Prior to their establishment of Via Rail, national passenger in Canada rail was serviced by two companies – the Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway. From around the 1960’s both companies wanted to cease passenger services to instead focus on freight. Since the government considered passenger rail an essential service, they established Via Rail Canada as Canada’s first national passenger rail company in early 1977, after which they took over operation of the passenger services, cars and locomotives of the earlier two companies.
The company has seen significant growth over the last five years, with revenue increasing from 270 million Canadian dollars in 2013 to nearly 366 million Canadian dollars in 2017. However, revenues are not sufficient to cover the company’s operating expenses, which totaled 631 million dollars in 2017. The shortfall is funded by the Canadian government, who also provide additional funding for capital expenditure. As of 2017, Via Rail held total assets of 1.35 billion Canadian dollars.