Via Rail plan says its ‘survival’ at risk if it doesn’t get access to dedicated track, fleet upgrade

May 11, 2016

By Jason Fekete, for the Ottawa Citizen, appearing in the National Post

OTTAWA — Via Rail is warning it faces longer trip times, eroding on-time performance and service cuts if it doesn’t get its own set of dedicated tracks and fleet upgrade in the busy Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto corridor, the Crown corporation says in its newly released corporate plan.Website Insert Perfect Answer copy

Simply put, the play says the rail carrier’s “survival” is at risk if it has to continue operating on freight rail lines primarily owned by Canadian National Railway Co.

Via Rail is looking for federal government approval to have large pension funds invest in a $2-billion dedicated-track corridor as part of the Crown corporation’s plans for “high-frequency rail.” Via is also seeking upwards of $1.3 billion in federal funding for new electric rail cars to renew a fleet that has long surpassed its normal life expectancy.

“Via Rail is at a critical decision point. The current operating environment whereby it operates outdated passenger trains on freight railway infrastructure can only lead to greater operating deficits and great capital requirements,” say the opening lines of the Crown corporation’s 2016-2020 corporate plan, tabled in the House of Commons by Transport Minister Marc Garneau.

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