VIA Rail

Via Rail chief hopes to invest in passenger service Toronto to Montreal

TORONTO – The chief executive of Via Rail says it’s a good time to foster increased passenger rail service in Canada by building dedicated tracks and increasing the frequency of train service.

Yves Desjardins-Siciliano says demographic factors such as the pro-environment values of millennials, and an influx of immigrants from countries where train culture is prevalent, make it a good time to boost passenger rail service.

The head of the federal Crown corporation made his comments Thursday in Toronto at a luncheon hosted by the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships.

Via Rail hopes to raise $3 billion from private investors in order to build dedicated passenger tracks between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

The company has said that the long-standing practice of sharing infrastructure with freight trains has hurt its ridership, which has been eroding in recent years.

The number of passengers carried declined to 3.8 million in 2014, from 4.1 million in 2010, according to the company’s financial statements that included a $317.1-million operating loss last year.