Although, total operating expenses increased by 2.4% from $C 577.8m in 2015 to $C 591.8m last year, the greater increase in revenue meant that Via Rail was able to cut its operating deficit from $C 280m in 2015 to $C 267.5m, a reduction of 4.5%.
Via Rail says it achieved record highs for ridership during the summer when it carried more than 926,000 passengers, an increase of 4.8% compared with summer 2015. The 2016 holiday season was also the busiest for several years with a 20% increase in revenues and a 16% increase in ridership compared with 2015.
Revenues for regional services increased 10.1% in 2016. “The Winnipeg - Churchill route has become a star performer with revenue growth exceeding 20% for the second year in a row,” says Via Rail. “The route even saw its highest ridership since 2007 during the polar bear season (October - November).”
To grow ridership, Via Rail added capacity on several trains in the Québec City - Montreal - Toronto - Windsor corridor. By the end of the year, it had increased capacity by 8.3% compared with 2015.
Punctuality improved slightly from 71% to 73% in 2016, although this is well below the 82% punctuality rate achieved in 2013 and 83% in 2012.
“If there were any doubts about passenger rail’s relevance in Canada, our results this year have settled them,” says VIA Rail’s president and CEO, Mr Yves Desjardins-Siciliano. “I’m proud to say that for the third year in a row Via Rail is celebrating success and growth. The end of 2016 marked our 11th straight quarter of revenue growth, and fourth consecutive quarter of increasing ridership.”