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VIA Rail Canada reports Increase in Ridership and Passenger Revenues

VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) announced its Q1 2019 results. “Canadians have once again chosen to place their trust in VIA Rail in the first quarter of 2019,” declared Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, VIA Rail’s former President and CEO.

VIA Rail reported a ridership increase of 5.1%, while passenger revenues improved by 8.4% compared to the first quarter of 2018. These results represent the 13th consecutive quarter of increased ridership and the 20th straight quarter of revenue growth. Additionally, ridership and passenger revenues in the Québec City-Windsor corridor grew by 5.0% and 7.8% respectively in Q1 2019.

In February VIA Rail unveiled the newly renovated Ottawa station, which is now on par with international accessibility standards for people with reduced mobility and their caregivers. A $15 million investment led to the construction of a tactile (for the visually impaired) and heated boarding platform, with an access ramp at level with the train door enabling passengers to board and detrain with ease. In addition, two new elevators now provide universal access to all platforms. VIA Rail’s objective is to make the Ottawa station the gold standard of sustainable mobility hubs, upon which VIA Rail intends to base future designs.

Modernization Projects

New train fleet – Following the announcement regarding the new fleet destined for the Quebec-Windsor corridor, the first quarter of 2019 marked the kick-off of project activities with different internal VIA Rail teams, as well as the launch of the Siemens Canada procurement process to find suppliers for this important project. Shortlisted applicants were invited to the Siemens Canada Supplier Day event on March 27-28, during which they were briefed on the project. Selection of Siemens’ suppliers will be based on pricing, quality and ability to deliver on schedule.

Heritage Fleet Refurbishment Program – In February, VIA Rail employees were invited to take a tour of the first, newly renovated VIA Rail HEP II Business car. It was then officially commissioned in the Québec City-Windsor corridor until the arrival of the new fleet. Improvements include the overhaul of the cars’ current system to ensure long-term fleet reliability and the improvement of the design of their interior. In addition, VIA Rail is continuing its collaboration with selected suppliers for the refurbishment of its HEP fleet.


In the first quarter of 2019, all deliverables were shared with the International Union of Railways (UIC) following a successful proof of concept for a joint VIA Rail-UIC pilot project at the Ottawa station. The initiative involves beacon-based wayfinding and echolocation obstacle detection technology allowing blind and partially sighted travellers to navigate the station autonomously.

Sustainable mobility

Sustainable mobility is an integral part of who we are and how we conduct our business. As a result, we contributed to and participated in several events hosted by organizations with a mission to promote a sustainable economy and a greener mobility such as Trajectoire Québec and the Femmessor Institute.

High Frequency Rail

Through nearly a hundred meetings with different representatives from civil society across the Québec-Ontario corridor, VIA Rail continued the dialogue and learned the perspectives of groups on the High Frequency Rail (HFR) project. Among other outcomes, this community dialogue led Central Frontenac, the Chambre de commerce et d’industries de Trois-Rivières and the city of Trois-Rivières to confirm their support for High Frequency Rail (HFR).

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