Despite challenges in 2021 stemming from the global pandemic, VIA Rail announced it hit key milestones, including increased ridership and moving forward with its modernization plan.
VIA Rail said it achieved its goal of staying on budget within the funding allocated to the by the Government of Canada while seeing an increase of 31.9 per cent in ridership and of 54.3 per cent in passenger revenues compared to 2020.
"Despite the upheaval caused by the pandemic, we have successfully pursued our strategic plan, including the unveiling of our new fleet and the advancement of the High Frequency Rail project," said Françoise Bertrand, Chairperson of the Board of Directors.
Last year, VIA Rail continuously adapted its schedule and services based on the evolution of the pandemic while following guidance and recommendations of public health authorities which included the adoption and enforcement of a mask policy, pre-boarding health checks, and the implementation of a mandatory vaccination policy in line with Transport Canada regulations.
Over the course of 2021, VIA Rail moved forward with its gradual service resumption plan.
In 2022, VIA Rail says it is moving forward with its gradual service recovery, remaining focused on operating Canada's national passenger rail service which includes offering intercity rail services and ensuring rail transportation services to regional and remote communities.
VIA Rail highlights the relevance of rail travel as the demand for sustainable mobility grows. From its new Corridor fleet and reservation system, the rail operator says it has hit many of its major milestones on its modernization plan in 2021.
The first trainset of the new Québec City-Windsor corridor fleet was delivered "on time and on budget" for testing and was unveiled at a ceremony at VIA's Ottawa Station in NOV 2021. In addition, headway was made on both the company's Heritage Program and the new reservation system which is intended to provide passengers with a more seamless, convenient, autonomous, and personalized experience, during and after their journey.
Finally, the federal government announced in JUL 2021 that the first steps are being taken in preparing for the procurement process of the High Frequency Rail (HFR) project.
In 2020, VIA Rail reviewed its policies, practices, and sustainability priorities to inform the development of a five-year sustainability plan which moved forward in 2021, which the company says will embed environmental, social and governance performance in all its operations.
According to VIA Rail, it has made "considerable progress" on many sustainable fronts, including: reducing greenhouse gas emissions, supporting communities, and promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion.
"Our Sustainability Plan is a robust and future-oriented plan," says Cynthia Garneau, President and Chief Executive Officer, that will "help ensure that VIA Rail is a driver of change for a more sustainable transportation network in Canada."
For more information on VIA Rail, visit its web site.