Strong Quarter For VIA, On-Time Performance Still Major Concern

Open Jaw

VIA Rail Canada says its 3rd quarter closed with positive results across all its services, from inter-city and long distance to regional services. Growth in revenues and ridership was accompanied by improvement in employee engagement results, the company says.  


The quarter saw a 10% increase in overall revenues compared to the Q3 2014, along with a 4% growth in pax on VIA trains. For the Québec City – Windsor corridor, ridership went up from 893,660 to 924,270 or 3.4% while revenues increased by 8%.


"All services completed the quarter with higher revenue and more passengers than the same period last year - an astounding accomplishment,” said VIA Rail's President & CEO Yves Desjardins-Siciliano. “Of particular note is the increase in both revenue and passengers on the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal corridor. This growth confirms our confidence that there is an ever-increasing demand for reliable, safe and environmentally-responsible inter-city passenger rail services."


The company was also heartened by the results of a company-wide employee engagement survey report released during the quarter. More employees participated in the survey and the outcome showed an increasing level of engagement. However, the company admits that work and change still need to happen before employee engagement can reach the level of the best Canadian companies. "Over the coming months, action plans are being developed across all departments with the involvement of front line employees. Our best is yet to come", said Desjardins-Siciliano.  


The Government of Canada confirmed capital funding of $102 million for VIA Rail this quarter. It will be used to improve the VIA Rail-owned infrastructure and its services in and around the Ottawa area.


A major struggle for VIA continues to be the ability to run trains on time on rail lines owned and controlled by freight operators. VIA Rail trains on-time performance ranged from 25.3% on the Canadian to 79.5% on the Ocean and 73.8% on the Quebec-Windsor corridor, a decline over last year's results.


Meanwhile, punctuality on the limited infrastructure owned by VIA Rail is in the mid-90%. "The plan we are developing to build a dedicated passenger rail infrastructure within the busiest Toronto  Ottawa – Montréal triangle will eliminate the challenges of sharing tracks with freight trains," said Desjardins-Siciliano.

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