Since my last post, my Canada-wide listening tour, to meet with as many employees and train passengers as possible, to hear their thoughts about VIA Rail, continues. To date, I have met with almost 1,000 VIA Rail employees and over 50 train passengers. These meetings have provided the venue for some memorable conversations with individuals who are passionate about providing great passenger rail service. In the spirit of open communication and looking forward, the comments, suggestions, and ideas brought forth in these discussions are encouraged and welcomed. Employees know the passengers best, and their input is priceless – input which, as a team, we use to continuously improve VIA Rail’s service. I look forward to hearing more voices, and engaging in more dialogues about how we can grow passenger rail in Canada.
This week, I’d like to draw attention to a group of employees whose creativity has inspired me: the Jasper equipment maintenance crew. Seeking a way to quickly and safely navigate on the platform to perform essential train maintenance, the team turned to bikes! For two years the Jasper Maintenance Center has been using bicycles to move small tools, carry equipment parts, and throw switches without disturbing travelling passengers. On top of being an environmentally conscious choice, their out-of-the-box solution embodies the type of innovation and teamwork that I so strongly believe in.
Stories such as these highlight the thoughtful ways in which employees make VIA Rail the more human way to travel. A dedication to efficiency and a consideration for passengers and their travel experience are amongst the defining characteristics of a trip with VIA Rail. The Jasper equipment maintenance crew exemplifies VIA Rail’s “put the passengers first” mentality – and they have fun while doing so.
We love to hear the ways in which VIA Rail employees have improved your travel experiences, so send us your “VIA Rail experience” stories through Facebook, or tweet them using #VIAExperience. To stay up to date on my initiatives and events, follow me @VIARailPrez.
On May 9th, Canada will be remembering the efforts and sacrifices of those who served in Afghanistan through the country’s first National Day of Honour. Led by the National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, the Ceremony will take place in Ottawa and begins with a military parade from the Canadian War Museum to Parliament Hill, followed by two minutes of silence, a fly-by salute and a viewing of the Afghanistan Memorial Vigil in the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill.
Leading up to the National Ceremony is the six-day Soldier On Afghanistan Relay (SOAR). The final leg of the relay ends on May 9th at Parliament Hill, in time for the main event. SOAR is a relay to recognize those who fought in Afghanistan, remember those who fell, and salute all who contributed to the ten-year mission. During this relay, select ill and injured members from the Soldier On program will carry the last Canadian flag flown in Kabul, Afghanistan from Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ontario to the National Day of Honour parade in Ottawa.
VIA Rail takes pride in its ongoing collaboration with the Canadian Military. By offering travel credit, we are able to support events such as SOAR, organizations like Vimy Foundation and True Patriot Love, and contribute prizes to the Canadian Armed Forces Photography Contest. VIA Rail also started a special program offering a discounted fare for military personnel, veterans and their families. Since its launch in 2010, over 88,000 have taken advantage of the program.
We salute all those participating in the relay, as well as the National Ceremony. To learn more about the day’s events, you can visit the Government of Canada’s National Day of Honour webpage.
This week marks Operation Lifesaver’s Public-Rail Safety Week. This year’s theme, “See Tracks? Think Train!” says it all. We must all be vigilant around train tracks, and respect the rules of the railway.
Every year, VIA Rail participates in this important event, in which volunteers engage in various activities to teach the public about railway safety. This year, the Minister of Transport, Lisa Raitt, marked the launch of Public-Rail Safety Week with a few key messages.
Transport Canada and Operation Lifesaver have great websites with important information and tips to raise awareness about safety around railways. As a quick reminder, here are a few tips about crossing a railway, taken from Ministry of Transportation, Ontario’s website:
Railway crossing safety tips
- As you come to a crossing, slow down, listen and look both ways before crossing the tracks.
- If a train is coming, stop at least five metres from the nearest rail or gate. Do not cross the track until you are sure the train or trains have passed.
- Never race a train to the crossing. Do not cross the track until you are sure the train or trains have passed. If there are signals, wait until they stop flashing and, if the crossing has a barrier, wait until it rises before you cross. Never drive around, under or through a railway gate while it is down or is being lowered or raised. Never stop on the tracks.
The webpage, with more information about railway crossings can visited at http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/topics/X-crossing.shtml
To participate in Operation Lifesaver activities, please visit OL’s website for more information: www.operationlifesaver.ca, and for a visual and informative view on level crossing incident trends over the past few years, have a look at this important infographic, prepared by Operation Lifesaver.
For your and everyone’s safety, please remember to respect crossing signals at all times. Do not attempt to cross a railroad track when the warning devices are activated, regardless of the inconvenience it may cause.