Originally scheduled to resume service on November 1, VIA Rail has announced the continued suspension of its long-distance routes, the Canadian and the Ocean, as well as the Sleeper class on the Winnipeg-Churchill route. VIA Rail’s decision is based upon the recommendations from public health authorities as current cases of COVID-19 are on the rise again.
“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 Canada. Authorities indicate that this situation is worrisome heading into autumn and winter as these seasons present a higher 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, VIA Rail 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.
All passengers with reservations affected by this suspension of services will be contacted and reimbursed automatically. To facilitate cancellations and refunds, VIA Rail has extended its 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.
The most recent updates are available at VIA Rail.com.
Image: VIA Rail Canada/C. Robidoux