At VIA Rail, we like to take some time during the Holiday season to acknowledge the work and dedication of our employees. Every year across the country hundreds of employees are recognized for their many years of service with the company.
In 2013 alone, 598 employees celebrated a cumulative total of 10,600 years of service. We also celebrate the 187 people who are retiring this year, among whom about 20 are former employees of CN or CP, with over 40 years of service each!
Frank Carosello, one of this year’s retirees, has had the opportunity to play different roles and work in several different departments over his 34 year career at VIA Rail. In a farewell letter to his fellow employees Frank noted, “The experience of seeing many satisfied customers over the years was gratifying… The passion and excitement I feel today while seeing one of our trains rolling by, is still the same as I felt 34 years ago.”
Employee recognition will be taking place in seven cities across Canada, between November 7th (in Vancouver) and December 13th (in Montréal). Through the Québec-Montréal-Toronto region, 450 employees will be recognized for their work and 130 people are retiring this year. From Vancouver to Winnipeg, 93 employees will be recognized and 35 people are retiring. And From Halifax through Moncton, 55 employees will be recognized and 22 people are retiring.
VIA Rail extends its sincerest thanks and congratulations to all employees for their many years of service and for sharing their love of the rail industry with us.
The Holiday season is all about celebrating, sharing, giving… and the stress of travelling to be with family and friends. Why not let VIA Rail take care of the travel this year, so that you can relax and enjoy the holidays?
Last year, more than 220,000 passengers chose to travel across Canada on VIA Rail trains between December 20, 2012 and January 6, 2013 and took advantage of our special Holiday offers. All across our network, from the long-haul trains to the Corridor and remote trains, we are offering special fares to help you plan your holidays without stress.
As Canadians know, the beauty of winter also comes with snow storms, holiday traffic and poor road conditions. Luckily for our passengers, a few feet of snow won’t stop our trains! In even the worst weather conditions, no trains were cancelled last holiday season and we expect the same this year. In fact, avoiding the line-ups and icy conditions means that once you hop onto the train, your vacation begins – even Leisure Group Travel readers agree… VIA Rail was recently honoured with the Gold Level Reader’s Choice award for “Favorite Train Excursion” in 2013.
But wait! There’s more! In the spirit of the Holidays, VIA Rail has once again launched its “Sound the Horn” Holiday contest. You could win your travels by participating in the contest… and crossing your fingers. You’ll also get to enjoy one of our favorite sounds: a train whistle!
And if you’d like to bring VIA home for the holidays, you could adorn your tree with an adorable VIA Rail Christmas tree ornament, which features either our long-haul train in a scenic setting or a city-scape featuring a Corridor train.
No matter how you choose to celebrate, VIA Rail wishes you and yours a very happy Holiday season!
Working for the Canadian Armed Forces often involves extensive travel and access to remote and rarely-seen landscapes. For those members of the forces who also dabble (or are experts) in the art of photography, it can also mean an extraordinary opportunity to capture some unique imagery. For 45 years, since 1968, the Armed Forces have held a photo contest for its members and this year VIA Rail is proud to have sponsored the event. Current and retired members, along with their relatives submitted thousands of amazing photos to the contest; thoughtful and sensitive images of the highest artistic and technical quality.
This year more than 375 people, both amateur and experienced photographers, submitted a total of 2,350 images in nine contest categories which included environmental, family, sports and – of course – the military. Prizes were awarded to the top three images per category, and one amateur and one advanced photographer were each awarded prizes in the prestigious categories of “Photographer of the Year” and “Best of Show”.
VIA Rail is extremely proud to have contributed this year’s Grand Prize: travel credits to be used on the VIA Rail network. It’s the perfect opportunity for avid photographers to capture the beauty of the Canadian landscape.
Our enthusiasm of being associated with this contest will be clear once you have a look at the winners of this year’s contest, by clicking here. VIA Rail extends its congratulations to all participants and winners of the 45th annual Canadian Armed Forces Photography Contest.
On November 1st, VIA Rail’s Pacific Central Station in Vancouver was one of the first honourees of a new Ecclesiastical Insurance Cornerstone Award presented by Heritage Canada Foundation. The Ecclesiastical Insurance Cornerstone Awards for Building Heritage were created to recognize excellence in the regeneration of Canadian heritage buildings and sites.Magdy Fahmy, Senior Director of Capital Projects at VIA Rail, accepted the award on behalf of his Real Estate team who researched, planned and managed the intricate and detailed restoration. Pacific Central Station was a winner in the category of Adaptive Use / Rehabilitation. The project was recognized for its sensitivity and creativity in preserving the heritage values of the site, while allowing for the continued use of the station.
Designated as an official Heritage Railway Station in 1991, Pacific Central Station was designed by Pratt & Ross Architects in the Beaux-Arts style, and construction was completed in 1919. The building’s heritage character is defined by the elegance of its design and the decorative treatment of its interior spaces. It is characterized by symmetry, monumentality and the use of classical features in design, massing and details.
Fun fact: the envelope of the building is built from locally-sourced materials from Vancouver Island.
The restoration of the Station had some clear objectives, and of course all the work had to respect and retain the defining heritage features of the building, which meant a lot of careful planning and adjustments. For example, no new holes could be drilled into the masonry, which meant finding new creative and safe ways to erect the scaffolding.
The restoration took place in 2011, thanks to funding from the Government of Canada through its Economic Action Plan, and included the renewal and conservation of original wooden windows, damaged masonry, mortar joints, fissured stone lintels and delaminated concrete beams, among other repairs.
Now that Vancouver station is spiffed up, you have a good reason to stop by and admire one of Canada’s prized Heritage buildings! If you’d like to learn more about this restoration, have a look at the feature article or visit the image gallery on our website dedicated to all the projects funded through the Government of Canada’s Capital Investment Program: viarail.ca/transformingVIA.
At VIA Rail, we believe that all passengers should benefit from the same level of comfort and service while on our trains. Therefore, we are committed to offering one-of-a-kind accessibility amenities for the comfort and security of passengers with disabilities.
We have been improving accessibility on all our long-haul trains as well as those travelling within the Québec city-Winsor corridor. Our cars have bathrooms spacious enough to accommodate travellers with special needs as well as those accompanied by a service animal or a companion. Our trains also include a set of lowered seats with fold-up armrests. Furthermore, many of those cars have been equipped with an integrated chairlift.
Once on board, for travellers with disabilities not confined to their wheelchair, VIA Rail employees can use a special wheelchair for mobility within the car, and to assist passengers in getting to their train seat. For those who travel seated in their wheelchair, each train is outfitted with a wheelchair tie-down, so that passengers can enjoy a safe and comfortable ride.
This is great news for the cars, but what about the stations? Over the past few years, we have built new stations and renovated some existing ones to improve accessibility. These stations are equipped with elevators, sliding doors, improved lighting, Braille signage, accessible washrooms and wheelchair lifts.
We are proud to offer these improved services to all our passengers, and we are committed to continue to find ways to enhance your travel experience. And don’t forget: our qualified and devoted employees are always available to help make your trip easier and more relaxing.
We hope to see you on board our trains soon!