VIA Rail unveils new era trains

VIA Rail

VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) marked a historic milestone today at VIA Rail’s Ottawa station with the unveiling of the first trainset of its state-of-the-art new fleet that will serve the Québec City – Windsor corridor. It will be one of the most environmentally-friendly fleets in North America.

The Siemens-built trains will offer a better level of ergonomic travel comfort once they eventually begin to officially go into service in late 2022.

The new trains will feature wider aisles, automatic touchless interior doors, adjustable tray tables, comfortable and ergonomic seats, and high-speed reliable data connection. They will also offer a better accessible experience with onboard wheelchair lifts, five Mobility Aid Spaces (MAS) per trainset, large accessible washrooms, braille, and embossed signage.

VIA Rail Canada says the new locomotives have advanced diesel engines and a bidirectional train configuration that allows for less operating time with the engines running making it one of the most environmentally friendly intercity fleets in North America.

VIA Rail Canada unveils new-look trains, photo by VIA Rail Canada

The unveiling took place in Ottawa on November 30, 2021. With the new test train parked on the platform of the LEED certified Ottawa station behind them, VIA Rail President and Chief Executive Officer, Cynthia Garneau, Chairperson of the Board of Directors, Françoise Bertrand, and the Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra introduced Canadians to the first of 32 new trains in VIA Rail’s new Corridor fleet – a building block of VIA Rail’s modernization program which will help to create the VIA Rail of tomorrow.

“This new fleet marks a new era for passenger rail service in the Corridor, where we served over 4.7 million passengers in 2019 and which represented 96% of our ridership pre-pandemic. In addition to being one of the most environmentally friendly fleets in North America, this modern new fleet will offer our passengers an unparalleled, barrier-free, and fully accessible travel experience,” said Cynthia Garneau, VIA Rail President and Chief Executive Officer.

It’s time to reimagine the way Canadians travel

Funding for these new trainsets was announced in the 2018 Federal budget and represents an investment of close to a billion dollars.

The new look of business class on VIA Rail Canada’s new trains, photo by VIA Rail Canada
The new look of economy class on VIA Rail Canada’s new trains, photo by VIA Rail Canada

“Canadians have relied on VIA Rail to connect them for years. The new fleet will offer a new era of comfort and efficiency for the workers, families, and tourists who travel on these tracks. By supporting VIA Rail’s large-scale modernization project, we are investing in accessible, reliable, environmentally friendly ways for Canadians to see each other and see their country,” said the Honorable Omar Alghabra, Canada’s Transport Minister.

Accessible bathroom on new-era VIA Rail Canada train, photo by VIA Rail Canada

The first train has been delivered right on time and showcases impressive features that promise an unparalleled travel experience.

The Galley on new-era VIA Rail Canada train, photo by VIA Rail Canada

Key features of VIA Rail’s new corridor fleet include new levels of comfort, accessibility, and sustainability amongst others:

  • Wider aisles, automatic touchless interior doors, adjustable tray tables, comfortable and ergonomic seats, and high-speed reliable data connection.
  • A barrier-free and fully accessible travel experience with onboard wheelchair lifts, five Mobility Aid Spaces (MAS) per trainset, large accessible washrooms, braille, and embossed signage.
  • Advanced diesel engines and a bidirectional train configuration that allows for less operating time with the engines running making it one of the most environmentally friendly intercity fleets in North America.

It’s time to act today for a better tomorrow

The railway helped shape Canada, brought communities together and boosted the economy from coast to coast. As Canada works to recover from the pandemic, VIA Rail isay they are “ready to continue building on its 44-year history and play a key role in the future of sustainable mobility in Canada.”

A sneak peek at the livery on new-era VIA Rail Canada train, photo by VIA Rail Canada

“In the face of the climate crisis and an unprecedented demand for more sustainable mobility, the relevance of passenger rail is stronger than ever,” said Francoise Bertrand, the Chairperson of the Board at VIA. “This new fleet and the High Frequency Rail (HFR) project will further that interconnectivity as our passengers will be able to travel more often and more quickly to more destinations.”

Winter trials of the test train will begin over night in December 2021, with the first train expected to go into service in Q4 2022.

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