High Frequency Rail announcement still leaves questions about VIA Rail sell-off

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Via train engine and cars in motion at sunset

MONTREAL—After the federal government’s Request for Qualifications for the proposed High Frequency Rail (HFR) line, Unifor is calling on the transportation minister to provide clarity about the long-term plan for VIA Rail.

“The federal government’s passenger rail expansion plans must keep VIA Rail in public hands,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National President. “Canadians need high-speed rail, not privatization schemes that make developers richer. Passenger rail is too important to pass off to the lowest bidder.”

Rather than constructing the project themselves, the federal government wants to enter into a public-private partnership and contract out the design, finance, building, operation and maintenance of the corridor route to the private sector.

In the last several years alone, Canadians have contributed over $1.5 billion towards the corridor’s enhancements—either on the purchase of new corridor trainsets, in preparation for the HFR project and other upgrades. After all these public investments, the government is now looking to hand it over to the private sector.

“Privatization and manufacturing abroad is simply not compatible with creating good jobs in Canada,” said Payne. “Minister Alghabra must make a commitment to public passenger rail with made-in-Canada systems.”

Unifor represents over 2,000 VIA Rail workers across the country.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

Media Contact

Ian Boyko

National Communications Representative - Western Region