MONTREAL — VIA Rail Canada has announced the suspension of select routes as well as the reduction of many others in its ongoing efforts to “help minimize the risk of contamination” in the wake of coronavirus.
The company is suspending its Canadian and Ocean operations, as well as its long-distance Eastern and Western routes, until March 27, inclusively.
“This exceptional preventive measure was made to help minimize the risk of contamination to the best of our ability. The government’s recommendations on social distancing and travel limitations is in line with our Illness Control Plan, which is focused on the health and safety of our passengers and employees,” said Cynthia Garneau, President and CEO. “I apologize for any inconvenience this difficult decision has caused our customers and employees and thank them for their understanding and patience.”
The decision results in the cancellation of 22 trains and impacts over 1,800 passengers. Routes include. Cancelled routes include:
- The Ocean (Montreal-Halifax)
- The Canadian (Toronto-Vancouver)
- The Canadian (Vancouver-Toronto)
- Prince Rupert-Prince George-Jasper
Passengers who choose to change their travel plan will be accommodated. For maximum flexibility, passengers can cancel or modify their reservation at any time prior to departure during the month of March and April and receive a full refund, in addition to not incurring any service charges, regardless of when they purchased their ticket. This includes all travel up to and including April 30, 2020, as well as any travel after April 30, 2020, if their outbound train is on or before April 30, 2020.
In addition to these cancellations, VIA Rail Canada is also reducing services by 50% in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor, effective March 17. This decision was made as a result of significant reductions in passenger volumes, combined with the need to deploy its resources to more effectively deal with the pandemic.
Regional services (Sudbury-White River, Winnipeg-Churchill, Senneterre-Jonquière) will continue to operate according to their respective schedules with no change.
A modified meal service aboard its trains has also been announced to limit the amount of staff and passenger interaction. Passengers in economy class will receive a complimentary snack and water, while those in business will receive a light meal and water in lieu of regular meal service. In both classes, no other food or beverage service will be offered, and passengers with food restrictions are being asked to plan accordingly.