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Coronavirus: Via Rail announces new service suspensions amid COVID-19 pandemic

Coronavirus around the world: March 19, 2020
WATCH ABOVE: Coronavirus around the world (March 19, 2020)

Via Rail says it is further reducing train service —  as well as suspending business class seating and closing its business lounges — in response to the new coronavirus.

Though some trains are still in operation, the majority of service within the Quebec City to Windsor, Ont., corridor has been suspended.

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For two routes — Senneterre, Que., to Jonquière, Que., and Sudbury, Ont., to White River, Ont. — service is being reduced to one round trip per week.

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Via Rail said in a statement that the decisions were made due to a significant drop in passengers, along with recommendations from public health for social distancing.

“These new measures we are announcing today are difficult, but the current situation is exceptional and calls for an exceptional response. Protecting the health and safety of our passengers and employees continues to be our focus so we are adjusting our operations to ensure we minimize the propagation of COVID-19 when traveling with VIA Rail,” Cynthia Garneau, president and chief executive officer of Via Rail, said in a statement.

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“As a public service, we do what we can to maintain some of our services in the best possible conditions for as long as possible to help facilitate travel along the Corridor and on regional routes,” she added.

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READ MORE: Via Rail services between Quebec City, Windsor cut by 50%

The route that runs from Winnipeg to Churchill, Man., is operating as usual.

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Also as of March 23, the carrier won’t be offering business class service and will be closing business lounges and restaurants.

“All passengers will receive a complimentary snack and water,” Via Rail said.

Via Rail previously announced that it was stepping up sanitation on board in order to reduce the possible spread of the virus. It had already cut service by 50 per cent along the Quebec City-Windsor line, and suspended its two long distance routes, The Canadian and The Ocean, as well as service from northwestern B.C. to Jasper, Alta.

Via Rail services as of March 23

ROUTES
SERVICES
Québec City-Montréal-Ottawa
22*/28* and 33/39*
Montréal-Ottawa-Fallowfield
33/39* and 22*/28
Toronto-Kingston-Montréal
64/68* and 63*/669*
Toronto-Kingston- Ottawa
643*/59 and 52*/48
Toronto- London-Windsor
72*/78 and 71/75
Toronto-London- Sarnia
1 departure per day maintained in both directions (trains 87-84)
Senneterre-Jonquière
One round trip per week
Sudbury-White River
One round trip per week
Winnipeg-Churchill
All trains are operating
The Ocean (Montréal-Halifax)
 
Suspended until May 1st
 
The Canadian (Toronto-Vancouver)
Prince Rupert-Prince George-Jasper
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* Courtesy Via Rail