About 200 unionized jobs at Via Rail will be terminated over the next few months, officials announced Wednesday morning, cutting about nine per cent of the company’s employees. However, it also projects to affect thousands more across Canada – commuting businesspeople, in particular.
In Southwestern Ontario — labeled by Via as an area with low customer demand and poor-performing services —multiple travel routes will vanish or lose components. Five outbound London routes will be revamped.
Karen Schulman Dupuis, a communications professional who works in the Greater Toronto Area but lives in Stratford, is so upset with the Via cutbacks that she has decided to organize a Facebook group named “SAVE VIA Train 86.”
Its purpose is to bring awareness to an “unjust” decision, she says.
“I will not support Via at all if they take away the 86 train,” said Schulman Dupuis, a 42-year-old mother of three who has been commuting from her hometown to Toronto five days a week for eight years now.
The train route she rides for five hours a day will soon be reduced to a Friday-only run, forcing her to drive three hours into work each weekday morning and back again in the evening.
Via Rail corporate offices did not return numerous phone calls made by Metro on Wednesday. In a news release, though, Via Rail president/CEO Marc Laliberte explained the rationale behind reshuffling the deck.
He calls the job losses a part of an “ongoing modernization,” which also includes a “lean” management focus. The cuts are driven by “weak off-season demands,” he adds.
The release states Via is not designed to cater to traditional commuters, rather its operating and cost structure is focused on providing intercity service more than anything. The reduction of certain routes, such as Train 86, for instance, was passed so Via “can focus on its core mandate.”
Via Rail in London: Service changes effective July 29
• Train 70 — London-Windsor will originate in London on Saturdays and Sundays
• Train 75 — London-Windsor runs on Fridays and Saturdays have been terminated
• Train 86 — London-Toronto will not run on Fridays anymore; in October, the whole service will be cut.
• Train 85 & Train 88 — London-Sarnia, segments have been cancelled