MONTREAL, Aug. 31, 2018 /CNW Telbec/ - For the second quarter of 2018, VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) is reporting a ridership increase of 10.0%, while its revenues improved by 8.4% compared to the same quarter last year. In the Québec City - Windsor corridor, ridership and revenues increased by 11.5% and 13.6% respectively compared to 2017. Furthermore, over the May long weekend VIA Rail saw an 8.4% growth in ridership and a 9.7% increase in passenger revenue over 2017.
"Canadians in record numbers are demonstrating their preference for train travel and taking advantage of the easy, enjoyable and sustainable experience that VIA Rail offers, declared Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and Chief Executive Officer at VIA Rail. "Our continued growth over the last four years, this being our 17th consecutive quarter with revenue growth, and our 10th consecutive quarter with ridership increases, is a direct result of the dedication and professionalism of our employees who provide the best travel experience to Canadians."
"As we celebrate our 40th Anniversary, we are taking critical steps to improve our customer experience," added Mr. Desjardins-Siciliano. "During the quarter, we awarded contracts for the refurbishment of our Heritage Fleet train cars and announced the short list of potential manufacturers of a new fleet of trains for the Quebec City-Windsor corridor. At the same time we have modified the Canadian schedule as part of our commitment to provide passengers with the highest quality of dependable service."
Second Quarter Report Highlights
New Fleet for the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor
In June, VIA Rail announced the trainset manufacturers participating in the request for proposals to manufacture a new fleet of trains to replace the current fleet serving the Québec City-Windsor corridor. Bids are expected in October followed by a contract award by the end of the year.
Modernizing Our Long Distance Fleet
Important announcements were made this quarter as part of VIA Rail's commitment to leading Canadians towards a more sustainable future. VIA Rail awarded a contract to Bombardier for the refurbishment of 17 Heritage Fleet train cars to full accessibility, to be deployed over its long distance routes by 2020. VIA Rail also awarded a contract to Cad Railway Industries for the upgrade and refurbishment of 25 Heritage Fleet train cars, a project that will extend their useful life by several decades.
These two projects are in addition to the renovation of the 33 cars currently underway at VIA Rail's Montreal Maintenance Centre.
Putting Our Passengers First
Over the second quarter, VIA Rail continued its 40th anniversary celebrations by launching a unique travel contest for Canadians. From May 17 to June 17, close to 275,000 people registered online for their chance to win one of 40 commemorative steel anniversary tickets, forged from a retired train part that had covered over 6,000,000 kilometers, the equivalent of 1,000 trips across the country.
As well, in an effort to promote local products and offer passengers a variety of different meals and beverages from across the country, VIA Rail routinely refreshes its menu selection. Over the second quarter, wines from the Niagara region were introduced along with beer options from Toronto-based Steam Whistle Brewing.
New Schedule for the Canadian
In light of a series of delays and its commitment to provide passengers with the highest quality of dependable service, VIA Rail cancelled two departures on its Canadian train between Toronto and Vancouver in May.
In order to provide passengers with the best possible customer experience, VIA Rail worked with its infrastructure partner and adjusted the Canadian schedule, effective on July 26.The new schedule is designed to offer passengers a more predictable journey at both departure and arrival and now offers a better view of the Canadian landscape as it travels through the Rocky Mountains during daylight hours.
Providing Greater Accessibility
This quarter, VIA Rail completed platform renovations at Ottawa station to facilitate travel for passengers with reduced mobility. In April, the station's new heated and elevated platform for level boarding was unveiled and put into service.
VIA Rail also partnered with the International Union of Railways in the design, development and testing of two innovative projects in Ottawa with the goal of increasing accessibility in-station for passengers that are blind and partially sighted.
In June, VIA Rail held a session with a working group of individuals from different provinces representing people living with accessibility issues, including individuals with physical, visual and hearing disabilities. Participants were invited to make suggestions on potential improvements with regards to the accessibility of VIA Rail's services and amenities.
Managing our Business Responsibly
At the end of May, VIA Rail held its 2018 Annual Public Meeting by webcast and Facebook Live to reach a greater audience and engage with the public. A subtitled version of the Annual Public Meeting is available online on VIA Rail's YouTube channel in French, English, or the original bilingual version. This year we received almost 1,500 questions from the public, the answers to which are being published in batches on the Annual Public Meeting section of our website.
Promoting Socio-economic Development
The second quarter of 2018 was pivotal in establishing new connections between VIA Rail and Canada's Indigenous communities. Several meetings were held with Chiefs and representatives of Mohawk Band Councils of Kahnawake, the Huron-Wendat Nation, the Atikamekw Nation, and the Assembly of First Nations.
Additionally, to highlight the contribution of the Canadian Armed Forces, VIA Rail partnered and participated in the activities of many organizations including the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School, the Prince's Operation Entrepreneur program, the gala Hall of Femmes by La Force au Féminin and more. President and Chief Executive Officer, Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, was also appointed Chairman of the Canadian Forces Liaison Council for Québec.
Always pursuing safety enhancements
In a continuous effort to move people in a safe and efficient way, a program was initiated over the quarter to improve the reliability of the crossing warning system and centralized train control in case of extreme weather conditions.
Being an Attractive Employer
Our employees are the foundation of our success. VIA Rail was honoured to hold its first graduation ceremony for seventy-one managers who completed the VIA Rail Leadership School program, designed to accelerate the growth of our future leaders.
Five International Marketing Awards
With innovation at the heart of VIA Rail's corporate values, over the second quarter, the company was internationally recognized for its Anti-Traffic Way to Travel campaign. VIA Rail won two prestigious silver and bronze prizes at the Cannes Lions Festival in France and three gold awards at the Festival of Media Global in Italy.
VIA Rail's second quarter report is available at:viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail/governance-and-reports/quarterly-reports
About VIA Rail Canada
As Canada's national rail passenger service, VIA Rail (viarail.ca) and all its 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 over 400 communities across Canada, and about 180 more communities through intermodal partnerships, and safely transports approximately 4.4 million passengers annually. The Corporation has been awarded five Safety Awards and three Environment Awards by the Railway Association of Canada since 2007. Visit the "About VIA Rail" section at: www.viarail.ca/fr/a-propos-de-via.
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SOURCE VIA Rail Canada Inc.