News & Reviews News Wire VIA Rail Canada CEO calls for ‘passenger bill of rights’ for rail travel

VIA Rail Canada CEO calls for ‘passenger bill of rights’ for rail travel

By Trains Staff | October 23, 2023

| Last updated on February 2, 2024

Executive also seeks operating right of preference for passenger trains

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VIA train in Monteral
A VIA Rail Canada train crosses the Lachine Canal in Montreal. VIA’s CEO is calling for the Canadian government to enact a “Passenger Bill of Rights” similar to that for air travelers. David Lassen

MONTREAL — The CEO of VIA Rail Canada is calling for the government to adopt a bill of rights for rail passengers similar to the one already in place for air travelers.

In an interview with the Canadian Press, CEO Mario Péloquin said the government should set rules that ensure train passengers receive compensation for long delays. If the disruption is caused a freight operator, he says, they would pay that compensation, which would be an incentive for better operations. Most VIA trains operate on tracks owned by Canadian National Railway.

Péloquin also called for rules that would give VIA statutory right of preference over freight trains. Amtrak has such a right in the United States, but the Canadian government never created a similar right for VIA trains, leaving operational matters in the hands of VIA and the freight operators.

Canada’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations spell out the obligations of airlines regarding matters such as payment for overbooking, lost luggage, and flight delays. Those regulations have been revised in the wake of widespread criticism of airlines’ failure to provide refunds for flight cancellations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

4 thoughts on “VIA Rail Canada CEO calls for ‘passenger bill of rights’ for rail travel

  1. With the next federal election looming (it has to happen by October 2025 but the likelihood is that it will be called sooner), I will be interested to see if any major party endorses statutory preference, or anything else that would meaningfully help VIA…

  2. Via rail is under control of the federal cabinet and Transport Canada, it has very little power to run more trains. Every year Via’s budget is set by the government, so they have very little power to run more trains if they want. Especially since CN controls 90% of the track that they run on.
    Giving statutory preference over freight trains has been talked about it for years, but has never happened. I suspect the freight rail companies don’t like the idea.

  3. Maybe VIA RAIL should run more trains. Instead of climbing into the saddle of this bureaucratic high horse.

    VIA’s main activity since its founding has been to slash Canada’s passenger rail network.

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