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EVENT RECAP: VIA Rail's 2030 Vision: A Transformative Journey Towards Sustainable Mobility

The Toronto Region Board of Trade is where business leaders come to talk to business leaders.

This was on full display at our recent event featuring VIA Rail's President and CEO, Mario Péloquin where he unveiled an ambitious vision set to revolutionize passenger rail travel in Canada.

The Five-Year Plan

Péloquin began by emphasizing VIA Rail's ongoing transformation program, focusing on modernizing services with a clear aim to elevate the passenger experience. "By leveraging the latest technology and continuously improving our offerings, we aim to make VIA Rail the preferred choice for travelers who value a high-quality, seamless journey," he stated. 

To elevate passenger rail in our region, Péloquin laid out the five pillars of VIA Rail’s 2030 Vision: 

1. Fleet Renewal

At the heart of this transformation is the fleet renewal program, which is replacing aging trains with state-of-the-art models designed for better reliability, comfort, and environmental performance. Supported by the federal government's latest budget, this initiative includes long-distance, regional, and remote trains across Canada. The new trains feature advanced technologies for improved fuel efficiency and reduced emissions, aligning with VIA Rail's sustainability goals. Passengers can expect a more spacious and comfortable travel experience, with modern amenities such as improved seating, enhanced Wi-Fi, and updated interiors. This renewal will dramatically reduce the average age of Canada's passenger rail cars, which currently sits at 77 years old. 

2. Network Expansion

Péloquin told those gathered that VIA Rail is not only committed to improving service along existing routes but also aspires to expand its network to connect more communities. This includes increasing capacity and frequencies on key routes like the Quebec City-Windsor corridor and potentially adding new routes. Significant accessibility upgrades are underway at stations and onboard to ensure an inclusive experience for all passengers, making rail a viable option for more Canadians.

3. Technological Innovation

 VIA Rail is modernizing its reservation system and implementing innovative technologies to enhance operations and the customer experience. These advancements incorporate the use of real-time tracking, automated customer service solutions, and upgraded booking platforms, streamlining the passenger experience. 

4. Sustainability Initiatives

The railway's sustainability plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% compared to 2005 levels by 2030. This includes adopting energy-efficient train designs, optimizing operations to lower emissions, and promoting greener travel options. The new trains will support a zero-waste experience, embedding sustainability across operations and aligning with broader environmental goals. 

5. Enhanced Passenger Experience

Péloquin says his five-year plan will elevate overall passenger experience by addressing diverse accessibility needs, offering modern amenities, and providing continuous service enhancements. New onboard features include improved seating, Wi-Fi, and updated interiors, reflecting a commitment to making rail travel the preferred choice for those seeking a high-quality, seamless journey. 

The Business Case for Rail

Péloquin came armed with a challenge for Toronto Region business owners: update corporate travel policies to prioritize rail for business trips between Toronto and Ottawa and Toronto to Montreal.  

"We're asking businesses to rethink their travel strategies and recognize the unparalleled benefits that rail travel offers. It's time for companies to move beyond conventional travel modes and integrate rail into their core travel policies. Doing so will help reduce environmental impacts and offer employees a more comfortable and stress-free travel experience." 

Péloquin outlined several compelling reasons for making rail the preferred transportation choice: 

  • Reducing carbon footprints 
  • Improving employee well-being through less stressful travel 
  • Supporting a more connected and vibrant Canada 

Péloquin stressed that VIA Rail's transformation relies on businesses incorporating rail travel into their sustainability and corporate travel strategies. 

Full Steam Ahead: Charting a Sustainable Future

In his concluding remarks, Péloquin painted a vision of a future where rail is synonymous with convenience, sustainability, and excellence:

“Our commitment is to do everything possible to make more and more people choose the train as their number one travel option. We believe in the unparalleled benefits of rail travel and are dedicated to transforming our services to meet and exceed the expectations of our passengers.”

Thank you to our partner for making this event so successful.