VIA Rail’s 2017-2021 Corporate Plan: what’s in it for Atlantic Canada?

Rust spots are showing through on this Renaissance sleeper, a common sight on many of these cars in 2018. Corrosion has been the source of many problems with this equipment, and after only 15 years in service on the Ocean, VIA is already planning to retire the fleet in the next few years. (PHOTO – Tim Hayman)

[Originally published in the Spring-Summer 2018 edition of “The Bulletin”]

Early in 2018 VIA released their 2017-2021 Corporate Plan. These documents, released each year and looking ahead for the next five, offer a synopsis of the state of the railway and tend to provide insight into what VIA is looking at moving forward. In the last few years these plans have focused heavily on VIA’s need for new equipment, and some of the challenges (e.g. deteriorating on time performance on many routes, rising costs) and successes (e.g. ridership growth), as well as a look at their plans across the entire system. This latest corporate plan, which can be found in full online ( has some specific items of interest for Atlantic Canada.

There is a blurb describing the operation of the Ocean, which has some new phrasing this year. It reads: “During the holiday season, VIA Rail adds extra departures.” That is a change from past years, which used past tense phrasing (e.g. last year it said “during the holiday season, VIA Rail added six extra departures”). This seems to imply that the holiday frequency expansion is now considered a standard annual practice. This is further confirmed in the following section. *EDIT: Since publication, we have learned that VIA will not be running any extra trains this holiday season. More details to come soon, but it seems a major factor this year is that the normal dates of operation fall rather optimally around the Christmas and New Years holidays. In any case, it is still a reduction of capacity, and disappointing news.*

Under “operational issues” for the Ocean, there is a notable recognition that VIA’s reduction of frequency on the Ocean has been problematic (italics added for emphasis): Continue reading “VIA Rail’s 2017-2021 Corporate Plan: what’s in it for Atlantic Canada?”

VIA Rail Corporate Plan – 2016-2020

A bright and clean looking VIA Rail train pulls away from a station platform on a sunny day
Photo by Tim Hayman

VIA Rail has released its latest Corporate Plan for the years 2016-2020. The document summarizes VIA’s current and most recent operations, costs, successes, and challenges. It also lays out the vision that VIA’s management has moving forward, which will of course be subject to the approval of funding from the federal government.

This Corporate Plan focuses heavily on the need for fleet renewal and dedicated track projects in the Corridor, but also discusses VIA’s services across the country, including those in the Maritimes.

The report is very clearly structured, so it’s relatively easy to find those sections pertaining to The Ocean.

One of the most pertinent comments is found on page 25:

“In 2012, the Ocean’s frequencies were cut from six to three, which deteriorated the financial performance of this service. The Ocean does not adequately serve local communities and VIA Rail is looking at options to introduce additional local, intercity service, while potentially cutting back on under-utilized long-haul trains in the off-peak.

Eastern Intercity

Management of VIA Rail’s Eastern Region is currently investigating the possibility of initiating an eastern intercity corridor service within New Brunswick, which could coincide with a possible reduction of the Ocean to two frequencies a week during off-peak periods.”

Continue reading “VIA Rail Corporate Plan – 2016-2020”