July 26, 2009 / 3:19 PM / in 8 years

Canada rail strike ends after arbitration deal

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s passenger trains will start up again late on Sunday after a two-day strike that threatened to disrupt much holiday traffic.

Passenger rail service Via Rail and the union representing the striking locomotive engineers said on Sunday they had agreed to start binding arbitration to get a deal.

“We reached the conclusion that there was no possible agreement in the short term,” Daniel Shewchuk, president of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, said in a statement. “That is why the parties came to the agreement to submit their outstanding issues to final and binding arbitration.”

Via Rail, which operates about 500 trains each week over 12,500 kilometers (7,700 miles) of track across Canada, had started canceling trains last week and was already sending out layoff notices to other workers.

It said train services would resume late on Sunday, and the layoff notices were canceled.

About 11,000 people use Via daily and the strike forced tourists and Canadians alike to scramble to find new travel plans. Airlines, including Air Canada and WestJet, were seen as early winners from increased traffic resulting from the strike.

Privately held Porter Airlines offered stranded travelers a 25 percent discount on some domestic flights.

Reporting by Janet Guttsman, editing by Vicki Allen

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