VIA CEO does not want subsidy for The Canadian

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VIA CEO does not want subsidy for The Canadian

Postby marquisofmississauga » Fri Dec 01, 2017 8:54 am

I have posted this before, but in light of recent conversation about the state of the Canadian I feel it is relevant. In this Financial Post interview of three years ago, VIA's CEO Yves Dejardins-Siciliano indicated he feels the Canadian and the Ocean should break even and not receive a subsidy. A brief quote: “You don’t get subsidized to go to Cuba and someone shouldn’t be subsidized to go see the Rockies or go to the beach in New Brunswick”.

The entire article: ... rail-lines
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Re: VIA CEO does not want subsidy for The Canadian

Postby electricron » Fri Dec 01, 2017 5:03 pm

The man had just filled the CEO position at VIA, did you expect he would say otherwise?
In the last three years, VIA purchased the rail corridor from Ottawa to Brockville, a drop in a bucket of what’s needed to fulfill his dreams. But it is a start with a long way to go.
As for his comments that VIA is running modern equipment, a view of the Canadian running 60 year old trains counters that. The reason why most Canadians view VIA is still using obsolete equipment their grandfathers and grandmothers rode upon is because VIA is still using those cars!
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Re: VIA CEO does not want subsidy for The Canadian

Postby Leo_Ames » Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:09 pm

Outside of railfans and some members of the rail industry, these refurbished Budd passenger cars easily pass for modern rolling stock to 99% of Via's customer base.

I doubt that perception exists with the Canadian public.
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Re: VIA CEO does not want subsidy for The Canadian

Postby mdvle » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:40 pm

He does not say in the article that VIA is running modern equipment - what he says is "experience of Via as being old technology" and "the Via of today is a much more modern experience than people may remember.”

I take from this that he is more referring to a general perception that trains are old fashioned, as opposed to flying, and that he would like to educate people that the train has improved its service over the years (things like wi-fi and power sockets, better food) and is thus just as modern as flying or driving.
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Re: VIA CEO does not want subsidy for The Canadian

Postby mdvle » Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:04 pm

We also have the benefit of reading this article now 3 years and 1 month later, and its worth looking (based on what is publicly available) has happened.

First, little to no movement to the private funding to modernize VIA - no real surprise to anyone familiar with a certain former Mayor who had a similar story of companies anxious to fund subways all over the city question. Wild guess, but without a willingness of the federal government to guarantee profits the private sector isn't interested in funding VIA's plans.

Looking at the 2016 annual report, and comparing the numbers with 2013 (the year prior to him being elevated to the top position) and he has done a good job of increasing revenue, from $250 million to $301 million (with a corresponding drop in government subsidy from $308 million to $268 million).**

The problems are:

1) on time performance has dropped significantly - from 82% to 73%

2) despite the significant improvement they are nowhere near to break even.

3) Ontario, tired of waiting I assume, is going ahead with a provincial high speed rail system west of Toronto, and expanding the GO Train to Niagara. I am guessing this will kill off VIA west of Toronto.

The problem is VIA is in a chicken and egg situation - the solution to their problems requires significant money upfront, and without that money they won't solve their on time performance or break even.

** The corridor and the "tourist friendly" service are the bulk of the subsidy - $225 million - with the remote routes only needing $40 million.
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