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Rail News: Passenger Rail

VIA Rail completes service improvements, reports third-quarter results

VIA Rail Canada Inc. and Canadian officials yesterday announced the introduction of a new service between Ottawa and Quebec City, as well as the completion of several projects designed to improve service in the Quebec-Windsor Corridor.

As part of its modernization plan, VIA Rail added new scheduling options for the Ottawa-Toronto-Quebec City line, renovated F40 locomotives to improve fuel efficiency and implemented additional safety measures at grade crossings in the Quebec-Windsor Corridor, railroad officials said in a prepared statement.

The improvements were completed under the federal government's capital investment program for VIA Rail. The government has provided the railroad about $1 billion since 2007 to improve stations, infrastructure, trains and technology.

Meanwhile, VIA Rail released its third-quarter results, which show that ridership and revenue were lower than last year "partially due to challenges faced by the travel industry," railroad officials said in a prepared statement. Total passenger revenue fell from $79.6 million in third-quarter 2011 to $77.2 million, total revenue dropped from $83.7 million to $82.3 million and total passenger-miles declined from 258 million to 245 million.

"We launched new strategies to retain customers and attract new ones, while at the same time, worked harder than ever to control costs and improve our productivity," said VIA Rail President and Chief Executive Officer Marc Laliberté. "Now we have to look at the best ways to make VIA RAil a financially and commercially viable operation, with a new approach to operating as a publicly owned business."

By the quarter's end, 80 percent of $923 million committed by the government to upgrade track, modernize stations, and renew trains and technology had been invested, railroad officials said.

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