focused on the Ontario-Quebec corridor because it “accounts for more than 90% of our 4.1 million passengers,” he explained. “It also accounts for 75 percent of our revenue.” By contrast, VIA’s remote trains carried 109,000 passengers in areas where transportation is limited. Meanwhile, “The Canadian, that goes from Toronto to Vancouver over a 4-day journey, and the Ocean, from Montreal to Halifax that runs overnight … transported 243,000 passengers last year,” he added. In addition to upgrading equipment and stations, VIA has also invested in connectivity. “Our customers do travel on VIA Rail for the quality of on-board service, the comfort of cars and the downtown location of stations. But increasingly, they value connectivity. “Currently, VIA passengers enjoy one of the best mobile Wi-Fi services in the world. It now connects ten times faster than our original service. During a single weekend, our bandwidth successfully managed the equivalent of one million e-mails.” 34 Interchange | Winter / Hiver 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Interchange - Winter 2012

President’s Message
A Great Deal More Change Coming
New Lab will Tackle Canadian Railway Geographical Challenges
CN Adds New Terminal and Launches New Maintenance and Training Facilities
A Short Line is More than the Sum of its Tracks
VIA Transformation Paying Off
CRS 2012 Highlights Rail’s Position as a Backbone of Canadian Economy
2012 Safety Awards
Index to Advertisers

Interchange - Winter 2012