By Waheeda Harris
What does $923 million in funds invested in VIA Rail in 2007 and 2009 get you in 2011? A facelift that includes everything from green initiatives and new tracks to increased safety.
For the past five years, the federal government has been investing in VIA to upgrade, update and expand its service in Canada, in the single largest investment in the Canadian passenger rail company’s history.
VIA Rail is comprised of 12,500 kilometres of track linking 450 Canadian cities.
For regular riders of the rails, complimentary wireless is de rigeur, but passengers will soon notice newly refurbished passenger cars. Another new initiative is increased service in the Ontario–Quebec corridor, with the addition of new express and semi-express trains between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal as well as more trains per day. This well-travelled corridor will soon be able to accommodate 650,000 train travellers a year.
VIA Rail has also focused on ensuring that sleeping compartments and washrooms on trains and in stations are accessible for people with disabilities. And for those travelling with service animals, there will be more room for Fido too.