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691 million investment for VIA Rail

03/17/2008 AT 10:25

Ninety-eight cars are covered by the request for proposals. New electrical and mechanical systems will be installed. Improvements will be made to the lighting as well as the heating and air conditioning systems. This will lead to new energy savings. VIA will take advantage of this opportunity to renovate the interiors of the cars and will ensure that their exteriors bear the company's new colour scheme for equipment. The work should start in 2009 and take four years to complete.

According to Mr. Paul Côté, President and CEO of VIA, this initiative flows directly from a five-year investment of $691 million by the federal government to improve the reliability and sustainability of passenger rail transportation in Canada, announced last fall by Mr. Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

“By upgrading these LRC cars we will be doing more than restoring them to their initial condition, we will improve reliability and meet current marketplace standards of comfort and convenience for our customers,” said VIA's president, in a speech to the Canadian Club of Montreal.

Overall, the $691 million investment will help VIA provide service that is faster, more frequent and more reliable, Mr. Côté pointed out. It will enable VIA to “connect people, communities and the future,” which was, moreover, the title of his speech.

The Company plans to direct more than $200 million specifically towards network infrastructure, “in the rails themselves,” said the president. A major portion of this investment will provide better service between Québec City, Montréal, Ottawa, and Toronto.

According to Mr. Côté, once the work is completed, this same Corridor will accommodate more than one million additional passengers – an increase in ridership of 32 percent over 2007.

By renovating and modernizing its key stations, VIA will be able to serve people and their communities more efficiently. VIA will use the investment to modernize its key train stations with improved platforms, lounges, lighting, interior and exterior renovations, expansion, and in some cases, new facilities.

By modernizing its equipment, VIA will also be reducing its environmental impact. “Rebuilding our locomotives, in particular, will translate into lower greenhouse gases and air pollution by using equipment that meets the most stringent environmental standards,” said Mr. Côté.

With customer satisfaction ratings among the highest in the industry and first place for passenger rail services in the 2007 Agents' Choice Awards, VIA remains the most civilized form of transportation available to Canadians, the more human way to travel, according to the president.

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