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A Strategy for a Reliable, Frequent and Affordable VIA Train Service

March 26th 2015 by Yves Desjardins-Siciliano

At the Canadian Club of Montreal

Last week, I was honoured to speak at a Montreal Canadian Club’s luncheon. The Canadian Club is a forum at which leaders in business, politics, sports and culture are invited to discuss their positions on important issues as well as their visions for the future.

Excerpts have been edited and published on VIA Rail’s YouTube channel. The video, titled, “A Strategy for a Reliable, Frequent and Affordable VIA Train Service”, can be watched here. Please note that the speech was given mostly in French.

As long as you’re visiting our YouTube channel, why not learn even more about VIA Rail? Have a look at our video introduction to the 2015 Executive team, and our most recent (very fun) marketing campaigns.

Connect with us through Facebook, Twitter (either@VIA_Rail or my personal account @VIARailPrez) and as of this month, VIA Rail is on Instagram to‎o!

Introducing Our New Executive Team

March 13th 2015 by Yves Desjardins-Siciliano

In May of last year I began my mandate as VIA Rail’s new President and CEO. I was able to hit the ground running, so to speak, because of my previous four years’ experience at the company. I knew (and know) that beginning over my 5 year term as President and further into the 21st century, VIA Rail could evolve to its full potential, as an economically responsible, top-of-mind and valued service to Canadians. The vision was clear; all I needed was an Executive team to support and help guide the company.

Over the next few months, the team came together, and since January 1st, 2015, VIA Rail’s new Executive team has been spearheading innovations and projects in line with VIA’s new vision and client-centric culture.

During a recent trip onboard one of our trains, we produced an interview-style short video to introduce the team to our employees and to the public. In the six-minute video you will meet all the Executives and hear a bit about each of their projects, challenges and what’s to come.

As for me, there was also a short video created to introduce myself and my vision to Canadians that was published soon after my appointment.

Both videos can be watched by clicking on the links above, or better yet, hop over to VIA Rail’s YouTube channel, and have a look around. Both videos can be found there, along with other great content.

Helping to Make it Happen

March 6th 2015 by Yves Desjardins-Siciliano

This year, the International Women’s Day organization has an important theme, promoted through the tagline “Make It Happen”. It’s a reminder that if we want something done, we need to engage and be a part of the change.

At VIA Rail, the importance and benefits of having both sexes represented equally is a responsibility and an opportunity we don’t take lightly.

Historically speaking, the railroad industry has been predominantly male, but times are changing, and VIA Rail is helping to “Make it Happen”. We make great efforts to attract a diverse workforce through our Employment Equity and Multiculturalism program, and foster a workplace that is inclusive.

In 2014, we are happy to report that we made strides in the right direction, especially at the Board, executive and senior management levels. Following the appointment of two new Directors, our 10 Board members (not including the CEO) are now evenly divided in terms of gender, placing VIA Rail in the forefront of board gender equality for both public and private corporations in Canada. Two women and five men make up the Officer team, and our senior leadership team (comprised of 39 managers) is 28% female.

Our efforts as an employment-equity employer, and our successes so far, are a source of pride and inspiration for VIA Rail. Of course, leadership is key to making it happen. VIA Rail is fortunate to report to the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, who made clear her expectations in this regard.

Here’s wishing everyone a very happy International Women’s Day this March 8th.

The Moonlighters

February 27th 2015 by Jennifer Bauer

Every time we hear new stories from people who love taking the train we aren’t surprised, but we are delighted. Railfans, foodies, commuters who prefer to leave their cars at home; each group has their own unique reason for riding the rails.

Recently, we learned about a group whose love of train-riding was based on the moon cycle. This was a new one, even for us. Turns out, the group, who call themselves “The Moonlighters” book their travel according to the full moon, so that they can admire the landscape from the windowed dome car at its most romantic. When the moon is full, the light it gives off is exceptional, and the moonlit landscapes are moving – especially when not diminished by city lights. So how does one find themselves in the middle of beautiful vistas, in the middle of the night, without city lights? By taking one of our long-haul or remote trains, of course.


In early February, during the full moon, The Moonlighters once again boarded our Canadian train, taking a trip between Vancouver and Toronto. Not only were they enchanted by the breathtaking views at night, they also got to spend cozy days on our warm trains listening to live folk music (through our artists-on-board program), sharing amazing meals with friends, playing “Rummikub” and sipping hot chocolate. Not a bad way to spend a few days in the middle of the unforgiving Canadian winter.

Thanks to “Moonlighter” Ira Silverman for providing the above images taken over the past few years of train-riding.

If you have stories about why you love taking the train, send them to us through Facebook, Twitter, or to me directly at @VIRailPrez.

Pick Your Official Language

February 13th 2015 by Yves Desjardins-Siciliano

At VIA Rail, we’re pretty serious about promoting and supporting the country’s two official languages.  We were recently given a rating of “exemplary” for our On Train Entertainment system (available in both English and French, of course) from the Commissioner of Official Languages. Aside from the On Train system, we’ve got several other projects on the go.

In January, our internal survey about the use of the two official languages at VIA Rail was completed. Within our offices, big strides have been made to make sure every person can work comfortably in the language of their choice. As a corporation, every official document we create, internally and externally, is available in both English and French, including our advertisements, videos, press releases and reports. We are proud that since 2008, when our first official language survey was conducted, our performance has been steadily improving.

As part of our mandate to promote both official languages, we support many organizations and events that work with communities in linguistic minority – both French communities in English environments and vice versa. Some of the French communities we work with include the Fondation Franco-Ontarienne and the Association des francophones et francophiles du Nord-Ouest and the Théâtre du Cercle de Molière in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

This March, VIA Rail will be attending and supporting the Québec Community Groups Network’s (QCGN) Young Quebecers Leading the Way campaign.  The QCGN is a non-profit organization linking over 40 English-language community organizations in Quebec. VIA will be the official transporter for travelling youth, and as the keynote speaker, I am thrilled to be launching the 2015 event.

The event itself is taking place at the Morrin Centre, whom we also support. The Morrin Centre is an English-speaking cultural center in the historical quarter of Québec City that provides rich, engaging programming to both the (minority) Anglophone and the Francophone communities. The most recent event, their “Literary Feast” had as its theme the Fathers of Confederation. Supporting the Morrin Centre and having an opportunity to talk about the 150th anniversary of Canada coming up in 2017… it was win-win for us.

But that’s not all! We’re taking this opportunity to “Become a Portal Ambassador”! The Government of Canada recently launched their Language Portal of Canada, a great website where you can take fun quizzes, check terminology and translations and gain access to a host of very useful writing tools. Check it out and spread the word:

Have your say through our Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as my personal Twitter account @VIARailPrez – in the language of your choice!