Via Rail, Windsor to Quebec Corridor Service Reduces Amid Pandemic Travel Demand

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Via Rail is temporarily reducing service along the Windsor to Quebec City corridor and suspending business class service, citing the impact of the Omicron wave from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“These decisions, while difficult, are consistent with the balanced approach we have taken during the pandemic to fulfill our important public service mandate while proactively managing the financial impact on our operations,” said Cynthia Garneau, CEO of Via Rail, in a statement. statement Thursday.

“Every change we have made to our services has been and will continue to be closely linked to the evolving health crisis and the next market demand.”

The Windsor to Toronto service will include two round-trip trains from January 19 instead of the current four departures each way. There are also changes on Via Rail’s Toronto-to-Ottawa and Toronto-Montreal routes. All business class services will also be suspended.

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Officials said the change to the service was “carefully planned” to preserve essential services while responding to travel demands given the current pandemic restrictions imposed as a result of the Omicron variant.

There are currently no changes to other routes, officials said, and the reduction in frequency is expected to be temporary. Via Rail has also suspended all business class services and business lounges are closed, the company said.

A Via Rail train arrives at Walkerville station in Windsor on Friday, January 14, 2022.
A Via Rail train arrives at Walkerville station in Windsor on Friday, January 14, 2022. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

It is not the only carrier to have made changes to southwestern Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last spring, Greyhound Canada announced it would end all remaining routes in Canada, including the Windsor-to-Toronto route, after a year-long hiatus amid dwindling passenger numbers during the pandemic.

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At the Windsor airport, CEO Mark Galvin said Air Canada and Porter will continue to operate flights to Toronto, and the impact of other transportation restrictions remains to be seen.

“It’s an evolving situation with a lot of fluidity because of the Omicron virus,” Galvin said. “Whether or not the cuts will have an impact, I still think people need to travel and travel. At this point it’s very fluid.”

Via said it still plans to stay on track for the resumption of its service schedule, which includes 85 percent service on the Windsor-Quebec City corridor by April and 100 percent service by June.

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