VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) marked a historic milestone today with the unveiling of the first trainset of its state-of-the-art new fleet that will serve the Québec City – Windsor corridor.
With the new test train parked on the platform of the LEED certified Ottawa station behind them, VIA Rail President and Chief Executive Officer, Cynthia Garneau and Chairperson of the Board of Directors, Françoise Bertrand, introduced Canadians to the first of 32 new trains in VIA Rail’s new Corridor fleet — a building block of VIA Rail’s modernization program which will help to create the VIA Rail of tomorrow.
Garneau observed: “This new fleet marks a new era for passenger rail service in the Corridor, where we served over 4.7 million passengers in 2019 and which represented 96% of our ridership pre-pandemic. In addition to being one of the most environmentally friendly fleets in North America, this modern new fleet will offer our passengers an unparalleled, barrier-free, and fully accessible travel experience.”
Funding for these new trainsets was announced in the 2018 Federal budget and represents an investment of close to a billion dollars.
Transport Minister, Omar Alghabra said: “Canadians have relied on VIA Rail to connect them for years. 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.”
Key features of VIA Rail’s new corridor fleet include amongst others:
- Wider aisles, automatic touchless interior doors, adjustable tray tables, comfortable and ergonomic seats, and high-speed reliable data connection.
- A barrier-free and fully accessible travel experience with onboard wheelchair lifts, five Mobility Aid Spaces (MAS) per trainset, large accessible washrooms, braille, and embossed signage.
- Advanced diesel engines and a bidirectional train configuration that allows for less operating time with the engines running making it one of the most environmentally friendly intercity fleets in North America.
Francoise Bertrand, the Chairperson of the Board at VIA Rail, noted that: “In the face of the climate crisis and an unprecedented demand for more sustainable mobility, the relevance of passenger rail is stronger than ever. This new fleet and the High Frequency Rail (HFR) project will further that interconnectivity as our passengers will be able to travel more often and more quickly to more destinations.”
Winter trials of the test train will begin in December 2021, with the first train expected to go into service in Q4 2022.
Go to https://www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail for more.