Canada's Via Rail to cut 200 jobs

Wed Jun 27, 2012 1:53pm EDT
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(Reuters) - VIA Rail, Canada's government-owned passenger train company, said on Wednesday it will cut 200 jobs this year as it reduces frequencies on certain routes because of lower demand.

VIA said in a statement the cuts will reduce its unionized workforce by about 9 percent. The company, which operates just short of 500 trains weekly across Canada and transports more than 4 million passengers annually, employs about 3,000 people.

The company did not say which routes it is targeting but transport lobby group Transport Action Ontario said that the Montreal to Halifax, Nova Scotia, route will be cut back as will the Toronto to Vancouver run in the winter months.

There will also be a number of reductions in southwestern Ontario, where GO Transit commuter rail service and other commuter services are available, the group said.

"This next phase of VIA's modernization includes adjusting frequencies on specific routes to better reflect customer demand, while maintaining service on all current routes," VIA said in a statement.

The changes will take place from July to the end of October, VIA Chief Executive Marc Laliberté said.

The opposition New Democratic Party blamed the Conservative government for the cuts and said the reduction in passenger rail service will damage the economic stability of regional communities.

"The Conservatives are gutting a service that many Canadians rely on," said Olivia Chow, NDP critic for transport, infrastructure and communities.

"Canadians traveling for business, school or recreation rely on VIA Rail to provide efficient, affordable and accessible services," she said.   Continued...