A press release from VIA Rail Canada; September 25, 2020:
MONTRÉAL, September 25, 2020 –As COVID-19 cases are currently on the rise again and in an effort to continue to follow recommendations from public health authorities, VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) extends the suspension of its long-distance routes, the Canadian and the Ocean, as well as the Sleeper class on the Winnipeg-Churchill route, which were scheduled to resume on November 1.
“Please know that we will continue to closely monitor the spread of COVID-19 and remain in close contact with public health authorities as well as the federal and provincial governments. Our desire is to offer all of our services to Canadians as quickly as possible under optimal sanitary conditions,” said Cynthia Garneau, President and Chief Executive Officer.
Recent bulletins by authorities show that a second wave of the pandemic has begun in some regions of the country. The authorities indicate that this situation is worrisome as we are heading into autumn and winter, which are seasons presenting a high risk for respiratory diseases. Current sanitary conditions would thus not allow for a safe service offering, especially given the duration of these trips and the close proximity between employees and passengers.
Given the level of preparation that is needed to resume these services and because health and safety is our top priority, we made this decision to protect passengers, employees and local communities.
VIA Rail will continue to work on a safe resumption plan for its long-distance routes, which will take into account health and sanitary developments of the different provinces where they operate. These plans will be shared once they are finalized.
On services currently in operation, VIA Rail deploys a strict protocol of sanitary measures on board its trains, in its stations, maintenance centres and call centres in response to the pandemic and in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
FLEXIBILITY FOR OUR PASSENGERS
All passengers with reservations affected by this suspension of services will be contacted and reimbursed automatically. To facilitate cancellations and refunds, we’ve extended our cancellation policy to include all travel through November 1, 2020, to allow passengers to cancel their upcoming reservations autonomously online at any time prior to departure and receive a full refund in addition to not incurring any service charges, regardless of when the ticket was purchased.
Alternatively, customers may contact the VIA Customer Centre by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 1-888-VIA-RAIL (1-888-842-7245), TTY 1-800-268-9503 (hearing impaired). Due to the current situation related to COVID-19, the VIA Customer Centre is open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday and it may take some time to speak with an agent due to a reduction in staff.
Wearing a mask is required at all times in our stations and on board VIA Rail trains. For the health and safety of all passengers and employees, passengers who do not wear a mask during their trip will be required to disembark the train or will be refused entry upon boarding.
Wearing a mask over the nose and mouth is one more way we can protect one another and will help us safeguard the travel experience of our passengers and employees. As we start to ramp up service levels in the Québec City-Windsor corridor, all enhanced health safety measures introduced during the pandemic will be maintained, including enhanced cleaning, pre-boarding screening of travellers, modified onboard services.
Furthermore, we constantly remind our passengers and employees of the importance of following the recommendations of public health authorities, to avoid non-essential travel, practice physical distancing as much as possible, and to rigorously follow good hygiene practices (wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of the arm, avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth without first washing their hands).
Passengers will be denied boarding our trains if they are experiencing symptoms similar to a cold or flu (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) or if they have been denied boarding for travel in the last 14 days due to medical reasons related to COVID-19.
The most recent updates are available on our website.
About VIA Rail
As Canada’s national rail passenger service, VIA Rail (viarail.ca) and all its employees are mandated to provide safe, efficient and economical passenger transportation service, in both official languages of our country. VIA Rail operates intercity, regional and transcontinental trains linking over 400 communities across Canada, and about 180 more communities through intermodal partnerships, and safely transported over 5 million passengers in 2019. The Corporation has been awarded five Safety Awards and three Environment Awards by the Railway Association of Canada since 2007. Visit the “About VIA Rail” section at https://www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail.