VIA Rail Canada has released its 2012 Annual Report to the public. The company's continued commitment to the efficient use of public funds helped bring down the operating deficit for the third year in a row.
Paul Smith, chairman of VIA Rail Board of Directors, remarked that “in 2012, we changed our schedule and frequencies to better meet market demand. We believe that getting more people to take the train benefits Canada. It contributes to the country’s economic growth, socioeconomic development and it protects our environment.”
Due to the implementation of cost management measures, VIA Rail reduced the government funding required to cover its operating costs by more than CA$8 million (US$7.88 million) compared to 2011 (before pension plan contributions). This brings the annual reduction in its operating funding to more than CA$38 million (US$37.5 million) since 2010. Via Rail says this performance is due to responsible cost management and increased productivity from improved work processes and service upgrades.
The average revenue per passenger saw a 2.2 percent increase in 2012 compared to 2011, reaching CA$65.52 million (US$64.5 million). Overall, in 2012, the passenger volume for the network was 3.9 million travelers, down five percent compared to 2011. Total revenues for the year were CA$277.6 million (US$273.6 million), a two percent decrease compared to 2011.
In the fourth quarter of 2012, VIA Rail’s ridership and revenues dropped 0.5 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively, compared to the same quarter in 2011. In the segments between Ottawa, Toronto, Montréal and Québec City, where 28 new departures per week were added in December 2012, customer traffic and revenues have increased 10.4 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively.
At the end of 2012, the equipment and infrastructure upgrade program, launched in 2007 with the government of Canada’s investment of close to CA$1 billion, was 90 percent complete, including the rebuilding of F40 locomotives and major track upgrades along the Québec City – Windsor corridor.
During 2012, service improvements included reduced travel times between Ottawa and Toronto; new Ottawa – Québec service; adjustments to train frequencies and the introduction of train schedules; expansion of the network of intermodal partners.
Other improvements were made, including equipment upgrades to its locomotive fleet and cars; major track upgrades along the Québec City – Windsor corridor and various IT upgrades and projects such as, e-ticketing, internet service and automated train status system.