VIA Rail

VIA Rail apologizes and offers compensation for holiday disruptions

In the aftermath of the travel chaos that ensued over the holidays, Via Rail has just issued an apology to travellers affected by their December train disruptions.

A few days before Christmas, a severe winter storm impacted the travel plans for thousands of Canadians, affecting train service in the Windsor to Quebec City corridor from Dec. 23 to 26.

Hundreds of passengers were either stranded or trapped on Via Rail trains for hours. Futhermore, due to a CN Rail train derailment, all Via trains running between Ottawa and Toronto, and Montreal and Toronto were cancelled on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day.

"We appreciate that passengers were looking forward to holiday celebrations and family get-togethers, and we regret that for many, those plans were disrupted. We didn’t meet your expectations and for that we apologize," said Martin R Landry, the president and CEO of VIA Rail Canada.

Passengers stuck on the train cars described cramped and unsanitary conditions, out-of-service bathrooms, no food or water, and lack of communication from Via staff.

"We know, we should have been more forthcoming in sharing information about trains that were delayed and in communicating updates. We also know we should have adopted a different approach in supporting passengers on trains that were delayed for lengthy periods," says Landry.

Via Rail is offering travel credits to passengers whose trains were "completely immobilized". A full refund will be issued for those whose trains were cancelled between Dec. 24 and 26.

They also plan to review their performance regarding the handling over that four-day period, consulting with outside experts to learn how to better accommodate their passengers in the future.

"Despite weather events and a freight train derailment beyond our control, it is clear that lessons will be learned, and changes will be made."

Lead photo by

Stephen Gardiner


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