MONTRÉAL, Canada – Recognizing that the train represents a smarter way to travel, more travelers chose VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) during the second quarter of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. Continuing the upward trend since the beginning of the year, VIA Rail welcomed 26,000 more passengers from April to June 2016 than during the same period of last year and Canadians travelled 7.2 million more miles on its trains, up by some 3.6%.
“Over the past two years, VIA Rail has made a big shift to become a more customer-focused organization,” said VIA Rail’s President and CEO, Yves Desjardins-Siciliano. “This change has been a key part of VIA Rail’s modernization and is at the heart of our recent successes. It is thanks to the agility and hard work of everyone at VIA Rail that we’ve started to experience significant changes in many of our performance indicators — and faster than we anticipated. In the second quarter of 2016, the upward trend continued; our revenues were up 7% and ridership grew by 2.9% compared to the same quarter last year. More Canadians are choosing a greener, smarter way to travel by making a habit of taking the train.”
More travellers, increased revenues, less government funding required
In part as a result of the growth in its ridership, VIA Rail increased its passenger revenues by 7% during the period and reduced its requirement for government funding compared to the previous year.
This quarter, to make train travel even more convenient in the busy summer months, VIA Rail optimized its cycling and introduced a new summer schedule in the Québec City – Windsor corridor. Capacity was increased on routes in high demand and additional departures were added on key routes to offer passengers greater flexibility when planning their trips.
VIA Rail also continued its Who’s on Board campaign during the quarter for both the Leisure and Business segments, mostly through digital media buy. VIA : The Blog was enhanced and relaunched with a focus on inspiring travel among both passengers and potential passengers. The articles showcase lesser-known attractions, events, and restaurants in both the large and smaller communities along VIA Rail’s network. VIA Rail was also nominated for Marketing Campaign of the Year at the Global AirRail Alliance.
Second Quarter 2016 highlights
• Major summer schedule improvements
• New menu offerings in the Québec City – Windsor corridor
• Enhancements to the Canadian Service’s Prestige class experience
• Marketing campaign targeting Business travelers
• Introduction of VIA : The Blog
• Development and launch of a Military Leave for Reservists Policy
• Publication of VIA Rail’s first Sustainable Mobility Report
• Special offer to residents affected by the devastating wildfires in Fort McMurray
• Syrian refugee families travelled onboard VIA Rail trains
• Organization of events as part of Operation Lifesaver’s Rail Safety Week
• Holding of VIA Rail’s Annual Public Meeting
• Launch of VIAConnect, a new all-in-one multichannel contact center solution, in the VIA Customer Centres (VCCs)
• Completion of the first internal audit of VIA Rail’s new Safety Management System (SMS) under the new Railway Safety Management System Regulations
• Four-year agreement reached with UNIFOR, the union that represents the 1,800 VIA Rail employees working in stations, customer service centres, maintenance centres, and administrative offices
• Presentation of the second module of the VIA Rail Leadership School, aimed at all employees with management responsibilities
• Nominated for Marketing Campaign of the Year by the Global AirRail Alliance
• Honoured by the Québec business community winning its first Mercuriade award given out by the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec
• Received the “Innovation and Excellence: Delivering Value through Risk Management” award from the Institute of Risk Management