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VIA Rail reports revenue dip for 2013

VIA Rail Canada Inc.'s ridership totaled 3.9 million last year and revenue declined 2.3 percent to $270.4 million compared with 2012's total, according to the railroad's annual report released yesterday.

On the Quebec City-Windsor corridor, the total number of miles traveled by all passengers — or passenger-miles — rose nearly 6 percent versus 2012. In the segments between Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City, where 28 new departures per week were added at 2012's end, passenger-miles increased 7.4 percent during the year, according to a VIA Rail press release.

The Montreal-Quebec City line registered ridership growth of 14 percent and revenue growth of 6 percent. Between Ottawa and Toronto, ridership and revenue increased 6 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

For the long-distance routes, adjustments to the frequency in scheduling that took effect in 2012 was reflected in performance for the Ocean. The average occupancy rate for the service between Montreal and Halifax reached 71.7 percent compared with 68.2 percent in 2012. This service posted a decrease in passenger-miles of 33.7 percent in 2013 despite 50 percent fewer trains over the time period, VIA Rail officials said.

On the Canadian service between Toronto and Vancouver, passenger-miles fell 12.2 percent. The average occupancy rate was 62.8 percent compared with 66 percent in 2012.

VIA Rail Chairman Paul Smith described 2013 as a productive year for the railroad.

"Over the past four years, we have seen some major changes at our corporation," he said. "From our trains and stations to the technology we use, VIA Rail has been transforming and modernizing from top to bottom. It was in 2013 that many of these projects came to fruition, both internally and for our customers, making it a year of adjustments."

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