Want some pain take the train Rural Ramblings
We’ve seen the ads on TV. A Via train carrying happy passengers takes them through the majesty of the Rocky Mountains, everything is hunky dory. Sadly not, and it’s unlikely to get better anytime soon.
Probably because of Canada 150 last year statistics show that tourism broke the record in Canada in 2017 with 20.8 million trips of more than one night. Tourist spending per quarter in Canada accounts for around $21 billion.
Tourists that take a Via train trip will be a small minority in terms of visitors to Canada. However, delays, including a recent 45 hour and counting one, could cost the industry dear. Passengers booking a Via Rail trip will note on the company’s website that trains may be delayed. This is because freight trains take priority and passenger trains may be kept waiting for hours in sidings.
Via Rail has apologised to passengers for the delay but, at the time of writing, says it won’t compensate them because the delays are “beyond our control.” Yes, the delays are beyond the company’s control, but this is a PR disaster that could have far reaching and long lasting after affects.
The trip for those passengers has been ruined already. They have places to go and deadlines to meet. Via should, at the very least, have bent over backwards to ensure those passengers got where they needed to go. By bus by plane, any which way or how and the company should have just sucked up the cost. Many of those passengers are used to some train delays. However, they’re also used to 100 MPH passenger trains and extensive and efficient networks. The passengers are going home disgruntled at the very least and are not likely to return. Worse, they’re going to spread the word and put off other tourists from visiting Canada. I can’t see how Via Rail is going to get over this one unless it can cut a deal with the owners of the tracks.
One of the first objectives of a government, even 100 years ago was getting the trains to run on time. It’s going to be a brave and determined government that takes on Canada’s rail issues and resolves to solve them. It’s going to take billions even trillions of dollars to do it and a complete rethink of how the rail system is operated and yes, I think, owned. I would be interested to see what return could be achieved on that investment as exports and imports are moved way more quickly and thousands maybe tens of thousands of jobs are created. Maybe there are some numbers being crunched right now. I live in hope.