Federal Government's Cuts to VIA Rail Hurts Passenger Rail Service, CAW says

July 5, 2012, 10:09 AM EST

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Federal Government's Cuts to VIA Rail Hurts Passenger Rail Service, CAW says

The federal government's so-called 'modernization plan' at VIA Rail is resulting in major cuts to passenger rail service for Canadians from coast to coast, the CAW says.

After weeks of delay, speculation and anxiety for workers and passengers VIA Rail announced a 'modernization plan' on June 27 that comes in the wake of funding cuts announced by the federal Conservative government.

"Unfortunately the modernization plan does not include many of the current VIA customers or the 9% of VIA's unionized workforce," said CAW National Representative Bob Fitzgerald. CAW Local 100 and Council 4000 represent 2500 workers at VIA.

"Under the guise of modernization VIA is cutting services from coast to coast," said Heather Grant, Secretary Treasurer of Council 4000. "The cuts to routes and to day-to-day services will force some of VIA's current customers to look elsewhere for transportation and tourism options and in some cases VIA will be eliminated as a transportation option completely," she said.

The cuts in services will further stress fixed costs at VIA causing even more harm to the
passenger rail service, said Ken Hiatt, President of Local 100.

"VIA has a long history of providing an important option for people traveling from community to community for personal, business, medical and tourism needs from coast to coast and these cuts will clearly affect many customers who have come to rely on the rail passenger services," Hiatt said.
Barry Kennedy, President of Council 4000, said the CAW plans to meet with the employer in the very near future regarding the announced cuts and the impact on the membership and their families and to ensure that job security and income maintenance provisions of the collective agreement are honoured.

"The CAW will continue to campaign for a National Transportation Policy that would enhance and improve rail passenger service in Canada rather than the cut and slash approach that is been directed by the federal government and the corporation," Fitzgerald said. 

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