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VIA RAIL CEO Globe & Mail Interview - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

A recent interview in the Globe and Mail outlines the vision of VIA RAIL CEO & President Mr. Desjardins-Siciliano. I will evaluate this article, highlighting both the positives and the negatives and what the VIA president should be doing.


1. VIA Rail President actually speaks to the public - Full credit for Mr. Desjardins-Siciliano for not hiding in his office and for actually going out to sell his vision of what VIA Rail should be.

2.VIA Rail focusing on getting people out of their cars - For decades VIA senior management were delusional in their priorities in thinking VIA Rail could compete with the airline industry and that they were competing for the same customer. It is refreshing to see VIA realize that they should be getting people to switch from their driving their autos to taking the train.

3.VIA needs their own dedicated track - It doesn't take rocket scientist to see that this is necessary, but it is still good to see the CEO saying it is a priority.

4. VIA should look for private partnerships - It is definitely a good idea that has been done for decades in the rest of world relating to improving passenger rail service.


1."I think they do run a national rail infrastructure across the country" - the CEO states VIA gets enough money from Harper government and that the Harper government does run a national rail infrastructure program in Canada. The CEO pleases the Harper government again, but fools no one with this nose-stretcher.

The simple fact is the Harper government has no plan for passenger rail in the country,
VIA rail is a skeleton of what it once was and the majority of rail infrastructure is not
owned by government.

2. The reduction in services was to recognize where there is no market, there is no point in having a service, which is the CEO's defence of cuts to VIA Rail.

Reality Check - When train frequencies are awful, train speeds are slow and fares are high most people won't take the train. Thanks to the Harper government and VIA Rail they have created that situation, where passenger rail is not a viable option for many Canadians. They have managed to eliminate more service, and alienate even more people from taking the train.


1. "I think the government of Canada through taxpayers’ money has done enough." This is a ridiculous statement from the CEO, but it will please the Stephen Harper government and the CEO will never be fired. Unfortunately any significant infrastructure money handed out by the government during the election year will not go to VIA Rail because according to the CEO VIA does not need it.

2. Mr. Desardins-Siciliano states that train speeds should be maximum 160 kph - Prehistoric speeds do nothing to increase ridership. I suggest the CEO watch our Turbotrain videos on our Youtube channel and educate himself that in 1970 trains went faster (200kph) in Canada and more people were riding them.

3. Fails to address the real issue - The tragic flaw with VIA Rail in Canada is that there are no Acts or Regulations in Canada for passenger rail. Nothing Mr. Desardins-Siciliano suggested can be accomplished unless there is legislation in place to protect and regulate VIA Rail's existence. There is a decent VIA Rail Act (Bill C-614) in parliament now.

Why does Mr. Desardins-Siciliano not mention the need for VIA Rail legislation or the existing bill that has been introduced into parliament? Could it be that Mr. Desardins- Siciliano does not want to upset the Stephen Harper government? After all, the bill is a private member's bill by NDP MP Philip Toone.

Although the Globe interview with CEO & President of VIA Rail, Mr. Desardins-Siciliano, did have some positive suggestions, his failure to address the underlying problem with VIA Rail e.g., the lack of federal passenger rail legislation, the lack of committed, long-term funding, and the lack of a plan by the Harper government, makes for a very disappointing article.


  1. trains have never run at the speed of 200 kilometers per hour in regular service in Canada. THEY HAVE ,HOWEVER BEEN TESTED AT THAT SPEED .
    If the HSR to London is completed it would beat the turbo record [226k/h]every day


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