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Via Rail Canada - statistics & facts

Via Rail Canada is an Canadian state-owned corporation which operates passenger rail services throughout Canada. In 2020, their number of employees reached 2,825. The company recorded an overall ridership of over 1.1 million passengers on a total of 227 million passenger-miles, with inter-city travel being their most popular service. Their most traveled route was Montréal-Ottawa-Toronto, accounting for over 578,000 passengers during that year. Overall performance for the company slumped in 2020 due to the economic impact of the railway blockades at the beginning pf the year and of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Economic downturn after years of growth

The company had seen significant growth over the last years, with its total revenue increasing from 270 million Canadian dollars in 2013 to 411.1 million Canadian dollars in 2019. After a drop of around 77.6 percent between 2019 and 2020, revenues stood at around 92 million Canadian dollars, impacted by the global and Canadian context.
From the 7th of February 2020, pipeline and railway protests impacted passenger traffic on Via Rail’s services. The blockades, which took place throughout the month, were followed by government-mandated national lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic. These lockdowns led to a slump in demand from regular commuters, tourists and long-haul passengers alike. Via Rail’s Toronto-Niagara inter-city route was particularly affected, ridership dipping to just over 4,000 passengers that year. Passenger revenue, which made up most of the company’s total revenue in 2020, still mostly comprised of inter-city services.

A high operating ratio

Revenue streams were not sufficient to cover the company’s operating expenses, which totaled 507.8 million Canadian dollars in 2020. 2020 recorded the lowest operating expenses for the company since 2011. Each year across this time period, expenses had consistently been greater than the company’s revenues, generating high operating ratios. The shortfall was funded by the Canadian government, which also provided additional funding for capital expenditure.
Prior to the 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, it 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.
As of 2020, Via Rail held total assets of over 1.68 billion Canadian dollars. This represented a 5.5 percent total assets growth for the company.

Interesting statistics

In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 26 most important statistics relating to "Via Rail Canada".


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