June 29, 2012

VIA Rail Canada to streamline service, lay off 200

As part of VIA Rail Canada’s (VIA) ongoing modernization and goal of better meeting customer demand, the agency is introducing significant improvements to its operations, including to tracks, stations and trains, interconnectivity with other carriers, enhanced customer experience and e-services.

This next phase of VIA's modernization includes adjusting frequencies on specific routes to better reflect customer demand, while maintaining service on all current routes. This is necessary to allow VIA to focus resources on improving service and attracting more customers on routes where demand is strong and growing.

As a result of this announcement, VIA's unionized workforce is expected to be reduced by some 200 full-time positions, a decrease of about 9%. Over the last three years, VIA Rail's annual attrition rate has been, on average, 8%. Since 2009, VIA has reduced its management workforce by 15%.

VIA President & CEO Marc Laliberté said the service adjustments will unfold from July to end of October and are part of VIA's many steps to modernize Canada's national passenger rail service. The travel market is evolving and service providers must keep up, he added. Laliberté explained the changes that are unfolding are fostering the VIA of tomorrow, including services that match market demand, safe, efficient and reliable passenger rail transportation and value to customers and taxpayers.

As part of aligning services to customer demand, VIA is partnering with other passenger services, including those of other publicly-funded providers, to better harmonize schedules and to sell fares in an integrated way on VIA's website. These changes not only contribute to an interconnected national passenger transportation system, but it is also expected to further reduce costs and increase revenues for the corporation.

Over the past two years, VIA has been working to improve both its operations and financial performance and to increase service reliability. As a result, over that period, it has required $30 million less in government funding for operations (before pension costs). Relying on an extraordinary pool of dedicated talent, VIA intends to continue delivering significant improvements to passenger rail services, for its customers and taxpayers.



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