Normalcy returns for travelers after Via Rail service halted


Business seemed business as usual at Via’s Ottawa station on Tuesday as travelers boarded trains for Toronto after three days of disruption.

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On Tuesday morning, business was more business as usual at Via Rail’s Tremblay Road station in Ottawa, as travelers lined up to board trains bound for Toronto after three days of major service disruptions.

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Some anxiety and frustration lingered like a holiday hangover among those affected by trip cancellations, along with relief and gratitude to be on the move on the other side of last weekend’s storm.

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After a CN train derailed on December 24, Via canceled all trains between Ottawa and Toronto, as well as those on its Toronto-Montreal route on December 25 and 26.

Passengers on the derailed Ottawa-Toronto train endured a grueling 24-hour travel ordeal. Train 55 was brought to a halt on the tracks west of Cobourg on Friday night when a fallen tree shattered a window on the locomotive.

On Tuesday, Lillie May, 20, was traveling from Ottawa to Toronto and then to Stratford to visit her partner, a day later than planned.

She learned at 7 p.m. on Christmas Day that her train the following morning had been canceled and said the last-minute change of plans was stressful. She would have liked Via to give more time to its cancellation announcement.

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May is supposed to get a refund, but said she quickly booked a new train for Tuesday in the meantime, seeing there were only a few seats left, and also changed her return date, spending an extra $280 .

Other travelers said contacting Via enabled them to book at no cost, including Ottawa retirees Terry and Ilonca O’Donnell, who were also traveling to Toronto on Tuesday.

With their initial train departure booked and then canceled for Boxing Day, and plans scrapped to visit family in the Kingston area, the O’Donnells said Via gave them new return tickets Ottawa- Toronto at the same rate they had paid for their canceled Kingston. -Toronto round trip.

“It was awesome,” said Terry. He also praised the Crown corporation’s decision to combine various trains along the Montreal-Toronto corridor on Tuesday, reducing the number of staggered departures. It left him with the feeling that if something went wrong, it would at least simplify the answer.

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« It reassures me, » he said.

Joseph Aranas, 31, was also able to get a rebooking at no extra cost – otherwise it would have been double the price, he noted – when he called Via directly after his train was canceled on the day of Christmas.

A newly arrived international student from the Philippines, studying computer science at the Cornwall campus of St. Lawrence College, Aranas spent two unplanned days in an Ottawa hotel in the meantime. Although it was a little frustrating, he said, he used the time to visit sites including Parliament Hill for the first time.

In line to board his train for Toronto, Anthony Derrell, 70, said he felt a little more relaxed than he had before. He traveled from Pembroke to Ottawa on Monday – he found out halfway through that his train had been canceled – then left, only to return on Tuesday.

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For Derrell, the length of the Via service shutdown is unacceptable.

« Why does it take three days to get a car off the tracks? » he asked. « I’m not an engineer, I don’t understand, but for me it’s not rocket science. »

Contacted Tuesday, Via’s media relations team referred the question of why it took so long to clear the tracks to CN, « as the infrastructure is owned by CN and the derailment involved a CN train.

All Ottawa-Toronto and Montreal-Toronto trains will run on their regular schedule starting Wednesday, Via tweeted Tuesday afternoon, warning that “dDue to continued congestion on these routes, delays are to be expected along the way.

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