A glimpse of actual progress teased the passenger rail industry July 6 when the Canadian government unveiled previously obscure details of its long-running High Frequency Rail (HFR) program.
VIA Rail Canada
The province of Ontario, Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (Ontario Northland) and Metrolinx are advancing plans to reinstate Northlander passenger rail service, with the release of an Initial Business Case.
VIA Rail Canada has published a 199-page annual report for 2020, covering its response to pandemic- and blockade-related service disruptions and how it moved forward with the implementation of its 2020-25 strategic plan.
One of North America’s finest long-distance passenger trains, VIA Rail Canada’s iconic Canadian, will be resuming the Toronto to Winnipeg portion of its run wih one full Toronto-Vancouver round-trip per week starting May
VIA Rail Canada has reported reaching tentative agreements on a two-year contract renewal for more than 2,400 of its employees, who are represented by Unifor and serve as maintenance workers, on-board service personnel, chefs, sales agents and customer service staff.
VIA Rail, Canada’s counterpart to Amtrak and a much-smaller system, is not doing well and seeking emergency government funding. It recently reported an 82% drop in ridership and an 84% decrease in revenue compared with last year, as well as a savings of 27.5% in operating expenses. Some of the savings came from reducing service, both on the railroad’s corridors in Ontario and Quebec, and on other trains. Here is a detailed rundown of the service currently offered.
VIA Rail Canada’s third-quarter 2020 results include an 86% drop in rider revenue and 82% decrease in ridership from the same period last year due to the pandemic. Total revenues for 3Q20 fell 84%, on a 79% reduction in capacity as travel demand plummeted. Total operating expenses decreased by 27.5%. (See chart below.)
Northern California’s Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) expects to complete its next-generation Wi-Fi upgrade project by early December to improve the rider experience. Minneapolis-Saint Paul Metro Transit awarded two communications contracts to Collins Aerospace Systems for its $2.003 billion Southwest LRT project, which will expand Green Line service. As well, VIA Rail Canada is working with IT and business consulting services firm CGI on a reservation modernization project to better serve customers.
Software company SISCOG has released a case study that highlights the financial and management advantages of VIA Rail’s decision-support and optimization system, which includes savings of C$10 million.
Ever since he came to Amtrak from the airline industry, President and CEO Richard Anderson has “railed” against so-called “experiential” trains, an expression he often uses in disparaging the roughly 15 long-distance trains in Amtrak’s skeletal national network. Anderson clearly prefers corridors, and many members of the rider advocacy community also like them, but Anderson seems determined to expand those corridors by eliminating long-distance trains in what he and his followers perceive as a zero-sum game. While he often uses the word to describe his company’s long-haul trains, it does not seem clear what he dislikes about them, or whom he believes they serve and with what sort of experience.