MONTREAL — VIA Rail Canada has extended the suspension of the Canadian and Ocean services by five months due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Previously suspended until June 1, both long-distance routes will now be paused until Nov. 1, 2020. VIA also announced the suspension of the Sleeper class on the Winnipeg-Churchill route until Nov. 1.
“This was not an easy decision to make but, given the current circumstances, the health and safety of our passengers, crew members and local communities must come first,” says Cynthia Garneau. “As the travel industry grapples with the effects of COVID-19, we will use this extended pause to assess and identify which measures to implement in order to get back on track as soon and as safely as possible.”
All passengers with reservations affected by this suspension of services will be contacted and reimbursed automatically. To facilitate cancellations and refunds, VIA has extended its cancellation policy to include all travel through Nov. 1, 2020 to allow passengers to cancel their upcoming reservations autonomously online at any time prior to departure and receive a full refund, in addition to not incurring any service charges, regardless of when the ticket was purchased.
Alternatively, customers can contact the VIA Customer Centre by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 1-888-VIA-RAIL from 9:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
In addition to extending the suspension of operations, VIA Rail is also accelerating a previously established program for the inspection and repair work regarding its Heritage Modernization Program, which started in 2018. At that time, the company undertook initiatives to renovate its HEP equipment, which has logged millions of kilometres since being put into service. In recent weeks, some new structural issues have been discovered, which will need to be addressed.
“As a result, we will be in a position to progressively bring back our renowned long-distance services to full capacity for the upcoming 2021 peak season,” adds Garneau.
For the more recent updates go to https://www.viarail.ca/en/COVID-19.