VIA Rail Suspends Service Through 1NOV, Delays Fleet Reno Program

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

VIA Rail Canada has extended the suspension of its long-distance Canadian and Ocean services, as well as the Sleeper class on the Winnipeg-Churchill route until 1NOV, 2020. 

VIA Rail says it is also accelerating its Heritage Modernization Program that started in 2018. The program aims to renovate VIA Rail's 79 cars in its fleet, which "have logged millions of kilometres since being put into service," says VIA. The program was initially expected to be completed in 2020. 

However, VIA says that in the course of recent weeks, new structural issues have been discovered.

"As a result, we will be in a position to progressively bring back our renowned long-distance services to full capacity for the upcoming 2021 peak season," said Cynthia Garneau, President and CEO. 

"This was not an easy decision to make but, given the current circumstances, the health and safety of our passengers, crew members and local communities must come first. As the travel industry grapples with the effects of COVID-19, we will use this extended pause to assess and identify which measures to implement in order to get back on track as soon and as safely as possible."

All passengers with reservations affected by the suspension of services will be contacted and reimbursed automatically. 

To facilitate refunds, VIA Rail says it is allowing passengers with reservations through 1NOV, 2020 to self-serve their cancellations online at any time prior to departure and receive a full refund in addition to not incurring any service charges, regardless of when the ticket was purchased.     

VIA Rail says it has deployed enhanced sanitary protocols on board its trains, in stations, maintenance facilities and call centres in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We have limited the number of bookable seats aboard our trains in order to provide passengers social distancing space when travelling," says VIA in a news release.

"Furthermore, we constantly remind our passengers and employees of the importance of following the recommendations of the public health authorities, to stay at home, avoid non-essential travel, practice physical distancing as much as possible, and to strictly follow good hygiene practices."

Although not mandatory, VIA Rail also recommends that passengers wear a non-medical mask or face covering that covers the nose and the mouth when it is impossible to respect a 2-metre distance with others. 

Click here for additional COVID-19 VIA Rail updates.   

Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.

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