July 21st, 2024

Via Rail CEO calls for rail passenger bill of rights

By The Canadian Press on October 23, 2023.

MONTREAL – The head of Via Rail says the federal government should consider a passenger bill of rights comparable to the one now in place for air travellers.

In an interview, CEO Mario Péloquin says the federal government should move toward a charter that would ensure train passengers receive compensation for long delays.

If the reason for the disruption stems from one of Canada’s two main freight railways – whose tracks Via runs on – he says they would be the ones to pay up, further incentivizing smooth operations along the line.

Péloquin, who stepped into the top job at Via in June, is also calling for rules that would give the Crown corporation’s trains formal right of way over freight trains, a privilege Amtrak passenger cars enjoy in the U.S.

Former transport minister Omar Alghabra said over the summer he was looking into measures to improve travellers’ experience amid Via’s shaky performance, including through a bill of rights.

In the quarter ended June 30, Via saw 62 per cent of its trains arrive on time, an improvement from 53 per cent a year earlier.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2023.

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