Tuesday 3 May 2016
News from UIC Members

Canada: VIA Rail – The Smart Sustainable Mobility Choice

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VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) passengers have something to be proud of: their contribution to creating a more sustainable future for Canada. The company’s Sustainable Mobility Report 2015, which was released on April 21, 2016, describes VIA Rail’s efforts to provide an exceptional customer experience, while supporting socio-economic development, by operating safely and efficiently, reducing its impact on the environment, being an employer of choice and maintaining the public trust.

“Passenger rail services play a leading role as a smart way for travellers to support healthy communities, promote a thriving economy and help Canadians transition to a lower-carbon economy,” asserted Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and Chief Executive Officer of VIA Rail. “Our commitment to sustainable mobility is the outcome of several years of effort coupled with the firm belief that innovation should be made to serve the cause of a more sustainable future for the generations to come. Additionally, our 2020 Sustainable Mobility Strategy proposes a passenger transport dedicated track project that would enable us to increase traffic on our trains while also reducing road congestion and emissions of greenhouse gases and toxic atmospheric contaminants, while creating thousands of jobs for Canadians… all this while minimizing the impact on the taxpayers of this country and giving them an opportunity to invest in a transformative project through their pension plans.”

Offer the best customer experience
VIA Rail wants to make the train the ultimate transport solution. The company is making every effort to listen to its customers, in order to improve its services, analyze and optimize its schedules, and forge connections with other carriers to ensure integrated travel. Its accomplishments in 2015 include the launch of lower rates benefiting 1.4 million passengers, including military personnel, newcomers to Canada, seniors and students.

Promote socio-economic development
VIA Rail is aware of its responsibility to manage public funds effectively and efficiently, as well as the key role it plays in supporting Canada’s socio-economic prosperity. The company offers communities access to a sustainable transportation system and convenient connections, while also creating jobs, supporting local businesses and promoting culture and tourism nationwide by offering Canadians, as well as visitors from abroad, a unique way to discover the country. Initiatives put in place in 2015 include an ongoing assessment of the impact of strategic investments on sustainable development, especially the dedicated track project.

Operate safely and efficiently
The safety of passengers, employees and the general public is at the forefront of all the company’s actions and represents a vital priority for VIA Rail. In 2015, the corporation undertook a major project to upgrade its Safety Management System (SMS), in compliance with new regulations under Transport Canada’s Railway Safety Act. These updates enabled VIA to stay at the forefront of best safety management practices in the industry and to further strengthen how it engages its people on its preventive safety culture. On that front, the number of workplace accidents has dropped by 31% since 2011, and the company offered 33,681 training hours on safety in 2015.

Reduce our impact on the environment
As Canada’s national passenger rail service, VIA Rail is proud to be one of the most environmentally friendly inter-city modes of travel.Despite the inherent benefits of the train, the company makes every effort to minimize the effects of its operations on the environment by improving its fuel efficiency, using its resources more efficiently and partnering with suppliers to encourage greener products and services. Since 2009, VIA Rail has reduced the intensity of its greenhouse gas emissions by 25% through innovative fleet upgrades, fuel-efficient technologies and behavioural changes. VIA Rail has also committed to fight climate change, as a member of the International Union of Railways (UIC).

Be an employer of choice
The 2,577 people who work for VIA Rail across Canada are the foundation of the company’s success. Whatever their rank within the organization – front-line employees, maintenance or administrative workers, management or specialized professionals – their dedication, talent and passion have made VIA Rail a company that is recognized for its customer service. In 2015, VIA Rail hired 393 new employees, provided training to 83% of its workforce and saw attendance at work reach 93.3%.

Maintain the public trust
Underpinning VIA Rail’s management approach are good governance, strong values and a commitment to transparent reporting and accountability. Doing business on the basis of high standards of integrity positions VIA to operate ethically and build the trust of stakeholders. In 2015, the company launched a new code of ethics that encompasses its commitment to sustainability, and obtained a 99.9% employee attestation of compliance to this new code, among other measures.

The full report can be viewed at http://uic.org/com/IMG/pdf/sustainable_mobility_report_2015.pdf

(Source: VIA Rail)

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