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Via Rail Canada shirks on developing national passenger system

Bottom line trumps efficient service.

Jeanes: Via Rail should expand to provide rail passenger service to all communities on main lines.May 29, 2012: "Via Rail Canada offered a disappointing vision at today's meeting. Via Rail should be expanded to provide rail passenger service to all communities that are on mainlines," David Jeanes, the National President of Transport Action Canada said.

"Efficient passenger rail service, where track infrastructure exists, is proven to provide passenger service at the lowest possible level of public subsidy when all costs, including infrastructure, are taken into account," Dan Hammond from Transport Action Ontario said. "Via Rail Canada only provides such service in limited areas of Canada. In most parts of the country, Via does not run trains frequently enough to meet the needs of many potential travelers."

  "As always, the biggest irritant is that they emphasize areas with strong and growing demand."

No cuts were announced at the meeting.

Transport Action is advocating that the Government of Canada provide the required investment and legislative framework to transform Via Rail Canada into a national network for our communities so that rail passenger service will become a sustainable and economical alternative for Canadians. Transport Action Canada, along with its regional associations, Transport Action Atlantic, Transport Action Ontario, Transport Action Prairie and Transport Action BC, and affiliates including Transport 2000 Qu├ębec and Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains, support the proposal.

May 30, 2012: No answers at VIA rail meeting

The Via Rail Annual Public Meeting on May 29 was quite polite and predictable, Transport Action's Peter Lacey reported. "Via Rail CEO Marc Laliberte is obviously very politically talented." Three direct questions were put to him:
Q: Nothing has been said about Western services. A: We're repairing and upgrading 12 cars.
Q: What about service through Regina, Calgary, Banff? A: It's not up to Via to look into such services.
Q: The rumour is that there will be two trains cut from the Canadian and hundreds of us will lose our jobs. A: That sort of decision would be preceded by an announcement.

Lacey reports, "As always, the biggest irritant is that they emphasize areas with strong and growing demand and for other areas will do what's appropriate, depending on the business case. The corridor will get most of the attention anyway, but if they want to dispense with everything else, they should say so! One of the questions I'll be sending in is about the business case. Another is — with Greyhound dropping all but three of its routes in Alberta and Manitoba, surely there's an opportunity to serve the vacuum that's left. Clearly he/they backed off from making any real announcements because they were afraid of the rank public reception that there would be."

Links and sources
  Transport Action disappointed with Via Rail plan

Posted: May 31, 2012

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