VIA Rail closes three Kingston routes

Night stops in Kingston cancelled due to poor ridership and funding constraints

VIA Rail announced the change to three Kingston routes on Dec. 23. The changes come into effect on Tuesday.
VIA Rail announced the change to three Kingston routes on Dec. 23. The changes come into effect on Tuesday.

VIA Rail is cancelling three night stops in Kingston.

The company made an announcement on their website on Dec. 23 and the changes will come into effect on Tuesday.

Malcolm Andrews, a spokesperson for VIA Rail, said these routes are being affected because of low ridership.

“These were the trains that were performing least well and had the least popularity,” he said.

He added that the company was suffering financially from keeping the routes open.

“We were undergoing significant costs and expenditures,” he said. “We’re paying to have our train on the track, we’re paying fuel and we’re paying employees.”

Train 69, a daily train which leaves Montreal at 6:10 p.m. and arrives in Kingston at 8:58 p.m. heading to Toronto, will be cancelled.

Train 68, will change its route. The last train will leave from Toronto at 6:35 p.m. and will only go as far as Kingston at 9:15 p.m. Monday to Friday. The train will not operate at all on Saturdays and will only go towards Ottawa on Sundays.

Train 650, which operates five days a week from Toronto to Kingston, will also be changing. There will no longer be a 10:30 p.m. train and the last train to leave from Toronto on weekdays will be at 6:35 p.m.

Andrews said that VIA Rail is taking the change seriously.

“We appreciate that sometimes when you make a change like this, there are people who are going to be inconvenienced, and we regret that.”

Since 2007, VIA Rail has received nearly $1 billion in federal funding.

Andrews said the changes to the routes are part of VIA Rail’s improvements to the service.

“We started to take a look at routes probably in the middle of June 2011,” he said.

Andrews said part of the process of changing and adding new routes was speaking with Canadian National freight trains (CN), who use the same tracks as VIA.

“We have had to sit down with them and submit what we would propose to do in terms of a modified schedule of trains,” he said, adding that the CN meeting was held from September to November.

With the new improvements, Andrews said VIA Rail expects their yearly revenue to increase.

“VIA carries over 4 million passengers per year total … our calculations and expectations tell us that we will attract as many as 100,000 more passengers per year.”

Another new feature will be a daily nonstop express train from Toronto to Ottawa and back, and is expected to take three hours and 57 minutes.

Andrews said the new developments will be completed this year.

“There will be at least 80 kilometres of new tracks,” he said.

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