Responding to the government's commitment to VIA Rail and the HFR project

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Train running in the city over a bridge

The Government of Canada has responded to the petition concerning the future of VIA Rail and the development of the High-Frequency Rail (HFR) project. This response is a welcome step forward, largely due to the thousands of people who have signed the Get Canada Back On Track petition and engaged with our campaign.

Recently, the government has assured Canadians that VIA Rail’s existing passenger services in the Québec City to Windsor Corridor will continue during the HFR project development. Once the HFR project is completed, VIA Rail’s services will be integrated into the HFR network. VIA Rail will remain a Crown corporation, the government will retain ownership of VIA Rail and its subsidiary VIA HFR under this model. 

However, HFR is contracting out design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the passenger rail service between Québec City and Toronto to private, for profit companies . 

Our are concerns about the impact on smaller communities currently served by VIA Rail. Towns like Drummondville, St-Hyacinthe, and St-Lambert, as well as communities along the north shore of Lake Ontario, risk seeing reduced services as the HFR project prioritizes major urban centres.

Unifor is campaigning to ensure passenger rail continuity and connectivity for the communities along this corridor while outlining the negative impacts a private delivery model for HFR will bring. Operating HFR through a private company will likely undermine the affordability and operational focus of the rail system as has been the case with recent public-private partnerships such as light rail transit in Ottawa and the Eglinton Crosstown in Toronto.

Our campaign, Get Canada Back on Track, continues to advocate for maintaining and enhancing passenger rail services for all communities, not just the largest cities. This project should not come at the expense of smaller towns that rely heavily on VIA Rail for connectivity and economic stability. Instead, public passenger rail should be expanded to reach more Canadians.

We call on the government to ensure that the modernization efforts include provisions for these smaller communities. The HFR project promises job creation and economic benefits, but these should be extended to all areas currently served by VIA Rail.

Your support remains crucial.

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Media Contact

Hamid Osman

National Communications Representative