May 31, 2023
VIA RAIL RECORDS IMPRESSIVE INCREASE IN RIDERSHIP IN Q-1 2023 AMIDST A REVIVAL OF TRAVEL
From January 1st to March 31, 2023
- Total revenues increased by 50.9 million (147.1%) compared to the same period last year;
- Ridership increased by 451, 200 passengers (106.5%) compared to the same period in 2022;
- Capacity in terms of train miles operated is up by 56.8% versus the same quarter last year.
MONTRÉAL, May 31, 2023 – VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) today announced an impressive 106.5% increase in ridership (451,200 passengers), and $50.9 million increase in revenues (147.1%) for the first quarter of 2023, reflecting a strong resurgence of interest in train travel.
"VIA Rail's activities bounced back during the first quarter of 2023 surpassing the record levels that we set in 2019," said Marie-Claude Cardin, VIA Rail's Chief Financial Officer. "Our Q1 performance reflects the resilience of the Corporation, the dedication of our employees and the appetite of Canadians for train travel. At the same time, we are continuing to work at mitigating the effects of an inflationary environment on our business while pursuing our commitment to sustainability and passenger satisfaction."
The reintroduction of additional frequencies year over year has allowed VIA Rail to meet the increasing appetite for rail travel in 2023, with 874,700 passengers choosing to travel with VIA Rail between January and March. The Corporation has reintroduced more frequencies across the network.
Chair of the Board, Françoise Bertrand, expressed confidence in the future, saying, "As Canadians enthusiastically embrace the opportunity to travel once again it is clear that the relevance of passenger rail is stronger than ever because it is the smarter way to travel. We are confident that VIA Rail’s strategic investments in our modernization will ensure that we meet the expectations of our customers and continue to deliver a comfortable, efficient, accessible, passenger rail service that meets the needs of Canadians.”
Minimizing the financial impacts
VIA Rail continues to rigorously manage its operating expenses, which increased by 35.1% primarily due to higher staffing and train operation costs associated with increased train miles operated (56.8%) compared to the corresponding quarter in 2022 and higher fuel prices. The Corporation continues to implement various measures to become more efficient both operationally and financially.
Advancing on Strategic Projects
In this first quarter of 2023, VIA Rail teams continued to lay the groundwork for modernization projects that will transform the passenger rail experience in Canada over the coming months. The rollout of VIA Rail’s new fleet of trains for the Québec City-Windsor corridor intensified in Q1 with more passengers travelling on the new train between Montreal and Ottawa in anticipation of the full commercial launch over the course of this year. In parallel, teams have been hard at work fine-tuning, training, and testing for the launch of VIA Rail’s new reservation system featuring an intuitive process that will make planning train travel much simpler.
The Path to a Zero-Waste Experience
Since the unveiling of its sustainability plan in April 2022, VIA Rail has made steady progress towards achieving its objective to offer a zero-waste experience on its new Corridor fleet by 2025 by focusing on the reduction of packaging and materials in Business and Economy classes and the improvement of waste collection on board its trains and in its facilities. Amongst key changes implemented as of Q1 2023: VIA Rail changed plastic cups, resulting in a 25% decrease in plastic use; reduced sandwich packaging, one of our top-selling products, saving the equivalent of more than six tons of waste; and completed in-class training of more than 70% of employees working on board trains to improve recycling and prepare for the zero-waste objective.
Employer of Choice
In February, VIA Rail was recognized by Forbes as one of Canada’s Best Employers 2023. Forbes analyzed and surveyed 2,900 different organizations and VIA Rail is the top employer in Canada in the business of transporting people. This recognition highlights the positive work environment, potential for growth and work-life balance offered to VIA Rail’s employees.
VIA Rail’s 2023 first quarter report is available here.