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VIA Rail suspending routes, including two in B.C.

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Mar 19, 2020 at 2:20 pm PDT

VIA Rail is making service changes due to COVID-19. (Courtesy of VIA Rail)

The Canadian and Prince Rupert-Prince George-Jasper routes halt until May 1

Decision due to a significant reduction in passenger volumes

Other routes stopped until further notice

MONTREAL (NEWS 1130) – VIA Rail is making service changes due to COVID-19, with two routes through B.C. among those suspended.

The Canadian, which travels between Toronto and Vancouver, and the Prince Rupert-Prince George-Jasper route are both suspended as of Monday, March 23 and until May 1.

The decision to suspend and alter routes is due to a significant reduction in passenger volumes, as well as the most recent recommendations of the public health authorities across the country reinforcing the importance of social distancing, VIA Rail says in a release.

“These new measures we are announcing today are difficult, but the current situation is exceptional and calls for an exceptional response,” says Cynthia Garneau, president and chief executive officer of VIA Rail.

“Protecting the health and safety of our passengers and employees continues to be our focus so we are adjusting our operations to ensure we minimize the propagation of COVID-19 when traveling with Via Rail. As a public service, we do what we can to maintain some of our services in the best possible conditions for as long as possible to help facilitate travel along the Corridor and on regional routes.”

Other routes affected until further notice:

  • Québec City-Montréal-Ottawa;
  • Montréal-Ottawa-Fallowfield;
  • Toronto-Kingston-Montréal;
  • Toronto-Kingston- Ottawa;
  • Toronto- London-Windsor;
  • Toronto-London- Sarnia.

One departure a day will be maintained in both directions for the Senneterre-Jonquière route. One round trip a week will be maintained for the Sudbury-White River and Winnipeg-Churchill routes. All trains are operating for The Ocean (Montréal-Halifax) route.

Via Rail says some stops have been added on some trains, although baggage service will no longer be available. The national rail passenger service has also extended its cancellation policy to include all travel through May 31.