VIA Rail's new fleet makes its Toronto debut

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Train #41, one of the latest additions to Via Rail’s modernized fleet, made its Toronto debut today.

This “state-of-the-art” train, previously servicing routes between Quebec City, Montreal and Ottawa, officially launched its first commercial service in Toronto. Running between Toronto and Ottawa, the train will be stationed and serviced at the Toronto Maintenance Centre.

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The train is part of Via Rail’s effort to have 32 new trains deployed by 2025 and to bring the Crown corporation “closer to realizing (its) vision of building a more modern passenger rail service for Canadians.”

Capable of reaching speeds of 201 km/h, the new fleet will be travelling up to 320,000 kilometres a year and is estimated to have an operational lifespan of 30 years.

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The investment in the fleet is part of the $1.5-billion funding package announced by the federal government in the 2018 budget. The trains are being progressively introduced in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor, VIA Rail’s busiest route, accounting for 96 per cent of the company’s ridership in 2019.

The new diesel trains feature more luggage storage and wider aisles, are compliant with the latest U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Tier 4 emissions standards, and can be converted to dual-mode (diesel-electric) operation if the infrastructure is electrified.

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“The new fleet will offer a new era of comfort and efficiency for the workers, families, and tourists who travel on these tracks. By supporting VIA Rail’s large-scale modernization project, we are investing in accessible, reliable, environmentally friendly ways for Canadians to see each other and see their country,” said Omar Alghabra, previously Canada’s Transport Minister, when the funding was announced.

Headquartered in Montreal, VIA Rail operates 480 trains weekly on 14,000 kilometres of track.

In August, the company reported continued growth in travel demand in its latest quarter, with revenue increasing nearly 38 per cent and ridership increasing by more than 31 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Revenues for the April to June 2023 period reached nearly $30 million, while ridership totalled 240,179 passengers.

“Our performance this quarter and over the past year shows a clear and steady trend of growing demand for rail travel in Canada,” said Mario Péloquin, VIA Rail’s president and chief executive officer. “As we continue our work to modernize and transform the way Canadians travel, the Corporation is well positioned to achieve near pre-pandemic performance as we enter the second half of the year.”

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