- Ridership Up 6.9%
- Passenger Revenues Up 1.1%
- New marketing campaign
- Locomotive Engineer Apprenticeship Program (LEAP)
Montréal, December 2, 2019 – VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) reports an increase in ridership and in passenger revenues for the third quarter of 2019 compared to the same period last year. Between July and September, VIA Rail saw an increase of 6.9% in ridership while passenger revenues grew by 1.1% as compared to the same quarter of 2018. This represents the 15th straight quarter of increased ridership and the 22nd consecutive quarter of revenue growth.
VIA Rail’s highest percentage increase in ridership is recorded on regional services (26.5%), due in large part to the return of the Winnipeg-Churchill service. Ridership and passenger revenues on the Québec City-Windsor corridor increased by 7.2% and 5.5% respectively, while the Montréal-Halifax service (the Ocean) saw its passengers revenue climb 8.9% versus the third quarter of 2018.
“I continue to be energized by the passion and dedication our employees demonstrate every day in their work on projects big and small,” said Cynthia Garneau, President and CEO of VIA Rail. “We reported overall growth in ridership and revenue performances for another consecutive quarter, and our Canada Day and Labour Day long weekends were our busiest of the last decade, all while our new fleet project progressed on schedule. More than ever, VIA Rail is proud to be leading the way to a better transportation solution for all Canadians.”
Third Quarter Report Highlights
Putting Passengers First
“Loving the Way Even More” campaign – In September, VIA Rail unveiled a brand new marketing campaign with a specific clientele in mind, targeting Canadians who already make regular use of public transportation and sustainable transit options.
By positioning advertisements in metro stations, bus shelters and bike-share stations in Toronto, Montréal and Ottawa, we inspire commuters to intrinsically adopt VIA Rail as part of their habitual public transportation routine.
The campaign, which also included videos, banners and ads on a variety of Canadian-owned news and entertainment sites, builds on the momentum of our new identity and tagline ‘Love the Way’, which positions VIA Rail as an integral part of Canada’s sustainable future.
“Trainstorm” trial workshop – In July, participants from HEC Montréal, Ubisoft, Cirque du Soleil, Bell and other organizations participated in a corporate workshop onboard a train travelling between Montréal and Toronto. This workshop experience, developed by VIA’s Innovation team, was conceived to create “magic moments” in products, services, and experiences. The principles could then be applied for their respective clientele, customers and colleagues. These types of workshops help us innovate and think creatively about how to improve the onboard experience, the station experience, and how we engage with our partners and communities.
Making Travel with Service Animals Easier – In September, VIA Rail’s Innovation and Accessibility teams hosted a joint pilot project at Ottawa station where they tested potential service animal relief stations for indoor and outdoor use, with the objective of making travelling easier for those accompanied by a service animal. In attendance were representatives from the Canadian Council of Disabilities, Courageous Companions, the Canadian Council of the Blind and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. The learnings from the session will inform version two of the relief station, and soon thereafter, their installation in our stations in 2020.
New Fleet – The program which will see VIA Rail deploy a brand new fleet of trains to service our increasingly busy Québec City-Windsor corridor is on target to introduce these new trains beginning in 2022. We have just completed the first of the scheduled three design phases and expect the second phase to be completed by early 2020. In addition to key system-related elements, particular emphasis is placed on passenger amenities, including innovations in universal accessibility as we progress on the journey to a barrier-free Canada.
Heritage Fleet Refurbishment Program update – Work has been completed on six HEP ll Economy cars and one Business car as of the end of September 2019. Upgrades include the overhaul of their mechanical system to ensure long-term reliability and the improvement of their interior design. At the end of the third quarter, four more HEP ll cars were in the production line—one Economy and three Business cars. As well, work and required analysis to extend the lifecycle of additional HEP cars continued in the third quarter.
Operating Safely and Securely
Police and Corporate Security – VIA Rail’s Police were one of 17 Canadian police services participating in Operation Clear Track, the largest rail-safety law enforcement initiative in North America, enforcing laws about railway crossings and trespassing, and distributing tip sheets to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists across Canada.
VIA Rail Tracks – VIA Rail continued the 2019 Track program this past quarter. Three crossing rehabilitations and four turnout rehabilitations were completed in the Alexandria, Beachburg, Brockville and Smiths Falls Subdivisions of Ontario. Furthermore, in order to improve ride quality, track surfacing was completed on five miles of track and on seven turnouts as well as switch ties replacements on various turnouts in the Corridor.
Managing our Business Responsibly
Staying Connected to the Transportation Ecosystem – In September, VIA Rail participated in the first ever Forum annuel de la Politique de mobilité durable, organized by the government of Québec. Bringing together the various transportation stakeholders in Québec, this event enabled VIA Rail to maintain its close relationship with this network and to discuss various issues and common concerns. This meeting was also an opportunity to promote VIA Rail’s projects and activities to government actors and collaborators, all while encouraging knowledge-sharing.
Reducing the Impact on the Environment
An Environmentally Sound Infrastructure – In September, VIA Rail announced that its Winnipeg station has once again earned the BOMA BEST sustainable buildings certification at the Certified level of performance. BOMA BEST sustainable buildings certification is managed by the Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada and is Canada’s largest environmental assessment and certification program for existing buildings. It recognizes excellence in energy and environmental management and performance in commercial real estate.
Supporting Socio-Economic Development
Side-by-side at Pride – Once again this year, VIA Rail was a proud supporter of the Pride festivities across Canada. Employees joined the celebrations in Winnipeg, Toronto, Montréal, Ottawa and Moncton, proudly representing our commitment to inclusion and diversity.
WE Schools – VIA Rail proudly partnered with WE Schools in support of a week of programming on environmental sustainability and Indigenous Reconciliation by providing transportation for 46 students to travel between Thompson and Churchill, MB. Throughout the week, students from Winnipeg and communities across Northern Manitoba developed leadership skills, built empathy and connections with their peers from across the province and explored the concept of Reconciliation and what actions all Canadians can take to participate in it.
Be an Attractive Employer
Locomotive Engineer Apprenticeship Program (LEAP) – After receiving over 1,600 applications, VIA Rail invited the top candidates to a LEAP Candidate Information Session. VIA Rail subsequently met with potential candidates and presented the position description and the lifestyle related to it. This is a very important step in selecting the best candidates for these crucial positions, and VIA Rail is committed to working with the successful candidates, supporting them as they move forward in the LEAP program and helping them become successful VIA Locomotive Engineers.
Women in Governance certification – VIA Rail was awarded Gold certification by Women in Governance, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support women in their leadership development, career advancement and access to Board participation. We were able to achieve this new level of certification by refining our objectives and re-evaluating some of our current programs.
Recognizing Female Leadership – VIA Rail is proud to have collaborated with Women’s Executive Network (WXN) to recognize the leadership of inspiring women by sitting on the WXN Proxy Committee and evaluating the nominations for Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100™ awards. This award, which focuses on the outstanding achievements of 100 women who have distinguished themselves by their leadership, is the most recognized in its category in Canada. VIA Rail representatives, along with a team from CIBC, evaluated applications from women who stand out in their workplace and community. This participation is part of VIA Rail’s vision of promoting and valuing inclusion and diversity.
VIA Rail’s third quarter report 2019 is available at: https://media.viarail.ca/sites/default/files/publications/VIARAIL_2019Q3REPORT_EN.pdf
About VIA Rail
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 nearly 4.8 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 https://www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail.