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Second-quarter ridership up, revenue down for VIA Rail

VIA Rail Canada Inc. reported a 4 percent increase in passenger miles and a 0.7 percent increase in ridership during the second quarter.

The train occupancy rate rose to 54 percent, up from 51 percent a year ago, VIA officials said in a press release.

However, total revenue fell to $66.2 million (in Canadian dollars), down from $68.1 million a year ago, while net income dipped to $9.6 million from $11.9 million. The railroad also posted a 3.8 percent decrease in passenger revenue.

Operating expenses jumped 13 percent, excluding employee benefits. The increase was due primarily to higher depreciation costs related to the completion of major elements of a capital investment program. The increase was offset largely by the amortization of deferred capital spending.

Government funding during the quarter rose $8 million due to employer contributions to pension plans.

VIA Rail continued its efforts to develop a "train culture" in Canada during the quarter, said President and Chief Executive Officer Marc Laliberté.

"Our promotional strategies have been making the train more and more appealing for travel within Canada, and have stimulated growth in ridership, especially within the Québec City-Windsor corridor," he said. "However, our market remains price sensitive."

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More News from 9/6/2013